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17

Yes! Recent work using fMRI has shown that subjects can indeed control localized brain regions through practice [1]. Some regions that have been tested include the rostal ACC [2] responsible for pain perception, PPA responsible for representing locations, and FFA responsible for representing faces. Repeated experiments seem to suggest the phenomenon is ...


16

The major neural models of consciousness at the moment roughly fall into two camps: cognitive and phenomenological. They are defined by controversy surrounding what types of experience qualify as concious. Cognitive models On the one hand there are strong cognitive models of consciousness, such as the one proposed by Stanislas Dehaene, where consciousness ...


15

If by continuity you mean, "a feeling that I am who I was before the operation, (perhaps with some changes)", then it seems that each hemisphere would separately maintain continuity, in the same way patients after massive strokes and other sudden brain injuries don't usually feel "they are a different person". Research by Turk et al. (2003) suggests it's ...


14

The confusion originates from Sigmund Freud who initialized the field with his idea of the unconscious mind. Freud was of course Austrian, and used the terms das Unbewusste and das Vorbewusste. These are most accurately translated to unconscious and preconscious. The latter is the technical term for what you called 'subconscious'. The word 'subcoscious' is ...


13

Modern homunculus arguments don't assert that there is physically a little man in your head. This would be a completely vacuous argument, and nobody would make it in the present day. When people make the homunculus fallacy today, they usually do it in the same fashion as you do: all the sensory information is assembled 'somewhere' and then 'some brain ...


12

You have to break down the question in two parts. (1) Is it possible to entrain brain oscillations by presenting oscillating lights or tones? Yes, it is possible to evoke "response phenomena" in the brain by presenting participants with oscillatory stimuli. The technical term for this phenomenon is "steady state evoked potential" and it was demonstrated ...


9

Lucid dreaming is a practice in buddhism. La Berge (1980) describes in some detail how he learned to dream lucidly, and several authors managed to induce lucid dreams in their test subjects through electrostimulation, food supplements and other means. There are some popular books that claim to teach the skill, some of them written by La Berge.


9

During REM sleep (during which dreams seem to occur), we experience muscular atonia – our muscle can’t move. When the region responsible for muscular atonia is impaired, patients seem to live through their dreams. It has been studied in cats by Michel Jouvet. I believe that this shows that it is reasonable to trust our subjective experience here : we are ...


8

One of Koch's collaborators, Francis Crick (yes, that Francis Crick, much later in his career), put forth an interesting theory with Koch that while perhaps is a bit far fetched, it's worth mentioning for sake of a slightly different perspective. Crick and Koch posited the claustrum (see diagram below) as one of the seats of consciousness in the brain. As ...


8

The fact that these people don't exhibit a lot of change in behavior, and report no real difference after the operation (other than in contrived tests) suggests that our idea of a single conscious "self" is simply wrong. This sort of question is probably never going to be answered to anyone's satisfaction, any more than you could answer questions about what ...


7

Sort of, think of what it's like when you're asleep, not dreaming. Or if you've ever been knocked-out via anesthesia. No-consciousness, just a gap in time. The question can't really be answered though because it's asking how one might perceive a lack of consciousness, consciously. Here's an interesting study on the transition from an unconscious to ...


7

What you describe is the textbook definition of a habit: routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously. These are triggered by some external (say, being behind the driver's well of a car) or internal (say, being upset) stimuli. This activates chunks of procedural memory, which attempts to carry out a task that was usually ...


7

One thing that comes to mind is the discussion over why English-speaking people think submarines cannot swim, while they think airplanes can fly. Supposedly in Russian, though, they do refer to submarines as "swimming." Meanwhile, we ask whether computers can think, without really realizing that this question turns out to be simply a question about ...


7

A minor addition to Jeff: There are ongoing researchs on controlling brain's response (e.g amygdala) to negative situations and using this techniques for psychiatric interventions (e.g. for anxiety disorders, depression). [1] There are different possibilities for learning adaptive coping strategies with simple, stuctured biofeedback training setups. But ...


7

Communication is always a lossy and inexact process. If I am trying to convey information to you - the times of trains, for example - I can use dates and times that I can be confident that you will interpret the same way I do. But you may not - I may say the train leaves at 8:40, and you assume I mean the morning, whereas I actually mean the evening. So ...


7

My answer to the question is yes. I have personally experimented (not voluntarily) conscious dreams a few years ago.To be more precise, I was conscious in dreams but also conscious to dream. Of course this answer is a testimony, not a scientific proof, of the existence of conscious dream. But maybe in cognitive science, many serious testimonies constitute a ...


7

I don't know what precisely "nerve signals" is supposed to refer to, but neurons exchange information mainly via one pathway: neurotransmitters. And these do not travel the synaptic cleft via quantum tunnelling - obviously, since quantum tunnelling is a phenomenon on a quantum scale (concerning electrons), while neurotransmitters are far larger, at the ...


6

Not only can brain activation be controlled though consciousness (which is expected under most reductionist accounts of the mind-brain problem) and measured in the lab (as @Jeff's answer showed) but it can actually be used as an interface! Erik Ramsey is locked-in syndrome patient and is incapable of movement apart from his eyes. However, he has control of ...


6

Parallel processes are often studied in a so called 'dual task' paradigm, where participants are drawing a picture and reciting a poem or, as in your example, counting and thinking about other things. Often this method is used to demonstrate limits in attention and find insights into how the brain works (in a serial versus parallel manner). Training is an ...


6

So how much information is lost when one person is trying to convey these personal experiences with another person? Will actions carry more relevant data than words when explaining a personal experience? I believe this really depends completely upon both what specific words you use to describe the experience / emotion as well as the experiences and ...


6

Consciousness research in Neuroscience is relatively new, so there isn't yet any consensus on how consciousness works precisely (or an agreed upon definition). My understanding is that the current majority view is that consciousness is distributed throughout the brain (while I can't track down a reference), so transecting the Corpus Callosum won't ...


6

This is a complicated and loaded question. As Neuroskeptic noted, our understanding of consciousness is very poor (in fact, we don't know how to define it most of the time). To see some of the best current definitions, take a look at: What are current neuronal explanations and models of 'consciousness'? We definitely can't infer arbitrary properties of ...


5

This phenomenon is called highway hypnosis (also called driving without attention mode or white line fever) and is an example of procedural memory (or automaticity). Procedural memory is the ability to perform certain tasks without conscious awareness.


5

A more computational explanation can be found in the expectation-based reasoning literature. The theory suggests that people are always generating expectations of what they expect to sense (see/hear/smell/feel etc) in the near future. These expectations are matched against observations. If expectations and observations match, then all is good. When they ...


5

The presentation of flickering lights usually leads to so-called steady-state visual evoked potentials, that is, oscillatory responses in the visual cortex with the frequency of the stimulus as well as its harmonics. See for example: Herrmann CS. (2001) Human EEG responses to 1-100 Hz flicker: resonance phenomena in visual cortex and their potential ...


5

I have to partly disagree with schultem here-- he is right that the dual task paradigm is used to study multitasking, but the idea that we can truly do two cognitive tasks at the same time is still contentious. In particular, the opposing view might say that we can't really do two cognitive processes at the same time, but we are in fact switching between the ...


5

I'm not sure what you're asking. If it's found that there's awareness of the relationships in the experiment then typically it's argued that's not conditioning and the behaviour is modified through insight. It's been a bone of contention with respect to classical conditioning and humans in the past. You might want to look at Lovibond and Shanks (2002). I ...


5

This is an interesting idea, but I do not think it's correct. One piece of information that goes against the idea is this: auditory information is encoded by both frequency and amplitude modulation of neural spiking. The idea of spiking rate directly correlating with frequency is at odds with the idea of spiking rate containing this sort of "meta" ...


5

Let's first be clear that we didn't evolve from monkeys/apes/etc. That's a common misconception. Evolution states that we and monkeys/apes/etc. evolved from a common ancestor. Same with fish. If you go back far enough, we and fish share a common ancestor... we did not, however, evolve from today's Salmon or Macaque. That being said, the origin of ...


5

If non-human animals do have intelligence too, why is their intelligence not as advanced as humans? Notions like “advanced” or “better” really have no place in evolutionary thinking. Again, evolutionary fitness is about self-reproduction and success compared to whatever competition is present at any moment. There is no force “optimizing” species to meet ...



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