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How does consciousness emerge from neurons?

consciousness emergence neurons

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#31 nowayout

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 02:40 PM

 

Second, I think this evolutionary argument is essentially beside the point, because I think it is an error to consider consciousness a trait separate from the processing the brain has do to for survival.

If processing=consciousness, then any degree or processing should correlate with a commensurate degree of consciousness, but we don't know this to be the case. On the other hand, if conciousness is emergent and manifests at a critical threshold of processing complexity, than it would be considered a product. What was not produced at lower levels of processing is now produced at higher levels. There must be some order of processing that is involved, as my brain processes innumerable bits of physiological data while in deep sleep, yet there is no consciousness being produced.

The question then becomes, is this product active or passive? Is it influential or entirely a-causal. Consciousness-as-ephiphenomenon holds that consciounsess is an uninfluential byproduct of processing. Remember, an epiphenomenon is "a secondary effect or byproduct that arises from but does not causally influence a process" (Oxford Dictionary). A good metaphor for an epiphenomeon is the noise an engine makes. The noise is instrinsic to the process of the engine, yet totally unnecessary-i.e., it could function just as well without it. So, if consciousness is truly epiphenomenon, the functioning of our organism would be fine without it like an engine without the concomitant sound.

Is this the case?

 

 

It is not unthinkable that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of information processing, though I doubt it (what are we conscious OF but information, after all)?    But even an epiphenomenon is non-physical or supernatural.  It would still be a collective property of physical information processing in neurons.   Really, what else could it be? 


Edited by nowayout, 13 February 2015 - 02:57 PM.


#32 nowayout

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Posted 13 February 2015 - 02:44 PM

 

 

In Europe and the US, it is usually considered to be our thoughts ("I think therefore I am"), while in Asia, it is the underlying awareness that can be perceived in between thoughts.  The former can clearly "emerge from neurons" while the latter cannot.  (And before you say "sensory input" - I'll point out that that awareness still exists in a Sensory Deprivation Tank.)

 

Why wouldn't awareness emerge from neurons?   What is awareness but information representing external or internal states of the organism?  Where else would this information underlying awareness be encoded but in the physical structure of the brain, an information-processing device?


Edited by nowayout, 13 February 2015 - 02:45 PM.


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#33 Soma

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 03:49 PM

It is not unthinkable that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of information processing, though I doubt it (what are we conscious OF but information, after all)?

Well, as I said, an epiphenomenon doesn't alter the functioning of a process. The noise isn't needed for the action of the engine even though the action of the engine produces the noise. Even though a running engine and noise are coexisting, and ostensibly inextricably linked at the deepest level, we still know that noise is extraneous to the functioning of the engine.

Do we know that our organism would function entirely devoid of consciousness? Well, remove consciousness from a person (deep sleep, anesthesia, coma, etc) and observe their functioning in their environment. It seems that it would be quite different. You might argue that this is not because you've eliminated consciousnes per se, but because you've eliminated the neural processing and that it's the neural processing that allows for interaction with the environment and not the coextensive, parallel process we call consciousness. Consciousness is just the "noise" of neural processing, intrinsically attendant yet passive and therefore, superfluous. But really, do you not think that the capacity of awareness itself alters anything?


What is awareness but information representing external or internal states of the organism?

I can't help but point out a possible point of confusion. You seem to be conflating awareness with its content ("information representing external/internal states). This information is the content of awareness.

Information is just that... information- bits of data. If awareness consists of the same information that is experiencing, then it should be able to directly experience itself. But we cannot sense awareness in any way- we cannot see it, hear it, touch it, etc. Rather, it is what makes all sense experience possible. That which stands as the ground of all experience cannot be directly experienced and can only be know by inference. And yet, it is the most obvious self-evident occurence.

Edited by Soma, 14 February 2015 - 03:51 PM.


#34 nowayout

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 04:05 PM

 

It is not unthinkable that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of information processing, though I doubt it (what are we conscious OF but information, after all)?

Well, as I said, an epiphenomenon doesn't alter the functioning of a process. Consciousness is just the "noise" of neural processing, intrinsically attendant yet passive and therefore, superfluous. But really, do you not think that the capacity of awareness itself alters anything?

 

I never assumed awareness needed to alter the functioning of any process.  That is not my definition of awareness anyway. 



#35 nowayout

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 04:09 PM


What is awareness but information representing external or internal states of the organism?

I can't help but point out a possible point of confusion. You seem to be conflating awareness with its content ("information representing external/internal states). This information is the content of awareness.

 

I don't think this is a point of confusion for me.  I am not accidentally conflating awareness with its content.  I am purposely saying that the simplest and most likely hypothesis is that awareness IS just the informational content.  Any claim that awareness is something different from informational content is to me extraordinary and lacks eveidence. 

 

 

 



#36 nowayout

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 04:14 PM


Information is just that... information- bits of data. If awareness consists of the same information that is experiencing, then it should be able to directly experience itself. But we cannot sense awareness in any way- we cannot see it, hear it, touch it, etc.

 

 

I can certainly sense/experience my own awareness.  That is what awareness is, isn't it. 
 

The information isn't experiencing itself - the information is the experience.  Are you maybe conflating awareness with self-awareness?  Even self-awareness is most likely just a bunch of bits that includes an informational representation of the organism itself. 


Edited by nowayout, 14 February 2015 - 04:15 PM.


#37 Soma

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 04:14 PM


It is not unthinkable that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of information processing, though I doubt it (what are we conscious OF but information, after all)?

Well, as I said, an epiphenomenon doesn't alter the functioning of a process. Consciousness is just the "noise" of neural processing, intrinsically attendant yet passive and therefore, superfluous. But really, do you not think that the capacity of awareness itself alters anything?
I never assumed awareness needed to alter the functioning of any process. That is not my definition of awareness anyway.
I, on the other hand, do wonder if the existence consciousness alters the process of organism as it's explanation as an epiphenomenon wanting, for reasons already expressed. You admitted that you doubt that conciousness is an epiphenomenon. If it isn't then it is likely active and influential.

Edited by Soma, 14 February 2015 - 04:22 PM.


#38 nowayout

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 04:17 PM

 

 

 

It is not unthinkable that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of information processing, though I doubt it (what are we conscious OF but information, after all)?

Well, as I said, an epiphenomenon doesn't alter the functioning of a process. Consciousness is just the "noise" of neural processing, intrinsically attendant yet passive and therefore, superfluous. But really, do you not think that the capacity of awareness itself alters anything?
I never assumed awareness needed to alter the functioning of any process. That is not my definition of awareness anyway.
I, on the other hand, do wonder if the existence consciousness alters the process of organism as I it's explanation as an epiphenomenon wanting, for reasons already expressed. You admitted that you doubt that conciousness is an epiphenomenon. If it isn't then it is likely active and influential.

 

 

Well, no, I think awareness is simply the process.  It is not something separate that alters the process. 

 



#39 Soma

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 04:20 PM

awareness IS just the informational content.


So you cannot have information without consciousness? Wherever there is information, there is consciousness?


Any claim that awareness is something different from informational content is to me extraordinary and lacks eveidence.


Where is the evidence that information content is awareness? Nobody had produced that yet.

#40 Soma

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 04:27 PM

Well, no, I think awareness is simply the process. It is not something separate that alters the process.


It's not the process when you are asleep.

Edited by Soma, 14 February 2015 - 04:27 PM.


#41 nowayout

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 07:24 PM

 

awareness IS just the informational content.


So you cannot have information without consciousness? Wherever there is information, there is consciousness?
 

 

Well, no, you misunderstood my quantifier.  I am saying

 

  SOME information is awareness. 

 

You cannot conclude from this that ALL information is awareness. 

 

 



#42 nowayout

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 07:28 PM


Where is the evidence that information content is awareness? Nobody had produced that yet.

 

 

Well, the evidence is still very incomplete but there is actually a growing body of experimental evidence relating conscious awareness to brain states, for example showing that activation patterns change in the brain when subjects become aware of specific images on the edge of perception.  The experiments are actually quite interesting and sophisticated. 

 


Edited by nowayout, 14 February 2015 - 07:35 PM.


#43 nowayout

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Posted 14 February 2015 - 07:32 PM

 

Well, no, I think awareness is simply the process. It is not something separate that alters the process.


It's not the process when you are asleep.

 

 

Well, we know that many brain processes change and/or shut down when you are asleep.  So this tends to support  the hypothesis that awareness is (certain kinds of) brain processing. 


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#44 Clacksberg

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Posted 15 February 2015 - 10:49 PM

 

 

 

I would strongly suggest to you that science has shown there is something at the QM level and well beyond associated with the information substrate that brain/mind is connected to..

 

 

And what would that be? We live in a quantum world, but our brain is by no means running a quantum computer.

I think Quantum is just fashion word people like to throw around.

 

 

I recommend Roadmap to Brain Emulation, it's free and goes in to some detail on the issue of QM and neurons.

 

http://www.fhi.ox.ac...dmap-report.pdf

 

 

Quantum computation

While practically all neuroscientists subscribe to the dogma that neural activity is a

phenomenon that occurs on a classical scale, there have been proposals (mainly from

physicists) that quantum effects play an important role in the function of the brain (Penrose,

1989; Hameroff, 1987). So far there is no evidence for quantum effects in the brain beyond

quantum chemistry, and no evidence that such effects play an important role for intelligence

or consciousness (Litt, Eliasmith et al., 2006). There is no lack of possible computational

primitives in neurobiology nor any phenomena that appear unexplainable in terms of

classical computations (Koch and Hepp, 2006). Quantitative estimates for decoherence times

for ions during action potentials and microtubules suggest that they decohere on a timescale

of 10‐20 – 10‐13 s, about ten orders of magnitude faster than the normal neural activity

timescales. Hence quantum effects are unlikely to persist long enough to affect processing

(Tegmark, 2000). This, however, has not deterred supporters of quantum consciousness, who

argue that there may be mechanisms protecting quantum superpositions over significant

periods (Rosa and Faber, 2004; Hagan, Hameroff et al., 2002).

If these quantum‐mind hypotheses were true, brain emulation would be significantly more

complex, but not impossible given the right (quantum) computer. In (Hameroff, 1987) mind

emulation is considered based on quantum cellular automata, which in turn are based on the

microtubule network that the author suggests underlies consciousness.

Assuming 7.1 microtubules per square μm and 768.9 μm in average length (Cash, Aliev et al.,

2003) and that 1/30 of brain volume is neurons (although given that micotubuli networks

occurs in all cells, glia – and any other cell type! – may count too) gives 1016 microtubules. If

each stores just a single quantum bit this would correspond to a 1016 qubit system, requiring a

physically intractable 210^16 bit classical computer to emulate. If only the microtubules inside a

cell act as a quantum computing network, the emulation would have to include 1011

connected 130,000 qubit quantum computers. Another calculation, assuming merely classical

computation in microtubules, suggests 1019 bytes per brain operating at 1028 FLOPS

(Tuszynski, 2006). One problem with these calculations is that they impute such a profoundly

large computational capacity at a subneural level that a macroscopic brain seems unnecessary

(especially since neurons are metabolically costly).

 

Yes i'll have a read of that, thanks for the link.

 

Earlier i was thinking of Presentiment effects in D Bem's work in experimental psychology, some may say it's bordering on WOO - but the science is quite tight.



#45 Clifford Greenblatt

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Posted 21 February 2015 - 10:33 PM

 

This seems to be an untestable hypothesis, meaning it is not amenable to science, but a matter of faith.  In other words, it is religion.

 

Does Chalmers discuss any ways his hypothesis could be tested?

 

It also seems to be an unnecessary hypothesis.   What is Chalmers' argument for the necessity of it? 

 

 

 

Mathematics is a highly advanced science built on a foundation of axioms. All theorems are proven on the basis of the axioms, but the axioms themselves are never proven. Rather, they have long been established by the experience of founding mathematicians and are confirmed by the experience of those who follow them. The phenomenon of conscious experience is not a hypothesis, but it is known by personal experience. David Chalmers points out that the phenomenon of conscious experience is at the very centre of our epistemic universe. In chapters 3 and 4 of the "The Conscious Mind", David Chalmers presents extensive arguments for the phenomenon of conscious experience being an irreducible phenomenon that is distinct from the information processes with which it is associated.

 

David Chalmers views reality in purely naturalistic terms. He also requires clear evidence for whatever he believes. He does not view conscious experience in any religious or supernatural terms, but regards it as a fundamental phenomenon of nature, the existence of which is established by first person experience. The problem encountered when trying to scientifically investigate conscious experience is that no one can observe or measure the conscious experience of another; it can be detected only by firsthand experience.

 

David Chalmers is a dualist, but not an interactionist dualist. He regards the phenomenon of conscious experience as explanatorily irrelevant to any theory of psychological processes. He does not regard conscious experience as an explanatory device, as was the vital spirit, but considers it to be a phenomenon that is glaringly apparent but in need of explanation. From my own firsthand experience, I can give an example from visual experience. When I reflect on my visual experience, I have the advantage of the scientific knowledge that I did not have when I was very young. I am fully aware that every detail that I perceive can be accounted for in terms of information processing. However, I am also aware that there is a profound phenomenon associated with the visual experience that simply cannot be explained in information terms. The temporal structure of this phenomenon is fully determined by information processes, which can theoretically be investigated by physical means, but the phenomenon itself is not at all the same thing as the information processes that shape its temporal structure.


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#46 Esoparagon

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Posted 13 August 2015 - 07:01 AM

 


But I hear you say, but how does 'consciousness arise from that?' That's an invalid question. Consciousness is that. That is the integration of sensory information.

 

I think you are exactly right.

 

People used to think there was a mysterious "life force" that animated living things.  Now we understand quite well that life is pretty much just a shorthand for what cells do.  There is no need to explain a separate life force.  The question of what the life force is has become meaningless.
 

Similarly, consciousness should be just whatever data processing the brain does.  That this corresponds to subjective feelings (qualia) in a person is often posed as a mystery, but what else should these brain states refer to if not subjective experiences of the organism?  Objective Platonic truths?  Subjective experiences of your dog instead? :) It only seems mysterious because we don't yet understand in detail how the brain processes information.

 

Thank you kindly, and that is a perfect analogy.

 

If you showed someone the molecular biology and biochemistry of a cell, and they then asked you, 'yes, but how does life arise from that?', it would be the same thing. That makes no sense. That is life. 

 

 

 consciousness should be just whatever data processing the brain does.

 

Yes. Consciousness is whatever our brains are doing to make us aware. So the question then becomes purely scientific and empirical. We don't yet know, so mystics do the equivalent of the life force and the cell with consciousness and the brain.

 

 

 It only seems mysterious because we don't yet understand in detail how the brain processes information.

Yes, and also because people get mixed up in linguistics and having clear objective meanings. It was only when LaVoisier imposed clear and objective definitions that people could begin to discover chemistry. And also, as a poster above actually admitted, (to my surprise, but I respect the honesty) they want to believe it is something mystical or incomprehensible. Mystics always look to frontiers of knowledge to get their kicks and do their hand waving. They can do that and get away with it until science catches up, then they move on to the next frontier.



#47 Esoparagon

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Posted 13 August 2015 - 07:07 AM

 

Similarly, consciousness should be just whatever data processing the brain does. That this corresponds to subjective feelings (qualia) in a person is often posed as a mystery, but what else should these brain states refer to if not subjective experiences of the organism? Objective Platonic truths? Subjective experiences of your dog instead? :) It only seems mysterious because we don't yet understand in detail how the brain processes information.

I think the mystery is the question of why subjective experience (qualia) exists in the first place. Data processing need not include experience. A thermostat processes "sensory" data, yet it does not experience such data. Simply put, the question is: why doesn't all of this go on "in the dark"?

Another interesting conundrum is the relationship of consciousness and evolution. The leading position in nueroscience and philosophy is that consciousness is an "epiphenomenon" of neural processes. An epiphenomenon is "a secondary effect or byproduct that arises from but does not causally influence a process" (Oxford Dictionary). So, as epiphenomenon, consciousness exerts no causal influence. Yet at the same time we know that evolution has selected consciousness and preserved through countless generations. But by all accounts, consciousness is at best unneeded and at worst useless. As I've been taught, evolution eventually discards any trait that does not influence that survival capacity of the organism in a favorable way. So why would evolution preserve an a-causal property?

 

 

 

Data processing need not include experience

It need not include calculation either. Yet a physical system doing data processing sometimes is doing that. Experience, in the same way, is a specific type of data processing that the brain is doing.

 

Biochemistry need not include living, but sometimes a system of biochemical reaction is doing life.



#48 treonsverdery

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Posted 25 November 2015 - 06:46 PM

David Pearce has thoughts on this http://www.hedweb.co...lism/index.html  which says

 

Mankind's most successful story of the world, natural science, leaves the existence of consciousness a miracle. The phenomenal binding problem deepens the mystery. Neither classical nor quantum physics seemingly allow the binding of distributively processed neuronal micro-experiences into unitary experiential objects apprehended by a unitary phenomenal self. This paper argues that if physicalism and the ontological unity of science are to be saved, then we will need to revise our notions of both 1) the intrinsic nature of the physical and 2) the quasi-classicality of neurons. In conjunction, these two hypotheses yield a novel, bizarre but experimentally testable prediction of quantum superpositions ("Schrödinger's cat states") of neuronal feature-processors in the CNS at sub-femtosecond timescales. An experimental protocol using in vitro neuronal networks is described to confirm or falsify this conjecture via molecular matter-wave interferometry.

 

The emphasis is on testability



#49 Astrocyte

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Posted 22 June 2016 - 03:01 AM

My belief on the subject is that there is a huge processing power present by molecular "mechanics" in the wall of microtubules of the cytoskeleton. Also, and again stricly a "wild" belief, that the inside space of the microtubules are producing a coupling between the processing in the wall and vacuum fluctuations (Casimir effect). I don't want to fall in mystical land, but maybe those empty space fluctuations are something more than purely random events.

 

It would explain single cell intelligence. http://www.basic.nor...ler/summary.htm

 

I'm convinced a single neuron is not as dumb as we may think.

 



#50 Kalliste

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Posted 24 June 2016 - 06:48 AM

Theres probably a lot to add to our current understanding of physics and neurology. I'm sure the brain uses low level EM fields to concert action between the lobes as well, it can't carry much info though, most brainstuff is chemical snailmail. Just think what a brain could do if information was shuttled at lightspeed instead of 150m/s chemical actions.
I liked A.Clarkes theories about the Casimir effect, using it for antigravity and constructing the past-viewer of Light of Other Days. Part of the reason I want to live longer so I can get my Agrav-belt and Wormcam ;-)

Edited by Cosmicalstorm, 24 June 2016 - 06:50 AM.


#51 Intropersona

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Posted 28 June 2016 - 06:43 AM

My belief on the subject is that there is a huge processing power present by molecular "mechanics" in the wall of microtubules of the cytoskeleton. Also, and again stricly a "wild" belief, that the inside space of the microtubules are producing a coupling between the processing in the wall and vacuum fluctuations (Casimir effect). I don't want to fall in mystical land, but maybe those empty space fluctuations are something more than purely random events.

 

It would explain single cell intelligence. http://www.basic.nor...ler/summary.htm

 

I'm convinced a single neuron is not as dumb as we may think.

 

What do you meaning by "huge processing power"? Is this related to the Quantum Microtubule theory propose by hameroff and penrose as linked above?



#52 Intropersona

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Posted 28 June 2016 - 07:01 AM

Theres probably a lot to add to our current understanding of physics and neurology. I'm sure the brain uses low level EM fields to concert action between the lobes as well, it can't carry much info though, most brainstuff is chemical snailmail. Just think what a brain could do if information was shuttled at lightspeed instead of 150m/s chemical actions.
I liked A.Clarkes theories about the Casimir effect, using it for antigravity and constructing the past-viewer of Light of Other Days. Part of the reason I want to live longer so I can get my Agrav-belt and Wormcam ;-)

 

Wouldn't that be amazing? Although it would be a drastic shift in the dynamics of experience if you removed neurotransmitters as the gatekeepers of on/off states. Your lightspeed brain idea reminds me of Integrated_information_theory which says something like consciousness emerges from any system that exchanges information. Like the china brain argument, if you simulated all telephones or computers in china at the same rate and complexity as a human brain would it be conscious? 



#53 Astrocyte

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Posted 30 June 2016 - 09:33 PM

 

What do you meaning by "huge processing power"? Is this related to the Quantum Microtubule theory propose by hameroff and penrose as linked above?

 

 

Yes, something like what is proposed by Hameroff and Penrose. But these are just belief as I cannot accept that consciousness arise from the complexity of a computing system like the "connectionists" believe. The idea of microtubule computing being coupled to vacuum fluctuation add the missing mystical ingredient.

 

Also, the link I provided on single cell intelligence provide interesting evidences on centriole based light detection. It would be interesting to know if these results have been duplicated from other independant sources.
 



#54 Russ Maughan

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 12:10 AM

It doesn't.
Let's begin with memory. Read any memory you like and hold it in your mind. Where did the memory come from, the past or the present? From the past of course. In a sense you time travelled back in time to read it. Memory topology is temporal topology and is as three dimensional as matter. We have pretty well proven time is not a monopole. It may always seem like now is now, and is for the singularity watching these memories. But where is this singularity you ask? (the seat of awareness). I'd have to say that is a branch of science we have not found a way to prove yet, namely the other two dimensions of time. Light has recently been revealed to play a part in the brains communication with muscles. The electrical impulses travelling along nerves then would just be an after-effect, not the prime mover of information. So you could say consciousness is a pinhole (or fountain) in the super-universe and the real you is a multidimensional vortex of light except that only scratches the surface of intuition, pre-cognition and creativity. Best ask this question again in a few decades :)

http://medicalxpress...es-muscles.html

http://news.mit.edu/...and-nerves-0803



#55 Intropersona

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 02:52 AM

I thought this panel discussion was pretty relevant to this thread:

 

 


Also, if anyone has anything to say about https://en.wikipedia...egration_theory please do so.


Edited by Intropersona, 13 June 2017 - 02:51 AM.


#56 Intropersona

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 10:45 AM

Australian professor at ANU David Chalmers' proposes that consciousness arises out of certain configurations of complex states (Integrated information theory) and then the existence of that consciousness collapses the wave function. 

 



#57 GLimitless

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 03:08 PM

Other way round brethren, neurons emerge/arise from Consciousness
Study Tibetan Buddhism, Rigpa, Dzogchen, Trekcho and Togal. This is the highest Knowledge (SatChidAnanda + Truth Consciousness Ecstasy WHERE TRUTH==PULSATION)
http://www.rigpawiki...le=Rainbow_body

I already got my Rainbow Body, get yours now at the low low price of 0.00



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#58 Intropersona

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 03:10 AM

Other way round brethren, neurons emerge/arise from Consciousness
Study Tibetan Buddhism, Rigpa, Dzogchen, Trekcho and Togal. This is the highest Knowledge (SatChidAnanda + Truth Consciousness Ecstasy WHERE TRUTH==PULSATION)
http://www.rigpawiki...le=Rainbow_body

I already got my Rainbow Body, get yours now at the low low price of 0.00

 

Nice. but now the burden of proof lies on you to explain how physical phenomena arise from consciousness... which is an even hard problem than explaining how consciousness emerges from physical matter.







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