Flashcards in Principles Of Neuroscience Lecture 34 The Problem Of Consciousness Deck (22)
What is consciousness?
The experience of ourselves and the universe
What are the neural correlates of consciousness?
Why is this not good enough?
Eg. Fear has a specific area in the brain responsible for this emotion: the amygdala
However, there is no area in the brain that we can point to and say that it is the generator of conscosmess
Describe Descartes' theory of consciousness
Dualism: there is material stuff, that acts like a machine to form function. Totally separate from this, there is immaterial stuff that produces consciousness
What did David Calmers say about the problem of consciousness?
That the problem of consciousness is the Hard Problem; which is hard, not complex, because there is nothing else like consciousness
The easy problem is all the organic stuff that is going on in the brain
We cannot solve the problem of consciousness by continuing with the easy problem
Describe what John Searle said about consciousness
Chinese room thought experiment
There is a person in a room who receives Chinese characters on a piece of paper. He does not speak the language, but has all the tools he needs to translate the words. These are then submitted. Is this understanding? No, it is simply a mechanical process
There is a difference between mechanical and algorythmical process and undemanding and consciousness
What is HAL9000?
What did it exhibit?
Is this possible?
This was a computer in a movie by Stanley Kubrick
It was so intelligent that eventually, it decided to kill all the humans on the space ship
It exhibited emotions and decision making ; consciousness
Descartes, Serle and Chalmers would say that this is not possible because there is something else required to generate consciousness
What does Daniel Dennett say about consciousness?
He says that it is our intuition to think that consciousness is unique and mysterious, when really, it is explicable in the terms of physiology and biology
There is no hard problem; just and easy problem
What are some historical views on "Life"?
What is vitalism?
Vitalism is the idea that there is a difference in living and non living things; a non-physical, irreducible element that separates the two things
What are the non-physical elements that are responsible for life in the view of vitalism?
Élan vitale (spark of life)
Describe the relevance of 'crazy ideas' to the problem of consciousness
In the past, when something wasn't understood, we came up with crazy ideas to explain it.
Eg. Tiny human in the spermatazoa
This could be what is happening with consciousness
Why can't we solve the problem of consciousness?
1. Current work will eventually prevail, but much more work needs to be done
2. Current methods will eventually prevail, but we need some currently undiscovered principle
3. Current methods are not sufficient, we need some revolution of thought
Describe how protein structure is an analogy for why we can't solve the problem of consciousness
We are missing some undiscovered principle
The function of proteins is only evident once we have secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure. The primary structure (the sequence of the amino acids) is not sufficient to give structure
What is meant by a period of complacency?
What were some past ones?
Why are we possible in one now?
Period of complacency is when we need a revolutionary discovery before we can progress
Our problem of consciousness is possibly our current problem that needs a revolutionary idea
What does William Jones say about emotion and instinct?
He said that every object that excites an instinct excites an emotion
What is Denton's view on consciousness?
Hs view is that the primordial emotions are the beginning of consciousness
What are primordial emotions?
Desire for sex
Desire for sleep
Thwarting visceral function
Describe how the emotion of pain is a homeostatic mechanism
Pain is an emotion elicited when we are doing something that is disrupting homeostasis
When we feel this emotion, we are unlikely to do the thing again
Describe how consciousness is a homeostatic mechanism
Consciousness is a homeostatic mechanism, in that when we have an emotional response to something, our behaviour will be affected and we are better adapted to our environment
Where does regulation of primordial emotions occur?
In the basement
Hypothalamus and brain stem
What is special about homeostasis in primates?
We have direct input from the spinal cord into the insula cortex