Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryNeuroscience

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Natural Dualism

Neuroscience Must Be Dualist, Whether or Not “Science” Allows It

A decade ago, philosopher Riccardo Manzotti and psychology prof Paulo Moderato, both of the University of Milan, published a widely noted chapter in Contemporary Dualism (Routledge 2013): ”Dualism in Disguise.” Briefly, they accuse neuroscientists of being dualists at heart. That is, the neuroscientists really do believe in the existence of the immaterial mind. The point of view most neuroscientists say they believe is physicalism or eliminative materialism: That is, the mind is simply what the brain does, end stop. And in a nice way, Manzotti and Moderato (hereafter M & M) are accusing them of being hypocrites: First, we want to highlight a surprising fact that is often denounced but seldom believed—namely that most of current neuroscientists, contrary to often-heralded Read More ›

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Purkinje neuron, GABAergic neuron located in the cerebellum

Researchers: Human Cerebellum Aids Higher Cognitive Functions

At one time, the cerebellum was thought to facilitate only functions like movement. But recent research shows that it’s more complex

The cerebellum, a lower back brain part found in nearly all vertebrates, is vital for most physical movement, including eye movements. In the past, it was not thought to have much to do with thinking. But that is changing. Recent work publicized by the University of Heidelberg in Germany helps to show, for one thing, that the cerebellum’s relationship to the rest of the brain is more complex than that: Although the cerebellum, a structure at the back of the skull, contains about 80 percent of all neurons in the whole human brain, this was long considered a brain region with a rather simple cellular architecture,” explains Prof. [Henrik] Kaessmann. In recent times, however, evidence suggesting a pronounced heterogeneity within Read More ›

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Top View of Handsome Young Man Sleeping Cozily on a Bed in His Bedroom at Night. Blue Nightly Colors with Cold Weak Lamppost Light Shining Through the Window.

Night Shift: The Brain’s Extraordinary Work While Asleep

Lie down, close your eyes, lose consciousness, and the brain undertakes the heavy lifting that sleep demands.

What is consciousness? “Consciousness is what allows you to think, remember, and feel things.” It includes awareness of yourself. Descartes’ famous line. “I think, therefore I am,” declared his consciousness. Conscious thinking means our brains, our minds, are sensing, observing, memorizing, recalling, decoding, analyzing, calculating, interrelating, cross-referencing, rearranging, expanding, generalizing, communicating, and even creating. Those coordinated operations, part of cognition, require real work. After all that brain work, it should be time for a rest, right? Nope. When a supermarket closes, the workers don’t just switch off the lights and go home. Overnight the workers clean, restock, organize, repair, and get the store ready for the next day. It’s the same for the brain. Lie down, close your eyes, lose Read More ›

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Brain development during pregnancy of unborn baby. 3D rendered illustration.

Study: Babies Start Learning Their Home Language Before Birth

Neuroscience researchers found that newborns responded better to a folk tale in French than in Spanish or English — when French was their mothers’ native language

Just how tiny children, who hardly know anything at all, learn their native language with ease is still largely a mystery. But a recent article in Science Advances offers evidence that, when a child hears speech before birth, the complex neurological processes that enable early acquisition of the language are stimulated. From the open access paper: Human infants acquire language with amazing ease. This feat may begin early, possibly even before birth (1–5), as hearing is operational by 24 to 28 weeks of gestation (6). The intrauterine environment acts as a low-pass filter, attenuating frequencies above 600 Hz (2, 7). As a result, individual speech sounds are suppressed in the lowpass–filtered prenatal speech signal, but prosody, i.e., the melody and Read More ›

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Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain

Claim: What consciousness studies needs is more Darwinism

The Darwinian view of the evolution of the human mind is, at best, a ladder with no upper rungs

Writing at Psychology Today in 2020, University of Toronto psychiatrist Ralph Lewis told us, We have already known for a long time from clinical neurology and from my own field, clinical psychiatry, that without a shadow of a doubt there is no aspect of the mind that is not entirely the product of, and utterly dependent on, the physical brain. Disruption, disassembly or enhancement of brain circuitry (subtle or major) can radically alter any aspect of the mind. And yet the mystery of how exactly the brain produces consciousness has remained unexplained. Ralph Lewis, “What Actually Is Consciousness, and How Did It Evolve?”, Psychology Today, September 2020 (updated October 7, 2023) Lewis thought that evolution explains consciousness: “Once we shed Read More ›

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Inside the brain. Concept of neurons and nervous system.

Our Brains Don’t Really Rewire, Neuroscientists Caution

Professors Tamar Makin (Cambridge) and John Krakauer (Johns Hopkins) say that when the brain adapts to losses, it uses “latent capacities,” not new ones

We hear a lot about neuroplasticity, — the way the brain compensates for absences or injuries. A recent neuroscience paper offers a look at what the brain is really doing in such cases. One area that has attracted a lot of attention is human echolocation, the ability of a person who is blind — due to damage to the visual cortex of the brain — to use a form of echolocation to sense objects that cannot actually be seen. Professors Tamar Makin (Cambridge) and John Krakauer (Johns Hopkins) propose that what happens in the brain is something like this: In their article, Makin and Krakauer look at a ten seminal studies that purport to show the brain’s ability to reorganise. Read More ›

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Human brain stimulation or activity with neuron close-up 3D rendering illustration. Neurology, cognition, neuronal network, psychology, neuroscience scientific concepts.

Will Neuroscience Ever Accommodate Immaterial Consciousness?

Joseph Green offers an informative account in Minding the Brain of the current state of neuroscience. What we now know is remarkable — but so is what we don’t

“On the Limitations of Cutting-Edge Neuroscience,” which is Chapter 15 of Minding the Brain, offers neuroscientist Joseph Green’s candid assessment of the current state of the discipline. If you would like to enjoy a discussion of neuroscience today without another massive dose of promissory materialism, bookmark this one for sure. Green starts with a premise that may be startling to some: Neuroscientists are nowhere near figuring out how the brain works. More significantly, “ no specific philosophical theory should be preferred over another on the basis of scientific findings.” That is because “ … the current dogma that pervades neuroscience—materialist monism that can be simply stated as “we are nothing but our brains”—is established by intellectual pressure rather than solid Read More ›

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An octopus holding a plastic bottle , generative ai

Will the Octopus Ever Find Its Way Into a Tidy Evolutionary Tree?

New finds in genetics and neuroscience both shed light and deepen the puzzle of the almost "alien" species

Just why the octopus — a short-lived, solitary, invertebrate exotherm — should seem as intelligent as a monkey has become quite the puzzle in recent years. Typical evolutionary explanations don’t really work. The octopus’s biological inheritance is precisely the type that we don’t associate with intelligence. For one thing, it is much more closely related to clams than to monkeys. What about the fact that the octopus has nine brains? Well, do nine invertebrate brains add up to more intelligence than one? That’s a question worth asking because it probably wouldn’t work with grasshoppers or worms. That is, both types of life form have brains but it isn’t clear how an installation of nine of them in a single individual Read More ›

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Generative AI illustrations of the last step of the spiritual journey. Depths of consciousness, hidden wisdom, and transformative growth open a portal into a new realm of conscious awareness.

The Scientific Evidence for Near-Death-Experiences

A conversation with Dr. Gary Habermas on the plausibility and evidence of near-death-experiences.

Is there strong scientific evidence for near-death experiences, the subject of the new film After Death? On an episode of ID the Future, I spoke with Dr. Gary Habermas about his chapter evaluating the evidence for near-death cases in the recent book Minding the Brain: Models of the Mind, Information, and Empirical Science. As Dr. Habermas explains, most near-death accounts contain both objective and subjective elements. Personal testimony about other realms can’t be independently corroborated, but objective evidence rooted in this world can be confirmed and evaluated. “I can’t verify heavenly discussions or heavenly sites,” says Habermas, “so the kind of NDE data I’m talking about virtually always occur on this earth in normal kinds of situations, like parking lots or in your Read More ›

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man walking in the night toward the light

New Movie Investigates Near-Death Experiences

What happens after we die? The new movie "After Death," out today, investigates near-death experiences and the possibility of the afterlife.

Are reports of consciousness after death believable? Moreover, are they scientifically credible? A new film from Angel Studies, After Death, investigates these questions by interviewing people in near-death situations. These subjects report encountering exquisite beauty, loved ones, and even the ability to see their physical bodies from a disembodied vantage point after death. Many doctors and neuroscientists are admitting that these testimonies are hard to dismiss through materialistic explanations. The movie is out today and offers a compelling revelation of the evidence for life after death. Take a moment to watch the trailer and consider seeing the movie in full: After Death Tickets & Showtimes | Angel Studios

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Synaps with neurons in the background, neurotransmitters in synaptic junction, information transmission in the brain

Neuroscience Has Never Provided Much Evidence for Materialism

In a chapter of the new book, Minding the Brain, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor points out that many great neuroscientists were non-materialists

Over the past century, philosophers and philosophy connoisseurs have had a great time making fun of dualism. It was so easy. The human mind, we are told, is just the ghost in the machine, something that, as science will prove, doesn’t really exist. We are just bodies with brains. Life is all material. An early warning that things aren’t as simple as that should be the outcome of the wager between prominent neuroscientist Christof Koch and dualist philosopher David Chalmers. After 25 years of search, Koch conceded to Chalmers because no consciousness “signature” had been found in the brain. Was it just a ripple effect of that outcome that, shortly afterward, many leading neuroscientists denounced Koch’s well-regarded Integrated Information Theory Read More ›

Choosing the High Road or Low Road

Modern Neuroscience Does NOT Disprove Free Will

In a chapter of Minding the Brain (2023), Cristi L. S. Cooper looks at the current state of neuroscience research on free will

If you’ve heard the latest from pop science, you probably “know” that science disproves free will. Actually, after decades of research on the topic, it doesn’t. Chapter 14 of Minding the Brain (Discovery Institute Press, 2023) is neuroscientist and educator Cristi L. S. Cooper’s look at the real state of the neuroscience around free will. In “Free Will, Free Won’t, and What the Libet Experiments Don’t Tell Us,” Cooper recounts in some detail the research around readiness potentials in the brain. The controversy started with 1983 findings by American neuroscientist Benjamin Libet (1916–2007). Briefly, Libet et al. found that the brain initiates spontaneous movements (“readiness potential”) before subjects recall making as choice to act. And, Cooper notes, “This finding kicked Read More ›

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Laundromat

In Neuroscience Flap, Science Media Tackle “Pseudoscience” Claim

As the leading theory of consciousness is tarred by neuroscientists as “pseudoscience,” science media struggle to outline just WHAT science is

As a child, I remember hearing a proverb, “When thieves fall out, honest men come by their own.” It means roughly: If you are overhearing loud, angry accusations, you may suddenly realize for the first time what really happened during many puzzling events — and hear honest statements of some Top People’s agendas. For example, it took a huge uproar around the top neuroscience theory, Integrated Information Theory (IIT), for some of us to realize how the “Keep abortion legal!” agenda dominates many neuroscientists’ concerns. That turn of events is hardly something that would have jumped out at most of us.* As noted here earlier, IIT is now under attack as “pseudoscience,” with top journal Nature covering the fight. And Read More ›

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the head of a person is full of different numbers Generative AI

Did “Evolution” Wire Human Brains to “Act Like Supercomputers”?

In making such a claim, psychology researchers may have got more than they bargained for

Intelligent design theory is still a third rail in science. But a media release for a recent research publication seems to subtly adopt its language. Researchers associated with the University of Sydney found that human brains are “naturally wired to perform advanced calculations, much like a high-powered computer, to make sense of the world through a process known as Bayesian inference.” Bayesian inference is based on Bayes’ Theorem; essentially, it’s a decision-making tool, “a means for revising predictions in light of relevant evidence, also known as conditional probability or inverse probability.” (Britannica). Originally developed by Presbyterian minister and mathematician Thomas Bayes (1702–1761) and found among his papers after his death, Bayesian inference is used today to assess probabilities using advanced Read More ›

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The complexity of digital ethics background. generative AI

Leading Consciousness Theory Slammed as “Pseudoscience.” Huh?

Integrated Information Theory’s panpsychist leanings are the 124 neuroscientist critics’ real target

Since last week, 124 neuroscientists, including some really big names, have signed an online letter,” to be published in a journal, denouncing a leading theory of consciousness, Integrated Information Theory (IIT), as “pseudoscience.” If you don’t follow these controversies, IIT may not immediately ring a bell. But the theory featured in popular science news earlier this summer when dualist philosopher David Chalmers won a 25-year bet with IIT neuroscientist Christof Koch. He had bet that a “consciousness spot” would not be found in the brain and it was not. But they were both good sports about it and, as agreed, Koch bought Chalmers a case of fine wine. But the signatories to the letter are in no mood for parties. Read More ›

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Businessman in split personality concept. High quality photo

Split Mind: The Strangest Theory in Neuroscience?

The idea that we might all have separate, undetected consciousnesses in each half of our brain supports materialism but there’s little evidence for it
he subtle abnormalities displayed by patients whose brains were split in half revealed an uncomfortable truth: The mind is a unity. Read More ›
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brain made from water and flowers on pastel background concept art, photo, Shot on 65mm lens, Shutter Speed 1 4000, F 1.8 White Balance, 32k, Super-Resolution, Pro Photo RGB, Half rear Lighting, Backl

The Left and Right Brain Both Want Pop Science Media to Chill

Neuroscience is not an especially rewarding field for the pursuit of dogma
The risk with neuroscience that tries to encompass Mozart is not that we will know nothing but that we will know just enough to get it all wrong. Read More ›
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Ideas escape from brain of pensive african man

Does Left Brain-Only Thinking Impoverish Our Mental World? How?

A discussion of the left brain vs the right brain that avoids pop science can set us thinking, as psychiatrist McGilchrist and neurologist Dirckx show
Materialism impoverishes mind–brain discussions due to Egnor’s dilemma: If your hypothesis is that your mind is an illusion, then you DO NOT HAVE a hypothesis. Read More ›
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Create yourself concept. Good looking young man drawing a picture, sketch of himself

Our Essential “I”ness … the Search for Its Address in the Brain

Does “I” — the first person singular — have or need a fixed address in the brain?
Amid claims for the Exact Spot in which selfhood lives and claims that the self is just an illusion, a real patient points inadvertently to the reality… Read More ›
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Brain psychology mind soul and hope concept art, 3d illustration, surreal artwork, imagination painting, conceptual idea

The Mind: A Neuroscientist and a Psychiatrist Walk Into a…

Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist, conversing with Christian neuroscientist Sharon Dirckx about materialism’s deficits, shows considerable sympathy for panpsychism
What’s most interesting about this discussion is how well the life of the intellect, engaged by science, gets on without any form of eliminative materialism. Read More ›