Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have enabled a participant who is paralyzed in all four limbs to control a computer cursor, using only brain activity, by tapping into the brain’s own natural learning system. Without tapping into that system, brain-computer interface (BCI) needs extensive daily retraining in order to work. “It’s like asking someone to learn to ride a bike over and over again from scratch,” said study senior author Karunesh Ganguly, MD, PhD, an associate professor of in the UC San Francisco Department of Neurology. “Adapting an artificial learning system to work smoothly with the brain’s sophisticated long-term learning schemas is something that’s never been shown before in a paralyzed person.” Nicholas Weiler, “First ‘Plug and Read More ›
Did consciousness evolve? How do materialists deal with the definition of consciousness? Dr. Michael Egnor and Dr. Bernardo Kastrup discuss consciousness, evolution, and intelligent design. Show Notes 00:28 | Introducing Dr. Bernardo Kastrup 01:05 | Did consciousness evolve? 03:35 | Two alternatives for Darwinists 05:00 | Intelligent design theory 07:15 | Jerry Fodor on natural selection 10:52 | Random mutations Read More ›
How do we know what happens around us? Is the whole universe conscious? Dr. Michael Egnor and Dr. Bernardo Kastrup discuss panpsychism, cosmopsychism, and conciousness. Show Notes 00:35 | Introducing Dr. Bernardo Kastrup 01:29 | Panpsychism and cosmopsychism 02:42 | Using your senses to convey information to the mind 04:24 | Communicating feelings 05:33 | Differentiating complex internal states from Read More ›
Is our physical reality purely subjective or is it objective? Why has materialim been around for so long? Do we have free will? Dr. Michael Egnor and Dr. Bernardo Kastrup discuss physics, idealism, materialism, and free will. Show Notes 00:28 | Introducing Dr. Bernardo Kastrup 01:22 | How quantum mechanics points to the mind 02:40 | Does the moon exist Read More ›
Philosopher Roger Scruton (1944–2020) defined neuroscience thus (I paraphrase): Neuroscience is a huge collection of answers with no memory of the questions. Over the past century, neuroscientists have amassed vast libraries of data. But their interpretation of their data on the mind-brain question shows no meaningful understanding of the genuine questions their research is tasked to answer. These questions are ancient: What is the relationship between the soul (or mind) and the body (or brain)? How is it that matter can think? How is it that third-person stuff gives rise to first-person experience? Answers to such questions from the neuroscience community show little evidence of the profound and subtle nature of the questions. Thus, neuroscientists provide answers to questions they Read More ›
Those who’ve survived near-death experiences often describe an otherworldly journey. Can near-death experiences shed light on the mind/body problem? Robert J. Marks discusses near-death experiences and the mind/body problem with Dr. Walter Bradley. Show Notes 0:00:45 | Introducing Dr. Walter Bradley, Emeritus Distinguished Professor at Baylor University 0:01:10 | Beliefs and objectivity 0:03:35 | A priori assumptions 0:05:01 | What Read More ›
Neuroscientists used to think that each neuron was as complex as a switch. But newer research shows that each neuron is more similar to a microprocessor. Musk’s 3,000 Neuralink electrodes controlled by a single processor does not remotely match your brain’s 80 billion processors, all linked together.
Physicalist David Papineau argues that consciousness “seems mysterious not because of any hidden essence, but only because we think about it in a special way.” In short, it's all in our heads. But wait, say others, the hard problem of consciousness is not so easily dismissed.
Recent discoveries about the brain have uncovered more of its complexity and changed what we thought we knew about it. Will more discoveries in the future change our views again? Robert J. Marks discusses neuroplasticity, restoring brain function through brain stimulation, and other fascinating discoveries about the human brain with Yuri Danilov. Show Notes 0:01:13 | Introducing Yuri Danilov, Senior Read More ›
What we are really learning is that minute mapping of the brain is not likely to give us a complete explanation of creativity. Let alone a means of control. Answers, when they appear, lie in the immaterial world of the mind.
Although ape brains do differ somewhat from human brains in cortical anatomy, it is the similarity between the brains of apes and men, rather than the differences, that provide striking evidence of human exceptionalism.
The brain can also both adapt and heal itself. How can we facilitate this healing in patients with brain challenges? Can this healing be accelerated without brain surgery? Using stimulation to the tongue can result in incredible changes to brain functions. Robert J. Marks and Dr. Jonathan Sackier discuss brain trauma, healing and stimulation. Show Notes 01:11 | Introducing Dr. Read More ›
If you’re in a coma, can you still think? Some fascinating neuroscience research sheds light on the brain function of those in comas. Robert J. Marks and Dr. Michael Egnor discuss comas, brain function, and types of thought. Show Notes 00:29 | Introducing Dr. Michael Egnor, Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook 00:58 Read More ›
If you lose all four of your limbs, are you still you? Most people would say yes. What if your brain were cut into two pieces? Would you still be you? Robert J. Marks and Dr. Michael Egnor discuss splitting the brain and the research of Roger Sperry. Show Notes 00:30 | Introducing Dr. Michael Egnor, Professor of Neurosurgery and Read More ›
There have been ongoing philosophical and theological arguments about free will vs. predestination. How do experiments on the human brain inform us on this question? Robert J. Marks discusses free will, free won’t, predestination, and the brain with Dr. Michael Egnor. Show Notes 00:40 | Introducing Dr. Michael Egnor, Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Read More ›
Mental activity always has meaning—every thought is about something. Computation, by contrast, always lacks meaning in itself. A word processing program doesn’t care about the opinion that you’re expressing when you use it. In fact, what makes computation so useful is that it doesn’t have its own meaning. Because the mind always has meaning and computation never does, the mind is the opposite of computation.
If the brain is immensely complex, it may elude complete understanding in detail. Deep Learning may survey it but that won’t convey understanding to us. We may need to look at more comprehensive ways of knowing.
A science historian offers a look at some of the difficulties we face in understanding the brain
March 4, 2020
In a forthcoming book, science historian Matthew Cobb suggests that we may need to be content with different explanations for different brain parts. And that the image of the brain as a computer is definitely on the way out.