Spinoff Thread:What Happens To The Conscious Awareness When We Die

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by LORD_VOLDEMORT, Feb 22, 2008.

  1. frisco Registered Member

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    Fraggle Rocker: Ok, good, just checking. I by no means was claiming credit for coming up with that incredibly original insight. Just wanted to make sure we were both on the same page.

    As for consciousness being internal... you'd be surprised how counter-intuitive and challenged that is. For a very long time (the majority of theories of consciousness still center around it) it was believed that consciousness only served as an "executive summary" of our sensory input, and was dependent on the external world.
     
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  3. frisco Registered Member

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    Lord Voldemort:
    You sent me a PM, but I can't reply since I don't have 20 posts yet so I'll just respond here, since its more or less on topic.

    Sure. You'll be disappointed to know that consciousness being intrinsic doesn't have much to do with quantum mechanics, though.

    There's a classic paper which is right on for conscious states. It's titled "Of dreaming and wakefulness," by R Llinas and D Pare. You'll need a ScienceDirect or WOS subscription, though, so if you aren't associated with a university let me know and I can just email you the paper. You'll need a bit of a background in neurobiology, but not too much.
     
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  5. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    I take it you have heard of Prof. Susan Greenfield,.a neuroscientist, I have read a couple of her books and ,some time ago, attended her Reith Lectures. In a recent article in New Scientist she claims that there is no generally agreed definition of consciousness, that it may take at least fifty years before we know the right questions to ask and to know what would constitute meaningful answers.

    This is not at odds with anything you have said. I just wanted to put on record the enormous difficulties we face in understanding consciousness.
     
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  7. frisco Registered Member

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    Re: Myles per Prof. Greenfield.

    Was that regarding the hard problem or the easy problem?
     
  8. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    Can you please explain ?
     
  9. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    I've had the experiencer a few times. Generally, it's during a nightmare. Some horrible thing will be about to happen and I'll think to myself, ":this is just a dream", and it will either stop or I'll wake up. Either way, the nightmare ends.

    Of course, I'm also prone to the "spider attack" type dream. I'll dream that I'm in bed and some giant insect or whatever is crawling over me or near me. Suddenly, I'll jump out of bed (while still completely asleep) and start flailing around trying to kill the insect. I've been known to knock over lamps and even our endtable (which is pretty big).

    Sometimes I"ll wake up in the midst of the episode, other times I''ll just think it was a nightmare until the next day when my wife says, "What the hell was your problem last night?" Or I awake to find my night stand flipped over.

    My wife tells me that one time when I was freaking out, she asked what it was. I told her it was a giant spider in the bed. She asked what happened to it. I said it crawled under her pillow.

    I looked it up and it's called "night terrors". The funny thing is, we were watching an episode of Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick the Starfish had an episode of night terrors exactly like mine! The kids got a real kick out of that.

    Fortunately, I think it's been well over a year since I've had an episode.
     
  10. frisco Registered Member

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    David Chalmers defined consciousness as two problems a while ago, and that's been picked up by the scientific community pretty widely since then.

    The "easy problem" is comprised of the neuronal correlates of consciousness: when we "experience" something, as the subject reports it, what's going on in the brain? This is amenable to fMRI, electrophysiological studies, so on. This is considered in the domain of psychology and there's been a lot of progress in recent years. I'd recommend checking out Dr. Christof Koch's work at Caltech for an introduction; he's become a leading figure in the area.

    The "hard problem" is the only scientific question which has had no progress since the scientific method was first developed hundreds of years ago. It is the question, "why is there anything at all?" So we can identify precisely what the brain is up to during different cognitive processes and states, even down to the single cell level, but this says nothing as to why it should qualitatively "feel like anything." The classic example is the "redness of red." Why should red look red? We can have a perfect physical explanation for the basis of color, but that doesn't explain the origin of qualia. (Google "qualia," I still can't post links yet). For the moment this isn't usually considered inside the domain of psychology, and the study of the hard problem of consciousness is called phenomenology.

    I could understand Dr. Greenfield making such a claim for the hard problem, but not so for the easy problem. Especially with Blue Brain in Lausanne, we should be developing pretty solid models of cognitive processes easily within the next decade.

    And madanthonywayne: night terrors aren't associated with imagery. They're a deep sinking feeling, strongly emotional, that somethings terrible and wrong--like a very strong presence of the emotion "fear" itself--but not a specific experience or hallucination. They're pretty common among children, but what you had sounds like normal nightmares.
     
  11. Myles Registered Senior Member

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    I shall look up the sources you cite. As far as I can remember , Susan Greenfield did not distinguish between a hard and a soft problem. Thanks for the info. It now looks as if I shall have to do some more homework
     
  12. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    Hmm. The research I did (google search) specifically mentioned the "spider" dreams. And the really strange part is the sleepwalking aspect. Ive literally gotten out of bed while still asleep when having one of these "spider" dreams. And not just gotten out, jumped out, arms flailing.
    I'm not particularly afraid of spiders when I'm awake. Reading thru that article, it sounds like exactly what I experience.
     
  13. frisco Registered Member

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    Madanthonywayne: That's weird, not what I was taught. Well, it all sounds right except for the images of spiders and snakes bit. Searching the Merck Manual for parasomnias reveals that
    Wikipedia and my fundamentals of neuro text also agree that they're more about the deep emotion of fear, and since they occur outside of REM sleep, don't have accompanying imagery. That's not to say that the brain can't confabulate after the fact when asked about the incident and "remember" a hallucination when faced with people asking what was going on. It would be impossible to report such a thing at the time since night terrors occur in SWS, and thus the sleeper can't be awoken during the fit without drugs.
     
  14. LORD_VOLDEMORT Banned Banned

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    Yes could you email it to me

    Akhenaten8@gmail.com


    Thanks.
     
  15. LORD_VOLDEMORT Banned Banned

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    HONESTLY,ONE TIME I WOKEUP AND I COULDNT MOVE,HONESTLY,I COULD NOT MOVE.THEY HAD A NAME FOR IT.ALL OF SUDDEN I COULD NOT OPEN MY EYES AND I COULD NOT FUNCTION,ALL OF SUDDEN I COULD FUNCTION AGAIN AND OR MY EYES,IT WAS LIKE A 10 SECOND EPISODE.I SWEAR THIS HAS HAPPENED AS RECENTLY AS OF LATE LAST YEAR.

    THIS WAS A BIG TOPIC AT WORK ONCE,MY CO WORKERS WERE LIKE

    O.M.G THAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME BEFORE.
    IT WAS SO SCARY!
     
  16. frisco Registered Member

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    Sleep paralysis? You're paralyzed while in REM sleep because signals to and from the spinal cord are actively suppressed. It's not uncommon to "wake up" before this suppression is fully lifted, thus feeling paralyzed for a few seconds. It's also common to experience it while falling asleep--it's been reported for hundreds of years when people used to think that demons were sitting on their chests and crushing them. It's completely normal. Sleep paralysis is what prevents you from acting out your dreams (and yes, there are patients who act out their dreams because the areas which induce paralysis are damaged).

    If I could post links yet I'd post the link to the wikipedia page for sleep paralysis (also known as hypnagogic paralysis or hypnopompic paralysis).
     
  17. LORD_VOLDEMORT Banned Banned

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    YES thats it,somehow someone linked your conscious unawareness to an outter body experience.I read it awhile ago.
     
  18. frisco Registered Member

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    Wait.. how did out of body experiences come into this?
     
  19. LORD_VOLDEMORT Banned Banned

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    Something about the body weighing like 2 pounds or some shit,i'm sounding stupid let me stop.I'm just going over what i read or came across that i didnt really care for until now.lol
     
  20. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    You're saying the "fit" is pure emotion without imagery and the spider image is supplied by the brain after the fact? Hmmm. Wierd stuff. I never realized I was prone to "fits".

    Anything else I should know about them? As I said, it's been quite a while since I've had one. I just put it down the the ever popular "stress".
     
  21. frisco Registered Member

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    Yeah, and I don't want to be really condescending about it or anything. The one general theme of neurology is "the brain can do anything" anyway, so I wouldn't be surprised if there was something more going on than just what I've been taught.

    I don't know much more about them qualitatively... they're usually not remembered since they happen out of REM sleep so I'm not even sure if I had them when I was a kid. The neurobiological theory behind them right now (as far as I know) is something along the lines of overstimulation of the amygdala (which is presumably responsible for binding emotion) during SWS, which ties in with why they happen more during childhood, re: forming connections causes activation.
     
  22. LORD_VOLDEMORT Banned Banned

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    What about this 10 percent of the brain the average human uses,leaving 90 percent.Could this be relative to something we have no access too.Perhaps a programmer?
     
  23. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    That figure is complete BS. A higher proportion than that is allocated to just vision!
     

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