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Part 8 of Mind-Body Philosophy Series at the Meditation Center

mind body

By Frank Simons

The Meditation Center presents the next installment in the 24-part Great Courses series, Mind-Body Philosophy. This week’s presentation, Part 8, entitled “Strange Cases of Consciousness,” takes place at 5:30pm on Thursday, March 1, at the Center, Callejón Blanco 4.

We can learn quite a lot about the mind and the brain by exploring our own normal consciousness, but we can also learn a great deal by looking further afield at some very strange cases of consciousness. Some strange cases of subjective experience offer important lessons as to how the brain functions. The first set of lessons tells us about modularity in the brain. The second set tells us about multiple routes in the brain. The third set carries lessons about differentiation and separation between parts of the brain. And the fourth set concerns strange effects of blending, intersection, and union between parts of the brain.

Modularity: the celebrated neurologist Oliver Sacks tells of a successful artist, known for abstract color canvases, who suffered damage to the V4 area of the visual cortex. He lost color entirely. He spoke of the world as going not only into shades of gray but going indescribably “wrong.” What had appeared “flesh-colored” now appeared “rat-colored.” That is a lesson regarding modularity. Those with changes in V4 have their color perception only affected.

Multiple Routes: The brain routes information through multiple paths. There is an area of the brain toward the bottom of the temporal lobes known as the fusiform gyrus. With damage to the fusiform gyrus, a person is unable to recognize faces. There is an even stranger form of double routing or redundancy in the brain knows as blindsight. If the V1 on one side of the brain is knocked out, one loses the left side of their visual field. Their eyes may be functional, but they are cognitively blind to the left. Strangely, however, if asked to point to where a light source which they cannot see is, they will point with 99% accuracy.

Synesthesia is the blending of different sensory modalities. Music comes in colors. It has been estimated that synesthesia is evident in as many as two people out of a hundred. One of the strange facts about synesthesia is that it is seven times more common among artists, poets, and novelists. Synesthesia, first documented by Francis Galton in the 19th century, appears to be largely genetic.

Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook Patrick Grim has provided his students with invaluable insights into issues of philosophy, artificial intelligence, theoretical biology, and other fields. Professor Grim was awarded the university’s presidential and chancellor’s awards for teaching excellence and was elected to the Academy of Teachers and Scholars.

There will be an opportunity for discussion following the video.

Presentations of the Center are offered without charge. Donations are gratefully accepted.


Video Presentation

Mind-Body Philosophy Part 8 “Strange Cases of Consciousness”

Thu, Mar 1, 5:30pm

Meditation Center

Callejón Blanco 4

Free, donations accepted

044 415 156 1950




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