Meditation Center Presents Part 19 of Mind-Body Philosophy Series

mind body

By Frank Simons

The Meditation Center presents part 19 of the 24-part Great Courses series Mind-Body Philosophy. This installment is entitled “Binding in the Brain,” at 5:30pm, Thursday, May 17, 2018, at the Center, Callejón Blanco 4.

Francis Crick, co-discoverer with James Watson of the structure of DNA, proposed two hypotheses regarding brain function and consciousness: Firstly, he proposed the idea that patterns of neurons firing synchronously in the range of 40 hertz form part of the same conscious experience; secondly, he proposed that there is a particular part of the brain responsible for the coordination across various areas of the brain required for consciousness.

After leaving DNA research behind, Crick changed course. He felt there were two mysteries: the physical basis of life and the physical basis of mind. His progress on the basis of life had been astounding, so he turned to the second mystery—the basis of mind, the underlying structure of consciousness, which, as a materialist, he thought physical. He worked with neuroscientist Christof Koch on a neurobiological theory of consciousness. They assumed other animals, and clearly the higher mammals, also have consciousness; therefore language, as found in humans, is not required for consciousness. They claim it’s unprofitable at an early stage to speculate whether octopi, fruit flies or nematodes are conscious. They also put aside questions of what consciousness is for, the problem of focusing on the nature of subjective experience.

Those are some pretty significant factors to put aside, but it’s all in the name of trying to convert the problem of consciousness into a genuinely scientific research project. They recognize their first step as just that: a first step. The central aspect of consciousness is what they refer to as the “binding problem.” At that moment, there are certain things you see, hear, feel, smell, taste, or think. All these different sensations and conceptualizations are happening at the same time. Yours is a single consciousness in which many things are happening. How precisely is this possible, that all of those things are bound in a single consciousness? Crick and Koch approach it as a problem of the brain. They see attention and short-term memory as crucial for consciousness, but those don’t solve the binding problem. There is no evidence of any spatial location in the brain where it all comes together. Their hypothesis is that binding occurs through synchronization in the oscillation patterns of neuron firing commonly called brain waves.

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 19: “Binding in the Brain”

Thu, May 17, 5:30pm

Meditation Center

Callejón Blanco 4

Free, donations accepted

044 415 156 1950

 

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