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Your Deceptive Mind Part 6: “Our Constructed Reality”

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By Frank Simons

The Meditation Center presents part 6 of the 24-part Great Courses series

Your Deceptive Mind: Part 6: “Our Constructed Reality,” Thursday, August 2, 2018, 5:30pm, Meditation Center, Callejón Blanco 4.

What we perceive of as reality is actually an illusion constructed by our brains. Perception is highly filtered and constructed. Our brains assign patterns to what we perceive and then assign meaning to those patterns; our very sense of self is also a constructed illusion by our brains.

The most persistent illusion we construct is that we are one cohesive consciousness. The reality is that various regions of our brain are communicating with each other and are in frequent conflict as they each undergo their purpose. The neocortex has an executive function, whereas more primitive parts of the brain are the seats of emotion and instinct. The neocortex is involved with social behavior, long-term planning, and inhibition. The neocortex rationalizes decisions made by more primitive regions. When conflicts arise and are resolved, the brain gives us a hit of dopamine, our reward neurotransmitter, making us feel good.

Neuroscience researchers are finding neurological correlates demonstrating different brain regions in conflict. Our decisions seem to be conscious, but they are often made subconsciously by an evolutionary neurobiological calculus that we are not aware of. In addition to decision-making, intuition is a form of subconscious processing. For example, emotional processing, social cues, and the monitoring of our internal state are largely subconscious processes. Emotions are involuntary and subconscious. We don’t choose to be angry; we just feel angry and then invent a reason to explain why with varying degrees of insight. Explanations we invent for our feelings and behavior are typically highly self-serving.

Subconscious processing extends to other types of processing, such as searching for a particular memory or even problem-solving. Your brain continues to try to search your memories for the location of your car keys, even though you aren’t consciously paying attention to it, and then when the match is made, the information pops into your conscious awareness.

The global workspace model of consciousness states that while various brain regions act like they are each their own consciousness, they all report to some central, broadly distributed network. Recent evidence argues against the existence of such a global workspace. Consciousness is the aggregate behavior of all of these various components acting together.

The course is presented by Steven Novella, MD, academic neurologist, Yale School of Medicine. He is host and producer of the award-winning podcast, The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe. He writes a regular column for Skeptical Inquirer. He maintains a personal blog, NeuroLogica Blog, covering news and issues in neuroscience, philosophy of science, critical thinking, and the intersection of science with the media and society. Dr Novella is the founder and senior editor of Science-Based Medicine, a group medical and health blog.

There will be an opportunity for discussion following the video.

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


Video Presentation

Your Deceptive Mind Part 6: “Our Constructed Reality”

Thurs, August 2, 5:30pm

Meditation Center

Callejón Blanco 4

Free, donations accepted


044 415 156 1950


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