Consciousness with Christof Koch (BSP 22)

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Brain Science Podcast #22 is an interview with Dr. Christof Koch of Cal Tech, one of the pioneers in the neurobiological study of consciousness.  About two decades ago, when Koch and Francis Crick began looking for what they called the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC), such a quest was considered controversial; but now the field is increasing in popularity.  In our interview, we talked a little about his book,The Quest for Consciousness, as well as his on-going research and his thoughts about what the future might bring.

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy mp3 for $1.
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Here is a list of some of the topics we discussed:

  • Why Francis Crick was an outstanding mentor and colleague.
  • A Working definition of consciousness.
  • How consciousness relates to awareness.
  • What are neural correlates of consciousness.
  • Why vision is the focus of Koch's research.
  • The search for the "footprints" of consciousness.
  • The role of functional imaging and the use of monkeys.
  • Neurons-"the atoms of perception".
  • Why we need a theory of consciousness.
  • The role of the frontal lobes in consciousness.
  • Is consciousness an emergent property?
  • What about zombies?
  • Why do we need consciousness?
  • Will artificial intelligence become conscious?
  • The hard problem:  how does the brain generate subjective experience  (qualia).

Links:

Update on 2012-05-03 15:42 by Ginger Campbell, MD

Christof Koch returned to the Brain Science Podcast in Episode 84.

A review of "The Body Has a Mind of Its Own" (BSP 21)

Featured in this episode: The Body has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better (2007), by Sandra Blakeslee and Matthew Blakeslee.  (Also available on from Audible.com)

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy mp3 for $1.
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

SHOW NOTES

Topics:

  • Body maps and the role of embodiment.
  • Basic ideas about the body maps in the brain.
  • Mapping the world around us.
  • How body maps differ between species.
  • Body schema and body image.
  • The role of body maps in disease.
  • The role of belief in health and illness.
  • How body maps explain non-traditional healing methods and unusual experiences.
  • The role of motor imagery in improving motor skills.
  • Mirror Neurons and grid neurons in the hippocampus  (see more on Scholarpedia).
  • How sensation and emotions come together (the role of the insula).

Scientists mentioned in the podcast:

Other scientists mentioned in The Body has a Mind of Its Own:

Note: This list is not exhaustive.  I know I left off VS Ramachandran and several others, but those listed above did work that was addressed, directly or indirectly, in my podcast.

Brain Structures (links include diagrams of the brain):

Brain Science Podcast's First Six Months (BSP 14)

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Although the first full episode of the Brain Science Podcast appeared on December 15, 2006, I went live with an introductory podcast around December 1, 2006.  (I have deleted episode 0 from the feed).  At any rate, I decided it was time to look back over the first six months and reflect on some of the topics we have covered.

This is one of the shorter episodes, but I hope it will bring some of the key ideas back to mind (and encourage new listeners to go back and get the older episodes).  It will also give you a glimpse of what we will be discussing in the next few months.

As always, I welcome comments and suggestions.

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy mp3 for $1
  • Transcripts: BSP 1-14
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

 

Why Quantum Mechanics Can't Explain Consciousness

Quantum mechanics can't explain consciousness, and I am going to explore why.

The reason I bring this up is that many people seem to be worried that the mounting evidence that the brain generates the mind implies that free will can not exist.  Of course, most of us feel strongly that we do have free will.  Various arguments are put forth to "save" free will. (I am not going to tackle the claim that it needs saving in this post.)  One recent approach has been to use the uncertainty inherent in quantum mechanics as a potential location for free will.  John Searle has observed that this only gives us randomness, not free will, but that doesn't seem to reduce the appeal of such an approach.

Today I wish to argue against using quantum mechanics to explain any aspect of consciousness by considering and entirely different point of view.  My argument is simple: I think trying to use quantum mechanics is taking the argument in the wrong direction.

Consciousness is clearly an emergent property.  The latest evidence is that there is no master site of consciousness or control in the brain.  If that is the case looking to the subatomic level is clearly a move in the wrong direction.  It makes as much sense as trying to understand the properties of water by studying hydrogen and oxygen.  Because water emerges from the combination of the two, studying its components tells us little about water.