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Author Topic:   Man raised back to life in Jesus' name
Posts: 1161
From: Hayward, CA
Joined: 10-14-2004

Message 207 of 300 (277013)
01-08-2006 12:38 AM
Reply to: Message 205 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
01-08-2006 12:29 AM

Re: Ghost limbs
The answer, to be frank, is that your suggestions are very incorrect, and that it will take some learning about how the brain works in order for you to understand why.

Look up Ramachandran. He's done a lot of pioneering work with phantom limbs. Not just phantom limbs, but how we determine the extent of our own bodies through not only proprioceptive feedback (touch), but also visual feedback.

I don't think nwr's trying to be coy (ok, maybe he is). But the brain is not simple; it takes some effort to understand... properly.

Ben in lieu of nwr

This message is a reply to:
 Message 205 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 01-08-2006 12:29 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 209 by macaroniandcheese, posted 01-08-2006 12:41 AM Ben! has responded
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Posts: 1161
From: Hayward, CA
Joined: 10-14-2004

Message 211 of 300 (277022)
01-08-2006 12:49 AM
Reply to: Message 180 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
01-07-2006 11:11 PM

Re: Ghost limbs
In addition to this, it does seem to be highly linked with the idea of answering the question, "Can an imprint occur when nothing actually happened?" In the organ recipients case, nothing actually happened directly to them. They do, however, seem to be experiencing "imprints" nonetheless.

Nothing actually happened? They had an organ transplant.

The article is interesting. I can certainly see some of the information being useful and true; it seems like a reasonable suggestion to me that nervous responses given by organs help make up personality, especially in simple forms such as likes and dislikes.

And I can also see where there's room for really bogus stuff, like

When she met the donor's parents, they played some of his music and she, despite never having heard the song, was able to complete the phrases.

Way too many possibilities to take that one seriously.

And other cases... you can't make determinations scientifically. These people went through traumatic events; a change for a woman to begin being attracted to men after receiving a heart transplant from a straight woman is not strong evidence of anything. Who can possibly tell what caused it?

And it's not like this is happening consistently; these are rare occurences. Seems tough to account for with a theory of "spiritual borrowing."

Which brings up the point of... how would this even work? Is the spirit somehow left behind in the organ "the heart"? How can we differentiate the pure biologial explanations from "spirit + biology" explanations?

If I'm being harsh, I do so to try to point out something--it seems that it's unfamiliarity with the subject matter, and not any reasoning, that leads to this kind of thinking. I don't see any necessity for it.

At the very least, there seems to be some corroborative evidence that one's consciuosness can exist (at least in part) after death.

Only if you want it to. There's no need to reference anything outside of the body. You'd only do so if you wanted to, not because you needed to.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 180 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 01-07-2006 11:11 PM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

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Posts: 1161
From: Hayward, CA
Joined: 10-14-2004

Message 213 of 300 (277029)
01-08-2006 1:01 AM
Reply to: Message 209 by macaroniandcheese
01-08-2006 12:41 AM

Re: Ghost limbs
i'm quite sure of the extent of my body.

Ugh, you're going to make me go try and dig up those "home experiments" where you modify your perception of the extent of your body to include parts of your desk, or a fake rubber hand, and thus are able to FEEL touches to parts of your body as emanating from those inanimate objects.

Serves me right for the "homework" i seem to always give you in your PNTs :(

when i look in the mirror, there's always so much more of it :(

Funny how our perceptions are so socially created. 'Cause for younger guys who aren't worried about getting fat (but concerned about muscle mass), they usually think the opposite.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 209 by macaroniandcheese, posted 01-08-2006 12:41 AM macaroniandcheese has responded

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Posts: 1161
From: Hayward, CA
Joined: 10-14-2004

Message 231 of 300 (277123)
01-08-2006 11:29 AM
Reply to: Message 215 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
01-08-2006 2:54 AM

Re: Ghost limbs
Hi Mr. Ex,

I'm always glad to get constructive, head-on responses. That's why we're here, right? To discuss what we know, ask questions, etc. When people face issues head-on, I feel the opportunity to learn and to be understood. It's a good feeling.

It seems to me that you're basically conclusing that mind (or consciousness) is a function of matter -- matter that has attained a certain degree of organization.

Am I correct with that assumption?

I would say it a little differently, but I think you've got it. I haven't seen evidence that forces any view of the mind as being anything more than due to 'matter that has attained a certain degree of organization.' I am certainly open to examining new evidence, or re-examining old evidence.

We have experimental data where people's brains are electrically stimulatd in order to cause them to move ... And invariably the patient (each one) would respond by saying something like, "I didn't do that. You did."

In other words, the patient clearly thinks of himself as having an existence separate from his body.

This can be explained physically by saying that motor function is localized in the brain, and that when motion is detected without internal stimulation, that it is interpreted as "not me doing it." This itself doesn't mean there's no physical instantiation of "will to move".

In fact, no matter how far Penfield probed the cerebral cortex, there was no place that he could find where an eletrical stimulation of the brain would cause a patient to "believe" or "decide".

Good. This is the kind of argument that is needed to complete the above.

Zhimbo is going to be a much better reference for this than me; looks like his work involves frontal lobe function (although maybe not medial frontal lobe). Anyway, I believe the medial frontal lobe, as well as the basal ganglia, have been implicated in what you call "decide".

Here's a link to the current behavioral test for "dysexecutive function", and a short quote to introduce it:

...dysexecutive syndrome, a cluster of impairmentsgenerally associated with damage to the frontal lobes ofthe brain. These impairments include difficulties withhigh-level tasks such as planning, organising, initiating,monitoring and adapting behaviour.


The problem with excitatory electrical stimulation is that it's useful only in certain situations. It's useful only when a brain function is localized, not distributed. If a function requires the simultaneous or consecutive stimulation of multiple areas of the brain, and you stimulate just one, you're not going to get anything.

This is why inhibitory electrical stimulation is much more useful; you can determine the necessity of an area of the brain in a function by inhibiting that area through stimulation, then asking the patient to attempt to do something. This is how, for example, language function is ascertained before resection (removal) of epileptic parts of the brain. You can't simply stimulate one part of the brain and get words out. Does that mean there's no physical instantiation of linguistic behavior? Far from it. It just means it's distributed and contentful (see below about 'contentful').

Oh right. One more thing about electrical stimulation. YOu can't stimulate parts of the cortex that aren't at the "surface". The brain has many folds, with lots of functional neurons not exposed when you remove the skull. Electrical stimulation deals only with the surface of the brain that is at the exterior surface. Any convolutions of the brain are not accessible. It means you're not testing a large percentage (I don't know offhand; 40% maybe) of the cereberal cortex (to ignore the other critical but "lower" parts of the brain)

And it's not useful for functions which require content. Even if there were a localized "belief" part of the brain, if you stimulated it, what would you believe in? There's no content. It would require 'meaningful' stimulation from other parts of the brain to determine content. "Meaningful stimulation" ... it's hard to explain without some knowledge of how neurons interconnect and work together in networks. Suffice it to say that electrical stimulation cannot stimulate selectively enough to make such "meaningful stimulation".

To summarize. The evidence you gave, while useful evidence, is evidence against a localized, contentful expression of "belief" or "decision" in the brain. That's good, because we've got other evidence against such organization of the brain, and that's not how we think these functions are organized.

The work of Roger Sperry (and John Eccles) has shown us that the movements of consciousness trigger the patterns of neural events.

I'm quite certain that their work showed a correlation between conscious perception of will and patterns of neural events. To take that as the acutal conscious expereince "triggering" something is unsupported by any studies that I know. There are studies that suggest the opposite though--that conscious perception of will is often delayed compared to the actual onset of a behavior.

I can't comment much more, because I can't read the study... unless you have a link somewhere? Anyway, Zhimbo can tell us about the neural correlates to "willful activity", such as dorsal prefrontal cortex for "willfully" keeping a string of numbers in mind or such the sort.

Another study showed a delay between the time an eletric shock was applied to the skin, its reaching the cerebral cortx, and the self conscious perception of it by the person. This too suggests that "the self" is more than just a machine that simply "reacts" to stimuli as it receives them.

I don't get this at all. Neurons are slow. Long axons take time to transmit information. Transmission of that signal across synaptic connections is slow. Exciting other neurons, involved in the conscous perception of pain is slow. Slow transmission tracing a path from skin to brain is exactly what physical models predict. What's the trouble?

Researchers can certainly know about the brain by studying it, but they can't know about the mind without asking the person to reveal it. It seems to me as though this is because "conscious states" have the feature of being inner and private whereas "brain states" don't.

With all due respect, it "seems" that way to you because you don't know much about the brain. There's two very basic reasons we can't ascertain these things without asking.

The first is that we have a really crude, totally incomplete understanding about, at a macroscopic level, how the brain works. NOw, one of the things that we know about the brain is that individual neurons interconnect in "networks", and it is this interconnectivity and the patterns of which neurons activate in a network over time that determine actual function. To do what you suggest, we would have to observe all neurons over time, and then compute, based on those observations, what is going on. The second problem is that we have neither the tools to observe any of the things I described, nor do we have the computational power to simulate and compute such a thing.

I could be a lot more specific and thus be more correct. I don't see the point so I'll just lay it out grossly at this high level.

As for autism, ... I'm reluctant to make a comment. Except to note that Tito is EXCEPTIONAL for a person with autism. And to say that without knowing Tito's specific physical deficit, it's impossible to correlate behavior with physical deficit. So.. it's impossible to say anything without more information. Information that I'm sure we don't have.

Maybe it sounds like a cop out. Unfortunately, those are the facts of life when it comes to studying the brain. It can be really frustrating.

the research of Ramachandran is rather interesting

He does tons of work. Don't swallow everything he says whole, but a lot of it is provocative. I was trying to refer you more to his work on phantom limbs, which made him famous and is well-respected and, to a lesser degree, his work on synaesthesia. It's all interesting stuff, having to do with unusual conscious perception and how they may manifest physically.


The details of the neurophysiology of the brain can easilly be viewed as merely footprints (in a physical medium) of non-physical, non-genetic supersensible realities connected to the activity of human consciousness.

This says more about us than it says about the facts. It's also easy to view a really simple computer program as human, or a bee as having volition, or patterns as being random. Our relatively uneducated thoughts on things we know relatively little about are amazingly flexible.

In fact, it seems as though the evidence currently points towards the view that consciousness exists independently of the brain.

The key in basing conclusions on facts is to be patient in waiting for them. Human consciousness as separate from the body is seemingly based on no facts. Only a lack of them. To me, that's a real red flag.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 215 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 01-08-2006 2:54 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 242 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 01-08-2006 1:14 PM Ben! has responded

Posts: 1161
From: Hayward, CA
Joined: 10-14-2004

Message 232 of 300 (277125)
01-08-2006 11:31 AM
Reply to: Message 219 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
01-08-2006 3:21 AM

Re: Ghost limbs
My simple answer is that I think this phenomenon is worthy of further investigation.

My simple comment is that I agree.

By the way, thanks for not being bothered by what I perceived to be my crankiness. I was feeeling a bit ... shall we say, "moose-y" last night.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 219 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 01-08-2006 3:21 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has not yet responded

Posts: 1161
From: Hayward, CA
Joined: 10-14-2004

Message 245 of 300 (277178)
01-08-2006 1:28 PM
Reply to: Message 242 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
01-08-2006 1:14 PM

Re: Ghost limbs
Has anyone been able to produce intelligence via computer networking on the level seen within humans?

If what you say is true, it seems as though one could simply increases the level of calculations in order to arrive at a virtual intelligence rivaling that of human intelligence.

The short answer is, no.

The long answer is that it takes more than just computing power. It takes understanding of very low-level processing in the brain. We don't really have the tools to understand it to the level that we can simulate it.

We've done an OK job simulating parts of human cognition--specifically, the things I mentioned that were localized. The things that are distributed, we understand less specifically, and so are left 'guessing' in our simulations.

I don't see any impediment to simulation in the future. When we have the knowledge, we'll be able to simulate it.

Note that I fully concur with nwr that the full body, and not just part (brain) needs to be considered to properly understand cognition.

I'll read more of this information later on tonight (I've got to pick up my youngest from a birthday party at the YMCA). However, it seems as if the information you've supplied will be interesting reading.

I would HIGHLY recommend using this set of talks by Ramachandran as a good starting point for you. sidelined provided the link for it originally at EvC, here. That might also be a good place to move this discussion, because we're pretty well off-topic for this thread.

This message is a reply to:
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