Their experiment consisted of people clicking on the image of a word spoken
aloud.  They found it took people longer for similar sounding words, such
as when present with an image of candy and candle.  From this, they
concluded:

"In thinking of cognition as working as a biological organism does, on the
other hand, you do not have to be in one state
*or* another like a computer, but can have values in between -- you can be
partially in one state *and* another, and then eventually gravitate to a
unique interpretation, as in finally recognizing a spoken word," Spivey
said.


The non-discrete and partial "states" they refer to are high-level mental
states, such as word identification.  This is of little to no relevance to
the low level digital states that would form the basis of a mind under
computationalism.  When considering the highest levels of the brain, it is
easy to mistake thought processes as continuous, just as people often
consider a quantity of water to be continuous.    Yet, we know
this appearance is simply the result of the huge numbers involved.

Jason

On Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 10:00 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com>wrote:

> On Dec 22, 7:13 pm, Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > This is because of the modularity of our brains:
> > Different sections of the brain perform specific functions.  Some neurons
> > may serve only as communication links between different regions in the
> > brain, while others may be involved in processing.  I think that the
> > malfunction and correction of a "communication neuron" might not alter
> > Alice's experience, in the same way we could correct a faulty signal in
> her
> > optic nerve and not expect her experience to be affected.  I am less
> sure,
> > however, that a neuron involved in processing could have its function
> > replaced by a randomly received particle, as this changes the definition
> of
> > the machine.
> >
> > Think of a register containing a bit '1'.  If the bit is '1' because two
> > inputs were received and the logical AND operation is applied, this is an
> > entirely different computation from two bits being ANDed, the result
> placed
> > in that register, then (regardless of the result) the bit '1' is set in
> > that register.  This erases any effect of the two input bits, and
> redefines
> > the computation altogether.  This 'set 1' instruction is much like the
> > received particles from the super nova causing neurons to fire.  It is a
> > very shallow computation, and in my opinion, not likely to lead to any
> > consciousness.
>
> This study suggests that the mind should not be modeled in that way:
> http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/June05/new.mind.model.ssl.html
>
> "For decades, the cognitive and neural sciences have treated mental
> processes as though they involved passing discrete packets of
> information in a strictly feed-forward fashion from one cognitive
> module to the next or in a string of individuated binary symbols --
> like a digital computer," said Spivey. "More recently, however, a
> growing number of studies, such as ours, support dynamical-systems
> approaches to the mind. In this model, perception and cognition are
> mathematically described as a continuous trajectory through a high-
> dimensional mental space; the neural activation patterns flow back and
> forth to produce nonlinear, self-organized, emergent properties --
> like a biological organism."
>
> Their findings support my view that consciousness is biological
> awareness, not modular computation.
>
> Craig
>
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