On 17 October 2013 12:41, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>
>
> On Wednesday, October 16, 2013 7:09:00 PM UTC-4, Liz R wrote:
>
>> On 17 October 2013 11:57, Craig Weinberg <whats...@gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>>>
>>> On Wednesday, October 16, 2013 6:32:44 PM UTC-4, Liz R wrote:
>>>>
>>>> Interesting! One part of the brain controlling another (I guess it does
>>>> this anyway but not in the same way).
>>>>
>>>
>>> The question is, what is controlling the first part of the brain?
>>>
>>
>> I'm not sure if it's controlled, exactly. Some would consider it
>> autonomous, although it has a lot of input that "drives" it - both from the
>> rest of the brain and the environment (which I guess means the rest of the
>> body, including the senses).
>>
>
> There isn't really any room for an autonomous 'it' though when I'm
> introspectively controlling parts of my own brain. If my will can control
> what a neuron does then it is my will that controls the neuron, not the
> brain being passively driven by its own input.
>
> I'm not sure what "will" means here. It seems to be an emergent /
high-level description which perhaps needs to be broken down into a
neuronal level description, given what we're discussing...? Nor am I sure
what "passive" means in the context of autonomy (the two are somewhat
opposed, surely). I'm not sure what it means for the brain to be "passively
driven by its own input" (where "input" includes memories, experiences,
etc) when it's constantly rewiring itself, making and breaking
connections...? (Presumably it's ultimately "driven" by the laws of
physics, but so is everything else, so that would make the entire universe
"passively driven" which makes the concept meaningless, or at least
redundant!)

The brain is normally assumed to be essentially a large collection of
interconnected neurons. There isn't anything else in there that I know of
that is relevant to a discussion of how it functions (well, there are blood
vessels and glial cells and whatever, but I don't know if they're relevant
to a discussion of the brain functions we're interested in, though they are
obviously needed in a supporting role). On that view, giving the brain the
ability to control parts of itself more directly than it would normally be
able to (through training and feedback, or with wires etc) is just
introducing more connections, filling in some links that nature happens to
have not provided, but not fundamentally different from what goes on in
there already.

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