[] On Behalf Of Craig Weinberg
Sent: Sunday, October 27, 2013 4:23 PM
Subject: Re: Neural activity in the brain is harder to disrupt when we are
aware of it


On Sunday, October 27, 2013 7:12:01 PM UTC-4, cdemorsella wrote:

Very interesting – and illustrative of how our perception is an artifact of
our mind/brain. It reminds me of an earlier study in which test subjects
were told they were being scored on their ability to perform some complex
two levels of order visual task – say pressing a button whenever a diagonal
red bar appeared on their visual field… so they need to focus on both color
and shape in this case. Afterwards they had to report on what they saw. What
they were really being tested on was whether or not – absorbed as their
minds were in this complex visual task – they saw the man in the gorilla
suit who clearly walked across their field of view during the sequence in
which they were being tested on.

What is surprising in the results was how many subjects never saw the man in
the gorilla suit…. How their brains helpfully edited this unimportant (for
the task) data stream, excising the gorilla from the world that they saw.
How much of what we see, smell, hear, taste, touch even is something that
has become subtly changed as it has become manufactured in our perception.

>From what I have been able to read it sounds like the brain is very
efficient about throwing out information it has “decided” is redundant,
unimportant or distracting… the brain/mind as an editing machine… turning
the raw film into the finished movie.

>> I don't think that finished movies come from raw film, they come from
recording the images and sounds of actors and scenery. The raw film is
actually the public medium between one rich private experience and another.
What personal awareness lacks in sub-personal fidelity to appearing gorillas
it makes up for a thousand fold in fidelity to the totality of experienced
anthropology. It's odd to me that the worldview which expects sense to be a
solipsistic simulation within the brain is surprised that the brain makes
mistakes that seem real rather than that it can compose high fidelity
reality out of senseless mistakes.


When you use the term “the public medium” you seem to be invoking some kind
of shared super-consciousness or at the very least a shared repository of
everything that is (or the even more extended set “everything that is or
that could have been”), in which case, yes the snippets of film that ended
up on the cutting floor and are conspicuously absent from our experience –
do still exist in this universal medium.

But the point is that they do not exist, in so far as the personal
experience of reality is concerned – they have been excised by the
brain/mind and removed from the sense streams before the brain/mind’s edited
experience is flowed into the metaphorical spring within our minds from
which we perceive reality as a state of emanating being and a dynamic
current world – the now (not the metaphysical spiritual now, especially, but
rather the quotidian now of common experience)  

The point that interests me is that our brain/mind is a superb on the fly
editing and reality reification engine; that our experience is the result of
various complex and multi-variant processes that occur within us and that a
measurable lag time has elapsed by the time we first experience the
well-spring of our “now” – that is we experience reality post facto.

Far from denigrating the mind – I am quite fascinated by it; by how it has
evolved; by how it seems to work; by its algorithms. I also believe it is
fruitful to try to work out how the mind/brain works down to the basic logic
and memory operations and the essential algorithms. In fact one of the
reasons to study the mind is to learn how the brain mind goes about doing
things – and possibly even develop a radical alternative chip architecture
that will be far more energy efficient (at the tradeoff of introducing
random noise as less and less energy is used to flip gates). The brain uses
around 20 watts – so clearly there is room for improvement in the silicon
toasters we use to do logic operations and store data.

I am especially interested in learning how the brain manages to so clearly
discern signal from noise (and it’s a very noisy environment). How the brain
arrives at executive decisions – and how it does this at different scales of
complexity. Does it use quorum based consensus building algorithms? How does
the brain decide when and how much to edit out; or conversely amplify a
signal? Does the brain work primarily within local micro-regions doing
discreet tasks and reporting up to higher order network nodes; or is a lot
more of the brain’s activity than might at first seem intricately bound up
with all manner of other threads of networked activity that is happening in
the brains hundred trillion node wide area network. Is consensus and the
rise of consciousness mostly a forebrain activity or is this also a gestalt
that while perhaps primarily located in neural activity in the forebrain is
dependent on consensus and influence from many other regions in the brain’s

The brain is fascinating for me also because of its orthogonal dimensions of
complexity – it is electrical but also chemical; it is neuronal, but also
has a wide area white matter connectome… even the humble glial cells appear
to play a role in the formation of memories by potentiating synaptic
connections – cementing the memory. Each – of the plethora of neuron types
that exist – is a pretty complex system in its own right – and there are
around one hundred billion of them with a synaptic connectome in the
hundreds of trillions. It is also a weird place (anatomically speaking) with
strangely named regions and organs and is a visible result of evolution
building onto pre-existing structures and re-purposing ancient systems to
new ends. I am fascinated by the speed with which the wet chemistry in the
brain happens in those synaptic areas and in the – what I feel must be very
interesting – interplay between electrical and chemical based messaging



From: <javascript:>
[ <javascript:> ] On Behalf Of Craig
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 1:46 PM
To: <javascript:> 
Subject: Neural activity in the brain is harder to disrupt when we are aware
of it

We consciously perceive just a small part of the information processed in
the brain – but which information in the brain remains unconscious and which
reaches our consciousness remains a mystery. However, neuroscientists
Natalia Zaretskaya and Andreas Bartels from the Centre for Integrative
Neuroscience (CIN) at the University of Tübingen have now come one step
closer to answering this question.

Their research, published in Current Biology, used a well-known visual
illusion known as 'binocular rivalry' as a technique to make visual images
invisible. Eyes usually both see the same image – binocular rivalry happens
when each eye is shown an entirely different image. Our brains cannot then
decide between the alternatives, and our perception switches back and forth
between the images in a matter of seconds. The two images are 'rivals' for
our attention, and every few seconds they take turns to enter our

Using this approach the two scientists used a moving and a static picture to
cause perceptual alternations in their test subjects' minds. Simultaneously
they applied magnetic pulses to disturb brain processing in a 'motion
<>  area' that specifically processes
visual motion <> . The effect
was unexpected: 'zapping' activity in the motion area did not have any
effect on how long the moving image was perceived – instead, the amount of
time the static image was perceived grew longer.

So 'zapping' the motion area while the mind was unconsciously processing
motion meant that it took longer for it to become conscious of the moving
image. When the moving image was being perceived, however, zapping had no

This result suggests that there is a substantial difference between
conscious and unconscious motion representation in the brain
<> . Whenever motion is unconscious, its
neural representation can easily be disturbed, making it difficult for it to
gain the upper hand in the rivalry. However, once it becomes conscious it
apparently becomes more resistant to disturbance, so that introducing noise
has no effect. Therefore, one correlate of conscious neural codes may be a
more stable and noise-resistant representation of the outside world, which
raises the question of how this neural stability is achieved.

Indeed. It is almost as if consciousness is actually trying to make sense on
purpose ;) Could it be that consciousness is actually conscious???


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