What is "Mind?"

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Tvash

climber
Seattle
Aug 11, 2014 - 08:28pm PT
Donuts, donuts, donuts.

Humans = donuts.

Damn. Now I've got a hankerin for a cruller.
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Aug 11, 2014 - 08:46pm PT
Speak for yourself!

i didn't mean to mean, to Replace his with mine.

One of the links above described downloading one's memorys onto a CD.

Therefor we could have a library of peoples memorys to watch on TV after they pass.

i'd love to see your's. Watching what you saw the first time you knew The Thimble would go! Phewww!! it gives me goose-bumps! moreso than reading the story.

Kid's in the future will be able to record their daily thoughts. And then revert back to them. Through-out their whole life. Just think how smart they will be..

Law would prolly become absolute. THey'de know what ur think'in at the time of the murder.

i think i see a movie in there??
Tvash

climber
Seattle
Aug 12, 2014 - 10:13am PT
The brain parts that handle the attention schema must be identified if the theory is to be supported.

Semispatial neglect is one brain injury (typically as a result of stroke) that is being studied in this effort.

In one case, brain injury was most severe in the right STS and TPJ. This patient was not aware of his left side - vision, sound, memory. This is far from a smoking gun - but these two centers are the only one's known to be fully involved social perception, attention, and awareness - 3 functions necessary for a functioning attention schema.

"The patient was asked to close his eyes and imagine standing at one end of a familiar city square. When asked to describe the buildings in the square, he scanned the image in his mind and listed all the buildings to his right, neglecting the ones to his left. He did not notice that he had described only half the square. Th patient was then asked to imagine that he was standing on the opposite end of the square, facing the other direction. Once again, he was asked to describe the buildings, and once again he listed all the buildings to his right. This time, because he imagined facing the opposite direction, he described the opposite set of buildings and never noticed the discrepancy. He could not conceive of a left side of space. It was gone from his awareness."

MRI's reveal that such patients maintain full visual processing for both sides of space - they are just not aware that the left side of sensory world exists. They respond to left side stimuli - flinching at sudden motions, having a bad feeling after being shown a burning house with right eye covered - but are not consciously aware of the stimuli at all.
MH2

climber
Aug 12, 2014 - 12:51pm PT
I remember in grad school in a class with the medicine students being told of a case where a man would only shave half his face. I think he neglected an entire half of his body. My, "Well, that's weird," is another person's, "This is telling us something. Let's find out what."
Tvash

climber
Seattle
Aug 12, 2014 - 01:52pm PT
Here are some interesting experiments for fun and profit. You'll be the life of the party:

Hold a large piece of cardboard with two different colored marks on each side vertically against your nose to its splits your vision. If you focus on one side, the other side eventually disappears. You're still visually processing the 'hidden' side - right up to and just short of your awareness.

Get a rubber hand. Lay your forearm on a table and cover it with cardboard. stick the rubber hand at a funky angle so it looks like part of your arm, albeit crooked.

Have two people stroke your real hand and the rubber hand in the same manner (timing, direction, etc).

Your body map will switch to the rubber hand.
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Aug 12, 2014 - 05:17pm PT
The differences between attention and awareness just keep getting more and more interesting. Thanks for the simple examples.
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Aug 12, 2014 - 05:58pm PT
Thanks tvash,

To better understand you, would you please supply a definition of both "attention" and "awareness" by your perspective?

it's much easier to fathom where ur going by knowing where ur coming from..

i'm very interested btw!
MikeL

Social climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 12, 2014 - 09:22pm PT
FortMental: My classical pianist friend can hold a conversation and play Liszt simultaneously.

Do you know the difference in processes?

I'd say you are processing far far more than you are aware of. If attention is equal to awareness, then you needn't know anything about it.

(Whoops, there goes consciousness.)
MH2

climber
Aug 12, 2014 - 09:25pm PT
It won't be missed by me.
Tvash

climber
Seattle
Aug 12, 2014 - 09:42pm PT
I've just been summarizing Damasio and Graziano so far. If I have a perspective, it's that their theories make logical, physiological, and evolutionary sense to me. So, to paraphrase:

Awareness is not attention.

Attention is a dynamic data handling system. It takes in top down (memories, etc) and bottom up (sensory input) biased signals, selects the stronger signals, and suppresses the weaker ones. We are not consciously aware of all we attend to.

Awareness is just that - what we are consciously aware of. Awareness, synonymous with the attention schema, is a model of attention. It is information (data). It answers the question "Am I aware of this?", just as sensory neurons answer questions like "Is something touching me?". Given that awareness is constructed from a summarized version of attention, one cannot be aware of what isn't being attended to.

Attention is affected by the attention schema (ie, awareness) via a strange (feedback) loop, in addition to all the other top down and bottom up bias signals that continue to bombard it.

Many parts of the brain are involved in attention, as you can imagine. Integration happens in many parts of the brain as well. Obviously, there is much yet to be discovered here.

Early evidence seems to point to the STS and TPJ as playing major roles in managing the attention schema (if it exists), given that these are the only areas we yet know of that that are highly active during social perception, attention, and awareness.

Brain injuries to these areas (usually by stroke) result in selective loss of awareness, even when attention and formation of memories remain relatively functional.

MH2

climber
Aug 13, 2014 - 08:38am PT
Tvash,


I am guessing that Damasio and Graziano mention ways to detect attention and awareness outside of their own heads. Can you give a few examples? Examples that illustrate the difference between the two?

I am not sure if the vision and touch experiments you posted about earlier have to do with attention or awareness or both.
MikeL

Social climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 13, 2014 - 09:28am PT
MH2:

I don't know if this will affect your thinking any, but you should know that most of Damasio's brilliant arguments and interpretations come from studying people who have brain damage. Damasio looked to see what was or was not there in comparison to healthy brains.

I like his work and his ideas, but the research method leaves me unsettled. I don't have any ethical problems with it, but I am concerned that it presents a consistent bias that is difficult to counter. Just because one knows the problems that can be found does not mean that one knows how things can perform or what things are.

I'm not sure if this would matter to you.

On a few other threads, people are lamenting the loss of Robin Williams and the sadness that is associated with depression. Obviously, those appear to be problems that legions of medical personnel are trying to "solve." Based upon those problems, is that what we should know about mental health--that which we find through suicide and depression? What about the other side? What does sterling mental health look like? Finding an answer to that question will take a person in an entirely different direction and to an entirely different set of conclusions, I would bet.

Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Aug 13, 2014 - 10:05am PT
Good point ML. First the meditation and pop counseling people noticed this and in recent years more and more professional psychologists have become interested in studying and defining what good mental health is, and the common characteristics of mentally healthy and happy people.

That reminds me of another interesting finding of some years ago. People whose left brain has been damaged in a stroke lose the ability to speak. They can however when provoked, still swear. It turns out swear words are stored in the emotional right brain as well. So far though, nobody has blurted out happy or love after left brain damage. I think this says a lot about human psychology in the absence of a program to specifically reprogram the brain in a more positive direction. I think it also probably reflects evolution. Negative things got you killed, but happy ones were not necessary to survival.

Meanwhile, thanks Tvash, for your summary of two writers I have not read. It seems to me that one could also look at meditation as an attention system, only to processes inside the brain which are not normally looked at.
Tvash

climber
Seattle
Aug 13, 2014 - 11:01am PT
"I am guessing that Damasio and Graziano mention ways to detect attention and awareness outside of their own heads. Can you give a few examples? Examples that illustrate the difference between the two?

I am not sure if the vision and touch experiments you posted about earlier have to do with attention or awareness or both."

Damasio doesn't go into this too much as I recall, but I don't have his book any more (Amazon lending library).

Graziano focuses much more on social perception. The literature indicates that the models we create of other people's awareness happen in the same brain regions as our own awareness (TPJ and STS) with possibly a fair bit of overlap. The difference is that our model of others' awareness is an open loop, while our own attention schema is a resonant loop, strongly reinforced by all the information (autobiographical memories, emotions, etc) we have available to us. This, Graziano posits, is what gives us our sense of subjective reality.

He also mentions the importance of spacial mapping in keeping track of who's awareness model resides where. Our own awareness is located inside our heads (out of body experiences can be induced by electrically tickling the TPJ). Our models of others' awareness is invariably linked with a spacial location - when they're in the room, that's easy, but even when not, we assign them a location. When she's not with me, I typically imagine my friend Suzi's awareness as residing at her house, for example. That spacial data marker helps us keep from mixing people up.

Regarding the vision/touch thing, they're mostly just for fun, but they do illustrate some interesting aspects of awareness. The touch thing illustrates the plasticity of body mapping as well as how attention bias works - your visual signals combined with touch are strong enough to quickly overwhelm and suppress your body map.

The binocular rivalry experiment was conducted to identify brain areas responsible for visual awareness (two different images, two different MRI patterns). The results were too smeared over the visual processing system to tease anything out, but signal strength did increase during the switchover from one image to the other. Graziano posits that the information is summarized and ported elsewhere - to the attention schema. Ie, the researchers were looking in the wrong brain region. Again, this is an illustration of how our attention system selects stronger signals and suppresses weaker ones.
Tvash

climber
Seattle
Aug 13, 2014 - 11:27am PT
"Just because one knows the problems that can be found does not mean that one knows how things can perform or what things are."

My geneticist friend up the street provided the following:

"If I wanted to know what does what in a car, I'd go to the factory and leave one component out at a time, then see what deficit results"

This is a powerful approach, but only one of several. It has an evolutionary analog - observing the behavior of other organisms in light of their differing brain structures - what components the have or do not have. Another is brain imaging - assigning a specific task and seeing what lights up. A third, employed heavily by Graziano, is basic logic. Ex: If awareness isn't neural information, how, exactly, can it make us do stuff? Other research indicates that the quality of one's relationships, particularly intimate relationships, is key. No shocker there - we're social animals.

"What does sterling mental health look like? Finding an answer to that question will take a person in an entirely different direction and to an entirely different set of conclusions, I would bet."

There are some interesting 'crowd sourced' experiments using social media that attempt to define what constitutes happiness/contentment. In one, the subjects download an app which randomly asks them questions like "Are you doing what you want to be doing right now?", then feeds it into a database.

Early results seem to indicate that full engagement - even for tasks you might not 'want' to do (painting a room, for example), is key. Another is whether or not your experience exceeds, meets, or falls short of your expectations. Climbers know this very well. If the forecast takes a turn for the worst, but you make it to your tent without getting soaked, you're good. If the forecast is sunny, but clouds begin to loom (but you still don't get soaked) - you can feel frustrated. The cloud cover in both cases can be identical.
Tvash

climber
Seattle
Aug 13, 2014 - 11:34am PT
"This all interests me greatly because it suggests a mechanism of location for data (AKA: action) within the brain."

Hemispacial neglect (no awareness of the Left Side of Everything) strongly indicates that awareness is information mapped in 3D in a specific brain region. Such a sharply geometric deficit could not occur if it was a brain wide function, emergent property like heat from a wire, or the general result of complexity. If any of these alternative theories were accurate, a loss of resolution would occur.
Tvash

climber
Seattle
Aug 13, 2014 - 11:38am PT
It would be very interesting to study, for example, the aforementioned void and how it manifests in the attention system. What happens when nearly all stimuli - top down and bottom up, are suppressed, but the subject remains aware and awake?
Tvash

climber
Seattle
Aug 13, 2014 - 11:43am PT
If you could download you to an external drive, you'd always have a friend to talk to who really understands you.
MH2

climber
Aug 13, 2014 - 12:31pm PT
MikeL,

I long ago looked at Damasio's first book and did not like what I saw and am not especially interested in his views. I do not put much faith in medicine as a way to treat mental abnormalities. The brain is too complex to mess with successfully in the same way that we use antibiotics to kill bacteria or surgeons cut and fix and sew.



In my neuroscience days I encountered papers by Kohonen. The thing that grabbed me was that his model had a better biological basis than most. He looked at what could be achieved by the well-known process of lateral inhibition, in which a neuron when excited inhibits its neighbors. In the retina this results in sharpening of edges. It can also be compared to the mathematical operation of differentiating a function. The paper I remember best was one in which Kohonen exposed one of his models to human speech and it sorted the sound into phonemes not too different from those used by linguists. My lay understanding was that the model did a kind of regression analysis. Linear algebra and statistics, as jgill said.

Lateral inhibition was first described in sheets of neurons like the retina and pressure receptors in the skin but it extends to other geometries.


Here is a look at the Kohonen approach that includes a bit of what it does NOT do:

http://www.cs.utexas.edu/%7eai-lab/pubs/miikkulainen.lateral-inhibition.pdf


Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Aug 13, 2014 - 01:23pm PT
Trying to fit all this to what I know of meditation and yoga, it seems to work better than any of the other schemas I've read.


Awareness IS a tool, honed through attention.

This is the bedrock belief of any meditation school.


He also mentions the importance of spacial mapping in keeping track of who's awareness model resides where. Our own awareness is located inside our heads (out of body experiences can be induced by electrically tickling the TPJ).

Our models of others' awareness is invariably linked with a spacial location - when they're in the room, that's easy, but even when not, we assign them a location………..The touch thing illustrates the plasticity of body mapping as well as how attention bias works - your visual signals combined with touch are strong enough to quickly overwhelm and suppress your body map.

This could explain tantra and the experience of some para and quadraplegics who experience orgasms outside of the genitals. It seems it would be relevant to Tom's description of feeling and seeing himself in a woman's body after an extended session with someone he was close to.

It also must be part of the experience some of us have (right brain folks is how I think of them) who remember answers on exams by remembering first where in the textbook they were located, left or right page, top middle, or bottom, and then suddenly the answer comes.

I have also learned to do this when trying to remember other things. I think of a key I'm missing for example and what geographically it might be related to, not just where I might have left it but what other geographic locations could be associated with it. I used to misplace my keys a lot by leaving them in the silverware drawer. Now, if I want to find a key, I think of a silverware drawer and the real place I've left it, comes to mind.
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