Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The mystery of consciousness

Consciousness remains a big problem for neuroscientists there are many of things that not as clear cut as some people assume. For example Experiments have shown that memory is not localized in any particular part of the brain. It seems to be stored everywhere - and nowhere. This is just the kind of thing we might expect if consciousness, including memory, is really a nonphysical phenomenon existing outside the nervous system. While other neuroscientists believe that long term memories are created by the hippocampus area of the brain now here if the problem that may not be so as thesequestions are still open.

Some of the yet unsolved problems of neuroscience include:

* Self awareness: What is the neuronal basis of subjective experience, wakefulness, alertness, arousal and attention? What is its function?

* Perception: How does the brain transfer sensory information into coherent, private percepts? What are the rules by which perception is organized? What are the features/objects that constitute our perceptual experience of internal and external events? How are the senses integrated? Is face perception special (e.g. innate)? What is the relationship between subjective experience and the physical world?

* Learning and Memory: Where do our memories get stored and how are they retrieved again? How can learning be improved? What is the difference between explicit and implicit memories? How plastic is the mature brain?

* Development: How and why did the brain evolve (the way it did)? What are the molecular determinants of individual brain development?

* Sleep: Why do we dream? What are the underlying brain mechanisms? What is its relation to anesthesia?

* Cognition and Decisions: How and where does the brain evaluate reward value and effort (cost) to modulate behavior? How does previous experience alter perception and behavior? What are the genetic and environmental contributions to brain function?

* Language: How is it implemented neurally? What is the basis of semantic meaning?

* Diseases: What are the neural bases (causes) of mental diseases like psychotic disorders (e.g. mania, schizophrenia), Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease or addiction? Is it possible to recover loss of sensory or motor function?

Of course all materialists believe that these problems will be solve by the production theory. However, the lack of progress on many of these items should bring that unstinting faith into some question. . .

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