Sunday, April 19, 2009

Need Evidence Of Mind Brain Dependency Discussion

I recently discussed the issue of mind brain dependency on infidels forum with a couple of users. We went back and forth. Here is the long discussion of exchanges we had.


doubtingt says

Here is a general list of just some types of evidence. While some only shows covariational dependence, others show definitive causal influence of brain changes upon every aspect of mental life. Combined, the body of evidence is quite clear and overwhelming in support of mind dependent on brain.

The effects of any drug on any aspect of mental activity or emotional experience (tens of thousands of controlled experiments demonstrating every requirement for not only dependency but causal direction).

The effects of brain tumors and their removal on mental activity

The effects of direct electrical stimulation of the brain

The effects of brain damage.

The effects of split brain surgery.

Brain imaging studies showing how various mental disorders correspond to differences in brain activity compared to the normal population.

Research showing how various organic deteriation of certain brain areas coincide and some of them precede certain disorders.

Sleep studies showing how various states of consciousness covary in virtual lock-step fashion with brain activity, and how directly altering or disrupting electro chem activity of the brain will change the state of consciousness.

Cross species neuro-psychology showing that various capacities for learning, reasoning, and emotional response (as evidenced by the observable behaviors that are dependent on such mental activities) covary in highly predictable ways with the existence and size of various brain structures.

Anthropological evidence that complex behaviors dependent on certain mental activities covaried across evolutionary time within hominids along with brain size.

Developmental evidence that various mental capacities increase from birth in a flattening curve pattern similar to the rate of brain growth (even after controlling for overall body mass growth). In addition, the mental capacity differences between humans and chimps diverge from birth on in a similar pattern the their diverging rates of brain growth.

Me LeoM says

Would you say that Wilder Penfield's work gave experimental support for mind brain dependency? Wilder Penfield never endorsed this theory, nor did he think that this was the best explanation for his data. Wilder Penfield started out an materialist until he started doing work with epileptic patients.


the vulnerability of consciousness to anesthetics, to caffeine, and to something as simple as a sharp blow to the head, shows its very close dependence on neural activity in the brain.

Damaging the circuitry of a TV set will impair its ability to display an image, but the TV signal is unaffected.

>As brain complexity increases, mental abilities also increase

Why? Because the brain can decode the signal with greater efficacy. To vary the analogy, a powerful radio can pick up more signals than a weak radio. Or to return to TV, a cable-ready TV can pick up more channels than one that is not cable-ready.

>Brain complexity, then, causes mental ability.

Correlation is not causality. Brain complexity is directly proportional to mental ability, but is this complexity necessary to produce consciousness or to receive and decode consciousness?

>If the brain and body are simply the instruments of the soul, we have to say in such a case that this personality is really still brimming over with joy and benevolence, but that unfortunately these sentiments can only express ["manifest"] themselves in dark glances, in peevish complaints and in violent attacks

In this case, the signal is undamaged, but when it is received by the brain and decoded, the reception/decoding is distorted or incomplete. In our earthly lives, our thoughts are mediated by our brains, so brain damage will affect our thoughts. But this does not tell us the ultimate source of consciousness. Remember, a damaged TV may display a blurry picture and produce garbled sound, even though the signal is as clear as ever. Bad TV reception does not equal a bad TV signal.

As far as the brain split phenomena goes they do not show two separate stream of consciousness.



http://kaffee.netfirms.com/Papers/PhilofMind3.htm

http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/psychon.html

Treadkill says

But it does not cause the TV to display Jerry Seinfeld when the signal is an image of Brian Williams.

Leo M

Are you talking about people who has had brain damage where their personality changed from who they were to another person?.

Even though this blogger is an christian. She did bring a very good critique on the Phineas Gage case.

http://mindfulhack.blogspot.com/2009...ture-room.html

Treadkill

http://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/cg...stract/18/1/21
http://psy.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/...t/full/48/1/67

Just a bit of Googling I did to show that the idea that brain injury can change personality does not rest solely on Phineas Gage.

Leo M

Of course it doesn't rest solely Phineas Gage. The question here is not the dependency but what type of dependency is it?. As long as their is strong alternative evidence, it gives us grounds to consider an alternative theory of the mind body relationship. Instead of the mind dying with the brain, Mind and consciousness are yes tied to the brain, but the brain acts as a filter, and receiver of consciousness rather than the producer of mind and consciousness. That alternative evidence comes from cardiac arrest patients in near death experiences.

Some of this evidence is discussed here.

http://near-death.com/experiences/articles002.html

Other evidences come from

How thinking can change your brain

the chemicals and electrical activity can affect (indeed, completely cause) the state of what we call the “mind,” but there is no going in reverse, in which mind affects the brain. In fact, the idea of going in reverse — according to the neuroscientists – is not even supposed to be conceivable, since “mind” is simply the word we use to describe the result of these physical processes and therefore has no independent existence apart from them.

This above evidence suggests that influence is not a one way street: That the mind can affect and change the brain.

Also experiments on humans (some of the Buddhist monks under the Dalai Lama’s direction) seem to demonstrate that the physical organ of the brain can be shaped and transformed by choices made by the mind.

Neuroscientist Jeffery Schwartz, who has documented the substantial evidence that mental changes can induce measurable changes in brain function.


http://machineslikeus.com/how-thinki...ange-the-brain

"For myself, after a professional lifetime spent i trying to discover how the brain accounts for the mind, it comes as a surprise now to discover, during this final examination of the evidence, that the dualist hypothesis seems the more reasonable of the two possible explanations. Mind comes into action and goes out of action with the highest brain-mechanism, it is true. But the mind has energy. The form of that energy is different from that of neuronal potentials that travel the axone pathways. There I must leave it."

Dr. Wilder Penfield- The Mystery of the Mind

Angra Mainyu says

Purely for example, damage to the prefrontal cortex increases utilitarian moral judgments.

Generally, brain damage can result in, for instance, memory loss, or change in moral views. If, however, there's some undamaged "soul", why would it lose any memories? Why would its moral views change?

There are cases of bad reception with good signals

Actually, a TV receives signals and emits other signals that our eyes/brain/mind interpret. But the images on screen are generated in the TV - what's not generated in the TV is the EM radiations that are detected by the TV, but then, neither are the EM radiations that we perceive as color, or the signals that reach our brain in different ways.
for instance, spinal cord injuries and other medical conditions. In that case, the person can think as before, but he's unable to, say, move her hands, or maybe anything but his eyes.

On the other hand, brain damage - or brain affected by drugs - clearly changes consciousness. If it were a case of bad reception from an undamaged soul, then humans with brain damage, or under drugs, etc., would be at most unable to or partially impaired in putting their thoughts into action, but their thoughts would be unaffected. Perhaps, they would try to move a hand and fail. But that's not what happens. Their thoughts change. It's not that they can't move the hand, but that they want to move it the other way, so to speak. Their memories are lost; their personality affected, etc.

As for NDE, they're not something people would replicate in a lab; however, out of body experiences can be caused by altering the brain [some evidence]
Hidden Text:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal...19269a.html#B1
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal...s/419269a.html

http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/...full/127/2/243
Quote:
We suggest that OBE and AS are related to a failure to integrate proprioceptive, tactile and visual information with respect to one’s own body (disintegration in personal space) and by a vestibular dysfunction leading to an additional disintegration between personal (vestibular) space and extrapersonal (visual) space. We argue that both disintegrations (personal; personal–extrapersonal) are necessary for the occurrence of OBE and AS, and that they are due to a paroxysmal cerebral dysfunction of the TPJ in a state of partially and briefly impaired consciousness.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...ubmed_RVDocSum
Quote:
The results complement neurophysiological evidence and are consistent with the hypothesis that OBEs represent a breakdown in the normal binding of bodily-self sensations and suggest that out-of-body feelings (OBFs) are consequences of anomalous V-M experiences and precursors to a particular form of autoscopic experience, out-of-body autoscopy (OBA).


Angra Mainyu

Regarding causation, that's not a problem, but rather the result of different ways of looking at the same phenomenon, namely agents interacting with the world.

When we look at an agent (an adult human, a child, a chimpanzee, a dog), we can take two different approaches: We can look at them from a functional perspective, and talk about brain states, etc., or from an interpretative stance, using our cognitive system to simulate their state of mind - which is must easier if the other agent has a similar cognitive system, so we can read humans much better than we can read, say, dogs.

But considered the following:


John kicked dog A. Dog A squealed [because he was] in pain, then fled in fear.

Then, John kicked dog B, which also squealed in pain, but turned around, angry, and threatened John, growling.

Two young chimps, C and D, made an alliance in order to overthrow the group leader, C, and attacked him viciously. C believed he was secured in his position, but was mistaken.

That account takes an interpretative stance towards dogs/chimps (of course, we can do much better with humans).

The dogs squealed because they were in pain; one of them fled because he was afraid, etc. The chimps acted in order to do something, etc.

An account in terms of brain activity, pain receptors, and so on, would be very different, but also capable of explaining (and predicting) behavior.

If we had specific, detailed knowledge about what's going on in their brains - and the rest of their bodies, and the environment they interact with, since all this will affect what happens in the brain as well - we could explain and predict their behavior from a functional stance, without talking about pain, reason, "in order to", anger, threats, etc.

However, that's not in practice available, so simulating the other agent's mind - in other words, interpreting their actions in terms of subjective states like pain, anger, belief, etc., is the most effective way to interact with other agents, predict their behavior as accurately as we can - but our accuracy is always limited; we're interpreting what they're saying, and we can do that because our cognitive system has the capability to simulate similar ones; but they're similar, not exactly the same.

Angra Mainyu says

But if "mind" is the word we use to refer to the result of those processes (I'm not sure what the physical/non-physical distinction means, but regardless; my argument doesn't need it, since it considers the processes, whatever they are called), mind would also affect the brain, just as the result of some processes also causes other stuff.

In other words, causation wouldn't (doesn't) somehow stop. If we have brain activity causes something, and we call that something "mind", then that something in turn will cause something else, and so on. Lack of causation from mind is not what one would expect from the view that some processes in the brain cause mind. Rather, we would expect mind to be causally effective as well.

As I mentioned, it seems that the explanation that best fits the evidence is that we're looking at the same thing (namely, agents interacting in the world), from two different perspectives - two cognitively different perspectives; we're using different mental capabilities to look at them from an interpretative and a functional stance respectively.

Dualism, on the other hand, introduces an entity for which there is no evidence - namely, the soul -, and then can't explain why we can modify the soul by modifying the brain - using the TV analogy, that would be like modifying the signal by modifying the TV.
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Leo M says

How would we know?, at death the soul takes a life of it's own. In physical life it is constrained by the brain. Also do you see consciousness as thoughts? memories? etc. I don't i see that as the mind which is information based but tied to both the soul and the brain. Yes i read the link before on trying to explain out of body experiences as mere brain chemistry. The problem is their no way near able to produce a full blown out of body experience. One of the patient in an nature article said she felt her legs becoming shorter and arms, and said she couldn't see her body from below. This is not what happens in out of body experiences the patients says he/she sees their body from above, they report no body distortions.


Here's an interesting book called the Irreducible Mind

http://books.google.ca/books?id=2oV6...esult&resnum=4


Angra Mainyu says

What's the evidence of that?
What we see is that if we alter the brain, the thoughts (perception, consciousness) change.

My point about the TV was to show that the case was in fact not analogous. We can alter the TV and we alter reception, but we do not alter the signal. If we alter the spinal cord, we alter reception. To be more precise, any alterations to the rest of the body would have some impact on the brain, given that there's feedback in the case of the brain and the rest of the body, where there isn't between the TV set and the TV station, but at least that's a closer analogy.

But when we alter the brain, we get a different personality, memories, etc. So, in that case, the change is quite clear. We can't, on the other hand, alter the TV station by altering the TV set.

What do you mean?

My point is that alterations in the brain result in alterations in the mind (perception, personality, memories, etc.); if the soul existed and were like the TV station with respect to the TV set, it would not be affected.

In practice, the souls adds another entity, with no evidence pointing to its existence.

I'm not sure how you construe this "soul" in a way that's separated from our thoughts. If the personality or the memories change, we have an entity with different thoughts (beliefs, intentions, etc.), and that would mean (if dualism were true) that the soul changed.

If not, it seems the soul would be a foreign entity, not our minds.

Actually, there were several studies and they replicate OBE - if you think there are others, that's like a "soul of the gaps", but the point remains that the feeling of "out of body" experiences can be caused by alterations in the brain, and even if we didn't have those experiments, our data wouldn't support dualism, since we would still have a lot of experiences demonstrating the effects from brain changes to mind changes - lack of knowledge in some specific cases notwithstanding.

Thanks, but I'm afraid I don't have time to read 650+ pages at the moment.

But I think the issue of "irreducibility" is often a confused one, I'd like to ask for clarification: In which sense are minds supposed to be reducible, or non-reducible?

Leo M says

My point is the soul is the subjectiveness of a person, that doesn't get affected, the personality and memories are yes connected to the soul, but the soul doesn't get affected because of it's subjectivity. Yes brain alterations create alterations in memories, personality which are [information] connected also to the inner life [soul, subjectiveness].

Here is an good rebuttal to all physicalist's theories on out of body experiences and near death experiences.

http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/m...cible_min.html

Leo M says

Are you saying consciousness is an illusion?

Leo M says

Even an perfect correlation would not necessarily entail identity. It remains at least logically possible that minds and brains are distinct, though functionally linked together.


Angra Mainyu says

Do you have evidence that there exists a "subjectiveness" other than our thoughts?
What would that entity be like?

And by "memory changes" and "personality changes", I'm talking about different thoughts. For instance, if I recall what I did yesterday, I'm thinking of something that happened in the past. If I have certain personality traits, that means I tend to make some kinds of decisions, etc.

I don't know how you characterized "physicalist", but the point is that there is actual research (published in peer-reviewed magazines) that support that OBE are caused by certain specific brain alterations. Unfortunately, I see that most of the links I provided are no longer working (they were somewhat old), but you can find the articles if you like.

It's true that there are people that post on the internet attempting to rebut that research (though the article you provided doesn't address most of the findings I brought up) but the fact remains that there's already some evidence, and there will be more in the future (the gaps for the soul keep closing, but I think that one doesn't need any stronger evidence to rule out dualism; the gaps are only lack of knowledge, and of course they'll never be all closed, so I guess someone could always come up with a soul of the gaps, but based on an assessment of the evidence that's not religiously-laden, it should be ruled out).

Why do you think researchers keep publishing those papers, but rebuttals aren't published?


Side note: the TPL is the temporoparietal junction.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...ubmed_RVDocSum
Quote:
Here, we review some of the classical precipitating factors of OBEs such as sleep, drug abuse, and general anesthesia as well as their neurobiology and compare them with recent findings on neurological and neurocognitive mechanisms of OBEs. The reviewed data suggest that OBEs are due to functional disintegration of lower-level multisensory processing and abnormal higher-level self-processing at the temporo-parietal junction.
http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/357/18/1829





In any case, having little knowledge of a specific case is no reason to rule out the overwhelming evidence against dualism. Clearly, there's plenty we don't know about the brain. But we know enough to know that dualism is false, in my view.


Why do you think researchers keep publishing those papers, but rebuttals aren't published?

In any event, I would say that even if we completely ignore the evidence linking OBE with the brain, we would have to say that we don't know what causes them, but given the overwhelming evidence connecting brain and mind, it's very likely that some brain processes do; we just need to look harder and try to find them.


Angra Mainyu says

No.

But if by "consciousness" you mean some entity separated from our minds, then I don't think people have that illusion - they may have religious beliefs, but they don't perceive any such thing.

Angra Mainyu says

I don't know what you mean by "perfect correlation" (or by "irreducible", for that matter, which is why I was asking ), but in any event, I'm not claiming that dualism is logically impossible. I'm just saying that there's very strong evidence that it's false.

Leo M says

You mean this article in 2007, about out of body experiences

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0823141057.htm

Which was rebutted here

http://atwaterndenews.blogspot.com/2...ences-for.html

Also Dr. Jeffery Long near death researcher had this to say

Highlights: "Neither research team claimed to produce an OBE. Both research tems were clear they were tricking the body's sensory system and creating an illusion. Apparently no research subject in either study claimed to have a real OBE. These studies got a lot more press coverage than was warrented by the limited significance of their findings."

"A true, real out-of-body experience, especially if an aspect or component of the near-death phenomenon, typically involves extensive movement and interaction not only within the environment of the individual, but in novel, different, or far-flung environments unknown to the individual that are explored and investigated at length. When these individuals return to their bodies, they are able to recount in detail what they observed, heard, touched, sensed, smelled, and witnessed. Third-party verification of such details is commonplace."

"True out-of-body experiences do not match the results of the experiments conducted by the two neuroscientists reported on in Science Journal. What they did find, though, is quite intriguing and may indeed explain the phenomenon of the double-walker counterpart people have claimed that they had - since the earliest of times."


Or the rem intrusion study on out of body experiences

http://www.nderf.org/long_holden_rem.htm

Another rebuttal here too about another study

Out of body experiences: all in the brain?

http://www.iands.org/research/import...the_brain.html

Angra Mainyu says

Several of the studies I linked to, do mention OBEs.

Liks fixed:
Hidden Text:

http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/...full/127/2/243
Quote:
We suggest that OBE and AS are related to a failure to integrate proprioceptive, tactile and visual information with respect to one’s own body (disintegration in personal space) and by a vestibular dysfunction leading to an additional disintegration between personal (vestibular) space and extrapersonal (visual) space. We argue that both disintegrations (personal; personal–extrapersonal) are necessary for the occurrence of OBE and AS, and that they are due to a paroxysmal cerebral dysfunction of the TPJ in a state of partially and briefly impaired consciousness.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...ubmed_RVDocSum
Quote:
The results complement neurophysiological evidence and are consistent with the hypothesis that OBEs represent a breakdown in the normal binding of bodily-self sensations and suggest that out-of-body feelings (OBFs) are consequences of anomalous V-M experiences and precursors to a particular form of autoscopic experience, out-of-body autoscopy (OBA).

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...ubmed_RVDocSum
Quote:
These results suggest that the TPJ is a crucial structure for the conscious experience of the normal self, mediating spatial unity of self and body, and also suggest that impaired processing at the TPJ may lead to pathological selves such as OBEs.
Side note: the TPL is the temporoparietal junction.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...ubmed_RVDocSum

Quote:
Here, we review some of the classical precipitating factors of OBEs such as sleep, drug abuse, and general anesthesia as well as their neurobiology and compare them with recent findings on neurological and neurocognitive mechanisms of OBEs. The reviewed data suggest that OBEs are due to functional disintegration of lower-level multisensory processing and abnormal higher-level self-processing at the temporo-parietal junction.
http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/357/18/1829



http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...ubmed_RVDocSum


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...ubmed_RVDocSum

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...ubmed_RVDocSum

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...ubmed_RVDocSum

And to add another one (this one about body-swapping):
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...1202115148.htm

Anyway, it wouldn't matter.

Evidence against dualism is very strong regardless of our lack of knowledge of some specific mental phenomena. We were justified in rejecting dualism before any studies in OBE were done (still, I hope more research is done, just to close that gap more tightly).

Quote:
Originally Posted by LeoM
"A true, real out-of-body experience, especially if an aspect or component of the near-death phenomenon, typically involves extensive movement and interaction not only within the environment of the individual, but in novel, different, or far-flung environments unknown to the individual that are explored and investigated at length. When these individuals return to their bodies, they are able to recount in detail what they observed, heard, touched, sensed, smelled, and witnessed. Third-party verification of such details is commonplace."
Third-party verification of speaking in tongues, demon possession, witchcraft, faith healing, alien abduction, Voodoo, etc., is also widespread. As long as the third-party shares those beliefs, that will continue to happen.

However, experimental confirmation does not exist. People do not interact with far-flung environments, bring information back, etc.; on the contrary, research in OBE shows nothing of the sort.

Of course, by claiming that whenever that distant interaction does not happen, that's not a "real" OBE, then whenever scientists replicate OBE, and the findings are in conflict with the claim that people can obtain information from distant places during them (information that their senses wouldn't be able to obtain, from their actual location), then that's not a real OBE, effectively makes OBEs impossible to refute other by pointing out to the sheer unlikelihood of such unsubstantiated claims - like the soul, etc.


Originally Posted by LeoM
Or the rem intrusion study on out of body experiences

http://www.nderf.org/long_holden_rem.htm

Another rebuttal here too about another study

Out of body experiences: all in the brain?

http://www.iands.org/research/import...the_brain.html
Yes, I know there are people who post those claims on the internet. As I mentioned, those aren't pay-reviewed publications. At the Vatican's site, you can find claims of miracles too (whatever "miracle" means, the point is that they make quite extraordinary claims).

It is, however, a red herring. As I said, we have sufficient evidence even if we don't know how OBE happen.

For instance, how would dualism explain that changing the brain results in different memories, knowledge, moral views, perception, etc.?


Leo M says

It can it's called the transmission theory, however it is more complicated than the view that the brain produces consciousness and mind.

"I think these arguments can be addressed by the transmission theory of consciousness. As a simple analogy, the shows that appear on your TV do not originate inside the TV set. They originate as a signal broadcast through space. The TV picks up this signal and decodes it, translating it into pictures and sound. Now, if the TV is damaged, it may no longer produce a sharp picture or clear sound - but the signal will remain undamaged. Brain damage, etc., certainly affects the way we think and act, but if the transmission theory is true, it affects us because our "receiver" has been damaged.

In this case, the signal is undamaged, but when it is received by the brain and decoded, the reception/decoding is distorted or incomplete. In our earthly lives, our thoughts are mediated by our brains, so brain damage will affect our thoughts. But this does not tell us the ultimate source of consciousness. Remember, a damaged TV may display a blurry picture and produce garbled sound, even though the signal is as clear as ever. Bad TV reception does not equal a bad TV signal. Turn off the TV and the signal continues. The particular pattern of light and sound, as decoded by the receiver, is gone, but all the information that comprises the pattern is still in existence in the signal itself.

Of course, if psi phenomena are not genuine, then the "production theory" of consciousness must be preferred. But if psi phenomena are genuine, then the "transmission theory" fits the facts much more neatly. So it comes down to an evaluation of the empirical evidence." (Michael Prescott)

Links:

http://www.survivalafterdeath.org/ar...sciousness.htm - Does Consciousness depend on the Brain?

http://www.survivalafterdeath.org/ar...sciousness.htm - Can Consciousness Survive Destruction of the Brain?

http://www.esalenctr.org/display/con...id=86&pgtype=1 - Transmission Theory of Consciousness


That is just some of it, don't feel like copying the whole exchange but you get what the discussion is like.

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