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Wired’s Lore Sjöberg on the Brain…

I am not really the “typical” Wired reader. For one thing, I’m far from “cool” or “hip”. I’ve got the “geek” thing down, though. Despite being outside the correct Wired reader demographic, I often enjoy reading the columns by Lore Sjöberg in Alt Text. His most recent one regarding the lies told to us by that ultimate deceiver, our own brain, is really a hoot. Check it out, and don’t turn your back on your brain!

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10 comments to Wired’s Lore Sjöberg on the Brain…

  • Oblivions

    I want to see an exhibit that can apparently convince, what appears to be a relatively intelligent person, that a bronze sculpture is part of his own body. *giggle*

  • Well, he’s a man, so I suppose they we are more willing to believe that certain parts of our body are bronze than others ;)

  • Although we are just funnin’ here, the truth is that the brain *does* do all the things mentioned in the original article. There are several well-validated tests that you can perform that the demonstrate that the vast majority of human brains can be convinced that something that patently is *not* part of the body *is*. Phantom limb syndrome is not a freak occurrence- it is part of how your brain works.

    Likewise, it is well proven that, with rare exceptions, most rational decision making is a farce. You make a choice, then your brain edits your personal timeline and makes you *think* you went through a logical series of assessments to reach that conclusion.

    Your brain is continuously making educated guesses about things around you, editing, collating, and generalizing. Fundamentally, it is lying to you, all day long, every day.

  • Oblivions

    Tsk! I was not referring to that idea of what a man would like have made of bronze. Jeez.

    While neat, I’m not denying the power of the mind to bend reality. Those time when you bend reality or are you simply bending YOUR reality? Can you bend more than one reality? Not sure… but it’s a vastly interesting piece of meant with so much unexplored capacity. I am always fondly brought back to Dune and the Bene Gesserit and the Spacing Guild. Fantastic, sure… but interesting to ponder anyway.

  • It does bring up all sorts of “is consciousness an illusion” questions.

    But if consciousness and free will are illusions then you have to ask the question, “why are we asking these questions?” If all self awareness is, is the brain’s editing of our perception of events so that it seems like we made a choice… you have to wonder why? Why would we have a mechanism that created the illusion of consciousness and freewill? And why would even bother to investigate the nature of self awareness?

    Makes on wonder if some of the earlier Christan “heresies” which believed the physical world was an illusion created by Satan to keep souls from finding their way to God might have some sort of basis to them.

    Clearly we are self aware, and have some measure of free will. And yet experiments show we don’t. If you accept the validity and interpretation of those experiments fully ( which I do not ) then that opens up some unsettling questions.

  • There are a lot of studies that suggest the brain and nervous system actually works like a monarchy. There is a “king” or “queen”, which is your over riding consciousness. And there are several (many? hundreds?) of “advisors” that operate largely autonomously.

    Just like a real monarchy, most of the decision making is made and work is done by the “invisible bureaucracy”: the power behind the throne. Complex collections of data are sifted, unimportant data is discarded, decisions are made and put into action, all with minimal or no direct interaction with the conscious mind. But it behooves those advisors to keep the “monarch” consciousness confident in the belief that it is actually in charge. “So we like Tomb Raider, do we?… Yes, my Lord, as you recall it was very enjoyable… Ah, yes, of course, thank you” If you’ve ever seen one of those shows like “Yes, Minister”, you can get a sense of how this might work.

    The Consciousness is “ruler”, and so it must continue to appear that it is in charge, even when any reasonable person would realize that there must be some delegation of authority. Your body reacts faster than a message could travel from your extremities to your brain and back, for one thing. What is becoming clearer as studies progress is that the delegation occurs at a much higher level than mere nervous reaction. It is happening at the level of complex decision making and memory formation.

    The whole “high level advisors with one ruling consciousness” thing also gives an interesting insight into what might be happening with people who are “insane”. What happens if the communication between the advisory agents and the “ruling” conscious breaks down? Or if the ruling conscious becomes too aware of the advisory agents and starts “hearing” them separately, or even disagreeing with them?

  • Some of the studies of people with severed brain hemispheres seem to show that you can actually get two consciousness. Indeed, for most of us, the left brain because it has language dominates the right brain like it or not. But for some people, the right brain actually seems to revolt. Bizarres cases such as alien hand for instance where in extreme cases the one hand actually attacks the rest of the body.

  • Oblivions

    Alien hand? What is this you speak of?

  • Sorry, at work right now so I can’t go on at length ( aren’t you all lucky ;) ) but do a google search on “alien hand syndrome”.

    I’ve watched them interview people with it on tv, and it is really bizzarre to watch.

    Of course most cases are not outright violent, but I saw one case where the woman tied her hand up at night because it would choke her otherwise

  • Oblivions

    I will later on tonight but… wow! Just the thought of it give me the jibblies

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