Social Media Sidebar

Announcement

Please sign up, comment on articles and bring your friends!

Current poll

PlanetTech is asking:

What do you think about our new web site?

Love it, indeed
Really good solution
Same as old one
The old one was better
This is a new option

Quote of the day

We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain.

 

Stephen Hawking

 

Think Your Conscious Brain Directs Your Actions?

RATE THIS! +48
Posted in Science on 2nd Aug, 2015 11:59 PM by AlexMuller

A provocative new paper in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, a team led by Dr. Ezequiel Morsella at San Francisco State University came to a startling conclusion: consciousness is no more than a passive machine running one simple algorithm, to serve up what’s already been decided, and take credit for the decision.

 
Rather than a sage conductor, it’s just a tiny part of what happens in the brain that makes us “aware.” All the real work goes on under the hood, in our unconscious minds. The Passive Frame Theory, as Morsella calls it, is based on decades of experimental data observing how people perceive and generate motor responses to odors. It’s not about perception (“I smell a skunk”), but about response (running from a skunk). The key to cracking what consciousness does in the brain is to work backwards from an observable physical action, explains Morsella in his paper.
 
If this isn’t your idea of “consciousness,” you’re not alone. Traditionally, theorists tried to tackle the enigmatic beast by looking at higher levels of human consciousness, for example, self-consciousness, the knowledge that you exist, or theory of mind, that you and others have differing beliefs, intents, desires and perspectives. While fascinating on a philosophical level, this approach is far too complex to explain on a fundamental level what consciousness is for. Instead, Morsella believes that studying basic consciousness, the awareness of a color, an urge, a sharp pain, is what will lead to a breakthrough.
 
“If a creature has an experience of any kind, something it is like to be that creature, then it has this form of consciousness,” Morsella said in an email to Singularity Hub. It doesn’t have to be high-level, and “ it’s unlikely to be unique to humans.” The Passive Frame Theory goes like this: nearly all the decisions and thoughts that need to be made throughout the day are performed by many parts of the unconscious brain, well below our level of awareness.
 
When the time comes to physically act on a decision, various unconscious processes deliver their opinions to a central “hub,” like voters congregating at town hall. The hub listens in on the conversation, but doesn’t participate; all it does is provide a venue for differing opinions to integrate and decide on a final outcome. Once the unconscious makes a final decision on how to physically act (or react), the hub, consciousness, executes that work and then congratulates itself for figuring out a tough problem.
 
In a way, the unconscious mind is like a group of talented ghostwriters working on a movie script for a celebrated screenwriter. If all goes smoothly, they bypass the screenwriter and deliver the final product straight to the next level. If, on the other hand, conflict arises, say the ghostwriters differ in their ideas on how the story should unfold, their argument may reach the ears of that famous screenwriter, who becomes aware of the problem, but nevertheless sits and waits for the writers to figure it all out. Once that happens, the screenwriter hands off the script, and gets all the credit.
 
Similar to the screenwriter, consciousness doesn’t debate or solve conflict in our heads; consciousness needs to be “on” in order to relay the final outcome, so it is essential, but it doesn’t participate in the nitty-gritty of decision-making. Why did consciousness emerge in this way? Morsella thinks the answer is evolution.
 
Like all animals, humans try to conserve mental energy and automate our biological processes. Most of the time we run on instincts, reflexes and minute-to-minute immediate thoughts. Take breathing as an example, it’s completely automated, to the point that consciously trying to maintain a steady rhythm is surprisingly hard. In this case, conscious thought just bogs the process down.
 
Unlike most animals, however, humans gradually evolved into complex social beings capable of cultivating our intelligence for language and other higher faculties. Faced with increasingly difficult decisions on how to act, we suddenly needed a middleman to slow our unconscious mind down.
 
Say you find yourself underwater; your instinct is to breathe, but better judgment, delivered by an unconscious cry of alarm (“don’t breathe!”), tells you that you would drown. Your unconscious mind orders your consciousness to activate the muscles that will allow you to hold your breath and keep you alive. Consciousness triggers an adaptive motion.
 
The power of our unconscious mind doesn’t stop at basic bodily functions. In the paper, Morsella cites language, a high-level, complex and perhaps distinctively human faculty, as another product of the unconscious mind. When you speak, you’re only consciously aware of a few words at a time, and that is only so you can direct the muscles around your mouth and tongue to form those words. What you’re saying is prescribed under the hood; your conscious mind is simply following a script.
 
Morsella acknowledges that his theory is unconventional and difficult to accept.

Tags: brainneurosciencethoughtconsciousnessbiologyevolutionpsychology

Read original article » Back to category

Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2015-08-03
+1
This theory is indeed unconventional and difficult to accept - it almost changes the definition what we understand as "consciousness" Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2015-08-03
+0
It explains why I don't hit my golf balls the way I decide to do beforehand,. Reply


 

Recent headlines

  • Posted in Business on 2017-04-29 13:25:52
    Google Is Becoming 'A.I. First'..read more
    Posted in Science on 2017-04-29 13:18:48
    SpaceX looks to break into national security launch.....read more
    Posted in Medicine on 2017-04-29 13:07:03
    China Is Racing Ahead in the Quest to Cure Cancer With.....read more
    Posted in Science on 2017-04-28 18:56:10
    Martian Soil Could Be Used to Build a Colony..read more
    Posted in Business on 2017-04-28 18:45:58
    President Trump’s Tax Plan Would Give Alphabet $47B..read more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-10 01:33
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in about.....read more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-20 07:17
Spacex says China is their main competitor for commercial.....read more
Posted in Software on 2013-10-20 06:43
Pirate Bay Browser Clocks 1,000,000 Downloads..read more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-10 02:10
Google reportedly investing hundreds of millions into new.....read more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-14 03:13
Endothelial Cells Can Repair and Regenerate Organs,.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Spacex says China is their main competitor for commercial.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Staring at Your Phone Could Be Making You Short Sighted..read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Oculus Rift virtual reality headset coming to mobile, but.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in about.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Delivering drugs via nanoparticles to target mitochondria..read more

Recent Blog Posts

  • Posted by AlexMuller
    Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight.....read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Obesity is top cause of preventable life-years lost, study shows..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Light can be utilized to control gene function..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Brain stimulation restores memory during lapses, research shows..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Wax worm caterpillar will eat plastic shopping bags: New.....read more

Login to your Account

Login to your PlanetTech Account here

Username:
Password:
Remember me
or

Create a New Account

You just need username and password

The following errors occured:
Username:
Email:
Password:
Verify password:
Remember me