25 Years Ago Neuroscientists Were Sure the Mind Would be Found in the Brain by 2024. Times up. How did we do?

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The mind is not in the brain

An article in online Discovery Magazine1 explains that 25 years ago, neuroscientists were sure in 25 years, neuroscience would explain how the brain creates consciousness. Times up. How did they do?

Neuroscience still can’t explain how the brain could create consciousness or where in the brain the neural correlates of consciousness are found. We know no effort to find consciousness in the brain will be successful because the mind or consciousness is not in the brain. The brain is inside consciousness.

An article in Discover Magazine describes the failure of neuroscience to find consciousness in the brain. A summary of some points from the article follows.

 

The Hard Problem of Consciousness Is Still As Hard

The difficulty neuroscience has had with finding how a brain could create consciousness is that doing so requires something material creating something immaterial. David Chalmers, an acknowledged leader in the field of consciousness research, called the dilemma “the hard problem” of consciousness. What happens in the 3 to 5 pounds of tofu-like protein and fat in a person’s skull that creates Michelangelo’s David or Mozart’s Requium.

Michelangelo's David

No Research Has Found the Location of the Mind in the Brain or How a Brain Could Create a Mind

Katrina Krasich, a neuroscientist affiliated with Elon University, boasts a prestigious record as a two-time champion of the Neurophilosophy of Free Will World Wide Competition. Krasich highlights significant advancements in tackling what she terms the “easy” problem.
We’ve made notable headway in identifying what I refer to as enabling conditions,” she remarks, “the factors facilitating the emergence of consciousness, or at the very least, those inhibiting its occurrence.
Krasich attributes much of this advancement to enhanced brain imaging technologies facilitating the study of brain function in real-time. However, none of the research has found the location of the mind in a brain or how a brain could create a mind.

So Some Have Suggested Consciousness Is Just Everywhere, Not in One Place

The mind can’t be found in the brain, so some researchers loath to admit that it might not be in the brain suggest there’s just consciousness in everything, a theory called “panpsychism.” If consciousness is a property of everything, the researchers can excuse themselves for not finding it in some localized position in the brain. A theory named “Integrated Information Theory” (IIT) posits that when a system develops to the point that information in it is sufficiently integrated, what we regard as consciousness simply emerges. The potential was always there, so when a system such as a human being has a huge amount of information, the system shows what we associate with consciousness.

The theory still doesn’t explain how dead matter could give rise to a single thought. 

Global Workspace Theory Suggests the Source of Consciousness Is the Whole Forest,

Another suggestion for the reason the mind can’t be found in the brain is Global Workspace Theory (GWT), first developed in the 1980s by Bernard Baars. It suggests consciousness is “a byproduct of he information processing that underlies behavior.” A single location can’t be identified because the entire brain workspace is involved in creating consciousness. We can’t see a tree where consciousness is located because consciousness requires the entire forest.

There is no explanation of why that might be true or how the global workspace might give rise to the mind.

Quantum Mechanics Explanations for the Emergence of Consciousness from the Brain

Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose developed a theoretical framework that attempts to explain the origin of consciousness in the brain by suggesting consciousness arises from quantum computations in microtubules within brain neurons. Microtubules are cylindrical protein structures found in the brain’s neurons. In a process Hameroff and Penrose dubbed Orchestrated Objective Reduction (Orch OR), neurons collapse from a superposition quantum state into a material state at a rate of 40 times a second. Collapsing from a superposition occurs when something in superposition, or all possible positions existing at once, collapses into one position, when an observer measures or observes the thing. With Orch OR, when the microtubules come to certain quantum point, the superposition collapse happens by itself. That is the orchestrated objective reduction. It results in what we experience as mind or consciousness.

No evidence for such a process has been found.

Failure of Neural Correlates of Consciousness to Find a Mind in the Brain

Today, much of the exploration into consciousness revolves around pinpointing the neural correlates — specific patterns of neural activity in the brain linked to conscious experiences or states.

During the 1998 annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC) in Bremen, Germany, David Chalmers and neuroscientist Christof Koch, a proponent of Integrated Information Theory (IIT), engaged in a discussion about the future direction of consciousness research over drinks one evening.

Koch expressed his strong belief that within 25 years, science would uncover unmistakable neural correlates of consciousness, even though some of this confidence might have stemmed from youthful enthusiasm. To solidify his conviction, he made a bet with Chalmers, offering a case of wine as the stake.

Fast forward to the 2023 ASSC conference — the deadline for their bet. Using fMRI and implanted brain electrodes, experiments examined the brain activity of human subjects as they viewed images of faces and other objects, comparing these patterns to the conscious experiences reported by the subjects. The findings, unveiled at the conference, seemed to align with certain predictions of both the Global Workspace Theory (GWT) and Integrated Information Theory (IIT). However, the evidence remained far from definitive.

Acknowledging this, Koch conceded that clear neural correlates had not been identified. In a show of sportsmanship, he presented Chalmers with six bottles of 1978 Madeira, slightly different from Chalmers’ expectation of a 1998 vintage. Koch proposed a rematch, doubling the stakes, asserting that within another 25 years, unmistakable evidence would emerge. Chalmers accepted without hesitation, though he expressed optimism about the possibility of losing this time, citing advancements in brain observation technologies.

Nevertheless, both bets skirt around the “hard problem” of consciousness. Even if neural correlates are pinpointed, it won’t necessarily unravel how consciousness arises from material processes. This fundamental question bears philosophical implications that may or may not fall within the realm of scientific inquiry.

There Is Only Mind and Experiences

In his book, There Is Only Mind and Experiences, Dr. R. Craig Hogan advances an ontological idealist answer to the hard problem of consciousness. The source of reality is Our Universal Intelligence. As the theoretical quantum physicist Amit Goswami concluded, “There is nothing but God.” Reality is the mind of God, and we are individuated parts of that Universal Intelligence. Experiences arise in this reality as they do in a dream. Experiences don’t require an objective reality, just as in a dream, we have experiences of people, animals, scenes, and activities without there being objective people, animals, scenes, and activities in the dream. The experiences exist wholly by themselves. 

The same is true of our reality. We have experiences, but there is no objective world outside of us giving rise to the experiences. We see a rose, but we only have the experience of the sight of a rose. There’s no rose outside of our mind. We smell the rose, but we have only the experience of the smell of a rose. All the experiences are happening in our minds, without an objective reality.

Read more at “Why We Know There’s No World Outside of Our Consciousness.”

Avery Hurt, “How Close Is Science to Solving the Problem of Consciousness? (msn.com)” Discover Magazine online, retrieved April 30, 2024.

Summary
25 Years Ago Neuroscientists Were Sure the Mind Would be Found in the Brain. Times up. How did we do?
Article Name
25 Years Ago Neuroscientists Were Sure the Mind Would be Found in the Brain. Times up. How did we do?
Description
An article in Discover Magazine titled "How Close Is Science to Solving the Problem of Consciousness?" explains that the prediction 25 years ago that consciousness would be found in the brain did not come true. Neuroscience is no closer to understanding how the brain could create consciousness.
The mind is not in the brain

An article in online Discovery Magazine1 explains that 25 years ago, neuroscientists were sure in 25 years, neuroscience would explain how the brain creates consciousness. Times up. How did they do?

Neuroscience still can’t explain how the brain could create consciousness or where in the brain the neural correlates of consciousness are found. We know no effort to find consciousness in the brain will be successful because the mind or consciousness is not in the brain. The brain is inside consciousness.

An article in Discover Magazine describes the failure of neuroscience to find consciousness in the brain. A summary of some points from the article follows.

 

The Hard Problem of Consciousness Is Still As Hard

The difficulty neuroscience has had with finding how a brain could create consciousness is that doing so requires something material creating something immaterial. David Chalmers, an acknowledged leader in the field of consciousness research, called the dilemma “the hard problem” of consciousness. What happens in the 3 to 5 pounds of tofu-like protein and fat in a person’s skull that creates Michelangelo’s David or Mozart’s Requium.

Michelangelo's David

No Research Has Found the Location of the Mind in the Brain or How a Brain Could Create a Mind

Katrina Krasich, a neuroscientist affiliated with Elon University, boasts a prestigious record as a two-time champion of the Neurophilosophy of Free Will World Wide Competition. Krasich highlights significant advancements in tackling what she terms the “easy” problem.
We’ve made notable headway in identifying what I refer to as enabling conditions,” she remarks, “the factors facilitating the emergence of consciousness, or at the very least, those inhibiting its occurrence.
Krasich attributes much of this advancement to enhanced brain imaging technologies facilitating the study of brain function in real-time. However, none of the research has found the location of the mind in a brain or how a brain could create a mind.

So Some Have Suggested Consciousness Is Just Everywhere, Not in One Place

The mind can’t be found in the brain, so some researchers loath to admit that it might not be in the brain suggest there’s just consciousness in everything, a theory called “panpsychism.” If consciousness is a property of everything, the researchers can excuse themselves for not finding it in some localized position in the brain. A theory named “Integrated Information Theory” (IIT) posits that when a system develops to the point that information in it is sufficiently integrated, what we regard as consciousness simply emerges. The potential was always there, so when a system such as a human being has a huge amount of information, the system shows what we associate with consciousness.

The theory still doesn’t explain how dead matter could give rise to a single thought. 

Global Workspace Theory Suggests the Source of Consciousness Is the Whole Forest,

Another suggestion for the reason the mind can’t be found in the brain is Global Workspace Theory (GWT), first developed in the 1980s by Bernard Baars. It suggests consciousness is “a byproduct of he information processing that underlies behavior.” A single location can’t be identified because the entire brain workspace is involved in creating consciousness. We can’t see a tree where consciousness is located because consciousness requires the entire forest.

There is no explanation of why that might be true or how the global workspace might give rise to the mind.

Quantum Mechanics Explanations for the Emergence of Consciousness from the Brain

Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose developed a theoretical framework that attempts to explain the origin of consciousness in the brain by suggesting consciousness arises from quantum computations in microtubules within brain neurons. Microtubules are cylindrical protein structures found in the brain’s neurons. In a process Hameroff and Penrose dubbed Orchestrated Objective Reduction (Orch OR), neurons collapse from a superposition quantum state into a material state at a rate of 40 times a second. Collapsing from a superposition occurs when something in superposition, or all possible positions existing at once, collapses into one position, when an observer measures or observes the thing. With Orch OR, when the microtubules come to certain quantum point, the superposition collapse happens by itself. That is the orchestrated objective reduction. It results in what we experience as mind or consciousness.

No evidence for such a process has been found.

Failure of Neural Correlates of Consciousness to Find a Mind in the Brain

Today, much of the exploration into consciousness revolves around pinpointing the neural correlates — specific patterns of neural activity in the brain linked to conscious experiences or states.

During the 1998 annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC) in Bremen, Germany, David Chalmers and neuroscientist Christof Koch, a proponent of Integrated Information Theory (IIT), engaged in a discussion about the future direction of consciousness research over drinks one evening.

Koch expressed his strong belief that within 25 years, science would uncover unmistakable neural correlates of consciousness, even though some of this confidence might have stemmed from youthful enthusiasm. To solidify his conviction, he made a bet with Chalmers, offering a case of wine as the stake.

Fast forward to the 2023 ASSC conference — the deadline for their bet. Using fMRI and implanted brain electrodes, experiments examined the brain activity of human subjects as they viewed images of faces and other objects, comparing these patterns to the conscious experiences reported by the subjects. The findings, unveiled at the conference, seemed to align with certain predictions of both the Global Workspace Theory (GWT) and Integrated Information Theory (IIT). However, the evidence remained far from definitive.

Acknowledging this, Koch conceded that clear neural correlates had not been identified. In a show of sportsmanship, he presented Chalmers with six bottles of 1978 Madeira, slightly different from Chalmers’ expectation of a 1998 vintage. Koch proposed a rematch, doubling the stakes, asserting that within another 25 years, unmistakable evidence would emerge. Chalmers accepted without hesitation, though he expressed optimism about the possibility of losing this time, citing advancements in brain observation technologies.

Nevertheless, both bets skirt around the “hard problem” of consciousness. Even if neural correlates are pinpointed, it won’t necessarily unravel how consciousness arises from material processes. This fundamental question bears philosophical implications that may or may not fall within the realm of scientific inquiry.

There Is Only Mind and Experiences

In his book, There Is Only Mind and Experiences, Dr. R. Craig Hogan advances an ontological idealist answer to the hard problem of consciousness. The source of reality is Our Universal Intelligence. As the theoretical quantum physicist Amit Goswami concluded, “There is nothing but God.” Reality is the mind of God, and we are individuated parts of that Universal Intelligence. Experiences arise in this reality as they do in a dream. Experiences don’t require an objective reality, just as in a dream, we have experiences of people, animals, scenes, and activities without there being objective people, animals, scenes, and activities in the dream. The experiences exist wholly by themselves. 

The same is true of our reality. We have experiences, but there is no objective world outside of us giving rise to the experiences. We see a rose, but we only have the experience of the sight of a rose. There’s no rose outside of our mind. We smell the rose, but we have only the experience of the smell of a rose. All the experiences are happening in our minds, without an objective reality.

Read more at “Why We Know There’s No World Outside of Our Consciousness.”

Avery Hurt, “How Close Is Science to Solving the Problem of Consciousness? (msn.com)” Discover Magazine online, retrieved April 30, 2024.

Summary
25 Years Ago Neuroscientists Were Sure the Mind Would be Found in the Brain. Times up. How did we do?
Article Name
25 Years Ago Neuroscientists Were Sure the Mind Would be Found in the Brain. Times up. How did we do?
Description
An article in Discover Magazine titled "How Close Is Science to Solving the Problem of Consciousness?" explains that the prediction 25 years ago that consciousness would be found in the brain did not come true. Neuroscience is no closer to understanding how the brain could create consciousness.

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