Posts Tagged ‘anterior cingulate’

Libet v. recent neuroscience

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A source of despair in consciousness studies is the way in which popular science writers continue to plough ahead making pronouncements that are flatly contradicted by the neuroscientific data of recent years. In particular, consciousness students might be forgiven for screaming every time Libet’s veteran 1980s experiment is trundled out. Halligan and Oakley writing in a recent issue of ‘New Scientist’ go down this predictable route. The brain prepares for actions such as reaching out prior to awareness of the intention to reach.

Orbitofrontal cortex

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The paper focuses mainly on the lateral orbitofrontal. Orbitofrontal damage can lead to difficulties in switching from behaviours that were previously advantageous, but have ceased to be so. However, the ability to make an initial discrimination, as opposed to altering an existing one, is usually unaffected. Nevertheless, changes in response are not seen as a core function of the orbitofrontal, and damage to the orbitofrontal is seen to effect a range of other tasks.

Amygdala and freewill

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This study demonstrates how neurons that are active when the subject chooses whether to have a small reward now or a larger reward in the future are inactive when the choice is made for the subject, implying a physical brain distinction between freewill and its absence.

Altered states

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Towards a sublime state of consciousness  ::  Raymond McBride  ::  Journal of Consciousness Studies, No. 11-12, 2014, pp. 19-40  ::  www.imprint.co.uk/jcs.html Summary and review of the above paper Focused attention and mental absorption, to the exclusion of other sensory inputs, are seen as catalysing altered states of consciousness. The author discusses meditation; some research on meditation suggests that blood flow to brain regions involved in directing attention decreases during Read more […]

Conscious alteration of emotional processing

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Orthodox theories are not successful in explaining the causal interaction between mental experiences and events in the brain. Since the year 2000, neuroimaging studies have shown that the activity of brain regions involved in emotional processing can be consciously and volitionally altered. This paper seeks to demonstrate the causal influence of such phenomena as thoughts, on the brain, and on subsequent behaviour. Thus beliefs, goals and expectations are seen as being related to behaviour.

Brain areas involved with consciousness

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Even at the very early stage of the retina, an important division arises between two parallel visual streams, the dorsal stream and the ventral stream. The dorsal stream projects to the parietal cortex, and is responsible for movements in relation to objects, many of them of a routine or reflex nature. It is also seen as an answer to the ‘where is it?’ location question. The processing of the dorsal is unconscious, and is faster than the consciousness-related processing of the ventral stream.

Neural convergence points

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Frigato identifies two areas of the cingulate brain region, the anterior cingulate and the precuneus-posterior cingulate as necessary for consciousness, while eight other areas, the medial-superior temporal lobe, the anterior and posterior insulas, the superior and inferior parietal, the inferior frontal and two motor cortices are involved at various stages in conscious processing. Frigato says that his own research concurs with the idea of points of convergence in the brain where both a perception and the memories and emotions related to that perception can be held in the same neural structure.

Turing, Consciousness and Thought

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Stephen Baxter’s short article in the science magazine, Focus, highlights some of the problems that arise in dealing with consciousness in a scientific forum. Baxter suggests that Turing made a correct, or at least insightful decision, in deciding to aim at a test as to whether robots/computers could think like humans, while avoiding the possibly unscientific or undefined area of consciousness. This is not strictly speaking true. Turing appeared to have believed that having a robot/computer that Read more […]

Emotional influences on attention

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By Harlan M. Fichtenholtz & Kevin S. Labar, YaleUniversity and DukeUniversity. Published In:-  The Neuroscience of Attention Ed. George R. Mangun, Oxford University Press (2012) Summary and review of the above chapter INTRODUCTION:-  Attention and emotion are argued to be parallel processes interacting at many stages in the brain. Some brain regions are more involved with emotional response and others more with attentional control. Limbic regions act so as to bias sensory processing, Read more […]

The self, consciousness and will

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Response to a debate on Fate, Freedom and Neuroscience at the Institute of Arts and Ideas, London This debate highlighted some of the problems that bedevil modern consciousness studies. One such problem is the tendency to elide the self with consciousness. A more detailed analysis suggests that the self is not the same thing as consciousness, but instead merely a part of the contents of consciousness. The main components of the self are, firstly the necessary distinction between the body and the Read more […]