A New Theory of Consciousness

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A New Theory of Consciousness

Postby Tom on Tue Oct 25, 2022 3:12 pm

https://scitechdaily.com/scientists-have-developed-a-new-explanation-for-consciousness/amp/https://scitechdaily.com/scientists-have-developed-a-new-explanation-for-consciousness/amp/

Scientists Have Developed a New Explanation for Consciousness


A recent study offers a new theory for consciousness.

According to a new theory, choices are formed unconsciously and become conscious around half a second later.
Consciousness is your awareness of yourself and your surroundings. This awareness is unique to you and subjective.

A new theory of consciousness has been developed by a researcher at Boston University’s Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, describing why it evolved, what it is useful for, which disorders influence it, and why it is so difficult to diet and resist other urges.

“In a nutshell, our theory is that consciousness developed as a memory system that is used by our unconscious brain to help us flexibly and creatively imagine the future and plan accordingly,” explained corresponding author Andrew Budson, MD, professor of neurology. “What is completely new about this theory is that it suggests we don’t perceive the world, make decisions, or perform actions directly. Instead, we do all these things unconsciously and then—about half a second later—consciously remember doing them.”

In order to explain a number of phenomena that could not be readily explained by earlier theories of consciousness, Budson explained that he and his co-authors, psychologist Elizabeth Kensinger, Ph.D., from Boston College, and philosopher Kenneth Richman, Ph.D., at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, developed this theory.

“We knew that conscious processes were simply too slow to be actively involved in music, sports, and other activities where split-second reflexes are required. But if consciousness is not involved in such processes, then a better explanation of what consciousness does was needed,” said Budson, who also is Chief of Cognitive & Behavioral Neurology, Associate Chief of Staff for Education, and Director of the Center for Translational Cognitive Neuroscience at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Boston Healthcare System.

This theory, according to the researchers, is important because it clarifies how all of our choices and actions—which we mistakenly believe were made consciously—are actually made unconsciously. Therefore, since our conscious mind is not in charge of our actions, we may tell ourselves that we are just going to have one scoop of ice cream and then, the next thing we know, the container is empty.

“Even our thoughts are not generally under our conscious control. This lack of control is why we may have difficulty stopping a stream of thoughts running through our head as we’re trying to go to sleep, and also why mindfulness is hard,” adds Budson.

Budson and his coauthors consider a number of neurologic, psychiatric, and developmental disorders to be disorders of consciousness including Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, delirium, migraine, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder, certain types of autism, and more.

Lastly, their paper provides a roadmap as to how clinicians, educators, and individuals can best improve behavior and gain knowledge, by using clinical and teaching methods that can be effective in shaping both the conscious mind and the unconscious brain. With further exploration, this work may allow patients to improve problem behaviors such as overeating, help us understand the ways in which brain structures support memory, and even provide insight into philosophical issues around free will and moral responsibility.

Reference: “Consciousness as a Memory System” by Andrew E. Budson, MD, Kenneth A. Richman, Ph.D., Elizabeth A. Kensinger, Ph.D., 3 October 2022, Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology.
DOI: 10.1097/WNN.0000000000000319

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
“When you run after your thoughts, you are like a dog chasing a stick. Instead, be like a lion who, rather than chasing after the stick, turns to face the thrower. One only throws a stick at a lion once.” — Milarepa (1052-1135)
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Re: A New Theory of Consciousness

Postby everything on Tue Oct 25, 2022 6:53 pm

I think jimmy recently paraphrased this theory on a different thread.

I wonder what their theory of meditation would be.
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Re: A New Theory of Consciousness

Postby origami_itto on Tue Oct 25, 2022 10:33 pm

That's why you have to set the intention and let it manifest. Get ahead of the cycle instead of getting stuck reacting
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Re: A New Theory of Consciousness

Postby Dmitri on Wed Oct 26, 2022 4:03 am

...or you could just let go and enjoy the ride
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Re: A New Theory of Consciousness

Postby Doc Stier on Wed Oct 26, 2022 10:59 am

Let it go and let it flow. 8-)
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Re: A New Theory of Consciousness

Postby jimmy on Wed Oct 26, 2022 5:57 pm

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Re: A New Theory of Consciousness

Postby origami_itto on Thu Oct 27, 2022 7:19 am

"Go with the flow" sure. But that's not what this is discussing, is it?

This is talking about our actions and behaviors occurring and then us making up stories for why we did them. This has long been my understanding. We're rationalization engines. We do what we do and explain it to ourselves in a way that makes us feel good.

This stimulus-response can be completely unconscious, amoeba-level existence. We're jerked around by our whims and desires and impulses and reactions based upon the specific neural pathways we've cultivated.

This is great if we've achieved some zhong ding and unitiy with the Tao or whatever, and we're responding skillfully to what the universe throws at us, great, go with the flow.

Some of us are still not perfect, we struggle with addiction, trauma, anxiety, fear, all manner of self-limiting patterns. I know it's hard to conceive of from atop your ivory tower, but my boots are in the mud and it's dirty down here.

Those are the people I want to help with my art. I could care less about beating people up.

To that end, this model ties right back into basic CBT/DBT concepts. We set up the machine, and then when that function is needed, it springs into action.

So tune the machine. Calibrate it to behave in the way you want instead of being lead around by sense input and response.

I'm not much of a fan of Kevin Kostner, but there was a line in "The Bodyguard" that has always stuck with me. Something like "I spend a lot of time training to not respond like other people"

And that to me sums it up. Sure, go with the flow, be one with the Tao and be unstoppable.... but fix your keel first. Get your sails properly trimmed and maintained. Fly. Otherwise you're just a disorganized wreck buffeted about by the storms of every passing phenomenon.
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Re: A New Theory of Consciousness

Postby Dmitri on Fri Oct 28, 2022 4:32 am

I see a different "core message" here; I see yet another confirmation that we can't help do what we do and be who we are. How we rationalize it matters even less, because that can't be helped either...
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Re: A New Theory of Consciousness

Postby origami_itto on Fri Oct 28, 2022 6:47 am

We can't help it in the moment, but we can tune ourselves to particular patterns.

Look at it like, a perfect human will naturally respond perfectly, naturally in harmony with Tao.

But we're flawed, we have these patterns that prevent us from easily accessing that flow.

You say "let go" but even that is a conditioned response, at least that's what 20 years of Taijiquan has taught me. With most of us, our natural inclination is to hold on.... tightly.

It's easy to just say "I am who I am" and behave reflexively. It's transcendent to start being aware of the negative response patterns. We call it growth and maturity, change, whatever. In some cases, sure, our reactions mellow based simply on changes to our hormones over our lifetime. I believe most of that positive change, at least for me, is a result of conscious effort to reprogram my immediate reponses.

A minor example is in the reflexive greetings.

When someone would ask me "How are you today?" I would say "Good, thanks."

But I don't like that, it's not grammatically pleasing or reflective of the person I actually am. So I've trained myself to say "I am well, thank you. How are you today?"

Small, minor example, but the key to everything. Language guides thought, thought sets patterns, behavior follows patterns.

You can take the same approach to ablist, sexist, racist microaggressions and slurs, negative self-talk, self-limiting beliefs and behaviors.

You most definitely CAN help who you are and what you do, but maybe it's less adding on than it is stripping away the bullshit.
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Re: A New Theory of Consciousness

Postby Steve James on Fri Oct 28, 2022 7:28 am

Dmitri, are you really a fatalist in terms of philosophy? or a super determinist in terms of physics/chemistry?

But, afa consciousness, I wonder about artificial intelligence, as in the Turing test. Don't we measure whether something is conscious by whether it can communicate with us? Granted that the human questions aren't are absolutely predetermined, why would the machine's answer be? The human question is biochemical; the machine answer is electro-mechanical.

If machine consciousness becomes a reality based on some human algorithm, we better hope the human programmer wasn't a psychopath. :) Skynet comes to mind.
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Re: A New Theory of Consciousness

Postby everything on Fri Oct 28, 2022 7:40 am

a machine (let's say it's a chess program)
- can make some (chess) decisions
- have a memory of the decisions
- assess future possible decisions and moves and the opponent decisions to make the next decision
- "learn" over time to improve at this decision making for future games.

It seems like the theory says human consciousness comes from the above doing/memory/deciding. But it doesn't seem to apply to this machine.
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Re: A New Theory of Consciousness

Postby Steve James on Fri Oct 28, 2022 8:02 am

You can take the same approach to ablist, sexist, racist microaggressions and slurs, negative self-talk, self-limiting beliefs and behaviors.


Well, it's true that some people will say things have to be the way they are just to excuse the things they do. People will say it's God's will that they murder, or that science has determined they are supposed to be in the positions they are. The Puritans did; Napoleon did; shucks, those opinions are common.

I don't think Dmitri is trying to justify behavior. He's arguing, iinm, that thoughts are the products of brain chemistry over which individuals have no control.

You most definitely CAN help who you are and what you do, but maybe it's less adding on than it is stripping away the bullshit.


Imo, that's a bit too absolute. We use chemicals to treat people who can't control their negative behaviors. But, I agree that controlling behavior is possible. I think our behaviors are motivated by more than thoughts. The article refers to the unconscious. Well, I think of seeing an attractive woman at a party while my girlfriend was away. I could always say I had no choice. But, my girlfriend would disagree, and something would tell me. There's an old saying about gonads and conscience.
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Re: A New Theory of Consciousness

Postby Steve James on Fri Oct 28, 2022 8:23 am

It seems like the theory says human consciousness comes from the above doing/memory/deciding. But it doesn't seem to apply to this machine.


Iinm, Alpha-zero worked on that principle. There wasn't an algorithm for chess. It wasn't taught how the pieces should move, just how they move, and the objective of the game. Then it just kept playing millions of games, finding its own moves through experience.

Imo, the difference is in the human emotions that affect our behaviors sub and unconsciously. A chess computer is like a Terminator: it can't be bargained with, it can't be reasoned with, it doesn't feel pity, remorse, or fear, and it will absolutely will not stop until you are checkmated.
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Re: A New Theory of Consciousness

Postby origami_itto on Fri Oct 28, 2022 8:55 am

Speaking as a diagnosed manic depressive on psych meds... the chemicals/hormones are just another stimulus you learn to interpret and respond to.

A computer program/ai can make decisions based on input and algorithms and can learn to a limited extent, but it can't have an opinion about it, or itself. That ability to be aware of oneself AND have an opinion or feeling about it is what separates us from machines and even to a lesser extent animals. They also have feelings, aka chemical/emotional responses, but they aren't terribly self aware.

That curse of self-awareness is where we get free will, the knowledge of good and evil in the bible that made them want to cover their nakedness.
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Re: A New Theory of Consciousness

Postby origami_itto on Fri Oct 28, 2022 9:03 am

The first thought I had about this was shen-yi-qi-jin flow and the qi stagnating when it's double-weighted/in the same place as the yi. Music is how I relate the concept. When you're performing you don't have time to listen to yourself and THEN continue. You have to be listening to the notes you've just played and possibly adjusting timing and pressure and intensity, etc to match the band, while simultaneously playing the current note and preparing to play the next.

Formally written and choreographed songs with a set sequence are like our form play, we have a little room for personal expression but not much in the way of spontaneity.

Fighting/partner work is more like a jam session, everything else still applies but now you have the added dimension of the next note not always being decided. You join with the mind and ebb and flow and give and take the lead as the energy directs.

Here in particular is where simply surrendering to the flow doesn't work. We've got to program the right patterns and responses to deal with the chaos of the situation and take control of it, so we don't get beaten.
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