Friday, July 13, 2007

What is the brain for (Repost from AMNAP 1.0)

Reductionistic materialism tells us the brain is an information processing device, where memories are stored, experiences occur, where decisions are made. That our brain is us, and the destruction of the brain is the end of an individual's existence.

We've already seen a lot of evidence that this might be incorrect.

If we let go of the assumption that all of the properties of consciousness and mind are explained by brain constituents, structure, and behavior, if we allow the possibility for a non-corporeal component to awareness and qualia and memory and mind, then what might the brain be for?

The brain and nervous system could be an interface for mind to manifest itself within matter, and to interface with sense perceptions. If this is the correct interpretation, what would we expect to see?

One of the arguments for no free will is that the physical universe is causally closed. That is, all of the behaviors of atoms, molecules, cells, organs and organisms are already specified through the equations of physics.

In the early twentieth century, we learned that at the smallest scale, the universe is indeterminate. Reductionists typically claim that it doesn't matter, that while quantum effects may be indeterminate at the smallest scale, they wash out at the level of molecules, cells and organisms. Chaos theory casts considerable doubt on this claim, ie: the butterfly effect. They also usually say that quantum indeterminacy is essentially random, not meaningful. But what if this is wrong? What if consciousness itself can influence the collapse of the quantum waveform, in a desired direction. This would provide the mechanism for consciousness to act within the world.

Neural firing is indeterminate. That is, the behavior of any given neuron and its firing is probabalistic. In other words, sometimes a neuron will fire under stimulus, and other times not. This is almost certainly because neural firing is mediated by the behavior of ions within the synaptic gap, and the behavior of those ions is subject to quantum fluctuations. Because the firing of a single neuron can be amplified through thousands or millions of other neurons throughout large areas of the the brain, and trigger motor neurons, this gives the possibility for individual quantum events to determine gross motor behaviors (shall I give the possible example of neurons controlling muscles in fingers typing a blog entry?). To a large degree, the brain can be seen as a device for magnifying the effects of quantum indeterminancy to the macro-scale, and if those quantum fluctuations are somehow influenced by consciousness, they can use them to drive behavior.

Certainly there is evidence that consciousness can influence quantum systems (ie: RNG PK). Is this how the mind drives the brain and body?

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