Sunday, September 2, 2007

Unsolved problems in Neuroscience

I thought readers of this blog would find this Wikipedia entry of great interest. Reductionistic materialists assume that science has already proven that mind = brain, and that anyone who disagrees with that assessment is simply uninformed, a religious zealot, or deluded. But perhaps that is just a case of an assumption of knowledge providing an obstacle to understanding? This list of the unsolved problems in neuroscience (most of which have been investigated, over and over again, for the past hundred years!) shows just what materialists have not even begun to explain about mind and consciousness.

Here is the Wikipedia article, in full:

Some of the yet unsolved problems of neuroscience include:

  • Self awareness: What is the neuronal basis of subjective experience, wakefulness, alertness, arousal and attention? What is its function?

  • Perception: How does the brain transfer sensory information into coherent, private percepts? What are the rules by which perception is organized? What are the features/objects that constitute our perceptual experience of internal and external events? How are the senses integrated? Is face perception special (e.g. innate)? What is the relationship between subjective experience and the physical world?

  • Learning and Memory: Where do our memories get stored and how are they retrieved again? How can learning be improved? What is the difference between explicit and implicit memories? How plastic is the mature brain?

  • Development: How and why did the brain evolve (the way it did)? What are the molecular determinants of individual brain development?

  • Sleep: Why do we dream? What are the underlying brain mechanisms? What is its relation to anesthesia?

  • Cognition and Decisions: How and where does the brain evaluate reward value and effort (cost) to modulate behavior? How does previous experience alter perception and behavior? What are the genetic and environmental contributions to brain function?

  • Language: How is it implemented neurally? What is the basis of semantic meaning?

  • Diseases: What are the neural bases (causes) of mental diseases like psychotic disorders (e.g. mania, schizophrenia), Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease or addiction? Is it possible to recover loss of sensory or motor function?

Materialists assume that each and every one of these unanswered questions will be resolved through reductionist explanations, in terms of neurons and neural firing patterns. However, the lack of progress on many of these items should bring that unstinting faith into some question. . .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice post.
It always intrigues me the way skeptics conflate explaining the brain processes which accompany consciousness with explaining consciousness itself.

For your amusement, you might want to check out the recent comments on this blog post (I had some malicious fun pretending to be an ultra skeptic).