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A good theory does not only shed light at its object, but also at the other views on the same object. As a famous example, the relativity theory not just explains the mechanisms of the Universe; it is also successful in the explanation of why other respectable theories e. Likewise, from the point of view presented here the origins of several alternative theories of consciousness can be apprehended.

Of course, this highly interesting task cannot be pursued in full in this paper; we cannot discuss all existent theories of consciousness in their relationship with the current model. Rather, I shall restrict the review to the approaches apparently similar to the present one. The proposed theory is most similar to embodiment theories of consciousness, simply because it is one of them. Beyond the general agreement at these four points, different embodiment theories of mind and consciousness build a very broad spectrum varying in their account on the exact role and mechanisms of realization of each point, as well as interactions between them.

The hard discussions running in the last decades within the embodiment camp would, however, lead us far beyond our present topic; they are addressed, e.


To be sure, the present approach shares these four E-points. Particularly, anticipatory regulations we have begun with, are closely related to the principles of embeddedness and enactiveness; and the critical role of tools in my approach fully corresponds to the principle of extendedness. However, to my best knowledge no embodiment theory has up to date been devoted to the issue of the origin and the biological basis of specifically human awareness. Rather, several representatives of this approach attacked the hard problem of the origin of elementary forms of sentience or perceptual experience e.

How successful these attacks have been, should be discussed elsewhere. From my point of view, the sensorimotor theory Hurley, ; Noe, has not convincingly responded to arguments raised by it critics e. If we assume that simple robots do not have conscious experience, the fact that the proposed embodied and enacted mechanisms of perception can be modeled in robots already refutes the idea that these mechanisms can explain consciousness.

The sensorimotor theory is, of course, only one of the embodiment-grounded attempts to explain the emergence of consciousness. Nevertheless, they have not yet given any systematic account of the transition from the alleged simple sentience to human consciousness, which is the theme of the present paper.

Part 2 above exposed the idea that human consciousness is a secure space where behavioral actions are virtually performed, and their consequences are virtually apprehended. In general, this idea is not new but goes back to the British associationism of the eighteenth century Hesslow, About 40 years ago, Ingvar ; also Ingvar and Philipsson, practically formulated the concept of consciousness as anticipatory simulations; unfortunately, he justified his conclusions by brain imaging data which appear to be of questionable quality today, not surprising given the enormous progress of brain imaging techniques since then.

The same idea of covert behavior underlies the concept of efference copy von Holst and Mittelstaedt, , as well as some control-theoretical models that regard themselves as alternatives to the efference copy theory e. Particularly interesting from the present viewpoint are the data that virtual performance of actions includes anticipation of action results with simultaneous inhibition of the overt execution of these actions Hesslow, Behavior, originally realized in large feedforward loops including bodily periphery and the environment, can subsequently be reduced to the loops within the brain.

Notwithstanding the clear similarity between my VR metaphor and all these old and recent views, there are substantial differences as well. The present approach is, in contrast, based on the presumption of the control theory that behavior is control of input rather than control of output and cannot, therefore, be regarded as a set of commands sent to muscles.

The very sense of a virtual behavior is obtaining its virtual consequences. But notwithstanding these rather minor differences between all these approaches regarded above in a cavalry manner and the present one, there is a very big difference in the kind of explanation. The primary interest of simulation theorists is a how -explanations.

They ask, how, i. My point, to the contrary, is a why -explanation: why virtual behavior is realized thus and not differently. For example, without the phylogenetic roots in playing behavior, simulated activity could not possess its astonishing freedom to initiate any virtual action in any circumstances, to interrupt or terminate at any deliberate point and to re-start at any moment.

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The components of communication and tool usage also have profound effects on the nature of human consciousness, as we shall see in the next session. Thus consciousness is regarded as the product of cognitive activity converted into a form of language to be shared with others. Indeed, what else is specific for human in contrast to the animal consciousness if not the fact that it is based on social cooperation and language-mediated communication?

Crudely, many socio-linguistic theories may be classified into pre-structuralist e. The first stress the process of internalization in which social interpersonal processes are transformed into internal cognitive intrapersonal processes. Consciousness, from this point of view, is the pattern of social relations for example, a child-parent interaction transported into the head. The second class of theories contends that consciousness is based upon hidden cultural and linguistic stereotypes e. The third view insists on the virtually absolute relativity of the structure and content of conscious human behavior and in contrast to structuralism its historical and ideological interpenetration.

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This view, however, leaves unclear wherefrom the structures or the rules of the game take their stability and causal power if they are not filled by the content of a language-independent world. Post-structuralists capitalized on this inconsequence and proposed a radical solution for the above problem: if consciousness does not have any meaningful content besides the rules and structures of the game, then, it does not have any rules and structures either Derrida, Thus even the notion of symbolic game became much too restrictive since it may imply that there is something the symbols stand for—but in fact, they stand for nothing.

For itself i. Not only, therefore, everything is merely a sequence of signs, but these signs do not signify anything: the classical opposition between the signifying and the signified de Saussure, is thus annulled.

Hence, consciousness is not a game, as previous socio-linguistic theories regarded it, but rather a free play Derrida, whose rules may appear and disappear like clouds in a windy day. From the early socio-linguistic point of view, consciousness is its own manifestation in systems of signs.

The traits that make human beings unique

From the later socio-linguistic point of view, consciousness is just these systems of signs and nothing more. One can say that these views evolved from the theories of socio-linguistic foundation of consciousness, peaking in the linguistic determinism in Wittgenstein and Whorf , to the theories of the unlimited freedom of consciousness in its historic and linguistic realization. This freedom, from their and my point of view, largely roots in the freedom of the sign, which, in its development from index to symbol, abandoned its causal link to its reference.

Importantly, the notion of language as a symbolic game is not limited by syntax. Rather, it is the very meaning of the words which is determined by their location within the network of tacit verbal rules. Because many very influential linguistic theories originally accrued in philology and cultural anthropology, they may appear to concern only particular forms of consciousness expressed, e.

This is not true. They left their trace even in strongly biological approaches to cognition and consciousness e.

Consider the octopus

From the present point of view, socio-linguistic theories correctly emphasize communication and play as important sources of human consciousness. However, all these views, traditional and contemporary, philosophically or biologically oriented, completely miss the instrumental nature of human behavior. Many of them talk about tools; e. But besides this, our consciousness is based on simply tools, which are not words, not theories, just tools.

Using them, we either attain our goal if we correctly grasp the objective relation between elements of the environment and their properties , or not if our conceptions are wrong. Thus the results of tool usage continuously test the validity of our symbolic games. If their concepts of sticks and boxes were true, they reached the banana, but when they were false, they remained hungry.

It is true that, e. But in addition, the building has to withstand gravity, wind and possibly earthquakes. But it is also important to remember that our ancestors failed to reach bananas using a bundle of straw, simply because the bundle was not hard. The theory of common working space CWS: Baars, , is probably the most elaborated psychological theory of consciousness in the last 30 years.

The theory regards the mind as a coordinated activity of numerous highly specialized cognitive modules Fodor, , whose work is largely automatic. When some of these specialists meet a processing task for which no preprogrammed solution is available, they build a CWS to make this task as well as all proposed solutions open for every other module.

This can be compared with a large audience in which many small groups work each with its own problem, but there is also a possibility to broadcast a problem for the whole audience. Consciousness is this broadcasting; there is a competition for access to it, because the space is only one, and the tasks are many. Therefore, the most interesting processes determining the content of our consciousness are not those which happen in consciousness but those which decide what specialized module s should get access to it.

The CWS theory not only provides an explanation for very many characteristic properties of consciousness, but it is also quite compatible with other interesting theories e. The metaphor of consciousness behind the CWS model is that of a theater Baars, The CWS can be regarded as an open scene accessible for all cognitive modules. The similarity between the theater metaphor and the VR metaphor is obvious.

Both presume a scenery, a show, thus pointing to one of the key components of the present hypothesis, i. Both theater and VR are spaces where things are played.

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But in this play, we should not play down the differences between the two metaphors. A theater presumes many spectators, who rather passively observe the actors' activity, whereas a VR is concentrated around a single participant, who is actively engaged in this reality. Furthermore, arbitrariness is much stronger in the theater than in the VR.

Millions of people admire opera theater in which they witness how personages express their emotions by continuous singing, which would appear strange and silly in real life. Also interestingly, the theater metaphor does not warrant the uniqueness of consciousness. Many cities have several theaters, and some people can visit two or three on an evening. Nevertheless, the most established version of the CWS theory assumed that there exists only one common space for each brain and each body, Shanahan, Many concrete predictions of the CWS theory result from the assumption of the strong competition between modules striving for the access to the only possibility to broadcast.

Later on Baars suggested that there can be multiple CWSs working in parallel. Baars and Dennett devoted a lot of intriguing pages to the issue of how this unity can be created by the distributed brain.

What makes the human brain unique?

Neuroscientists Singer, ; Treisman, ; Tallon-Baudry, regard this question as the main question of the neurophysiological underpinnings of consciousness. Thus we are surprised that we have only one state of consciousness at one time, despite millions of parallel functioning neuronal circuits in our brain. However, we are not surprised when a big animal e. We don't regard this unity as a miracle and don't postulate a specific mechanism of binding these cells into a single organism. Complex behavior is realized in the form of muscular synergies Bernstein, ; Gelfand et al.

These synergies are motor equivalents of the CWS.