ALPHABETICAL BRAIN™ VOCABULARY
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SECULAR BRAIN SCIENCE STARS

January 13, 2020

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CONSCIOUSNESS INSTINCT:
Unraveling the Mystery of
How the Brain Makes the Mind.

by Michael S. Gazzaniga.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
2018 (274 pages)


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BOOK OUTLINE
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QUOTE= "Consciousness unfolding if I ever saw it." selected by Michael S. Gazzaniga as a tribute to Leonardo da Vinci (unpaged at beginning of book)

INTRODUCTION (pages 3-8)

note = "Our minds travel back and forth through time so fluidly" (3)

note = It is Gazzaniga's purpose to "illuminate how our exquisitely evolved brain is organized to do its magic. In short, I want to examine how matter makes minds." (4)

"It is in our nature to think about who and what we are and what it means to be conscious." (4)

note = "Why has the quest to understand consciousness been so difficult?...Is consciousness just what brains do?"... While thinking explicitly about consciousness was ignited by Descartes three hundred years, two overarching and contradictory ideas — that the mind either is part of the brain's workings or works somehow independently of the brain — have been around seemingly forever. Indeed, these ideas are still with us." (5)

note = "Plainly stated, I think consciousness is an instinct."

Note = In Part 1, the book describes how "most modern thinking has looped back to build on the ideas of the ancient Greeks, and holds essentially the same models, which link the mental and physical inexorably together in one system...new ideas are needed, and this book takes a shot." (7)

note = "In Part 2, some modern principles of brain science are introduced ... [about] how neurons produce minds....It is amazing to me how the ‘brain as a machine' metaphor, first proposed by Descartes and wholly adopted by most of modern science, has led us to believe that the entire machine is required to perform many of its functions." (7)

note = "In fact, we are a confederation of independent modules, orchestrated to work together. To understand how these modules collaborate, we need to know the overall architecture of the system, an architecture called ‘layering' that will be familiar with many readers, such as computer scientists" instead of operating like a centralized system to produce consciousness. (7)

note = "In Part 3, "the nagging issue at the core of this mind/brain business: how do neurons gin up mind?... There is a...gap between life and inanimate matter, between mind and brain, between the quantum world and our own everyday world. How can those gaps be closed?... physics can help." (7-8)

"Finally, I offer a perspective on how the modules, layers, and gaps play out to yield what we call conscious experience... We use the word, ‘consciousness' as shorthand to easily describe the functions of a multitude of inborn, instinctual mechanisms such as language, perception, and emotion.

It becomes evident that consciousness is best understood as a complex instinct... It is as if our mind is a bubbling pot of water. The top bubble ultimately bursts into an idea, only to be replaced by more bubbles... The arrow of time stitches it all together as each bubble comes up for its moment... Read the book to find out for yourself whether you can see it this way too... enjoy your thoughts as they bubble up to the surface of your own consciousness." (8)

PART 1 — GETTING READY FOR MODERN THOUGHT (9-79)

1) HISTORY'S RIGID, ROCKY, AND GOOFY WAY OF THINKING ABOUT CONSCIOUSNESS (11-28)

2) THE DAWN OF EMPIRICAL THINKING IN PHILOSOPHY (29-54)

3) TWENTIETH-CENTURY STRIDES AND OPENINGS TO MODERN THOUGHT (55-79)

[] Francis Crick to Modern Science: it’s okay to study consciousness (73-79)

note = Crick and Koch (76-78)

PART 2 — THE PHYSICAL SYSTEM (81-152)

note = Evolving a bigger brain (90-93)

note = Advantages of a modular brain (93-95)

note = Going modular (95-96)

note = use more sub-headings in this chapter (96-103)

note = Where is consciousness? Mutual processing of information by various connected modules (103-106)

4) MAKING BRAINS ONE MODULE AT A TIME (83-106)

note = Where is consciousness? (103-106)

5) THE BEGINNINGS OF UNDERSTANDING BRAIN ARCHITECTURE (107-131)

quote = “There are a great many things about architecture that are hidden from the untrained eye.” by Frank Gehry (107)

[1] The architecture of the complex (109)

[2] The robust, the complex, and the fragile (111-112)

[3] The universal design strategy (112-118)

[4] The neuroscience of layering (118-120)

[5] Evolvable layered systems (120-122)

[6] The binds that make it free (122-125)

[7] There are multiple ways to skin a brain (125-127

) [8] From chromosomes to consciousness: a layered architecture (127-128)

[9] Control yourselves! (128-131)

note = Control creates order and precision in a system, preventing it from doing random things. Use rest of paragraph (128-131)

6) GRAMPS IS DEMENTED BUT CONSCIOUS (133-152)

note = refs to Anderson and Adolph and Panksepp who argue that an emotion is an unconscious central nervous system state that is triggered by a specific stimulus, whether external or internal (146)

note = Joseph LeDoux has elucidated the fear circuits, which he now calls the “threat circuits.” He believes we need a better agreed upon definition for emotional states. (147)

note = facts of neurology (150)

[] The ubiquity of consciousness (151-152)

note = “This incessant interplay between cognition and feelings, which is to say between cortical and subcortical modules, produces what we call “consciousness.” (151)

use a lot of the rest of the page 151 to complementarity 152 (151-152)

PART 3 — CONSCIOUSNESS COMES (153-237)

7) THE CONCEPT OF COMPLEMENTARITY — THE GIFT FROM PHYSICS (155-173)

[] The idea of complementarity (166-173)

note = use the def of the “principle of complementarity” and the Bohr vs. Einstein different conclusions about the quantum nature of reality and measuring quantum effects (170-173)

use how the new def of “objectivity” in physics requires an interaction with an observer (172-173)

8) NON-LIVING TO LIVING AND NEURONS TO MIND (175-199)

quote = “An important stage of human thought will have been reached when the physiological and the psychological, the objective and the subjective, are actually united.” by Pavlov (175)

[] The genetic code is a real code (187-193)

[] Summing up (196-199)

note = use several sentences to explain the distinction between subjective and objective (196)

note = “The explanatory gap has stumped us because the subjective experiences of the mind have resisted being reduced to neural firings of brain matter.” (197)

9) BUBBLING BROOKS AND PERSONAL CONSCIOUSNESS (201-223)

QUOTE = “It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.” Alice, in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (201)

note = how define consciousness? - use top whole para of page 202 (201-202)

note = “Consciousness is in constant change, a stream... (202) Use the logic of ideas about gaps, modules, and layers and Howard Pattee’s “semiotic closure” (202)

[1] Two consciously different conscious hemispheres! (203-206)

note = “I have to go back to the very first scientific observation I ever made...It was the beginning observation that not only the brain but also the mind had been divided.” (203-204)

“It was the seed that led to 60 years of research on the nature of mind and its physical underpinnings. It was also the test that produced the most astonishing observation of all. The left, talking brain did not seem to miss the right brain, and vice versa. (204)

[2] Tiny bubbles (206-207)

[3] Background for bubbles (208)

[4] Bats in the belfry (209-)

note = Theory of mind - “The disconnected left hemisphere is unable to take into account the intent of the person...acting as if it did not have a theory of mind.” (211)

[5] What is it like to be a right hemisphere? (212-213)

[6] Feelings (213-215)

note = “So we have memory bubbles and feeling bubbles.” (215)

[7] Sentio Ergo Sum (216-218)

note = several refs to Jaak Panksepp who agrees with Pinker [and also Damasio] (216-217)

[8] Methodic or chaotic bubbles? (218-220)

[9] A famous control layer malfunction (221)

[10] Consciousness enriched by evolution (221-223)

QUOTE = “One man’s ‘magic’ is another man’s engineering.” by Robert A. Heinlein, science fiction writer and consultant for movie 2001, A Space Odyssey (221)

10) CONSCIOUSNESS IS AN INSTINCT (225-237)

note = refs to Michael Polanyi and his book Personal Knowledge [tacit knowledge] (226-227)

[1] Looking forward (229-231)

[2] A final word (231-237)

note = use the last para about the way consciousness will be better understood in the future (236)

NOTES (239-256)

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (257-259)

INDEX (261-274)

Consciousness
Egyptians, Ancient
Evolution
Mind/Body Dualism
Minsky, Marvin

A NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR (unpaged at end)

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AUTHOR NOTE, SUMMARY,
AND BOOK DESCRIPTION

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AUTHOR NOTE = Michael S. Gazzaniga, one of the premiere doctors of neuroscience, was born on December 12, 1939 in Los Angeles. Educated at Dartmouth College and California Institute of Technology, he has been on the faculty of the Center for Neuroscience, University of California, Davis and UC Santa Barbara. His early research examined the subject of epileptics who had undergone surgery to control seizures. He has also studied Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients and reveals important findings in books such as Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind.

While many of his writings are technical, he also educates and stimulates readers with discussions about the fascinating and mysterious workings of the brain. Books such as The Social Brain and The Mind's Past bring forth new information and theories regarding how the brain functions, interacts, and responds with the body and the environment. – Bowker Author Biography

SUMMARY = "The father of cognitive neuroscience" illuminates the past, present, and future of the mind-brain problem.

BOOK DESCRIPTION = How do neurons turn into minds? How does physical "stuff" — atoms, molecules, chemicals, and cells — create the vivid and various worlds inside our heads? The problem of consciousness has gnawed at us for millennia. In the last century there have been massive breakthroughs that have rewritten the science of the brain, and yet the puzzles faced by the ancient Greeks are still present. In book, the neuroscience pioneer Michael S. Gazzaniga puts the latest research in conversation with the history of human thinking about the mind, giving a big-picture view of what science has revealed about consciousness.

The idea of the brain as a machine, first proposed centuries ago, has led to assumptions about the relationship between mind and brain that dog scientists and philosophers to this day. Gazzaniga asserts that this model has it backward — brains make machines, but they cannot be reduced to one. New research suggests the brain is actually a confederation of independent modules working together. Understanding how consciousness could emanate from such an organization will help define the future of brain science and artificial intelligence, and close the gap between brain and mind. Captivating and accessible, with insights drawn from a lifetime at the forefront of the field of neuroscience.

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BOOK REVIEWS
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PUBLISHERS WEEKLY REVIEW = Bolstered by a background in neurobiology and human psychology, Gazzaniga (Tales from Both Sides of the Brain), director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind at UC Santa Barbara, adopts a philosophical approach in this insightful book-a "fresh attempt to wrestle with" the question of consciousness and the relationship between brain and mind. Gazzaniga posits that "consciousness is an instinct" and that the brain is a relatively independent, adaptable, and flexible system of local modules organized in a layered architecture, cohering through more integrative modules at a higher level. By discussing an array of substantial brain injuries throughout the book, he demonstrates that modules have the ability to mediate their specific functions as well as participate in the emergent property of subjective experience. Gazzaniga details how the understanding of human consciousness progressed; he examines the ideas of such philosophers as Aristotle, Descartes, David Hume, and William James, and shows where the centuries-long struggle to find the seat of consciousness has floundered. He also refreshingly grounds the work in real experimental data, revealing himself to be an intelligent mental explorer and master syncretist. Gazzaniga's accessible, well-organized arguments are bound to provoke deep metathoughts, and readers should find his treatise delightful.

BOOK LIST REVIEW = Nothing if not daring, Gazzaniga attempts a task that has long frustrated philosophers and scientists: namely, that of explaining human consciousness. Himself a distinguished neuroscientist, Gazzaniga starts by dispelling a misconception traceable back to Descartes, who viewed the human mind as a spiritual ghost in a biological machine. Despite ever-increasing neurological sophistication in explaining the brain's biochemical machinery, the ghost of consciousness still eludes scientific explanation and will continue to do so.

Gazzaniga insists, researchers need to recognize in the relationship between brain and mind the same kind of complementarity that quantum physicists discern in a single subatomic entity manifesting two quite different identities. Readers can experience such a complementarity harmonizing of the biology of the brain's neurons with the meaning-laden symbols of the mind's thoughts in a stream of consciousness that flows through the multilayered modules of the cerebrum.

It may surprise readers to learn how this seamless stream originates as disparate bubbles of consciousness instinctively welling up in the various regions of the brain. This is a rare opportunity to probe the frontiers of neurological inquiry.-- Christensen, Bryce

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