posted Dec 19, 2009 6:45 PM by Bernard Baars
1. For Baars & Gage's (2007) college textbook for cognitive neuroscience
(recommended for Advanced Seminar members),
Cognition, Brain & Consciousness: An Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience
(Elsevier/Academic Press), please click here.
A Kindle edition is available from Amazon.com
The Second Edition of Baars & Gage is due in March, 2010. It will have new chapters on Consciousness & Attention and on Genes and Molecules of Cognition. A Mini-Atlas of the Brain is now included. Teaching materials, including lecture powerpoints and movies, are available on the Elsevier college textbook site.
2. For future University of Arizona CCS courses and seminars:
1. Positive Conscious Experiences: A WebCourse.
2. Spring 2010 Advanced Seminar in Mind, Brain and Consciousness.
For information and Registration, please visit:
The Center for Consciousness Studies, University of Arizona.
3. For our current (a) WebCourse and (b) Advanced Seminar --- please scroll down.
4. For published reading materials (educational use).
5. For brain movies (educational use).
6. For podcasts, audio lectures, and more... .
7. For pictures of conscious cats!
8. For pictures of UN-conscious cats!
9. For personal information, friends, family, a CV, books, articles, and so on...
If you would like to join us in Spring, 2010, for either course --- (Science & Positive Consciousness, or Advanced Seminar) please download the pdf by clicking on this link.
WEEK 5. Interesting new stuff for next Sunday: Is there an observing self in the brain? Can we think of consciousness as "BAT-O-BAT?"
1. BAT-O-BAT = Brain Activity That the Owner of the Brain has Access To --- I guess I've changed my acronym, but I'll keep it the same from now on. What's the Owner of the Brain? It's just a convenient label for the Observing Self, or I, or Ego, a system that has the perspective of the perceiver, and also of the conceiver --- of the sensory experiences and the concepts that we attribute to ourselves as an observer. It could be called the "perspectival self" which as William James has it, may be quite different from the self as an object of perception or thought.
An easy thought experiment. Drape one leg of the other, so that your lower leg swings freely back and forth. Then tap the soft muscle under the kneecap of the freely swinging leg. You'll notice that your lower leg jumps out sharply, and that it feels as if it is NOT under the control of your "I" --- even though you were the one who tapped your patellar tendon. (It's the knee-jerk reflect, or the patellar tendon reflex). NOW do the same thing, but just voluntarily move your lower leg back and forth. Notice that it is a slower onset of movement, and less "ballistic" --- that is, your lower leg is not behaving like a swinging pendulum. Rather, you are exercising more precise control over its moments.
Question: What is the SUBJECTIVE difference between those two cases? You're the only person who knows about your subjective experience!
2. I've added a nice little movie showing the brain activity involved in a single finger press. It is directly relevant to our little demo. The "hand squeeze" image on the right panel tells you when the actual movement occurs.
3. Visual agnosias. I found a nice figure from the textbook of the "visual agnosias," which including "blindsight" and other forms of loss of CONSCIOUS vision without completely loss of unconscious visual perception.
4. I have added three updated chapters for the 2nd edition of Baars & Gage at the bottom of this page.
Remember, these are not yet published, so they are just for our educational use.
Chapter 3 - updated.
Chapter 12 - updated: Executive Functions and Voluntary Control.
Chapter 16. Genes and molecules of cognition.
Chapter 8 is already provided below.
We are doing very well. Please feel free to explore below, and to download interesting materials. They are for educational use only, as you know.
ConnectPro worked very well last Sunday. We should be able to download the entire session, but first i need to make sure that we are not bumping
into Prof. Stan Franklin's use of the site. i will let you know asap.
Remember that we are focusing mostly on Chapter 8 of the 2nd edition of Baars & Gage, which presents the overview of consciousness and attention in the brain. It is located at the bottom of this page, and can be downloaded by clicking on this link.
Here's a brain to play with (as an animation) --- courtesy of NLM - the National Library of Medicine. You can make it move to any desired position (including the bottom, which is very important!) by dragging the little triangle on the slide.
We also have a nice article from Current Biology that introduces binoculary rivaly. This method is often used to compare conscious to
unconscious visual input, one to each eye. it is about 7 items up from the bottom of this page. Or click to download.
Baars, Ramsoy & Laureys article on PET scans of unconscious vs. conscious states has been added at the bottom, on request.
An article on "locked-in syndrome" has been added, a chapter from a book on the Neurology of Consciousness, by Laureys & Tononi (2008). Remember that a locked-in person is normally conscious but paralyzed. Therefore the brain scan looks normal (the damage may be in the brainstem region called the pons, basically the output wires from motor cortex.)
Glossary has now been added ... one on consciousness, and one on neurobiology. At the bottom of this page.
Having clear definitions is key to clear thinking. These are useful definitions, which are widely shared (if not universally). You're welcome to debate the definitions.
COOL CONSCIOUSNESS ARTICLE OF THE WEEK!
I don't know if you're ready for this ... but just as a sample of what people are doing to understand consciousness and the brain ...
Here's a new article hot off the press! It's SIX articles up from the very bottom of this page.
(IT'S BEEN CHANGED TO: ...)
Sam M. Doesburg et al (2009) Rhythms of Consciousness: Binocular Rivalry Reveals
Large-Scale Oscillatory Network Dynamics Mediating Visual Perception. PLOS ONE.
July 2009 | Volume 4 | Issue 7 | e6142
It's SIX articles up from the bottom of this page, ready to download.
This one is ONLY if you're ready for a really meaty article on visual consciousness.
Don't worry if you don't understand every word.
I've outlined the most interesting parts in red.
If this seems a tad too tough for your tastes at this point, again, don't worry. This is frontier science, and it's got a lot of bells and whistles to satisfy all the critics. This whole field is heating up, with competing articles in places like Science, Nature, and in this case, PLOS ONE. Very good journals, but all journals are fallible, just like all first-time findings have to be tested out to make sure they are OK. Ultimately it's the "network" of solid and robust findings that looks convincing.
So, consider this an early scouting report from the wilderness.
If you remember the metaphor of space Vogons from another galaxy trying to understand life on Earth by picking up radio, wifi, cellphone and TV signals --- that's what's going on in these studies. We don't understand the language(s) of the brain, and our space-based sensors still have to improve a lot before we can figure out where and when there is Brain Activity That the Owner of the Brain Experiences as Conscious (I'm going to call that BATOBEC for now, until somebody thinks of a better acronym). BATOBEC it is, OK?
These authors make a case for a widespread network of activation " when we become visually conscious of something. They use "binocular rivalry" to compare conscious pictures to masked (or unconscious) pictures.
Binocular rivalry is nice because you're not actually blocking any input to the eye when the unconscious stimulus is presented. The Conscious and Unconscious input are physically identical. That way you can hope to rule out an explanation that says it's just something different coming into the eyes.
By now we have a whole bag of tricks for doing that, to try to test for "conscious vision as such" --- rather than any of the alternative explanations we can think of.
So --- if you're ready for some frontier science, go for it!
And if you want to pass on it for now, that's fine. You could read the long chapter from last week --- it's just as important as this "hot off the presses" stuff.
See you on Sunday!
Dear Seminar Members,
Your downloads are on this page.
For Week 2, the new chapter on Consciousness & Attention for Baars & Gage, 2nd edition is available at the bottom of this page. This is copyrighted by Elsevier, 2009-2010, and is currently in the page proof stage. It is only for our use in the Advanced Seminar and not for general distribution. However, it is the most up-to-date chapter I know on what we know about the conscious brain, so it is appropriate for our Advanced Seminar. Please handle with care...
Just scroll down to the very bottom of this page and click on the link that states: Ch8Baars_Copyrighted2009.pdf.
You are welcome to download the attachments from the D2L site. The little brain movie is cute, and it allows you to look at the different sides of the brain by sliding the little triangle back and forth. Try it, please.
I realize that you have a lot of material now. I don't expect you to have it all memorized by any means. I would like to be able to refer to figures and sections in Chapter 8, and also in the 2007 edition of the Baars & Gage book. You're getting the 2nd edition way before everybody else!
We will have our Seminar Discussion on Sunday 2-4 pm (Pacific Time).
On Sunday I would like to hear your thoughts on splitting our Seminar into two sections, to give everyone plenty of chance to join in.
Right now we have enough people for two sections.
Week 1. Baars (TICS, 2002).
1. Useful Reading BaarsTICS2002.pdf
2. Lecture 1 for the 2009 WebCourse --- just because it applies to the Seminar, too. Lecture 1_2009-WEBCRSE.doc
3. Please listen to the Mitsuko Uchida performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQpsL_kh6pE
4. Did you listen to the iTunes podcast? If you can't find it on iTunes, here it is... Baars_Csns_UAz_Intro_Podcast1.mov
Please feel free to scroll down and check out the articles and brain pics lower on this page.
See you Sunday!
My Nature Blog, called "Conscious Brain," will have updates on news and ideas ... http://network.nature.com/people/bernardbaars/blog
If you want to leave a specific comment, please use the Nature blog. For Consciousness: The WebCourse and Advanced Seminar in Mind, Brain & Consciousness, please see http://www.consciousness.arizona.edu/
Bernard J. Baars & Nicole M. Gage (eds) Cognition, Brain & Consciousness: An Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience. (Elsevier/ Academic Press, 2007. The 2nd edition is now in production... www.elsevierdirect.com/baars)
The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, the only neuroscience monastery in the world...
Dr. Nicole Gage's lab at UC Irvine:
Prof. Stan Franklin's Cognitive Computing Research Group:
Prof. Bill Banks at Pomona College, Editor-in-Chief, Consciousness & Cognition.
My other books, mostly on science & consciousness: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=bernard+j+baars&x=0&y=0
The Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness. (The only scientific society on consciousness in the world!)
See some very cool pics and articles at the bottom of this page...