I Can't Wait to See What an Inception Looks Like

Comments

1
Next up, dream interpretation for Zebrafish.
2
Speaking as a scientist...I'd like to say that this is really fucking cool.
3
I'm a scientist too, and I think it's just OK.
4
Kidding!!

It's fucking awesome.
5
Non-scientist here: From this video can I extrapolate that zebrafish ain't thinking about much?
6
Very cool, but "thoughts"--even if we recorded a human and held the conceit that only humans have thoughts--is inaccurate. There's still no demonstrated direct neuronal correlate for thoughts.
7
It's still more brain activity than Rand Paul.
8
It's spontaneous activity, so it is kind of "thinking" rather than reacting.

http://ac.els-cdn.com/S096098221300002X/…

@6 simple "thoughts," like planning a motor activity, have been recorded.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK111…

But you're basically right about "thoughts" in terms of daydreams and internal dialogue and whatnot.
9
@8 Yeah, I'm not knocking it--I think it's really cool/useful to see action potentials this close!--but there's still unsettled questions with how reductive you can get until you have to go up an order and look at the emergent phenomena (which may include "mind," "thought," etc. Scare quotes because those seem rather illusory as categories and difficult to objectify since they're inherently subjective.).
10
This video captures how far science is from ever understanding the experience of "a thought." @6 is absolutely right.

Scientists, tell me, how exactly do these flashing chemicals jumping around become an image of my mother in my head or the memory of my first day of school? How? You can talk to me all day about neurons and action potentials, but you are clueless about the most important part.

Reductionist scientists act like they know everything all too often, when the stark reality is they know *very little*.
11
"Consciousness Explained" (Dennett) is a good place to start if you're really curious.

Here's a not-great summary:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consciousne…
12
It's a good place to start, yet it's about as speculative as anything else including Nagel's Mind and Cosmos, which I enjoyed just as much (but don't endorse) while not sounding as "religious."
13
It isn't thought. And it isn't even the first technology to visualize gross neural activity in real time.

But it is--as far as I know--the first visualization of neural activity in real time that is not invasive or involving the subject being perfectly still in an MRI or being hooked up to an EEG.

Which is to say...really fucking cool.
14
Yeah, Confluence, dirac's right. Nagel is materialistic, but explains how higher-order thinking can emerge in a directed sort of way from a complex-enough glob of neurons. He also contends with the notion that thinking can truly be objective, which seems to be a viewpoint you share. (I only remember him from my History of Psychology class, so I may be misstating his philosophy).

You sound a little upset. I've been studying this problem essentially all my life, and I agree with your idea generally that higher-order thinking is essentially irreducible. I just am not sure which "scientists" you're referring too, or who you're angry at. Neuroscience and cognitive psychology are very different fields practiced by different people who rarely interact. I know of no scientist who even tries to go from neural activity to "mind" activity, except under one or two very specific (lucky) experimental conditions that focuses on either the neural activity or the mind. Baron-Cohen recording from mirror neurons in monkeys hits near the connection you're referring to- sort of. People studying neural nets use circuit diagrams as tools, while people studying the mind are more likely to use chaos theory. An oldie, but goodie:

http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/pdf/1…
15
A scientist like Daniel Dennett who titles his book, "Consciousness Explained," pretty much sums up the type of arrogance I'm talking about. Really, Dennett? We've solved the hard problem? Thanks for wrapping that one up for us. Or the arrogance behind the Human Genome Project, with its proclamations that we would have figured everything out once it it was sequenced. Really? Still waiting patiently. It's also the kind of arrogance so often coupled with narrow-minded thinking that results in scientists having a worldview that purports that anything that can't be explained by the scientific method is just bunk.

God bless John Cleese for summing it up way better than I could... with a touch of brilliant wit, no less:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M-vnmejw…
16
@13, indeed to all your points. It's not "thinking" of course, since a fish can't think in the way that word is generally used. The other videos in that article, that show the baby fishy hunting paramecia while his brain is flashing away is very exciting, even if not quite so detailed as the video shown here.
So tasty.
17
@15, I know. I laughed out loud when I saw the title, esp since it was non-fiction book of the year in the New Yorker (or someplace literary) and won lots of awards and such. The title of course is a joke, since the book comes to exactly the opposite conclusion: there is no "there" there. Consciousness Can't be "Explained." It's also very readable. I thought you might enjoy something like that.

You're also correct about the Human Genome Project. The problem there is that we can't change genes even when or if we find them. (Nor should we, except to cure disease). Epigenetics might be a more promising avenue of research, but we had to locate the genes first, I suppose.

As to this:
"scientists having a worldview that purports that anything that can't be explained by the scientific method is just bunk."
I would say that anything that can't be explained by the scientific method is just not studied by the scientific method. There are many many schools of thought or discipline or inquiry that make use of other methods. The behavior of the very large (the expanding universe) and the very small (sub-sub atomic particles) cannot be studied in the usual ways. Ideas and concepts are often studied using semantics or philosophy. I love reading about such topics too, partly because they aren't reductionist, and I'm naturally more of a "joiner" than a "splitter" in terms of personality. As to ideas that can't be studied at all, a good scientist would leave those things alone.

Don't you love John Cleese?! Did you see his TV special on the human face? It's probably on Youtube as well.