Archive for October, 2007

Consciousness Debate Videos

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

The following link is to the Mind Science Foundation’s page of video files of a debate concerning the neural correlates of consciousness between Susan Greenfield and Cristof Koch. [Link]

Inducing Out-of-Body Experiences

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Philosopher Thomas Metzinger emailed me a bunch of cool stuff he’s doing with some neurosicentists to utilize virtual reality to induce out-of-body experiences.

From “The embodied self: Using virtual reality to study the foundations of bodily self-consciousness“:

The “I” one thinks of as “myself” is inextricably attached to one’s bodily location. In patients with certain neurological conditions this sense of spatial unity can break down, causing disturbing sensations such as out-of-body experiences in which the global self is localized outside one’s body limits (often called disembodiment).

Previous experiments have shown that people may attribute fake body parts to their own bodies. In the “Rubber Hand Illusion”, a person’s unseen hand is stroked synchronously with a visible fake hand, and then the person is asked to point to his own hand. Subjects invariably err in the direction of the fake hand, attributing it to their own bodies. Because the attribution does not involve the whole body, the sense of global bodily self-consciousness is not affected. EPFL Professor Olaf Blanke, graduate students Bigna Lenggenhager and Tej Tadi, and philosopher Thomas Metzinger hypothesized that the same approach could be used to study the concept of global bodily self consciousness by using a single, coherent body representation instead of just a body part.

See also:
New Scientist, “Out-of-body experiences are ‘all in the mind’
New York Times, “Studies Report Inducing Out-of-Body Experience“.

The Philosophy and Neuroscience Movement

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

Andrew Brook and I just completed a paper forthcoming in a special issue on neuroeconomics of Analyse & Kritik.

Link to uncorrected page proofs [here].

ABSTRACT: A movement dedicated to applying neuroscience to traditional philosophical problems and using philosophical methods to illuminate issues in neuroscience began about twenty-five years ago. Results in neuroscience have affected how we see traditional areas of philosophical concern such as perception, belief-formation, and consciousness. There is an interesting interaction between some of the distinctive features of neuroscience and important general issues in the philosophy of science. And recent neuroscience has thrown up a few conceptual issues that philosophers are perhaps best trained to deal with. After sketching the history of the movement, we explore the relationships between neuroscience and philosophy and introduce some of the specific issues that have arisen.

[Update 10/4/2007: There's a nice little write-up of this over at Mind Hacks. Thanks, Vaughn!]

[Update 10/6/2007: And another one over at Neurophilosophy. Thanks, Mo!]

[Update 10/10/2007: Discussion over at MetaFilter.]

[Update 11/9/2007: Discussion over at Conscious Entities]

[Update 11/9/2007: In the month of October, this paper received 2,973 hits. The next highest hit Mandik paper that month was "Action-Oriented Representation" at a mere 136. Yikes!]