Reply Thu 10 Jul, 2008 04:46 pm
How do neurons behave that constitute for intuition, logic, emotion, etc.?

I'm not looking for the correct answer, just rational speculation:lol:

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Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 6,811 • Replies: 68
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Didymos Thomas
 
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Reply Thu 10 Jul, 2008 06:04 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Neuron - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For a better look, check out a psychology text book.
Holiday20310401
 
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Reply Thu 10 Jul, 2008 08:17 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Yeah I suppose this isn't philosophy now. Sorry, but yeah duh I checked wikipedia
Didymos Thomas
 
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Reply Thu 10 Jul, 2008 08:26 pm
@Holiday20310401,
The operation of the brain is interesting material. It may not be 'philosophy', but I think the study is useful to any philosopher.

Philosophers have become an important part of the field of cognitive science.

Cognitive Science (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jul, 2008 08:29 pm
@Holiday20310401,
There are billions of neurons, and there are many regions of the brain that coordinate things like sensory interpretation, emotion, language, and memory. While the biology of the individual neuron is central to this process, you're being too reductionistic if you're looking to the level of the individual neuron to explain cognitive things.

Better to look into some of the critical areas of the brain, like the frontal lobe, the hippocampus, and the amygdala to understand where some of our cognitive functions take root.
Holiday20310401
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jul, 2008 09:24 pm
@Aedes,
I should have explained myself better. Didymos, I enjoyed reading on the connectionism stuff. The way neurons are linked is interesting, and I'm wondering whether the neurons are linked differently through intuitive processes compared to critical thinking.

I read an article once on how the mind works to perceive time and there are these 'medium spiny neurons' that are connected to 30,000 other neurons which I suppose is a lot, and these are thought to help give humans the sense of time as in being able to distinguish 10 seconds from a minute.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2008 06:46 am
@Holiday20310401,
It's a good question, and I bet people have studied this at least ultrastructurally. What some cognitive scientists and applied philosophers are doing now is functional brain imaging while their study subjects are performing some kind of mental task. They can then see which parts of the brain have the most metabolic activity during such a task. There is almost certainly a difference in the areas of the brain that are active during conscious versus subconscious tasks. And it would only be a step further to see if the neurophysiology differs from one of these regions to another.

The problem is, these are descriptive associations and it's still a very blunt analytic tool. But it at least provides insight into the biology of one kind of thought versus another.
Holiday20310401
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2008 04:51 pm
@Aedes,
I was also wondering if the way neurons are linked, that there could be a few noticeable structural differences between the neurons of conscious and sub-conscious; or being that of intuition and critical thinking.

Like are neurons linked in a kinda way that I've studied the structural diagrams of hydrocarbons.Laughing There are aromatic structures, aliphatic, linear, polar, non-polar, chain, cyclic, etc.
paulhanke
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2008 05:21 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401 wrote:
I was also wondering if the way neurons are linked, that there could be a few noticeable structural differences between the neurons of conscious and sub-conscious; or being that of intuition and critical thinking.


... could be! ... there are noticeable structural differences between the more ancient and more recent areas of the brain ... but what's totally fascinating is that the most recent area of the brain - the cortex - is structurally homogeneous yet at the same time a functional chameleon! ... it's the cortex that is in large part responsible for the "plasticity" of the human brain ... it's as if evolution, after experimenting with specialized structures for this and specialized structures for that, decided "To heck with this!" and invented a universal structure that can be applied in all sorts of contexts! ... now if only I could figure out what that universal structure is and patent it ... ... ...
Holiday20310401
 
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Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2008 06:23 pm
@paulhanke,
"Recent"- meaning that the cortex was never always a part of the human brain?Laughing

So we couldn't truthfully draw a structural diagram of neuron links. I'd love to speculate on that. Perhaps get into analog systems being that I suppose the brain is a bit of binary and 'analogness'.
paulhanke
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2008 07:28 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401 wrote:
... I suppose the brain is a bit of binary and 'analogness'.


"Binary" and "analogue" are two models of the neuron, neither being completely realistic ... "binary systems" and "analogue systems" as models of the brain are even less realistic ... to understand how the brain works, one should consider how nature works in general ... evolution achieves great complexity in development and form by leveraging the network effects of coupled sets of simple rules (nonlinear dynamics) - why would brain function be any different? ... that is, why would nature leverage nonlinear dynamics for everything all the way up to "mind" only to then discard such a useful and multifaceted tool in favor of, say, a Turing machine?
Holiday20310401
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2008 07:35 pm
@paulhanke,
Yeah but the turing machine isn't a true analog system right?

And does the consciousness constitute for non linear dynamics. I mean causality plays a more connotative favor to us self conscious beings. Besides, what is truely linear besides light?
paulhanke
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2008 08:20 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401 wrote:
Yeah but the turing machine isn't a true analog system right?

And does the consciousness constitute for non linear dynamics. I mean causality plays a more connotative favor to us self conscious beings. Besides, what is truely linear besides light?


Actually, a Turing machine - being a symbol processing machine - is closer to a binary system than an analogue system.

Anyhoo, here's a tid-bit about nonlinear dynamics that you might find interesting - such systems can have "emergent" properties ... properties that are extraordinarily difficult to deduce through a straightforward analysis of the simple rules ... (temperature can be seen as an emergent property - if someone hands you a gas molecule and you studied it and figured out what its fundamental properties were, what are the chances that you would predict "temperature" as being a property of getting a whole mess of these gas particles together?) ... so here's a question: is "causality" a model we humans impose on the world in order to understand it better? or is the perception of "causality" an emergent property of getting a whole mess of neurons together? or is "causality" something else entirely? ... (where's a headache smilie when you need one?)
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2008 08:31 pm
@paulhanke,
paulhanke wrote:
so here's a question: is "causality" a model we humans impose on the world in order to understand it better? or is the perception of "causality" an emergent property of getting a whole mess of neurons together? or is "causality" something else entirely? ... (where's a headache smilie when you need one?)
I've certainly argued in favor of the first two many times here. Causality in objective terms consists in transfer of energy over time -- but we resolve the process at a level where we see an after that is distinguished from a before. Metaphysical causality, on the other hand, is a mental game that we engage by abstracting from instances of apparent causality.
paulhanke
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2008 09:19 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Metaphysical causality, on the other hand, is a mental game that we engage by abstracting from instances of apparent causality.


At what level is this mental game played? The conscious? The unconscious? The raw sensorimotors? The bare neurons? ... (Wegner in "The Illusion of Conscious Will" cites various experiments which suggest that this game is played outside of the conscious realm, at least with respect to fooling ourselves that all will is conscious will.)
Holiday20310401
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2008 09:51 pm
@Aedes,
Causality is like cross multiplication, without it we wouldn't be very far due to how pattern recognition relies comparatives as the intellect increases, not conditionals.

And if you really want to get into the entropy is there an objective sense of neuron interactions, probably somewhere with sending each other impulses, more closely the action potential. I mean I've never studied this stuff, Surprised is every impulse of the same current or voltage?

In a closed system the disorder increases. Is the brain a closed system (or whatever space the neurons interact in). Not really. I think that as we get older there is no end to neurons capacity, and we'd die before we could fill our whole brain. Not to mention I think the number of neurons we have must be dependent on the synthetical nature of humans rather than experience.:crying:

If our experience was added on to energy of neurons, like as some variable in entropy wouldn't that imply an effect greater than the cause so therefore not possible. I mean you would have the information added on to the cause, which seems rational to me, so our mind must be an open system. That would explain why we dp evolve to be more organized (is death a concept of deterioration, chaos, or just innateness?). We gain insight and piece it together. Is that making the puzzle (our experience) wider and longer or is that adding height to the situation.

Perhaps the difference between consciousness and unconscious matter is the frame of their existence is different in dimension. Existence is like a puzzle. Causality is like a dimension, say height. Length and width are past and future. Force that makes it expand and the nature of it only able to expand and not contract is equivalent to the nature of time that the past comes before the present. The building blocks of the puzzle, the pieces, are the memory as content, their separate borders are links between events (correlations, input output values compared, but not causality)

Height caused by causality is a measure of importance caused by increasing links.

And causality allows for 3Dness. The puzzle is 3D and therefore links between instances in time (made possible through memory) that are not just adjacent squares. Adjacent links would not constitute for consciousness because there is no awareness of the singular present. Everything would be non-local (and the only way to perceive that is to only contain existence of its own entity).

So when we seek the ultimate purpose we are trying to find that skyscraper (likely to be in the middle) in the puzzle of existence.

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Actually, with entropy (gradually coming to randomness), what does that mean for neurons?

[CENTER]My brain before writing this.:a-ok:
My brain after writing this.:beat-up:

The post was the cause (nature = entropic :big-guns:) of my head going :wheelchair:

So for causal reasons that are beyond my control the final effect for me is :sleeping:...
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paulhanke
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2008 10:15 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401 wrote:
Causality is like cross multiplication ...


... whoa! - all that thinking must've cost a few neurons! Wink

Anyhoo, I'm better at asking questions than answering them, but here's one answer: you're exactly right that the brain is an open system ... in fact, all life on earth is an open system ... the earth itself is an open system ... the sun pours gobs and gobs of energy onto the earth every millisecond, immensely more than entropy can reduce to heat death in the same amount of time ... the result? - spontaneous, contingent, animated order - life itself.
Holiday20310401
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2008 02:23 pm
@paulhanke,
At first thought, I think that causality occurs at the conscious scale. If one is unconscious then there is no perception of relative instances needed for causality.
But I'll do more research on it and applications to neurons
:a-ok:
dominant monad
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jul, 2008 11:17 am
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday: as far as i know (and im just a student here), the rate of firing of a neuron doesn't change, it's either on and firing at a certain rate, or it's off. That said, the neuron can fire ON and then OFF, at a certain rate. In hearing, for instance, the rate of neuronal firing is synchronised to the frequency of the sound being heard - but the 'voltage' of the action potential itself is the same when it is fired. For example, a sound at 100 Hz might activate a single neuron on and off 100 times in a second, although the pulse sent down the axon will be constant and unrelated.

The brain is both binary and analogue. Neurons and conscious function can work in an amazingly simple way at times. In hearing, for instance, the neurons involved are laid out just like a pipe organe across the brain, with one end dealing with the lower frequencies and the other end the higher frequencies. Hearing is a very old (evolutionarily speaking) ability, so the way hearing works is actually very mechanical in nature, very analogue, easily understood.

Other neurons, particularly of the cortex (where most 'thinking' happens) might be simple in basic function, but are actually very adaptive, constantly changing and hard to figure out in the same concrete way. Each neuron in the cortex might have thousands of receptor sites, with each connected to thousands again of other neurons, in a massive tangle. Despite this, each single neuron primarily transmits information in a binary sense, being 'on' or 'off'. We can say with some certainty that some areas of the brain are involved in certain abstract functions, but tracing this back to neurons is almost impossibly hard. This is complicated by the fact that the brain is plastic, and can adapt to damage, particularly when young. It's unlikely that the cortex functions in the same mechanical way as the older parts of the brain.

---- guess ----
I would guess that conscious thought is a very abstract process, with little if any direct neurological correlation. I don't know how memory works (other than certain areas of the brain seem to be more heavily involved than others), but i believe that that neurons have a 'use it or lose it' function. When a neuron is used, it creates more receptor sites, so that in the future it is itself more likely to be used. A bit like evolution, the neurons of the cortex succeed and survive if they are useful, and lose receptors or die if they are not. This is evidenced in addiction, where neuronal activation causes it to create more receptors for the extra neurotransmitters floating around in the synapse.

That way, memory for some things, like your own name for instance, could be represented as a complex combination of neurons, heavily re-enforced by multiple dendrites and receptors, such that your name 'comes to mind' more often in normal thought than a strange name that you might have only thought about once or twice. A strange name by comparison would be less connected, therefore less activated, and again, have less receptors. A massive tangle of these neurons could represent certain ideas, thoughts, processes, associations etc.

That said, i wouldn't think a name, or any other 'thought' or 'memory' has its own neurological path in the brain, more likely the neurons spell out an association of different things, which together your own cognitive processes decode and reveal themselves to you. Neurons, after all, are just information transmitters, there's nothing special about them as individuals. As a crude example, imagine you're trying to remember someone's name at a party. You can't think of the answer immediately, but you stand there hurriedly trying to remember memories of this person, their face, their voice, their association to you, their job, etc. etc. And it's only when you've hit enough of these associations that suddenly that particular combination of neurons is lit up, and you remember their name. Now in your brain, that person doesn't exist in a physical fashion of neurons, but the combination of other different associations is what gives you the memory of that name.

In this way conscious and subconscious processes are totally relational, with no meaning individually other than their combined relationship. When you consciously think of your name, the information would be redirected to the speech understanding centre (Broca's area, with its own connections and associations, in this case specialised for carrying out speech), where the abstract form is realised and presented to you as a conscious thought.
---- end guess ----
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jul, 2008 07:13 pm
@paulhanke,
paulhanke wrote:
At what level is this mental game played? The conscious? The unconscious? The raw sensorimotors? The bare neurons? ...
It's like any other physiologic process. At what level does your heart beat? Is it the subatomic particles in the heart? Is it the atoms? Is it the macromolecules? Is it the cells? Is it the myocardial, endocardial, epicardial, and conductive tissues? Is it the discrete structures such as the ventricles, the atria, the septum, the AV node, the SA node, the coronary arteries? Or is it the overall organism in which there is a closed circulation and both endocrine and neurologic input that modulates heart function?

Same with thought. Thought is to the brain what digestion is to the stomach.
 

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