Posts Tagged ‘consciousness diseases’

The Future of Consciousness

April 8, 2016

The Future of Consciousness is the seventh chapter of “Consciousness and the Brain:  Deciphering How the Brain Codes our Thoughts” is an outstanding book by the French neuroscientist Stanislas Dehaene who is the Chair of Experimental Psychology at the College of France.  This is the eighth consecutive post on this outstanding book.  A more accurate title would have been “The Future of Consciousness Research.”  It is unlikely that consciousness is going to change in the near future, but consciousness research and theory should quickly advance.

In this chapter Dehaene discusses the consciousness of babies and animals.  Apparently he is unaware that on July 7, 2012 his fellow scientists declared that all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopi possess the neurological substrates for consciousness (See the healthy memory blog post, “Consciousness in Both Human and Non-human Animals”).  Dehaene goes on to discuss whether human consciousness is unique.  Sometimes I wonder whether humans have some sort of inferiority complex that causes them to look for distinctions between ourselves and other animal species.

Dehaene discusses diseases of consciousness under which one might include psychoses, neuroses, character disorders, and addictions.  It is almost a virtual certainty that unconscious processes also play a prominent role, but conscious processes can play a useful role in their treatment.

Finally, he discusses free will.  His position is similar to that found in the healthy memory blog post “Free Will.”  Our conscious minds control our will.  That does not mean that we always do what we intended, but our conscious minds (System 2 Processes in the terminology of Kahneman) monitor what we do and say and can make corrections.   Dr. Dehaene does not write this, but I would argue that his work on consciousness has identified the homunculus in our brains, and that homunculus is our consciousness.

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