The following posting is inspiring a brand new Topic Category for Neuron News that will cover Neurophilosophy. This area of discovery might be hard pressed to call itself “scientific,” and therefore at first glance might seem to be not so useful to technological developments involving integration with the brain.
However, a full interconnection between the computer chip and the brain will require a full understanding of brain function… and we certainly are very far from this goal. We are still somehow distinguishing the “mind” and our “consciousness” as a separate entity from the guts of our brain. You know, it just seems like there is something more; something greater in our heads than just a bundle of electrically active cells. But, when you look inside, there really just is a bundle of electrically active cells connected together in a very complicated way.
Our sense of the “mind” must come from this complex interconnection. So, just as looking deeply from the bottom up in order to discover how the complex bundle outputs the “mind” seems to be entirely reasonably, at this point in our severe lack of understanding, there is no reason why not to also look deeply from the top down in order to discover the wildly vast conscious behaviors of the “mind” and how that might relate to the electrical bundles.
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist who is now affiliated with the Indiana University School of Medicine, had a stroke on the morning of December 10, 1996. She underwent surgery to remove a major blood clot, and is fortunate to have recovered from the trauma and is alive and well today.
The extraordinary aspect of her story, however, is that Dr. Bolte Taylor had a thorough understanding of the brain at the time of her stroke. While her brain vessels were exploding in her head, she experienced a entirely alien and altering state of consciousness… but, she could relate this experience to a real understanding of brain function. Although zoning in and out of “la-la land’, she could later recollect the specifics of what she was literally experiencing during her brain malfunction. This is absolutely invaluable insight into gaining a better understanding of how our brain function.
Dr. Bolte Taylor also realizes the importance of her ability to contribute valuable information, and is currently communicating to the world her personal experience. Although a little dramatic, her presentation to TED.com is certainly very worth the 18 minutes viewing time, and it might even be a little inspiring. If anything, there is real information here… at least in the form of a potential leap in a future deeper understanding of brain function — from the top down. (And neurotechnological developments needs all of the further understandings of brain function that they can get!)
Jill Bolte Taylor’s Powerful Stroke of Insight talk on TED.com [ LINK ]