Home > Uncategorized > Weekly QuEST Discussion Topics 2 Sept

Weekly QuEST Discussion Topics 2 Sept

QuEST 2 Sept 2016

This week we will have a presentation by our colleague Teresa H.:

Can we reverse engineer an epiphenomenon?

Cognitive events (representations, emotions, thoughts, meaning-making) can be thought of as re-entrant feedback loops between sensory and association areas in the brain, all of which are operationalized by firing of individual neurons living in groups. The discipline of neurophenomenology (Francisco J. Varela, founder) posits each cell is a living entity having a unique experience of its life in our heads. Consider that each cell in our nervous system has paracrine (talking to other cells) and autocrine (the cell talks to itself) functions. So all of these little creatures are living in our heads behaving as individuals and as members of discrete groups, and this behavior somehow gets bound into the illusion of a discrete thought or set of qualia that signal we are eating mom’s apple pie or are presently stuck in traffic, etc.  Is mind an epiphenomenon of all this activity? Would one predict the raucous behavior of billions of cells living in our heads would result in our experience of mind? Can neurophysiological processes underlying experience of mind be engineered into a machine and its programming? What neurophysiological processes might be sufficient and necessary to accomplish this goal?

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