On Consciousness with Bernard Baars

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Ep 13: “Thinking About Animal Consciousness” w/ David Edelman *On Consciousness*

"The only way we get certainty or stability in the world is to start from what we know, and gradually move to what we don't know."

 

- Bernard Baars, PhD, originator of the Global Workspace Theory, a theory of cognitive architecture and consciousness. 

 
Episode 13: "Thinking About Animal Consciousness"
 
The question of whether some non-human animals are capable of awareness has vexed psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers of mind for many decades. In the final episode of Season One of The Podcast On Consciousness, Bernard Baars and David Edelman attempt to demystify animal consciousness. They suggest a comparative framework for investigating subjectivity that considers the human case as a benchmark, but at the same time emphasizes a kind of behavioral output as a form of report, akin to the language-based reports used in studies of human consciousness.
 

Talking Points:

  • 0:04 – Intro
  • 1:38 – Where in the brain is consciousness located?
  • 7:44 – Consciousness in non-mammalian animals
  • 11:00 – The visual cortex
  • 17:15 – How is consciousness defined?
  • 25:01 - Behaviors as markers for subjectivity
  • 30:02 –Sensory consciousness and higher order self-awareness
  • 34:14 – Do cephalopods belong to the big C-club?
  • 40:22 – The awareness of the self

Bios:

David Edelman, PhD: A neuroscientist and currently Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, David has taught neuroscience at the University of San Diego and UCSD. He was Professor of Neuroscience at Bennington College until 2014 and visiting professor in the Department of Psychology, CUNY Brooklyn College from 2015-2017.

He has conducted research in a wide range of areas, including mechanisms of gene regulation, the relationship between mitochondrial transport and brain activity, and visual perception in the octopus. A longstanding interest in the neural basis of consciousness led him to consider the importance—and challenge—of disseminating a more global view of brain function to a broad audience.

Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.
 
Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.
 
He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble.
 

Get a 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory

 
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Ep 12: “The Brain is Embodied and the Body is Embedded” w/ Magician Mark Mitton *On Consciousness*

"Consciousness can be firmly embedded in biology, based on the fact that all kinds of [demonstrably biological] processes that are not [by themselves] conscious are important for conscious process[ing].”

 

David Edelman, PhD, A neuroscientist and a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College

 

 

Episode 12: "Consciousness in Context - The Brain is Embodied and the Body is Embedded"

 

In the 12th episode of ‘On Consciousness,’ psychobiologist Bernard Baars and neuroscientist David Edelman are joined by renowned master of misdirection and sleight of hand, professional magician Mark Mitton, as they consider the problem of consciousness within the larger scope of biology.

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Talking Points:

  • 00:03 – Introduction by Bernard Baars.
  • 02:42 – Mark Mitton introduces himself.
  • 04:55 – David Edelman introduces himself.
  • 06:47 – David discusses cephalopods and their behavior.
  • 09:15 – How is magic connected to consciousness?
  • 13:20 – What are the boundaries of one’s knowledge?
  • 18:32 – Limitations of brain imaging technologies.
  • 21:14 – Perception and awareness.
  • 26:05 – How does paleontology compare to hard sciences?
  • 32:20 – The biological complexity of individuality.
  • 39:20 – How do antibodies interact with antigens?
  • 48:14 – Deception beyond language.
  • 52:50 – Are simple organisms conscious?
  • 01:01:47 - Non-conscious processes.
  • 01:05:27 - Is consciousness a biological process?

 

Summary of the Conversation:

Starting with the example of magic as it has recently been used by some neuroscientists to explore conscious and unconscious processing in the brain, Mitton highlights the problem of reconciling two nomenclatures and the fact that magicians and neuroscientists think about the processes they manipulate and exploit in some very different ways. This leads to a poignant and topical question, first posed by Mitton and then echoed by Edelman: What are the boundaries of our knowledge? Most magicians think of what they do as craft, and in thinking this way, are willing to afford a degree of mystery to the realm in which they ply their craft. But what about neuroscientists? It can probably be said without exaggeration that many neuroscientists are not necessarily comfortable with the limits of their own knowledge.

 

Baars, Edelman, and Mitton mull over the relatively recent appreciation of the richness of biological complexity and how this must necessarily alter our view of how consciousness and other aspects of natural phenomena can be woven into a unified view of biology. The complexity of myriad processes across all levels of biological organization seems to stymie our best efforts at formulating a grand theoretical framework that integrates all that we observe in nature.

 

In confronting the problem of biological complexity, Baars makes the point that, at least in the case of consciousness, the role of the individual hasn’t been well understood or appreciated. Once individual variation is taken into account, the notion of what adaptation means at all levels of biological organization changes radically.

 

Mitton offers the example of the immune response. How does the immune system recognize a foreign invader it hasn’t encountered before — or, for that matter, a chemical compound that has never existed in the history of the planet — and mount a successful defense of the body? The key to an effective immune response is a vast preexisting (and ever diversifying) repertoire of different kinds of antibodies.

 

Edelman contrasts this with the case of the digital computer, in which the actions of a machine are instructed by an extrinsic program. Though the example of the immune response seems quite far from the problem of conscious brain function, the role of individual variability and selectional interactions — whether between antibody and antigen or brain and the world it perceives — may be common to both biological processes.

 

The trio consider how we should proceed in conscious science, knowing what we don’t know. Baars suggests that, while a practical scientific approach might avoid drawing absolute lines, it makes sense to first assume that in order to be conscious, an organism must have a nervous system. All three then acknowledge that many of the functional requisites of consciousness have been objects of study for a long time, such as memory. Consciousness not only overlies the neural faculty of memory, it also depends, for what it is and what it does, on memory and other faculties that have been around for tens of millions of years. All kinds of processes that aren’t by themselves conscious are nevertheless critical to conscious processing.

 

Finally, Baars, Mitton, and Edelman return to the idea that consciousness is fundamentally biological, even if it seems to thrust us into a weird purview in which we need to deal with a material object called the brain that instantiates immaterial thoughts.

 

In closing, Mitton offers a phrase coined by Gerald Edelman that neatly encapsulates the idea of placing the mind firmly in biological perspective: “the brain is embodied and the body is embedded.” 

 

Get a 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory

 

Bios:

Mark Mitton is a professional magician who is fascinated by using magic to better understand how we see the world. In addition to performing at private and corporate events all over the world, and creating magic for film, television, the Broadway stage, and Cirque du Soleil, Mark tieressly explores the theme of 'Misdirection' from an interdsciplinary standpoint. He regularly presents on 'Perception' at unviersities and conferences in North America and Europe, including the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, and has lectured with the late Nobel Laureate Dr. Gerald Edelman on The Neurosciences Institute. http://markmitton.com

 

David Edelman, PhD: A neuroscientist and currently Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, David has taught neuroscience at the University of San Diego and UCSD. He was Professor of Neuroscience at Bennington College until 2014 and visiting professor in the Dept of Psychology, CUNY Brooklyn College from 2015-2017.

 

He has conducted research in a wide range of areas, including mechanisms of gene regulation, the relationship between mitochondrial transport and brain activity, and visual perception in the octopus. A longstanding interest in the neural basis of consciousness led him to consider the importance—and challenge—of disseminating a more global view of brain function to a broad audience.

 
Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.
 
Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.
 
He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble.

*Watch Episode 12 on Our YouTube Channel! 

 
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Ep 11: Brain Regions & Neural Functions Critical to Conscious States w/ Dr Jay Giedd *On Consciousness*

"Episodic memory involves conscious experiences being encoded. Same goes for semantic and autobiographical memories. All varieties of memories come in through conscious moments of recall. So, I think that consciousness is the means by which any kinds of memories are established."

- Bernard Baars, PhD, originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences, and a recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society.

EPISODE 11: Roundtable Part Four "Brain Regions and Neural Functions Critical to Conscious States" 

In the final episode of their roundtable talks, originator of Global Workspace Theory Bernard Baars, neuroscientist David Edelman, and developmental neuropsychiatrist Dr. Jay Giedd conclude their discussion by analyzing the brain areas which are critical for higher brain function, neuroimaging techniques associated with detecting conscious experiences, and the possible existence of consciousness in non-mammalian animals.

 

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Get your 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory

 

Talking Points

  • 00:03 – Introduction by David Edelman
  • 02:09 – The Role of Thalamus and Cortex in Higher Brain Processing
  • 08:08 – Is Memory Fundamental to Consciousness
  • 12:14 – Brain Variations Between Mammals and Other Animals
  • 16:22 – Differences Between Sleep and Awake States in the Human Brain

 

Summary of the Conversation

In this absorbing episode of ‘On Consciousness,’ Bernard Baars, David Edelman, and developmental neuropsychiatrist Dr. Jay Giedd initiate the conversation by considering the functional aspects of the brain that are believed to be absolutely critical to consciousness.

Bernie, Jay, and David ponder the role of cortex and thalamus in higher brain function, including conscious processing. Bernie underlines the problem of considering the linkage between thalamus and cortex as merely a simple feedback loop. From an engineering perspective, this sort of circuit could not possibly work as such an arrangement would inevitably, as Bernie puts it, lead to effective failure of the thalamocortical circuit. Instead, it seems to be the case that the cortex functions in a state of near-criticality. As Jay indicates, this implies that the cortex is always at a tipping point, i.e., close to a phase transition and “always ready to be influenced.”

Elucidating the neurobiology of consciousness has been somewhat hindered by technical hurdles. But, despite the spatial and temporal limitations of current neurophysiological and imaging technologies, David observes that certain aspects of brain anatomy—including cortex and thalamus—have been established as the sine qua non of conscious experience in mammals. In an optimistic vein, Jay offers that new combinations of existing techniques (such as MEG, EEG, and fMRI) may soon yield a much clearer picture.

Next, Edelman, Baars, and Giedd consider the idea that certain higher neural processes are central to consciousness, even though those processes may often function independently of any state of awareness. Memory, which seems to be fundamental to conscious experience, is one such process. While memory and recall figure prominently in conscious experience, it’s certainly the case that some varieties of memory are regularly engaged during non-conscious states and behaviors.

The trio concludes the conversation by reflecting on the prospect of consciousness as a biological phenomenon. Additionally, they consider the possibility of consciousness in animals distant from the mammalian line and as it is the case of the octopus, a creature separated from the vertebrate radiation by more than half a billion years. The octopus as a possible test case for consciousness beyond the realm of vertebrates is particularly tantalizing, given that, unlike mammals, it has neither a cerebral cortex nor a thalamus.

 

Bios

Dr. Jay Giedd
Chair of child psychiatry at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and director of child and adolescent psychiatry, Dr. Giedd is also a professor of psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine, and professor in the Dept of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
 
Dr. Giedd was chief of the Section on Brain Imaging, Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). His widely published research and expertise evaluates how the child's brain develops in health and illness, the factors that influence development and how to optimize treatments to take advantage of the child's changing brain. Jay and his award winning work were featured in the PBS 2 part series "Brains on Trial" hosted by Alan Alda.
 

David Edelman, PhD: A neuroscientist and currently Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, David has taught neuroscience at the University of San Diego and UCSD. He was Professor of Neuroscience at Bennington College until 2014 and visiting professor in the Dept of Psychology, CUNY Brooklyn College from 2015-2017.

He has conducted research in a wide range of areas, including mechanisms of gene regulation, the relationship between mitochondrial transport and brain activity, and visual perception in the octopus. A longstanding interest in the neural basis of consciousness led him to consider the importance—and challenge—of disseminating a more global view of brain function to a broad audience.

Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.
 
Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.
 
He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble.

 

*Watch Episode 11 on Our YouTube Channel!

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Ep 10: Global Workspace Theory (GWT) - Brain Aspects and Evidence w/ Dr Jay Giedd | On Consciousness

"All models are wrong, but some are useful." And I think ultimately that's the test of a construct like Global Workspace Theory - does it lead us to greater knowledge? Does it suggest areas of research? Does it make predictions that we can test? And that's why I think Global Workspace Theory has stood the test of time. It has succeeded on all of those fronts."

Dr. Jay GieddChair of child psychiatry at Rady Children's Hospital - San Diego and director of child and adolescent psychiatry, professor of psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine, and professor in the Dept of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

EPISODE 10: Roundtable Part Three - Global Workspace Theory - Brain Aspects and Evidence with Dr. Jay Giedd

In the third part of their roundtable talk, neuroscientist David Edelman, Bernard Baars, originator of the global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, and developmental neuropsychiatrist Jay Giedd consider underlying neural processes and anatomical features of Global Workspace Theory and continue on their journey to unravel the complexities surrounding conscious experiences.

How does consciousness come together in the brain? How does memory figure into conscious experience? Knowing how we acquire coherent perceptual insights about the world and then commit those insights to memory, can we tune the learning process to optimize the acquisition of new skills?

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Get your 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory

 

 

Talking Points

  • 00:00 – Intro by David Edelman.
  • 02:09 – David Edelman prompts Baars to summarize the key points of the Global Workspace Theory.
  • 07:41 – Has Global Workspace Theory been interpreted correctly by scientists? What did people get right and wrong about it?
  • 09:11 – Baars argues against the idea that consciousness is a byproduct of human biology and that instead the two are interconnected.
  • 11:09 – Jay Giedd on how Global Workspace Theory served as a great standing ground for research in the field of consciousness.
  • 12:41 - The trio continue the conversation by discussing the virtually limitless potential of the human brain to learn novel information.
  • 15:36 - Jay Giedd discusses how some human skills are diminishing with the advancement of technology.
  • 18:02 - Edelman and Giedd engage in the process of defining consciousness and ponder upon the notion of what is necessary to create a conscious experience.
  • 21:26 - Edelman asks Baars to explain from the standpoint of Global Workspace Theory, which mammalian brain areas are involved in the conscious process.
  • 26:24 - Baars, Giedd, and Edelman discuss the limitations of brain imaging technology.

 

Summary of the Conversation

How does consciousness come together in the brain? How does memory figure into conscious experience? Knowing how we acquire coherent perceptual insights about the world and then commit those insights to memory, can we tune the learning process to optimize the acquisition of new skills?  

In this engrossing episode of ‘On Consciousness,' Bernard Baars, David Edelman, and developmental neuropsychiatrist Jay Giedd consider Global Workspace Theory (GWT) and its underlying neural processes and anatomical features, as well as the development of the imaging technology which has afforded a detailed view of brain activity in near-real time that appears to support GWT.

To begin the discussion, Bernie provides an outline of GWT. He points to the paradox that our thought processes seem to unfold serially, yet the brain architecture underlying those thought processes resembles a collection of massively parallel processors. With this insight in mind, Bernie proposed a Global Workspace in which nonconscious processes arising in different neural regions come together, those processes are somehow polled, and the most ‘popular’ among them gets broadcast throughout the cerebral cortex, amounting to a sort of ‘ignition’ of conscious experience. 

From Bernie’s summary of GWT, the discussion turns to perceptual learning. As humans negotiating an incredibly complex world, one of our greatest advantages is a long maturation period that affords us the time to acquire many sophisticated skills. Given time, a rich suite of sensory faculties, a large brain, and a good understanding of the neural processes underlying learning and memory, can we somehow optimize the acquisition of specialized skills? Elaborating on this, Jay proposes the prospect of replacing native skills that are losing ground to technology with new ones — sophisticated pattern recognition being just one example. Human beings are still much better at pattern recognition than the most powerful supercomputers. 

Central to conscious perception is the ability of the brain to bind perceptual input from different sensory organs into cohesive, unified percepts that somehow hold together and persist in memory. Jay observes that during development, there must be an accretive weaving together of percepts which at some point passes a threshold of complexity, yielding conscious experience. But, when do developing humans and some non-human animals cross this rubicon of awareness? New imaging techniques, including fMRI and MEG, have made it possible for researchers to record some of the functional signatures of integration of percepts. Someday, using improved versions of such techniques, we may increasingly observe the emergence of complex states of consciousness in human infants and young non-human animals.

At the close of the discussion, Bernie, Jay, and David reflect on the work of Wilder Penfield, whose contributions included the identification of numerous brain regions with particular functional specializations and the seminal insight that the cerebral cortex is the organ of mind. The pioneering refinements in open skull surgery which made possible these contributions also led Penfield to observe that variations in blood coloration associated with changes in flow were strongly correlated with differences in brain area activation. In a sense, as Jay remarks, Penfield’s observation presaged the development of fMRI. Tempering the promise of neuroimaging, Jay and David conclude the conversation by pondering the shortcomings of fMRI, including limits on spatial and temporal resolution, extreme computational processing (which can lead to ‘data massaging’), and the danger of overinterpreting results.

 

Bios

Dr. Jay Giedd
Chair of child psychiatry at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and director of child and adolescent psychiatry, Dr. Giedd is also a professor of psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine, and professor in the Dept of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
 
Dr. Giedd was chief of the Section on Brain Imaging, Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). His widely published research and expertise evaluates how the child's brain develops in health and illness, the factors that influence development and how to optimize treatments to take advantage of the child's changing brain. Jay and his award winning work were featured in the PBS 2 part series "Brains on Trial" hosted by Alan Alda.
 

David Edelman, PhD: A neuroscientist and currently Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, David has taught neuroscience at the University of San Diego and UCSD. He was Professor of Neuroscience at Bennington College until 2014 and visiting professor in the Dept of Psychology, CUNY Brooklyn College from 2015-2017.

He has conducted research in a wide range of areas, including mechanisms of gene regulation, the relationship between mitochondrial transport and brain activity, and visual perception in the octopus. A longstanding interest in the neural basis of consciousness led him to consider the importance—and challenge—of disseminating a more global view of brain function to a broad audience.

Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.
 
Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.
 
He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble.

 

*Watch Episode 10 on Our YouTube channel!

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Ep 9: What is the difference that makes a difference? Jay Giedd On Consciousness w/ Bernard Baars

"You highlighted the difference that makes a difference. Тhis is not only a neat catchphrase, but there's also something very deep about it. And sleep, in fact, is a really interesting aspect of behavior, that maybe gives us a window on the difference between conscious and non-conscious processes in the brain, because there is a distinct difference and it is recordable."

David Edelman, PhD, A neuroscientist and a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College

 

EPISODE 9: Roundtable Part Two - What is the Difference That Makes a Difference? 

 

In a continuation from their previous conversation, Neuroscientist David Edelman and Developmental Neuropsychiatrist Jay Giedd, Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine and Director of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at Rady Children's Hospital are joined by Bernard Baars, the originator of the global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. In this contemplative conversation the trio touches on subjects involving how consciousness gets defined, the developing process of an adolescent human brain, and the role that sensory organs play in an individual's perception of reality. 

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Get your 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory

 

Talking Points

  • 0:00 – Intro by David Edelman.
  • 2:00 – David Edelman welcomes Bernard Baars to the conversation.
  • 2:31 – Edelman initiates the discussion by revealing what consciousness means to him and how it could be reduced to main aspects (An idea which is based on his father’s views).
  • 6:22 – Baars points out that the exploration of consciousness is an idea that has been an inevitable part of humanity and a necessary trait.
  • 9:40 – Edelman and Baars discuss the importance of being able to socially broadcast your model of the world as part of the conscious experience.
  • 13:17 - Giedd and Edelman discuss whether having some type of social skills is a requirement for consciousness or if it is instead a product of it.
  • 19:12 – Jay makes a connection between social skills and the development of the cortex, its structure, and how important it appears to be for the emergence of consciousness
  • 22:12 – The development and integration of neuronal connections in the brain, responsible for essential bodily functions such as heart rate and breathing.
  • 24:35 – Is consciousness a constant or are there variations of it?
  • 26:22 – The uniqueness of the olfactory system and its close interconnectedness to the emotional system.
  • 30:31 – The sensation of smell and the human brain’s inability to recreate a memory of smell, the way it would for a visual image
  • 32:11 – Baars steers the conversation towards visual perceptional differences.
  • 34:55 – Jay Giedd discusses some of the rare conditions in humans which allow for the richer perception of external stimuli 

 

Summary of the Conversation

Bernard Baars has often referred to consciousness as the difference that makes a difference. When we reflect on our everyday experience versus the absence of anything attended to or recalled, as is the case during a deep, dreamless sleep or under general anesthesia — that difference which distinguishes conscious experience from the rest of our mental lives becomes quite obvious.But, how would we characterize that difference?What is it about a particular animal’s makeup — its nervous and sensory systems, its behavior, its social interactions — that singles out that animal as truly conscious?

In this episode of ‘On Consciousness’, Baars, Edelman, and Giedd explore these questions in a thought-provoking discussion, starting with their perspectives on the nature of consciousness. To begin with, David posits a relatively straightforward definition of consciousness: namely, the weaving together of different sensory threads into a coherent unified percept and the persistence of that percept in memory. Bernie then offers that humans have studied consciousness for millennia, and out of that long rumination has come the realization that teaching and learning — the process of communicating and internalizing information — is an interactive exchange of conscious thought.

This social domain of conscious experience could therefore be subsumed within an operational definition of awareness — at least in the human case. As David points out (and Jay amplifies) Bernie’s emphasis on the kind of social interchange of conscious percepts that occurs between humans doesn't take into account the long history of life on earth and in particular the many animals with complex brains and elaborate sensory faculties that have preceded us.

Human sociality is a recent evolutionary innovation, and it seems clear that some form of consciousness existed long before we came along. And, while Bernard emphasizes the idea that human sociality accommodates our conscious experience, Jay flips this on its head, suggesting instead that consciousness may be what ultimately affords our particular social lives as humans.

Moreover, for many non-human animals, survival and reproduction are contingent on social skills — but this was true long before humans walked the earth. In any case, as Jay points out, we should be able to infer whether an animal has the capacity to convey its interpretation of reality to others from the structure and function of its nervous system. Such an inference would be strongly suggestive of a rich conscious life.

Next, the conversation focuses on the role of certain brain structures and sensory faculties in defining and elaborating conscious experience. In the case of human development, we can track the emergence of different perceptual and cognitive capacities, as well as the elaboration of underlying brain areas and circuitry, from infancy well into adulthood. Thus, as Jay suggests, we could in principle observe as the capacity to weave together sensory percepts into a neural representation emerges and is elaborated in the brain of a young child. In this regard, Jay asks two questions:

   1) Can consciousness be considered as being on a ‘sliding scale’ during development?
   2) Would we expect developing humans to get better at weaving together conscious percepts as they grow older? 
 
With regard to evolution, radical distinctions between our sensory organs and those of animals quite distant from our phylogenetic line suggest that the varieties of conscious experience must be legion among animals. Even among humans, differences in sensory equipment must necessarily give rise to differences in conscious experience. Individuals with a condition known as Tetrachromacy — a genetic mutation that is expressed as an extra photopigment — can perceive finer gradations in the spectrum of visible light than the rest of us and are therefore capable of making color distinctions we would certainly miss.
 
The upshot of this lively exchange is that there is, indeed, a difference that makes a difference at the core of conscious experience, and it can be both observed in developing humans and inferred from the rich evolutionary history of complex life on earth. Though Bernie, Jay, and David barely scratch the surface of this tantalizing difference here, they provide listeners with ample armamentarium to forge ahead and continue the intellectual journey on their own.

BIOS

Dr. Jay Giedd
Chair of child psychiatry at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and director of child and adolescent psychiatry, Dr. Giedd is also a professor of psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine, and professor in the Dept of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
 
Dr. Giedd was chief of the Section on Brain Imaging, Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). His widely published research and expertise evaluates how the child's brain develops in health and illness, the factors that influence development and how to optimize treatments to take advantage of the child's changing brain. Jay and his award winning work were featured in the PBS 2 part series "Brains on Trial" hosted by Alan Alda.
 

David Edelman, PhD: A neuroscientist and currently Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, David has taught neuroscience at the University of San Diego and UCSD. He was Professor of Neuroscience at Bennington College until 2014 and visiting professor in the Dept of Psychology, CUNY Brooklyn College from 2015-2017.

He has conducted research in a wide range of areas, including mechanisms of gene regulation, the relationship between mitochondrial transport and brain activity, and visual perception in the octopus. A longstanding interest in the neural basis of consciousness led him to consider the importance—and challenge—of disseminating a more global view of brain function to a broad audience.

Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.
 
Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.
 
He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble.

 

*Watch Episode 9 on Our YouTube Channel

 

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In the context of developing human brains, how can we understand consciousness? Roundtable Pt 1: A Neuroanatomy & Neuro-function Approach with Jay Giedd, Chief of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, UCSD

"I want to try to understand consciousness from a neuroanatomy and neuro-function standpoint. What would consciousness look like in a brain scanner and other types of imaging? What are we looking for, in a sense, and could I predict from basically the architecture and the anatomy, that this could be conscious, and this would not be able to be conscious?"

- Dr. Jay Giedd, Developmental Neuropsychiatrist, UCSD School of Medicine, Rady Children's Hospital, and Johns Hopkins

 

EPISODE 8: Roundtable Part OneThe Developing Brain & Consciousness – A thoughtful discussion exploring some fundamental issues that confront the science of consciousness. Namely, how do we define consciousness? What does that term mean? Where do we even start?

Neuroscientist David Edelman and Developmental Neuropsychiatrist Jay Giedd, Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine and Director of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at Rady Children's Hospital talk candidly about our understanding of the complex - and often tantalizing - nature of consciousness.

In the context of the developing human brain, how can we understand consciousness? To many of us, consciousness seems like a simple, commonsense notion. When we’re awake, we all know that we are, more often than not, aware—of the world, of our thoughts and emotions, of our feeling states (i.e., hunger, thirst, pain, etc.), among others. When we fall into a deep, dreamless sleep, that awareness slips away.

But, this notion is actually quite confounding—particularly when one considers that there must be a specific moment during development when the brain transitions from a small, non-conscious organ comprising a few dozen cells to a complex, 86 billion-cell nexus of conscious feelings, emotions, and thoughts.

When, precisely, does that moment occur? In the womb? When we are just a few weeks old? These are the key questions that David Edelman and developmental neuropsychiatrist Jay Giedd ponder in this podcast.

A lively back-and-forth ensues as the two neuroscientists bring their respective backgrounds to bear on the emergence and nature of consciousness during development:

  • one, a neuroscientist focused on consciousness in non-human animals and the other,
  • a psychiatrist and neuroscientist who has spent more than thirty years exploring the growth and development of the human brain from embryogenesis through childhood and adolescence well into adulthood.

Along the way, David and Jay reinforce the notion that memory is a sine qua non of conscious states. As they learn to negotiate the world, very young infants experience the world with their developing senses, remember certain experiences, and then modify their behaviors accordingly.

But, when do the first substantive memories actually form? There is certainly a Rubicon that is crossed; we just haven’t figured out when it happens or what that passage looks like. Memory is a ubiquitous faculty across the animal kingdom; even relatively simple animals like the humble marine snail Aplysia can learn and remember at a fundamental level.

Are the different developmental stages of memory in growing infants comparable to the increasingly sophisticated memory faculties found in the nervous systems of ever more complex organisms?

 

    Roundtable Part One Talking Points

  • 0:03 – Opening lines by David Edelman.
  • 0:58 – Jay Giedd introduces himself, his background in psychiatry, robotics, and reproductive medicine, and how all of it ties together as he studies brain development.
  • 1:52 – David Edelman opens the conversation by asking about Jay Giedd’s idea of
    consciousness.
  • 2:15 – Jay Giedd looks at consciousness from the perspective of the developing brain in a fetus, particularly at what point does consciousness arise and how would that be detectable through a brain scanner.
  • 3:14 – Edelman makes a connection between Giedd’s outlook on consciousness with that of the brain’s behavior during a sleeping state.
  • 6:02 – Jay Giedd points out that a memory appears to be essential for the rise of consciousness, and how sleep, a process which no animal escaped from evolutionarily, is essential for proper memory formation.
  • 8:57 – David Edelman describes what happens in the brain while a person is asleep and proposes the idea that consciousness may have a variety of forms and that a brain’s sleeping state may be one of several.
  • 10:11 – Giedd brings up the role of dreams and our vague understanding of them.

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Get your 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory

 

David and Jay highlight important questions that may provide important waypoints along the way. Towards the end of their conversation, David and Jay consider the transition from wakefulness to deep non-REM sleep and its signal importance as a transition between conscious and non-conscious states during which changes in brain activity occur that we can actually study—and that provides clues as to the nature of consciousness.

Sigmund Freud once said, “The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.” Though Freud was clearly referring to understanding a behavioral manifestations of a dreaming brain that may now be understood to be conscious in some sense (albeit mostly a matter of the cerebral cortex, cut off from the world, “talking to itself”), we can certainly invoke his spirit as a scientific observer in pursuit of the verifiable truth when we say that investigating the passage from wakefulness to deep sleep and back again may well help pave the royal road to understanding consciousness in the brain, whether still in the throes of development or fully formed.

 
Quotes from Episode 8 
"There's a kind of a commonplace notion of what consciousness is. Nearly everyone sort of knows what we mean when we invoke the term. But when it comes to the actual hard-nosed scientific aspect, we really haven't arrived at any sort of consensus; at least as far as I know, there's no real consensus as to what we mean when we bring up the term, ‘consciousness.'" -- David Edelman
 
"When do we cross that Rubicon from non-conscious processing to conscious processing? And one of the aspects that Bernie Baars and in fact my late father, Nobel Laureate Gerald Edelman delved into was certain brain states -- certain behavioral states, actually -- that have underlying brain states that are indicative perhaps of "a difference that makes a difference." And one example might be the contrast between waking states and say a dreamless deep sleep. And the fact that we can observe through brain imaging -- through a variety of techniques -- we can observe a real difference in function there." -- David Edelman
 
"We all have different paths that we've taken to come to the study of consciousness and my path has been looking at it from the development of the brain. I'm a child, adolescent, and geriatric psychiatrist by training. I'm the Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry here at UC San Diego and a professor at Fukui University in Japan in Robotics, and at Johns Hopkins in Reproductive Medicine. But what ties together my interest has been the brain and how it changes throughout life. What sort of things influenced it, in good ways and in bad ways. And looking at the brain and health and illness and what permeates all of these interests is consciousness, which is in some ways the most basic and simple notion, and also one of the most difficult to grasp." -- Jay Giedd
 
"I want to try to understand consciousness from a neuroanatomy and neuro-function standpoint. What would consciousness look like in a brain scanner and other types of imaging? What are we looking for, in a sense, and could I predict from basically the architecture and the anatomy, that this could be conscious, and this would not be able to be conscious?" -- Jay Giedd
 
"For me, consciousness is more about questions than answers, even after 30 years of trying. But the memory aspect is actually a really good place to start. To what extent do babies in the womb have a memory, or even after they're born?" -- Jay Giedd

 

BIOS

Dr. Jay Giedd
Chair of child psychiatry at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and director of child and adolescent psychiatry, Dr. Giedd is also a professor of psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine, and professor in the Dept of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
 
Dr. Giedd was chief of the Section on Brain Imaging, Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). His widely published research and expertise evaluates how the child's brain develops in health and illness, the factors that influence development and how to optimize treatments to take advantage of the child's changing brain. Jay and his award winning work were featured in the PBS 2 part series "Brains on Trial" hosted by Alan Alda.
 

David Edelman, PhD: A neuroscientist and currently Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, David has taught neuroscience at the University of San Diego and UCSD. He was Professor of Neuroscience at Bennington College until 2014 and visiting professor in the Dept of Psychology, CUNY Brooklyn College from 2015-2017. He has conducted research in a wide range of areas, including mechanisms of gene regulation, the relationship between mitochondrial transport and brain activity, and visual perception in the octopus. A longstanding interest in the neural basis of consciousness led him to consider the importance—and challenge—of disseminating a more global view of brain function to a broad audience.

 

*Watch Episode 8 on Our YouTube Channel

**Roundtable Episodes of the podcast “On Consciousness with Bernard Baars” were recorded and filmed in the dining room of the La Jolla house that was my father’s home for more than 20 years. These explorations of consciousness are a special tribute to David's Dad, Nobel Laureate Gerald Edelman, and his verdant imagination, immense creativity, prodigious output, and the many discussions about the scientific study of consciousness and biological science generally that we had within these four walls.

On Consciousness & The Brain - An Uplifting Discussion with Bernard Baars & David Edelman at DG Wills Books in La Jolla, CA

In this uplifting episode recorded at La Jolla landmark D.G. Wills Books, neuroscientists Bernie Baars & David Edelman unpack the nature of consciousness — the ineffable sense of ‘aboutness’ each one of us experiences that encompasses features of the outside world, your own thoughts, recollections, and emotions, all of which mysteriously — yet inevitably — arise from the coordinated firing of neurons in the cerebral cortex and other regions of the brain

David reads from Bernie's new book, “On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory."

Bernie and David begin by considering the problem of subjectivity — in particular, the tortuous twenty-five centuries-long struggle to place it within a scientific framework and at the same time reconcile such an endeavor with everyday first-hand descriptions of human experience. They conclude that a major roadblock has been the tendency to set aside or even actively dismiss subjective descriptions in the quest to tease out some kind of objective truth about the nature of conscious experience.

To underscore the idea that we can, in some sense, square the objective, physical attributes of the world with their subjective representation in the brain, Bernie and David mull over the perception of color as one example of a subjective transform of an objective phenomenon—namely, the differences in wavelengths of light. Given that the human visual system filters certain physical properties of light (as humans, we can’t perceive light wavelengths less than 380nm or greater than 740nm, nor can we perceive polarized light), our conscious perception of the visual world must necessarily be subjective in nature and, considering our individual differences (e.g., how we’re each uniquely embodied), entirely unique to, and privileged for, each of us. 

Bernie and David then move on to ethical and evolutionary considerations inspired by attempts to come to grips with the existence and nature of consciousness in non-human animals. Given the ancient moral and ethical underpinnings of human culture, they suggest that the evolutionary story of consciousness must necessarily be linked to considerations of how we treat non-human animals.

Based on neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral similarities between mammals and birds, it seems likely that a large number of animals are capable of conscious experience. In fact, the complex nervous systems and sophisticated behavioral repertoires of some animals quite distant from the vertebrate line (i.e., the octopus) suggest that a faculty for consciousness may well be quite ancient and extend to at least a few branches of complex life. Accordingly, Bernie and David reinforce the ethical dilemma that non-human consciousness poses.

How do we reconcile our treatment of non-human animals with the idea that, like us, many of these beings are capable of feeling pain and experiencing a broad palette of emotions?

To conclude the discussion, Bernie and David ponder the critical role of memory in consciousness and consider the problem of limited capacity – the idea that your nervous system can only handle so much information and processing tasks at once. In regard to memory, Bernie points to the importance of the cerebral cortex—the ‘central store’ for conscious contents—for engendering states of awareness in humans and non-human mammals.

He further notes that conscious contents are always internally consistent, despite the fact that very different—and quite often inconsistent—streams of information may be impinging on your senses all at once. In other words, the brain builds an internally consistent story about the world—even if certain strands of that story don’t make sense from an external perspective. Why is this the case? 

Regarding limited capacity, Bernie suggests that it is biologically paradoxical. For example, the selective awareness that comes with limited capacity can sometimes result in people walking into traffic while talking on their cell phones. Why doesn’t the spotlight of awareness extend beyond the telephone conversation to include an oncoming truck? 

The discussion ends with a wonderful Q & A session, thanks to an engaged and brilliant audience.

*Special Thanks to Dennis Wills, owner of D.G. Wills Books in La Jolla, CA. 

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Bios

David Edelman, PhD: A neuroscientist and currently Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, David has taught neuroscience at the University of San Diego and UCSD. He was Professor of Neuroscience at Bennington College until 2014 and visiting professor in the Dept of Psychology, CUNY Brooklyn College from 2015-2017. He has conducted research in a wide range of areas, including mechanisms of gene regulation, the relationship between mitochondrial transport and brain activity, and visual perception in the octopus. A longstanding interest in the neural basis of consciousness led him to consider the importance—and challenge—of disseminating a more global view of brain function to a broad audience.

Episode 7 Talking Points | 1 hour 30 minutes

By Ilian Daskalov

0:05 – Neuroscientist David Edelman introduces Bernard J. Baars, himself, their work, how they met in 2005 at The Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA. David unpacks a brief history of the modern science of consciousness studies, and how they began collaborating and developing their research and body of work in their diverse fields.

1:29 - Edelman reads excerpts from Baars’ new book “On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity – Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory.”

7:12 – Edelman and Baars initiate the conversation between the two by discussing observational objectivity and the uniqueness of being a conscious individual self. 

14:08 – What are some ways for scientists to study the nature of subjectivity? 

17:24– How the spectrum of visible colors is perceived and how hues are labeled based on variables such as gender and culture.

23:50 – The importance of considering embodiment, or how the body is put together as a whole, when studying the conscious experiences in humans and animals. 

30:00 – The evolution of consciousness in non-human animals, and the ethics and morals of treating other sentient beings in humane ways.

41:42 – How memory is related to consciousness and the overall structural complexity of the human brain.

45:40 – The limited capacity of human attention and the perceptual unity that the brain weaves from input information.

54:08 – Q & A with the audience. 

55:17 – The imperfections and amendable properties of human memory, as well as William James’ idea about “the feeling of knowing.”

1:03:48 – The mind-body connection... and does it exist? 

1:06:53 – Is competency equal to comprehension – can cells and machines be considered conscious?

1:12:26 – David Edelman gives a summary of the three of the main theories of consciousness – Global Workspaces Theory, Integrated Information Theory, and Dynamic Core.

In terms of selectionism, where does the cortex come in? And particularly the conscious aspects of cortex at any given moment?

1:21:55 – Bernie explains what Global Workspace Theory is, its origin, and what makes it more biologically plausible in comparison to its rival theories.

Special Podcast VIP 40% Discount for Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book, "On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory" - GO TO: https://shop.thenautiluspress.com/collections/baars 

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Watch our Video Podcast Episodes: 

 

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The Potential of Biologically Inspired Neural Modeling with Neurorobotics Expert, Jeffrey Krichmar

In this episode of "On Consciousness," neuroscientists Bernie Baars, Jeff Krichmar, and David Edelman engage in a freewheeling conversation that begins with mulling over the possible development of conscious machines -- or ‘conscious artifact,’ as Gerald Edelman put it -- sometime in the not-so-distant future.

We unpack the various ‘bumps in the road’ in the quest to build intelligent, sentient machines--the problems of efficiency (with regard to energy utilization, brains run circles around any present-day computers) and dissipation of heat in increasingly miniaturized microcircuitry, among others.

And though Bernie casts a critically important skeptic’s eye on the prospect of in silico conscious artifacts, we all eventually arrive at a sort of amicable consilience: a recognition that such a development is at least possible.

After a tangential--but fun and diverting--foray into the thickets of human evolution and the serendipitous biocultural path that led to modern humans, we return to pondering the road leading to conscious artifacts.

We conclude on an optimistic note, with the promise of the biologically based approach so steadfastly championed by Jeff and a small community of like-minded computational neuroscientists.

Special Guest: Professor Jeff Krichmar, PhD, Department of Cognitive Sciences and the Department of Computer Sciences, University of California, Irvine: http://www.socsci.uci.edu/~jkrichma

Hosts

  • Cognitive psychobiologist and originator of GWT Bernard J. Baars, Author of "ON CONSCIOUSNESS: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory"
  • Neuroscientist and paleoanthropologist David Edelman, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Dept of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College

 

Special Podcast VIP 40% Discount for Bernie Baars' new book, "On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory" - GO TO: https://shop.thenautiluspress.com/collections/baars 

APPLY CODE AT CHECKOUT: "PODCASTVIP"

 

Talking Points:

0:00 – David Edelman introduces himself and briefly describes his path to exploring consciousness (particularly in animals), starting as a human paleoanthropologist to studying the behavior of cephalopods.  

3:11 – Jeff Krichmar introduces himself, summarizing how he went from being a computer scientist to one of the first neuroroboticists.

6:05 – Bernard Baars gives his thoughts on the trajectory of artificial consciousness and the hurdles in the scientific realm that one had to go through in the past, due to their interest in studying consciousness.

7:41 – David Edelman on the importance of defining consciousness and how the difference in brain activity during conscious (waking) and unconscious (sleeping) states makes consciousness an observable phenomenon that one can actively study.

11:30 – Bernard Baars on why attributing consciousness to a machine would be an ambitious task. 

12:52 – Counterarguments by David and Jeff to Bernie’s proposal on how consciousness in machines can emerge. 

17:33 – Jeff Krichmar on how energy efficiency is essential for the improvement of our computers in order to be able to simulate a human brain.

23:11 – Baars initiating a conversation revolving around the expensiveness and disadvantages of the human brain’s size.

28:30 – Edelman on how human sociality has impacted the survivability of the species.

32:08 – Edelman, Krichmar, and Baars discussing the possible existence, timeline, and road to “conscious artifacts” in the near future.

39:10 – Edelman and Krichmar close out the conversation with a brief discussion on the evolution of neural networks and the moral and ethical concerns in the field.

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**Watch the Bonus Video Episode: The History of Brain-Based Devices and Cognitive Robots with Neuroroboticist Jeff Krichmar

Jeff Krichmar discusses how an overarching theory of the brain, known as Neural Darwinism, was tested using a series of increasingly complex Brain-Based Devices. These robots show cognitive behavior, such as perception, goal-driven behavior, learning and memory.

This led to the development of the emerging fields of Neurorobots and Cognitive Robotics where Krichmar and other researchers are making smarter robots based on how brain activity lead to interesting behavior.

 

Visuals Credits:

Visualization of MRI brain scan data from a single person, showing nerve fiber bundles near or feeding into part of the hippocampus. Neuroscientist Tyler Ard, NIH-supported lab of Arthur Toga, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Jim Stanis, Arthur W. Toga, Ryan Cabeen, Laboratory of Neuro Imaging (LONI), USC Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute;

NIH Brain initiative 2019 Network architecture of the long-distance pathways in the macaque brain. Dharmendra S. Modha, Raghavendra Singh. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Jul 2010, 107 (30) 13485-13490; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1008054107

Dynamic mapping of human cortical development during childhood through early adulthood. Nitin Gogtay, Jay N. Giedd, Leslie Lusk, Kiralee M. Hayashi, Deanna Greenstein, A. Catherine Vaituzis, Tom F. Nugent, David H. Herman, Liv S. Clasen, Arthur W. Toga, Judith L. Rapoport, Paul M. Thompson. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences May 2004, 101 (21) 8174-8179; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0402680101

Pt 4: Is Cortex the Organ of Mind? GWT originator, Bernard Baars explores conscious and unconscious brain events.

Why are we conscious? Is cortex the organ of mind? Throughout human history, people have perceived the conscious brain as the great nexus of human life, of social relationships, of their personal identities and histories, in encounters with new challenges. In Episode #5 of the podcast On Consciousness, Bernard Baars, originator of GWT, talks with neuroscientists David Edelman and Jay Giedd, roboticist Jeff Krichmar, magician Mark Mitton, and editor Natalie Geld about our growing understanding of the many relationships between the structure and functions of the brain and our own private experiences.

Discover the conscious brain.

Consciousness under its many labels and manifestations is widely seen to be one of the core mysteries of life. A great many therapeutic approaches can be viewed in a global workspace framework, including traditional psychodynamics and depth psychology, but also cognitive behavioral techniques, and, indeed, many other kinds of carefully studied human functions. Making progress in understanding consciousness therefore has an endless number of implications - philosophical, metaphysical, scientific, medical, clinical, and practical.

"Baars' Global Workspace Theory is practical and elegant, addressing both conscious and unconscious activity. If anyone thinks there is a "hard problem" in this field, they need to read On Consciousness before they make that assumption." ~Stanley Krippner, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Saybrook University.

  • Cognitive Neurobiologist and originator of GWT Bernard J.Baars, Author of "ON CONSCIOUSNESS: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory"
  • Neuroscientist David Edelman, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Dept of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College
  • Neuroscientist Dr. Jay Giedd, Director of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Rady Children's Hospital; Professor of Psychiatry, UCSD School of Medicine
  • Neuroscientist & Roboticist Jeffrey Krichmar, PHD, UC Irvine
  • Professional Magician Mark Mitton
  • Editor of "ON CONSCIOUSNESS" Natalie Geld, CEO & Founder, MedNeuro, Inc.

Special Podcast VIP 40% Discount for Bernie Baars' new book, "On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory" - GO TO: https://shop.thenautiluspress.com/collections/baars 

APPLY CODE AT CHECKOUT: PODCASTVIP

Video Podcast of Episode #5 - Part Four of NATURALIZING CONSCIOUSNESS: A Talk with Psychobiologist and Originator of Global Workspace Theory, Bernard Baars exploring conscious and unconscious brain events.

 

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When are brains capable of this sensation of being self aware? Dr. Jay Giedd On Consciousness with Bernard Baars

“If not in the womb, at what point in life do we first have the sensation of being us? In terms of knowing that we’re an individual person... And where that line is crossed, including octopus or other animals, at what point in terms of our brain development are the brains capable of this sensation of being self aware?”

Naturalizing Consciousness: Conversations on the Biology of Subjectivity - the Premiere Event for the New Podcast "On Consciousness with Bernard Baars" - and a Special Tribute to Nobel Laureate Gerald M. Edelman.

Subscribe and Tune in!

Dr. Jay Giedd Director, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Rady Children's Hospital; Professor of Psychiatry, UCSD School of Medicine Professor, Dept of Population, Family & Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Former Chief, Section on Brain Imaging, Child Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Jay’s widely published research and expertise evaluates how the child's brain develops in health and illness, the factors that influence development and how to optimize treatments to take advantage of the child's changing brain.

Jay and his award winning work were featured in the PBS 2 part series "Brains on Trial" hosted by Alan Alda.

 

Video Link to Podcast Trailer: When are brains capable of this sensation of being self aware? Jay Giedd On Consciousness with Bernard Baars

 

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