Are we automata?. Włodzisław Duch Department of Informatics Nicolaus Copernicus University , Toruń, PL Google: W. Duch. Self, intersubjectivity and social neuroscience , Torun, 26.09. 2007. Who am I ?. Quis ego et qualis ego? Who am I and what kind of man am I ?
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Department of InformaticsNicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, PL
Google: W. Duch
Self, intersubjectivity and social neuroscience, Torun, 26.09.2007
Quis ego et qualis ego?
Who am I and what kind of man am I?
St. Augustin (400 ac.)
What is the self?
Where then is this self, if it is neither in the body nor the soul? Pascal (1670)
How can we answer such questions?
Your are nothing else but a bunch of neurons (Crick).
You are your synapses (LeDoux).
Is that a satisfactory answer? Not for all ...
If “I” = brain, then “I” do not exist.
I am then an automaton!
“I” decide in a conscious and free way, I am responsible for
Popper & Eccles in “The Self and Its Brain” (1977) think that self can’t be just the brain, going back to the idea of souls animating bodies.
The illusion of “ghost in the machine”, or homunculus, is very strong.
Gilbert Ryle, The concept of mind, Univ. of Chicago Press (1949)
Is there a ghost in the machine? Or is mind a product of the brain?
Is there a horse inside the steam train?
Mind is not a thing, it is a process, succession of brain states.Bible: psychosomatic unity of human nature.
Duch W (1999) Soul & spirit, or prehistory of cognitive science. Kognitywistyka 1 (1999) pp. 7-38
Soul, spirit: dozens of meanings!
Things do not move by themselves, bodies are animated by spirits/souls.
Egyptians: 7 immortal souls, including shadow and personal name!
Aristotle (De anima) and St Thomas (Summa Theologica):
3 souls: vegetative or plant soul (growth), an animal soul (response), philosopher’s soul (mind) – but these concepts lost their reference.
Thomas Laycock (1812–1876): Mind and Brain, Or, The Correlations of Consciousness and Organisation (1860), reflexes in the seat of soul!
“... the brain, although the organ of consciousness, was subject to the laws of reflex action, and that in this respect it did not differ from the other ganglia of the nervous system. I was led to this opinion by the general principle, that the ganglia within the cranium being a continuation of the spinal cord, must necessarily be regulated as to their reaction on external agencies by laws identical with those governing the functions of the spinal ganglia and their analogues in the lower animals.
Fascinating history of acknowledging that automatisms are not only in the spine but also in the brain is described in J. Miller, Going unconscious. New York Review 42(7), 1995.
I.M. Sechenov, Brain reflexes (Refleksy golovnago mozga ,1866):
all conscious & unconscious acts are reflexes in terms of their structure; subversive to public morals and social order, Sechenov was indicted.
In 1873 Sir John Ericksen, Surgeon Extraordinary to Queen Victoria: “The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon”.
T.H. Huxley, On the Hypothesis that Animals are Automata, and its History (1874):
“... the feeling we call volition is not the cause of a voluntary act, but the symbol of that state of the brain which is the immediate cause of that act. We are conscious automata ... “
William James, Does 'Consciousness' Exist? (1904)
... primal stuff or material in the world, a stuff of which everything is composed, ... we call that stuff 'pure experience‘.
...the stream of thinking ... consist chiefly of the stream of my breathing.
Marshall Hall (1832): reflexes only in the spine, not in the brain, the seat of soul, sensory experiences require consciousness, function of soul.
Benjamin Carpenter (1874): experiments of Jamesa Braidawith hypnosis (cured everything) shows cerebral automatism. Perceptual system almost completely operates outside of conscious awareness. Mechanism of thought also operates largely outside awareness.
These positive unconscious automatismswere forgotten when Freudacame with his id, ego and superego ideas, that may be roughly apped to the triune brain ofMacLeana (brain stem, limbic system, cortex).
Reaction: radical behaviorism, no mind, just behavior.B.F. Skinner, The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis Of Behavior (1938).
Brain => finite automata => behavior.
Gap between psychology and brain science, 1st and 3rd person view.
Gap between neuroscience and psychology: cognitive science is at best incoherent mixture of various branches.
Is a satisfactory understanding of the mind possible ?
10-10 m, molecular level: ion channels, synapses, membrane properties, neurochemistry, biophysics, psychopharmacology, mind from molecular perspective (Ira Black)?
10-6 m, single neurons: biophysics, computational neuroscience (CS), compartmental models, spikes, LTP, LTD, neurochemistry & neurophysiology.
10-4 m, small networks: neurodynamics, recurrence, spiking neurons, synchronization, neural code (liquid?), memory effects, multielectrode recordings, neurophysiology, CS.
10-3 m, neural assemblies: cortical columns, multielectrode & large electrode recordings, microcircuits, neurodynamics, neuroscience, CS.
10-2 m, mesoscopic networks: self-organization, sensory and motor maps, population coding, continuous activity models, mean field theories, brain imaging, EEG, MEG, fMRI.
10-1 m, transcortical networks, large brain structures: simplified models of cortex, limbic structures, subcortical nuclei, integration of functions, concept formation, sensorimotor integration, neuropsychology, computational psychiatry ...
And then a miracle happens …
1m, CNS, brain level: intentional behavior, psychology, thinking, reasoning, language, problem solving, symbolic processing, goal oriented knowledge-based systems, AI.
Where is psyche, the inner perspective? Lost in translation: networks => finite state automata => behavior
Alternative: Platonic model => mental events.
K. Lewin, The conceptual representation and the measurement of psychological forces (1938), cognitive dynamic movement in phenomenological space.
George Kelly (1955), personal construct psychology (PCP), geometry of psychological spaces as alternative to logic.
A complete theory of cognition, action, learning and intention.
PCP network, society, journal, software …
Many things in philosophy, dynamics, neuroscience and psychology are relevant here.
P-space: region in which we may place and classify elements of our experience, constructed and evolving, „a space without distance”, divided by dichotomies.
Mind uses only those features that are useful to act/decide.
The structure of the world is internalized in the brain.
Modeling input/output relations with some internal parameters.
Walter Freeman: model of olfaction in rabbits, 5 types of odors, 5 types of behavior, very complex model in between.
Simplified models: H. Liljeström.
Attractors of dynamics in high-dimensional space => via fuzzy symbolic dynamics allow to define probability densities (PDF) in feature spaces.
Mind objects - created from fuzzy prototypes/exemplars.
The physical world is determined => brains must also be determined.
We human beings have a centric view of the world. We think our personal selves are directing the show most of the time. I argue that recent research shows this is not true but simply appears to be true because of a special device in our left brain called the interpreter. This one device creates the illusion that we are in charge of our actions.
Based on the modern understanding of neuroscience and on the assumptions of legal concepts, I believe the following axioms: Brains are automatic, rule-governed, determined devices, while people are personally responsible agents, free to make their own decisions.
Personal responsibility is a public concept.
Those aspects of our personhood are – oddly – not in our brains. They exist only in the relationships that exist when our automatic brains interact with other automatic brains. They are in the ether.
A. Damasio, The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness (1999).
Elements of self at different levels:
G.G. Gallup, Self-recognition in primates: A comparative approach to the bidirectional properties of consciousness. American Psychologist 32: 329-38 (2002);
So far observed in chimps, orangutans, gorillas, elephants and dolphins.
The concept of “I” entails understanding of mental states of others, empathy.
Other test: if there are to people pointing to food, but one with eyes covered, chips usually follow the advice of the other one.
Understanding mental states of others helps to predict their behavior.
Possible role of mirror neurons, or multimodal neurons.
Is this the basis of self-awareness?
Kelleyet al. JCN 14, 785-704, 2002; consider yourself, president Bush, or case of letters used to write the word (neutral condition).
Kelleyet al. 2002, fMRI study
C.L. Heathertonet al, Medial prefrontal activity differentiates self from close others. Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience 1, 18-25, 2006.
Social judgements about others activate dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC) stronger than self-referential judgments (for which
VMPFC is more active) and activate anterior cingulate gyrus(AC).
Representation of self in orbital and medial prefrontal cortex (OMPFC): continuous representation of self-referential stimuli.
„Self” in relation to others = social self.
Northoffet.al, Self-referential processing in our brain - a meta-analysis of imagingstudies on the self. Neuroimage 31, 440, 2006
CMS, Cortical Midline Structures, are all involved in the verbal, spatial, emotional and face recognition test when self and others are distinguished. These structures are rarely damaged and are in between the rest of the cortex and limbic/brain stem structures.Proto-self: body; autobiographical: memory; social: relations.
Farrer & Frith, Experiencing Oneself vs Another Person as Being the Cause of an Action: The Neural Correlates of the Experience of Agency, Neuroimage 15, 596, 2002.
Awareness of intentional acting correlates with anterior insular cortex (AIC), and passive acting when other person makes the movements with activity of inferior parietal cortex (IPC).
AIC: may be concerned with the integration of all the concordant multimodal sensory signals associated with voluntary movements.
IPC: represents movements in an
allocentric coding system that can be applied to the actions of others as well as the self.
Jacksonet .al, How do we perceive the pain of others? (2005)
ACC plays a role in analysis and behavioral control connected with avoidance of painful situations, combining attention and evaluation of emotional value assigning silence to the even. AICreceives information about pain monitoring physiological state of the body; ACC&AICreact to the pain in self and others.
Hayenset al, Current Biology 2007: you will see two numbers and you may add or substruct them ... activity of the medial frontal cortex will show what are your intentions even before you begin ...
B. Libetet al. The Volitional Brain: Towards a Neuroscience of Free Will (2000).
Classical experiments of Libeta: stimulation of a finger is felt 500 ms before stimulation of the cortex.
Observation of ERPsshows 300 ms before the feeling “I want to press a button” arises, first movement is planned and then decision and awareness of that decision follows.
Can we freely veto decisions?Trevarna & Miller 2002, & others.
TMS stimulations:even if one side is selected 80% of times the choice is felt as free ... we could be radio controlled!
Why do qualia exist?
Imagine a rat smelling food. In fraction of a second rat has to decide: eat or spit?
Long Term Memory (LTM) is huge, stored by 100T synapses.
Working Memory (WM) is probably based on dynamical brain states (actualization of LTM potential possibilities).
What happens to the taste of a large ice-cream?
The taste buds provide all the information; the brain processes it, but the qualia are gone after a short time.
Why? WM is filled with other objects, no resonances with gustatory cortex are formed, no reference to taste memories.
Brain states are physical, spatio-temporal states of neural tissue.
In contrast to computer registers,
brain states are dynamical, and thus contain in themselves many associations, relations.
Inner world is real! Mind is based on relations of brain’s states.
Computers and robots do not have anything similar to the dynamical working memory.
Qualia must exist in brain-like computing systems:
System capable of evaluation of their WM states, must claim to have phenomenal experiences and be conscious of these experiences!
Minimal conditions for an artilect to claim qualia and be conscious:
Learning: initially conscious involvement (large brain areas active) in the end becomes automatic, subconscious, intuitive (well-localized activity).
Formation of new resonant states - attractors in brain dynamics during learning => neural models.
Reinforcement learning requires observing and evaluating how successful are the actions that the brain has planned and is executing.
Relating current performance to memorized episodes of performance requires evaluation + comparison (Gray – subiculum), followed by emotional reactions that provide reinforcement via dopamine release, facilitating rapid learning of specialized neural modules.
Working memory is essential to perform such complex task.Errors are painfully conscious, and should be remembered.
Conscious experiences provide reinforcement; there is no transfer from conscious to subconscious.
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