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The adage that fact is stranger than fiction seems to be especially true for the workings of the brain.
Evolutionary psychology was the organizing framework—the source of “explanatory adequacy” or a “theory of the computation”—that the science of psychology had been missing. Like vision and language, our emotions and cognitive faculties are complex, useful, and nonrandomly organized, which means that they must be a product of the only physical process capable of generating complex, useful, nonrandom organization, namely, natural selection. An appeal to evolution was already implicit in the metatheoretical directives of Marr and Chomsky, with their appeal to the function of a mental faculty, and evolutionary psychology simply shows how to apply that logic to the rest of the mind.
You can be highly concentrated on a person, on a problem, and be so good at excluding all other material that that becomes not just the focus of your experience, but practically the sole content of your experience, everything else falling by the wayside.
What the neurology tells us is that the self consists of many components, and the notion of one unitary self may well be an illusion.
Lofty questions about the mind are fascinating to ask, philosophers have been asking them for three millennia both in India where I am from and here in the West - but it is only in the brain that we can eventually hope to find the answers.
The brain abhors discrepancies.
There is no real independent self, aloof from other human beings, inspecting the world, inspecting other people. You are, in fact, connected not just via Facebook and Internet, you're actually quite literally connected by your neurons.
There are 100 billion neurons in the adult human brain, and each neuron makes something like 1,000 to 10,000 contacts with other neurons in the brain. Based on this, people have calculated that the number of permutations and combinations of brain activity exceeds the number of elementary particles in the universe.
Life and 'Mind' are systemic processes.
More may have been learned about the brain and the mind in the 1990s - the so-called decade of the brain - than during the entire previous history of psychology and neuroscience.
The boundary between neurology and psychiatry is becoming increasingly blurred, and its only a matter of time before psychiatry becomes just another branch of neurology.
Emotions are a critical source of information for learning.
All of that is constantly operating when you not only learn, but when you recall. But as you recall in a different light, the weights with which something is more probably going to be or not recalled on the next instance, are going to be changed. So you're constantly changing the way, for instance, synapses are going to fire very easily or not so easily.
All our behaviours are a result of neurophysiological activity in the brain. There is no reason to believe there is any magic going on.
The visual system of the brain has the organization, computational profile, and architecture it has in order to facilitate the organism's thriving at the four Fs: feeding fleeing, fighting, and reproduction.
It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well.
Every aspect of thought and emotion is rooted in brain structure and function, including many psychological disorders and, presumably, genius. The study confirms that the brain is a modular system comprising multiple intelligences, mostly nonverbal.
Having a self, even a simple self, allows you to look into the world and put a mark over what is more important and less important. It's a way of classifying the world in terms of your own needs.
We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are.
I HAVE no patience with the hypothesis occasionally expressed, and often implied, especially in tales written to teach children to be good, that babies are born pretty much alike, and that the sole agencies in creating differences between boy and boy, and man and man, are steady application and moral effort. It is in the most unqualified manner that I object to pretensions of natural equality. The experiences of the nursery, the school, the University, and of professional careers, are a chain of proofs to the contrary.
Yes, metaphor. That's how the whole fabric of mental interconnections holds together. Metaphor is right at the bottom of being alive.
Here is a neuron that fires when I reach and grab something, but it also fires when I watch Joe reaching and grabbing something. ... It's as though this neuron is adopting the other person's point of view.
Narratives are not fixed. We change our narratives for ourselves and we change them not necessarily deliberately. In other words, some people do, some people will constantly reconstruct their biography for external purposes, it's a very interesting political ploy.
There has to be innate circuitry that does the learning, that creates the culture, that acquires the culture, and that responds to socialization.
Interestingly enough, not all feelings result from the body's reaction to external stimuli. Sometimes changes are purely simulated in the brain maps.
Most intellectuals today have a phobia of any explanation of the mind that invokes genetics.
Suppose the reasoning centers of the brain can get their hands on the mechanisms that plop shapes into the array and that read their locations out of it. Those reasoning demons can exploit the geometry of the array as a surrogate for keeping certain logical constraints in mind. Wealth, like location on a line, is transitive: if A is richer than B, and B is richer than C, then A is richer than C. By using location in an image to symbolize wealth, the thinker takes advantage of the transitivity of location built into the array, and does not have to enter it into a chain of deductive steps. The problem becomes a matter of plop down and look up. It is a fine example of how the form of a mental representation determines what is easy or hard to think.
What do we mean by "knowledge" or "understanding"? And how do billions of neurons achieve them? These are complete mysteries. Admittedly, cognitive neuroscientists are still very vague about the exact meaning of words like "understand," "think," and indeed the word "meaning" itself.
What I say to myself - who says it? Who does he say it to?
Some of us, for better or worse, develop very stable, consistent, and largely predictable machineries of self. But in others, the self machinery is more flexible and more open to unexpected turns.
Consciousness, much like our feelings, is based on a representation of the body and how it changes when reacting to certain stimuli. Self-image would be unthinkable without this representation.
Our mind is our main limitation.
To me, body and mind are different aspects of specific biological processes.
Most of us are genuinely unaware that it is possible to change our minds.
Indeed, the line between perceiving and hallucinating is not as crisp as we like to think. In a sense, when we look at the world, we are hallucinating all the time. One could almost regard perception as the act of choosing the one hallucination that best fits the incoming data.
People often ask how I got interested in the brain; my rethorical answer is: 'How can anyone NOT be interested in it?' Everything you call 'human nature' and consciousness arises from it.
Our ability to perceive the world around us seems so effortless that we tend to take it for granted.
Self-awareness is a trait that not only makes us human but also paradoxically makes us want to be more than merely human. As I said in my BBC Reith Lectures, “Science tells us we are merely beasts, but we don’t feel like that. We feel like angels trapped inside the bodies of beasts, forever craving transcendence.
There is no such thing as a disembodied mind. The mind is implanted in the brain, and the brain is implanted in the body.
Why do people believe that there are dangerous implications of the idea that the mind is a product of the brain, that the brain is organized in part by the genome, and that the genome was shaped by natural selection?

We are permitted to suppose that the relatively small size of the female brain depends in part upon her physical inferiority and in part upon her intellectual inferiority.
Everything we think and feel (and keep thinking and feeling) creates, deep within, the brain we have.
Opinion is ultimately determined by the feelings, and not by the intellect.
Cognitive psychology tells us that the unaided human mind is vulnerable to many fallacies and illusions because of its reliance on its memory for vivid anecdotes rather than systematic statistics.
Remember that politics, colonialism, imperialism and war also originate in the human brain.
Cognitive psychology has shown that the mind best understands facts when they are woven into a conceptual fabric, such as a narrative, mental map, or intuitive theory. Disconnected facts in the mind are like unlinked pages on the Web: They might as well not exist.
What the artist tries to do (either consciously or unconsciously) is to not only capture the essence of something but also to amplify it in order to more powerfully activate the same neural mechanisms that would be activated by the original object.
If I use the word consciousness, in our lab, in our institute, what we mean is the special quality of mind, the special features that exist in the mind, that permit us to know, for example, that we, ourselves, exist, and that things exist around us.
Your conscious life is an elaborate after-the-fact rationalization of things you really do for other reasons.
Even though its common knowledge these days, it never ceases to amaze me that all the richness of our mental life - all our feelings, our emotions, our thoughts, our ambitions, our love life, our religious sentiments and even what each of us regards us his own intimate private self - is simply the activity of these little specks of jelly in your head, in your brain. There is nothing else.
A man walking is never in balance, but always correcting for imbalance.
Synaptic summation is the technical term used in neurophysiology for those instances in which some neuron C is fired only by a combination of neurons A and B.
Curiosity illuminates the correct path to anything in life. If you're not curious, that's when your brain is starting to die.
In the fetus, or a really young child, all the different brain areas are connected to each other, diffusely. And as the brain develops, the excess connections are turned off, so you get very specialized areas. So most people have really specialized talents. What happens in creative people is this pooling doesn't take place.
Of necessity, the autobiographical self is not just about one individual but about all the others that an individual interacts with. Of necessity, it incorporates the culture in which the interactions took place.
I shall argue that the problem of grace is fundamentally a problem of integration and what is to be integrated is the diverse parts of the mind - especially those multiple levels of which one extreme is called 'consciousness' and the other the 'unconscious'.
If you can change your mind, you can change your life.
The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.
The mind is the effect, not the cause.
There are times when I catch myself believing that there is such a thing as something; which is separate from something else.
People today sometimes get uncomfortable with empirical claims that seem to clash with their political assumptions, often because they haven't given much thought to the connections.
I was once interviewed in Italy and the headline of the interview the next day was wonderful. I saved this for my collection it was... "YES we have a soul but it's made of lots of tiny robots" and I thought that's exactly right. Yes we have a soul, but it's mechanical. But it's still a soul, it still does the work that the soul was supposed to do. It is the seat of reason. It is the seat of moral responsibility. It's why we are appropriate objects of punishment when we do evil things, why we deserve the praise when we do good things. It's just not a mysterious lump of wonder stuff... that will out live us.
With the arrival of humans, it has been said, the universe has suddenly become conscious of itself. This, truly, it the greatest mystery of all.
Don't leave home without your left hemisphere.
64 quotes