Self Help

Incognito - Eagleman, David

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Matheus Puppe

· 52 min read

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  • David Eagleman is the author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain.
  • The book explores how little conscious control humans have over their own thoughts, behaviors, and decisions. Much of brain function occurs unconsciously.
  • Eagleman uses examples like pupil dilation affecting attraction to illustrate how unconscious biases and instincts drive our decisions in ways we are unaware of.
  • He argues that our sense of identity and free will is an illusion - our conscious experience is like a tiny passenger on a vast neural network over which we have little control.
  • The book aims to explain phenomena like human nature, marketing psychology, crime, addiction and more based on the hidden workings of the unconscious brain.

In summary, the book Incognito by David Eagleman seeks to reveal how little influence conscious thought actually has over human behavior and experiences, which are primarily driven by unconscious neurological processes outside of our awareness or control.

The brain’s circuitry has been molded over hundreds of thousands of generations by evolutionary pressures, like other organs such as the eyes and spleen. Brains developed mechanisms for gathering information and steering behavior in a way that was advantageous for survival.

Most of the brain’s operations and decision making occur unconsciously and autonomously, without involvement of consciousness. Consciousness plays a small role and is usually one of the last systems to receive information. Unconscious processes like physiological reactions and intuitions can influence behavior before we are consciously aware.

The brain is a complex system, but it was shaped by natural selection to solve problems faced by our ancestors. While consciousness feels like it is in control, it is more like receiving a summary of all the brain’s hidden and parallel processes beneath it. Ideas and decisions are usually the result of unconscious consolidation over long periods, but we take conscious credit without realizing the vast underlying machinery.

Some historical figures described great creative works as seeming to generate themselves without conscious input. While consciousness experiences these works, the true origins may lie deeper in our minds beyond our awareness. Overall, consciousness is best left out of most decision making, where unconscious processes can function more effectively without its interference. Our sense of being in control is dethroned by this understanding, but replacing it with a more illuminating view of the full complexity of the brain.

Here’s a summary of the key points about Galileo’s discovery of Jupiter’s moons:

  • In early 1609, Galileo observed Jupiter with his telescope and discovered that it had multiple moons orbiting it. This contradicted the prevailing Ptolemaic model which placed Earth at the center of the universe with everything orbiting around it.

  • Galileo’s discovery showed that there were multiple centers of motion in the universe, not just Earth. This shattered the idea of celestial spheres with Earth at the center.

  • Galileo published his findings in 1610 in Sidereus Nuncius, which made him famous. It took 6 months for other astronomers to build better telescopes to observe Jupiter’s moons themselves.

  • His discovery challenged the authority of the Church and traditional cosmology. It established that Earth was not the center of the universe, but rather a planet like others orbiting the sun. This profoundly shook human understanding of our place in the cosmos.

So in summary, Galileo’s observation of Jupiter’s moons provided the first solid evidence against the Ptolemaic geocentric model, radically altering humanity’s view of our position in the universe. It was a hugely influential astronomical discovery.

  • In the late 1800s, scientists were starting to consider the physical brain as having a relationship with perception, rather than the mind or soul being separate from the physical world.

  • In 1886, James McKeen Cattell published a study showing that it takes longer for people to react to questions that require thinking/decision making than ones that just require observation. This helped establish a connection between brain processing time and mental/thinking processes.

  • Freud was influenced by Darwin’s theory that humans are no different biologically from other organisms. Through examining patients, he developed the idea of the unconscious mind - that much of our thoughts, behaviors, and mental processes occur below the surface and are hidden from our conscious awareness.

  • Freud and Breuer used a new technique called psychoanalysis where patients freely talked about their symptoms and experiences to try to draw unconscious material to the surface. Freud believed addressing repressed memories could relieve neuroses.

  • Freud’s ideas about the unconscious provided the first exploration of how hidden brain states participate in thought and behavior, even if he lived before modern neuroscience techniques. The chapter sets up exploring more connections between the brain and various mental phenomena in subsequent chapters.

Here is a summary of the key points about visual perception and illusions from the passage:

  • Our visual perception is constructed by the brain based on sensory inputs, not a direct representation of reality. Much neurological processing occurs unconsciously.

  • Visual illusions demonstrate the limitations and assumptions of our visual system. Things are not always as they appear.

  • We are unaware of the boundaries of our visual field and the reduced resolution in our peripheral vision. Our brains trick us into thinking everything is in focus.

  • Binocular depth perception arises from the slight differences between the two retinal images, yet we perceive a vivid sense of three-dimensional depth.

  • Change blindness experiments show that we fail to notice large changes to visual scenes when our attention is not directly focused on the changed area. Our perception is highly dependent on attention.

  • Overall, our visual experience is more of an illusion or constructed reality than a perfect recording of the outside world. There are large gaps in what our eyes see and what our minds perceive.

  • In an experiment, subjects gave directions to an experimenter but didn’t notice when the experimenter was stealthily replaced by a confederate hiding behind a door. This showed that people only encode small amounts of visual information.

  • Magicians can perform tricks in plain sight because the brain doesn’t process all visual details. This explains traffic accidents where drivers fail to see pedestrians or cars directly in front.

  • Vision involves more than just looking - the brain builds an internal sketch or model rather than a full 3D representation. It doesn’t need all details, just knowing where to look for needed information.

  • Studies using eye trackers show eyes actively sample scenes based on task demands, looking at relevant details like faces when asked about ages. The brain extracts needed information rather than seeing everything at once.

  • Visual illusions like ambiguous cubes show vision is active, with perceptual switches between interpretations even when the image isn’t changing. Brains arbitrate between conflicting information.

  • There is a blind spot in the retina where photoreceptors are missing, but the brain fills in the gap so we are unaware of it in our visual field. The brain constructs vision rather than passively receiving input.

Here is a summary of the key points about the blind spot in vision:

  • Each eye has a blind spot where the optic nerve leaves the retina, forming a gap in our visual field. We are normally unaware of this because the blind spots from each eye do not overlap, giving us full coverage.

  • More importantly, the brain “fills in” the missing information from the blind spot. When an object falls in the blind spot, we don’t see a hole, but rather the brain invents a patch based on surrounding context.

  • This demonstrates that vision involves assumptions and inferences by the brain, not just passive perception. We perceive what our brain tells us rather than directly perceiving the external world.

  • The blind spot was discovered in the 1600s by Mariotte, but had gone unnoticed for so long because of the brain’s filling-in mechanism and the non-overlapping blind spots between the two eyes. It helps illustrate that vision involves active reconstruction by the brain.

  • Mike May lost his vision at age 3 due to a chemical explosion. Despite being blind, he became a successful downhill speed skier, businessman, and family man.

  • After 43 years of blindness, Mike underwent an experimental surgery to restore his vision. However, when the bandages were removed, he could not make sense of what he was seeing through his eyes.

  • Vision requires the brain to learn how to interpret sensory inputs. Mike’s brain had to relearn how visual information like perspective and movement relates to the physical world.

  • It took Mike weeks of intently observing his surroundings before he began to experience sight the way sighted people do. He had to train his brain to understand and predict the relationships between what he saw and his movements.

  • Studies show other senses like touch can take over visual processing with training. Tactile devices that convert video to vibrations allowed blind people to navigate spaces by “seeing” with their back.

  • Neuroscientist Paul Bach-y-Rita pioneered sensory substitution research in the 1960s. His work demonstrated the brain’s flexibility in interpreting different sensory inputs as vision.

  • Extreme athlete Eric Weihenmayer climbs using a device that allows him to “see” with his tongue by converting images to electric pulses on his tongue. With practice, he experiences the stimulation as direct vision rather than abstract sensations.

  • Sensory substitution illustrates that the brain, not the eyes, is responsible for visual perception and interpretation. Any sensory input can potentially support vision through training and prediction.

  • The brain’s plasticity allows it to learn new languages and understand new data streams that are plugged directly into it, like infrared vision or weather/stock market data. With practice, the brain can make sense of these new inputs.

  • Researchers have given color-blind mice a gene for a human photopigment, allowing them to distinguish colors. This shows the brain can learn to “speak the language” of new sensory inputs.

  • Some humans have a genetic mutation giving them tetrachromatic vision (4 color receptors instead of 3), allowing them to distinguish more colors.

  • The brain is primarily an internally-generated system that runs on its own activity. Sensory inputs modulate this activity but are not the sole driver of perception.

  • Internal brain activity allows dreaming, imagination and hallucinations even without sensory inputs. Perception is based more on this internal activity than passive input from the senses.

  • Feedback loops and interconnection in the brain mean higher areas can drive lower areas, and different senses influence each other, challenging the idea of perception as a linear input-output process.

So in summary, the brain has more plasticity and internally-generated activity than traditionally recognized, allowing it to adapt to new inputs and generate perception based more on its own dynamics than passive sensory processing.

This passage discusses the concept of internal models in the brain and how they allow for predictive perception and behavior. Some key points:

  • The brain uses internal models of the physical world to predict sensory inputs ahead of time, like predicting where a fly ball will land in order to catch it. This predictive ability transcends simple stimulus-response.

  • Perception involves matching incoming sensory data to internal expectations or predictions generated by the brain’s models. Expectations influence what we see and hear.

  • Internal models were proposed as early as the 1940s to explain how perception works by generating and updating predictions rather than just passively absorbing data.

  • Donald MacKay’s 1956 model suggested visual cortex generates an internal model to anticipate retinal input, compares predictions to input, and refines its model based on differences.

  • Predictability allows behaviors to become unconscious, like bicycle riding. Consciousness arises when expectations are violated.

  • Time perception is constructed by the brain and does not accurately reflect external timing due to neural processing lag and integration of different sensory streams.

So in summary, the passage discusses how internal models allow for predictive, top-down perception and behavior rather than just reactive responses, and how this applies to concepts like catching balls,Tickling, perception of vision, and time.

The passage describes two examples of experts who have developed unconscious expertise in seemingly impossible tasks - chicken sexers in Japan who can instantly discern the sex of day-old chicks, and airplane spotters in Britain during WWII who could instantly identify incoming aircraft.

In both cases, the experts underwent extensive training that involved repeated observation and feedback, but could not explicitly explain how they performed their skills. The chicken sexers would look at a chick’s rear end and just know its sex, but couldn’t say what visual cues they used. Spotters tried to train others but failed to convey their strategies even to themselves.

This illustrates the “gap” between what our brains can unconsciously learn and perform through intensive training, versus what our conscious minds can verbally access and explain. Much of our skilled motor abilities and perceptions operate implicitly below the level of consciousness. This shows the limitations of conscious rational thought and the importance of unconscious processes in developing expertise.

The passage discusses how people can hold implicit or unconscious biases that they are unaware of. Through various experiments and tests, researchers have found ways to reveal implicit biases related to things like race, gender, religion and more.

One example given is a reaction time test where subjects have to categorize positive/negative words and photos of thin/overweight people into different categories. Reaction times can reveal unconscious biases if a subject is faster to categorize things they implicitly associate with each other.

Another method tracks mouse movements when subjects rate if they like or dislike different groups - subtle deviations in movement can indicate an initial unconscious bias before the conscious response.

The passage also discusses “implicit egotism”, where people tend to unconsciously prefer things that remind them of themselves, like preferring products with similar first letters to their own name. Shared birthdays can also make people view others more positively. Implicit egotism may even influence life choices like where one lives or their career path.

In summary, the passage is about how unconscious or implicit biases can influence behaviors and decisions in subtle ways that people may not be aware of through various experimental methods used to reveal them.

  • Studies have found small but statistically significant correlations between people’s occupations and the initial letters or substrings in their names, like roofers more likely having names starting with R and lawyers having names containing “law”. This highlights unconscious influences on our choices and behaviors.

  • Priming effects show that implicit memories are separate from and can influence behaviors even without explicit recollection. Seeing words before can prime you to complete partial words or judge previously seen faces as more attractive, without conscious memory of prior exposure.

  • The “mere exposure effect” and “illusion of truth effect” demonstrate how repeated exposure can increase preference and perceived truth via implicit memory influences, even when told the information is false.

  • People can implicitly learn patterns and sequences without conscious awareness, as seen through speeded reaction times, highlighting unconscious learning abilities.

  • Antoine Bechara’s studies found physiological signals like skin conductance responses indicated unconscious learning about risky decks of cards well before conscious realization, showing “hunches” can guide advantageous decisions via body states.

  • Implicit systems can operate independently of and even when explicit systems are damaged, as in prosopagnosics still showing skin conductance responses to familiar faces despite inability to consciously recognize them.

  • The unconscious brain has a lot of knowledge and skill that is not accessible to conscious awareness, like how to read or drive.

  • Consciousness plays a role in training the unconscious systems. Coaches consciously instruct tennis players on techniques, which the players then practice unconsciously until the skills are automatized.

  • Learning new skills requires conscious effort at first, but practice allows the brain to automate skills so they can be performed unconsciously and efficiently. Examples given are learning to ride a bike and perform specialized manual tasks.

  • Automatizing skills through practice burns the skills into the brain’s circuitry, allowing for maximum speed and energy efficiency when performing the task. This is why experts can perform complex tasks like chess very quickly with little conscious thought.

  • The brain’s ability to automate skills through practice and burn tasks into its circuitry is key to how it can master diverse skills and tasks for survival in an efficient manner. Tasks that were initially clumsy can be performed rapidly and automatically with training.

In summary, the passage discusses how the unconscious brain has vast knowledge not accessible to conscious thought, and how consciousness plays a role in training the unconscious systems to automatically perform complex skills through repeated practice. Automatization allows for high-speed, efficient information processing critical for tasks like athletic performance.

  • The passage discusses the concept of the umwelt, which refers to an organism’s subjective perception and experience of its environment based on its sensory capacities. Each species perceives only a small slice of physical reality according to its senses.

  • Humans can only see a tiny fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum. Other animals perceive additional wavelengths like ultraviolet or infrared that humans cannot. Our perception is limited by our biology.

  • We accept the reality presented by our umwelt and do not question whether there may be more outside of it. Someone blind from birth would not perceive their lack of vision as a “hole” - their reality does not include the concept of sight.

  • The umwelt represents an organism’s viewpoint, while the umgebung refers to the larger objective physical reality that extends beyond any one perspective. We are unaware of information outside our narrow perceptual bandwidth.

So in summary, the passage discusses how each organism’s subjective experience of the world, or umwelt, is limited to only a small slice of the full physical reality based on its sensory capabilities. We do not perceive what we cannot sense.

  • Synesthesia is a neurological condition where stimulation of one sense triggers anomalous experiences in another sense, like hearing colors or tasting textures. It results from increased cross-communication between sensory areas of the brain due to genetic factors.

  • Different people can experience reality in very different ways due to differences in brain wiring and functioning. Synesthetes, for example, see additional colors, textures, or spatial representations that others do not. Their subjective experience is just as valid as anyone else’s.

  • Non-synesthetes often assume extra sensory perceptions would be overwhelming, but synesthetes experience it as their normal reality. It does not drive them crazy any more than colors overwhelm those with normal vision.

  • Evolutionary psychology studies how the brain’s “software” evolved to solve ancestral problems through natural selection. Babies are not blank slates but come equipped with neural programs to reason about objects, numbers, other minds, and social interactions from birth.

  • Each individual’s “thought umwelt” or cognitive range is limited by their brain and evolution. We cannot conceive of thoughts far outside our evolved capacities, like perceiving new dimensions. Reality is more subjective than commonly assumed, actively constructed by the brain rather than passively recorded.

  • Infants can differentiate between animate and inanimate objects, assuming animate toys have internal states like intentions that they cannot see directly. They also make assumptions about adults’ intentions.

  • Babbling and gaze reading abilities are innate skills that develop early in infancy, showing human cognition is not a blank slate. Deaf children babble similarly to hearing children.

  • The brain has evolved specialized mechanisms for social cognition and interaction that help circumvent having to learn everything from limited input. These “social programs” allow for intuitions about other minds and social rules.

  • Experiments show people easily solve logical problems when framed in a social context involving rules about rights/obligations, even if they struggle with formally equivalent logic puzzles. This suggests the brain is wired specifically for social reasoning.

  • Instincts are complex innate behaviors that do not need to be learned. In humans, many instincts operate unconsciously and automatically, guiding behavior and cognition in specialized ways evolution has programmed. This “instinct blindness” means we have little conscious access to our hardwired cognitive programs.

  • William James argued humans may be more flexible than other animals precisely because we have more instincts at our disposal as cognitive tools, not fewer like traditionally thought. Our most fundamental instincts remain largely mysterious to conscious thought.

  • Traditional psychology has focused on uniquely human cognition and mental disorders, but many automatic and effortless behaviors require complex neural circuits, like sexual attraction, fearing darkness, empathy, arguing, jealousy, fairness, problem-solving, incest avoidance, and facial recognition.

  • These innate behaviors seem easy but actually rely on intricate neuronal networks that operate without conscious awareness. Introspection cannot access these hardwired programs.

  • Artificial intelligence made early progress on fact-based problems but struggled with “simple” tasks like walking, remembering locations, balancing, face recognition, and humor - things the human brain accomplishes easily with extensive circuitry.

  • Beauty and attraction result from neural programs tuned to signals of fertility, health, and genes - like youth, symmetric features, and waist-hip ratios. These programs evolved to guide reproduction and are remarkably consistent across individuals.

  • Visual cues like dilated pupils are unconsciously associated with attractiveness, though we lack conscious insight into these decision mechanisms. People also unconsciously rate briefly glimpsed faces as more attractive, due to evolutionary pressures around not missing reproductive opportunities.

  • Concepts like alcohol can unconsciously prime and enhance perceived attractiveness through associations with sex hardwired in our neural circuits. Innate behaviors adapt to contexts like signals of estrus in other mammals.

  • Human females do not explicitly signal when they are fertile like some other primates, but subtle cues like appearance and smell can unconsciously advertise fertility levels. Women are perceived as most beautiful around the time of peak fertility.

  • A study of strip club dancers found they earned significantly more tips during peak fertility times, suggesting their fertility cues were influencing customers unconsciously. Dancers on birth control did not see the same earnings peak.

  • Beyond attractiveness, human pheromones may influence mate choice by unconsciously signaling genetic compatibility. A study found women preferred the body odor of men with dissimilar immune gene variants, similar to how mice choose mates.

  • Pheromones may also influence social bonding behaviors. Research on mice found opioid receptor genes control their attachment to mothers - without these genes, they did not prefer their mother’s scent.

  • Monogamy in some species like prairie voles is influenced by hormones like vasopressin released during sex that promote partner bonding. Research suggests similar hormone systems may play a role in human relationships unconsciously.

  • In 2006, actor Mel Gibson was arrested for drunk driving in Malibu. During the arrest, he made inflammatory and anti-Semitic remarks to the arresting officer.

  • Gibson initially apologized for his behavior but faced criticism for not specifically acknowledging his anti-Semitic slurs. He later issued a second apology directly addressing the Jewish community.

  • There was debate over whether Gibson’s remarks revealed his true beliefs or were simply a product of intoxication. Some argued alcohol removes inhibitions and exposes underlying views, citing sayings like “in vino veritas.” Others argued alcohol can cause people to say dumb things that don’t reflect their real character.

  • A TV producer drank alcohol to Gibson’s level but did not have anti-Semitic feelings, questioning the idea it reveals one’s true self. An addiction psychologist also disputed alcohol acts as a truth serum.

  • Gibson’s situation highlighted the complex debate around how much intoxication shapes versus reveals a person’s actual beliefs and underlying personality. Reasonable people disagreed on which was the case for Gibson.

  • Mel Gibson spent time at the house of his friend, Jewish film producer Dean Devlin, the day before his arrest for drunk driving.

  • Devlin stated that Gibson becomes a “completely different person” when drunk, and it’s “pretty horrifying.” However, Devlin also noted that if Gibson was antisemitic, it makes no sense that he spends so much time with Devlin and his Jewish wife.

  • There are conflicting views of Gibson - those in which he made antisemitic comments while drunk, and those in which he expresses remorse and reaches out to the Jewish community.

  • Some people view human nature as having a single true side and the rest being false. But the brain contains many neural subpopulations, as Whitman said we “contain multitudes.”

  • It’s possible to have both racist and non-racist parts of the brain. Gibson’s actions while drunk don’t necessarily determine his “true” self, and the complexity of the human brain allows for conflicting tendencies. Both his critics and defenders may be oversimplifying in claiming one characterization is completely true.

The passage draws an analogy between how the human brain functions and how consensus is built in a jury trial or political cabinet. It proposes that the brain contains competing factions or systems that debate and influence each other, like competing political parties, in order to reach a decision.

The two main competing systems in the brain are identified as the emotional system and the rational system. The emotional system monitors internal states like hunger and rewards, while the rational system analyzes external events in the world. These systems are always in tension with each other.

This dynamic is illustrated through the trolley dilemma ethical thought experiment. When presented hypothetically, people reason it’s better to divert a trolley to kill one person rather than five. But when the scenario involves directly pushing a person, emotional networks activate and people refuse, showing how emotions can override rational cost-benefit analysis.

Different regions of the brain have been shown to activate depending on whether a problem engages emotional closeness or remains impersonal. The chapter aims to explore how these competing systems interact and how imbalances can lead to issues, presenting the brain as a “team of rivals.”

The story describes a man receiving money from a stranger in exchange for a box. The man is puzzled about what will happen next after the stranger takes the box and gives it to someone else far away that the man doesn’t know.

The passage then discusses how modern technology allows people to take actions from a distance without direct social or emotional consequences. For example, military leaders can launch deadly missiles remotely without directly harming others. This lack of proximity reduces the emotional influence on decision-making and makes horrific actions seem impersonal and easy.

In contrast, our evolution shaped us to only interact directly with others within physical reach. This direct interaction engaged our emotions and made the consequences of our actions feel more salient. Distant, impersonal interactions bypass this emotional system that guides moral behavior. The story highlights how removing this emotional influence through physical and social distance can enable disturbing actions.

  • World religions effectively tap into emotional networks in the brain, making them difficult to override with rational arguments alone. Attempts by the Soviet Union to suppress religion met only partial success, as religious practices resurged once restrictions lifted.

  • Ancient writings described the body as having conflicting short-term (“guf”) and long-term (“nefesh”) desires, similar to the modern concept of an “inner pigdog” wrestling between impatience and delayed gratification.

  • Our behavior results from the ongoing negotiation between these systems. However, the brain can develop meta-awareness of these internal interactions and even negotiate with its future selves through “Ulysses contracts.”

  • The story of Ulysses tying himself to the mast to resist the Sirens’ song exemplifies proactively binding one’s future options. Examples of modern Ulysses contracts include precommitting savings in Christmas clubs or choosing lower tax withholdings.

  • Weight loss commitment contracts also work this way, pitting present and future selves against each other. Medical advance directives similarly bind a future self that may have different preferences than the present one.

  • Ethics boards can also act as advocates for the future rational self in cases where a recent trauma has overwhelmed a patient’s decision-making capacity in the present moment. Their role is to prevent a one-sided takeover by current emotions.

  • The passage discusses examples of competing systems within the brain, including rational vs emotional systems and the two hemispheres acting as somewhat independent systems, as shown through split-brain surgery experiments.

  • Memory is another example, as different areas of the brain (hippocampus and amygdala) can lay down overlapping memories of the same event in slightly different ways. Motion detection is also handled by multiple competing models/strategies in different brain regions.

  • The brain often has redundant ways of solving problems, rather than a single solution. Biology innovates new variations continually through random mutation, rather than having a single “master programmer” that ceases development once a solution is found.

  • This leads to highly overlapping systems within the brain, with different factions solving similar tasks through alternative approaches. The brain can be viewed as a “neural democracy” with competing systems, rather than a singular way of functioning. Biology reinvents solutions ongoingly rather than declaring a problem fully solved.

  • The team-of-rivals framework suggests the brain has multiple, overlapping solutions to problems rather than distinct areas specialized for single functions. This makes the brain robust and able to cope if parts are damaged.

  • Redundancy provides cognitive reserve, allowing some people to show no Alzheimer’s symptoms even with neural damage. Like a handyman with multiple tools.

  • Removing brain areas can reveal “blindsight” - unconscious vision despite damaged visual cortex. Subcortical areas still process visual information without consciousness.

  • Early ideas of phrenology that assigned discrete functions to brain areas have been disproven. Neuroimaging also risks oversimplifying by localizing functions. The brain uses distributed and overlapping networks.

  • Alien hand syndrome shows the brain continuously works to reconcile conflicting programs run by different hemispheres. It normally keeps “alien” unconscious processes from interfering with behavior, showing control is an active process.

  • The passage discusses how the brain fabricates stories and narratives to explain our thoughts, behaviors, and experiences. It gives examples from split-brain patients and neurological conditions like anosognosia.

  • Split-brain experiments showed that when one hemisphere makes a choice, the other hemisphere will quickly invent a story to explain it, even if it lacks the actual information or awareness for why the choice was made.

  • Anosognosia causes patients to deny physical impairments like paralysis even when they are clearly evident. The brain continues to construct narratives that ignore or make excuses for contradicting evidence.

  • Different brain regions monitor for logical inconsistencies, but damage can impair this conflict monitoring. Cases like Mrs. G. showed how the brain can get “locked up” and fail to resolve contradictory information or notices about one’s own perceptions or actions.

  • The passage argues that fabricating coherent narratives is a key function of the brain in order to make sense of our experiences and actions even when things don’t logically add up due to unconscious processes or neurological impairment.

  • Consciousness exists to control and coordinate the various “zombie” systems and automated subroutines in the brain. These subroutines solve problems and handle tasks like motor skills, but someone needs to oversee them and resolve conflicts or issues.

  • Consciousness acts like a CEO, setting higher-level directions and assigning tasks when needed. But it doesn’t micromanage or need to understand the detailed workings of each subroutine.

  • When everything is going smoothly according to expectations, consciousness is not actively involved. But it kicks in when something unexpected occurs or the subroutines cannot handle a situation on their own.

  • Simple, routine tasks like driving or opening a door become fully automated through practice. We are unaware of performing them because the brain expects what will happen. But consciousness would become involved if something unexpected altered the routine, like a missing stop sign.

  • Early in learning a new skill, consciousness is heavily involved. But it can hand control over to subroutines through practice, freeing up attention for other tasks. Playing a familiar video game becomes nearly unconscious.

So in summary, consciousness acts as a supervisor or problem-solver of last resort for the automated zombie systems in the brain. It’s involved mainly when things go wrong or are new/unexpected.

  • The passage discusses consciousness from an evolutionary perspective, arguing that cognition requires flexibility which enables solving novel problems, but comes at the cost of lengthy childrearing.

  • It proposes that consciousness exists on a spectrum rather than being binary - animals have varying degrees of consciousness parallel to their intellectual flexibility and ability to arbitrate between competing subroutines/goals.

  • Simple animals may appear as just bundles of hardwired programs that conflict, like a gull responding aggressively and maternally to a red egg. More conscious animals can mediate conflicts and learn new behaviors.

  • Keeping secrets indicates conflict between parts of the brain that want to reveal something versus withhold it. Understanding secrets requires seeing the brain as comprised of competing parties, not just programs.

  • Telling secrets reduces stress by resolving internal conflicts, explaining why strangers are popular confidants. This team-of-rivals framework could help advance artificial intelligence by incorporating differing opinions and solutions that compete similar to the brain.

  • Actions offer protection against cognitive decline through building cognitive reserve and clever problem solving through unexpected approaches.

  • The best approach is to have multiple overlapping ways to solve a problem, rather than trying to think of a single perfect solution. An evolutionary approach of randomly generating programs that can reproduce with small mutations allows for continuously discovering solutions.

  • Biological systems have evolved to take advantage of having multiple competing factions or “teams of rivals” attacking a problem in different ways, rather than assuming there is one best way. Technology has not yet adopted this approach.

  • The conscious mind views itself as a single decision maker but we are actually made up of many competing subsystems. Our actions are driven by these hardwired systems rather than conscious choice.

  • Behavior emerges from the competition among internal systems, so there may not be a single “true self.” Factors like alcohol can tip the balance among systems.

  • If we lack control over internal mental processes, this raises questions about responsibility for actions influenced by these competing subsystems. Adopting a biologically inspired “team of rivals” approach could help address issues of predictability, sustained effort over time, and flexibility.

  • The amygdala is involved in emotional regulation, especially fear and aggression. Damage to the amygdala in the late 1800s was found to cause emotional and social disturbances. Further studies in monkeys in the 1930s showed that amygdala damage led to lack of fear, blunted emotions, and overreactions.

  • In 1966, Charles Whitman killed 13 people from the University of Texas tower in a shooting rampage. After he was killed, an autopsy found a tumor in his amygdala. This discovery suggested the tumor may have affected his behavior and emotions.

  • Such cases raise philosophic questions about culpability and blame if someone’s behavior changes due to biological factors like brain tumors they have no control over. While it mitigates blame, it also wouldn’t be right to conclude people with tumors are free from guilt for their crimes.

  • Other examples show changes in the brain can dramatically alter behaviors like sexual interests, as in cases of pedophilia emerging after brain surgery, and increased risk-taking like gambling emerging as a side effect of some Parkinson’s medications. This illustrates how hidden drives can emerge when the brain is compromised.

  • Factors like childhood abuse, neglect, toxins and brain injuries can negatively influence brain development in ways that affect decision-making and behavior later in life. People’s brains and capacities are not all equal.

This passage discusses how people do not choose their own developmental paths and starting points, which are influenced by genetic and environmental factors they have no control over. Things like in utero exposure to drugs, lead poisoning, abuse, and genes can predispose people to behave in certain ways and think differently. Their brains develop differently as a result.

It argues we cannot directly compare ourselves to criminals and assume we would not do the same things, because we did not experience the same developmental influences they did. Our genes and environments shape the kind of people we can become. About half the population carries a particular set of genes linked to dramatically increased risks of violent crime.

The concepts of free will and personal responsibility are problematic when people did not choose the factors that shaped their brain development. While this understanding does not absolve criminals, it suggests our legal system needs to change its reasons for punishment and opportunities for rehabilitation when considering modern brain science. There are open questions about whether choice is truly available given our biological nature, yet free will is still assumed in the legal system.

  • Tourette’s syndrome provides an example where behavior occurs without free will. People with Tourette’s shout inappropriate things involuntarily due to motor tics and vocal outbursts.

  • Other examples include psychogenic disorders where limbs move involuntarily and alien hand syndrome where one hand contradicts the other’s actions. The person has no control over these behaviors.

  • Complex behaviors like homicide can also occur without conscious control or intention, as shown by the case of Kenneth Parks who killed his mother-in-law while sleepwalking. EEG readings confirmed he suffered from a severe sleep disorder.

  • These examples illustrate that high-level behaviors can happen without free will, just like autonomic functions like breathing and blinking. The brain appears to be an entirely causal system with no non-physical or independent component that could represent free will.

  • Libet’s experiments found brain activity leading up to a voluntary movement began over a second before the person was conscious of deciding to move. This suggests decisions are made unconsciously before we are aware of them. While people may have veto power, there is no evidence this too would not be determined by prior neural activity.

  • The passage discusses the question of free will and how science has yet to conclusively prove or disprove its existence. While classical physics describes a deterministic universe, quantum physics introduces randomness but does not equate to free will either. Chaos theory describes unpredictable but still deterministic systems.

  • The existence or nonexistence of free will matters for how we assign culpability in legal cases. However, the passage argues that free will, if it exists, only plays a small role given the enormous complex biological and neural factors that influence behavior.

  • The “principle of sufficient automatism” is proposed - that the answer to free will does not really matter, as human behavior operates almost regardless of voluntary control. All acts cannot be separated from an individual’s underlying biology.

  • This shifts the focus from blame to recognizing the biological and neurological roots of behaviors and mental disorders. Effective pharmaceutical treatments show many disorders have physical causes in the brain. The conceptual framework is moving from dividing issues into “brain problems” vs. “mind problems” to recognizing most have organic, biological underpinnings.

The passage discusses the limitations of using blameworthiness as the determining factor in criminal cases. As neuroscience advances, it is becoming clearer that human behavior is strongly influenced by biological factors like genetics, brain injuries, neurotransmitter imbalances, etc.

While neuroimaging technology can detect some large-scale brain abnormalities, it lacks the resolution to understand individual-level neural circuitry or precisely explain behavior. Still, abnormalities are likely present even if undetectable. Considering this, it no longer makes sense to distinguish between a person’s “biology” and their “decision making” - the two are inseparable.

Rather than focusing on blame, the legal system should take a forward-looking approach focused on risk assessment and rehabilitation. Sentencing should be based on the likelihood of recidivism, with some high-risk individuals needing longer detention to protect society. As neuroscience improves its ability to predict behavior, it can help determine the best interventions and release timelines for different offenders. The goal should be protecting public safety rather than assigning blame.

Here is a summary of the key points about the scientific approach to sentencing sex offenders:

  • In the past, psychiatrists and parole boards had little predictive accuracy in determining which sex offenders would reoffend after release, performing about as well as coin flipping.

  • Researchers then took a more actuarial/statistical approach, measuring dozens of risk factors for over 22,500 sex offenders and tracking reoffense rates over 5 years.

  • This allowed them to develop statistical risk assessment tools that had much greater predictive power than clinical judgment alone. Factors like relationship history, abuse history, substance abuse, remorse, and deviant interests correlated with reoffense rates.

  • These actuarial risk assessments are now widely used in court to help determine appropriate sentencing lengths, allowing evidence and statistics to guide decisions more than subjective intuitions or impressions.

  • Ongoing advances in neuroscience may further improve predictive accuracy by adding factors like neuroimaging data to risk assessment models. However, human behavior will always remain unpredictable due to complex gene-environment interactions.

So in summary, the key change was moving from clinical judgment to evidence-based statistical risk assessment tools, informed by large datasets, to make sentencing more customized and forward-thinking rather than relying on intuitions alone.

  • The passage describes techniques for strengthening prefrontal cortex circuits to help control cravings and impulses. It involves visualizing activity in brain regions involved in craving while practicing techniques to inhibit that activity, strengthening cortical control.

  • This helps establish a balance between impulse areas and reasoning areas of the brain, allowing reflection before action. Developing prefrontal control is part of maturation as these regions aren’t fully formed until the early 20s.

  • Damage to the prefrontal cortex can “unmask” underlying impulsive behaviors. Training helps enhance long-term decision making abilities by giving the prefrontal cortex more influence over behavior.

  • While not a perfect solution, this approach respects individual rights and freedom of thought while aiming to prevent impulsive thoughts from leading to harmful actions through enhanced self-control and reflection.

  • The goal is rehabilitation rather than punishment. Popular opinion favors retribution but policy should be based on the best scientific understanding of human behavior and capacity for change.

  • Humans are not truly equal as policy assumes - there is natural variability in traits. A spectrum-based approach could better tailor legal responses to individual capacities and needs.

  • The passage argues that instead of basing punishment decisions on notions of blameworthiness and intentions, the legal system should assess an individual’s “modifiability” - their capacity to modify their behavior and be rehabilitated in response to incentives or consequences.

  • It suggests sentencing and punishment could be tailored based on neuroscientific assessments of brain plasticity and an individual’s ability to change their behavior through conditioning. Those with high neuroplasticity who are modifiable would receive harsher punishments aimed at rehabilitation.

  • Those with low plasticity or neurological conditions that make them less able to modify their behaviors, like psychosis, sociopathy or frontal lobe damage, should not receive punitive actions as there is no point or purpose to trying to rehabilitate them through punishment. They should simply be incapacitated.

  • The goal is to replace folk intuitions about blameworthiness and intent with a fairer, evidence-based approach aligned with neuroscience. This could shift the focus from retribution to prevention, rehabilitation and understanding how to incentivize good behaviors. Punishment would aim at modification of future behaviors rather than just retribution.

  • An individual’s past experiences or neurobiology would not excuse crimes, but help structure rational, effective sentencing focused on rehabilitation or incapacitation depending on modifiability rather than notions of blame or intent.

  • Over the past few centuries, science has repeatedly “dethroned” human notions of our centrality and importance in the universe. The Church’s revised estimate of the Earth’s age made it much older. Darwin showed humans were just another animal. Quantum mechanics upended ideas of reality. DNA decoding revealed the basis of life. Neuroscience showed the conscious mind is not in control.

  • These discoveries led some philosophers like Camus to question whether life has any meaning if humans are insignificant in the vast cosmos. Others struggled with the “psychological disorders” caused by humanity’s loss of a “special assigned status.”

  • However, the author argues that dethroning human notions often opens up greater understandings. While we lost egocentrism, we gained surprise, wonder and progress. Scientific advances like quantum theory and genetics have brought major benefits.

  • A deeper understanding of the brain also allows improved social policies by revealing aspects of human behavior and decision-making. This can help structure incentives and rehabilitation in areas like diets, savings, and criminal justice. Understanding the “team of rivals” in the brain offers new insights into philosophical concepts like virtue.

  • In summary, while dethronements were unsettling, the author believes they tend to replace old limited ideas with bigger realities and more productive understanding, rather than leaving humans with nothing.

  • The passage discusses how advances in neurobiology may lead to improvements in social policy and criminal justice, moving from a retrospective approach that assigns blame to a prospective approach aimed at rehabilitation.

  • It then transitions to discussing what these advances mean for understanding ourselves. While neuroscience can provide insights, true self-knowledge is difficult due to limitations of introspection and lack of access to much of our own brain and unconscious processes.

  • It uses the example of Phineas Gage, who had a rod pass through his brain, to illustrate how brain damage can change a person’s personality and behavior, demonstrating the link between physical brain structure and attributes like temperament.

  • However, it cautions that just having biological knowledge of the brain does not equate to truly understanding things like emotions, relationships, arts, etc. More context is needed beyond just the raw biology.

  • In summary, neuroscience can complement but not replace introspection in the quest for self-knowledge. Both external biological insights and internal reflection are needed due to the complex links between physical brain and non-physical attributes of the mind/self.

  • Phineas Gage’s personality was radically changed after his brain injury, indicating that one’s essence and character are dependent on the physical structure and function of the brain.

  • Many other cases since then of brain injuries, strokes, tumors, etc. have produced similar changes to personality and abilities, showing the central role of the brain.

  • This leads to a key debate between whether there is an extra-biological soul separate from the physical brain, or whether personality and character emerge from the complex physical systems of the brain. Neuroscience evidence tends to support the latter view.

  • Factors like drugs, neurotransmitters, hormones and specific brain circuits can profoundly influence cognition, emotion, behavior and even one’s sense of self by interacting with neural systems in subtle ways. This demonstrates how sensitive and dependent personality and character are on underlying biology.

  • The idea of a “self” may be somewhat fluid depending on biological and chemical fluctuations that are outside of conscious awareness or control. Who we take ourselves to be is shaped by intricate physical factors in the brain.

  • Joan of Arc heard voices that she attributed to religious experiences. Her reports of increasing religiosity and ongoing voices are consistent with temporal lobe epilepsy. Anti-epileptic medication can treat seizures and cause voices to disappear, showing the role of biology in such experiences.

  • Even tiny organisms like viruses and bacteria can influence behavior. The rabies virus changes activity in the temporal lobe of infected animals’ brains, inducing aggression and biting to spread from host to host. Microscopic changes in the brain can lead to large changes in behavior.

  • Genetic mutations like those causing Huntington’s disease can also alter personality traits and behavior years before other symptoms appear, showing the role of genes. Changes to even a single gene can dramatically transform a person.

  • Our essence depends greatly on our biology. Things like narcotics, neurotransmitters, hormones, microbes, and genes can all impact behavior by altering brain function in invisible ways. Biology plays a clear role in determining who we become.

  • A study of baby monkeys found that 20% showed social anxiety in novel social situations, correlating with elevated stress hormone levels. 5% were overly aggressive with impulsive behavior and low levels of a serotonin metabolite.

  • Genetics played a role - monkeys with a “short” allele for a serotonin transporter protein showed poor behavioral control, while those with a “long” allele were normal. However, environment also mattered - short-allele monkeys reared by mothers were well-adjusted, while those raised with peers were aggressive.

  • Human studies found depression risk depended on both genes and environment. People with a “short-short” serotonin gene combination were more likely to become depressed after stressful life events.

  • Childhood abuse alone did not predict if one would become abusive as an adult. Expression of a certain gene, combined with abuse, increased the likelihood of conduct disorders and violence.

  • Susceptibility to psychosis after teen cannabis use depended on genetic variation. Antisocial personality disorder likelihood increased with brain abnormalities combined with adverse environment.

  • Personality is determined not by biology or environment alone, but their complex interaction. Reductionism is an oversimplification - emergence means the whole can be greater than the sum of parts.

  • Emergent properties refer to new phenomena that arise from the interaction of individual parts but are not inherent to the parts themselves. Things like traffic flow or humor emerge from complex systems and cannot be reduced to or explained by examining their constituent pieces in isolation.

  • Understanding complex systems like traffic or the human mind requires analyzing higher-level descriptions and factors like driver psychology or human desires/emotions rather than lower-level details like car mechanics.

  • While the integrity of parts is important, the parts themselves do not fully define or explain the system. Neuroscience may elucidate brain mechanics but won’t necessarily explain consciousness, just as analyzing TV components won’t explain humor in The Simpsons.

  • The brain is influenced by and interacts with broader biological and social systems, so it alone cannot define the human experience. Factors like nutrition, environment, social interactions are also important.

  • A complete understanding of the mind may require new conceptual frameworks beyond just chemistry and physics. Connections between neuroscience, consciousness and theoretical concepts like quantum mechanics deserve open exploration rather than dismissal.

  • We should be cautious about claims of imminent scientific explanations and acknowledge major questions remain unsolved due to lack of full knowledge about relevant factors like potential invisible structures or phenomena. Keeping many possibilities “in the filing cabinet of ideas” is important.

  • Scientists often appeal to parsimony or Occam’s razor in arguing that the simplest explanation is likely correct, but this has failed many times in the past. Examples given are that it was previously thought the sun orbits Earth, atoms obey classical mechanics at small scales, and we perceive objective reality.

  • Arguments from parsimony often shut down interesting discussion and should not be seen as guarantees. Scientific problems are rarely definitively solved.

  • Most neuroscientists currently subscribe to materialism and reductionism, breaking problems down to smallest parts. But the brain’s subjective experience makes it uniquely complex, so we cannot assume this approach will definitely work.

  • Every past generation assumed they had the major tools to understand the universe, but were always proven wrong. Neuroscience may be no different - views could change dramatically in the future with new knowledge.

  • The brain remains immensely complex and poorly understood. While materialism could turn out to be correct, it should remain an open question rather than a presumption based on parsimony arguments. Our current theories will inevitably be outdated someday.

Cognize as cousins to punch cards refers to how early computer hardware and programming was analogus to punch cards. Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace are credited with developing the concepts of software and hardware separation, but Gottfried Leibniz anticipated the modern digital computer in the 17th century. He envisioned a calculus machine that used a gate array of holes that could be opened or closed to represent 1s and 0s, allowing marbles to pass through and be counted - essentially anticipating the basic function of a modern binary computer.

The testimony of the senses describes how vision, touch, hearing and other senses can be fallible and incomplete. Our perception is limited by change blindness, blind spots, errors from unconscious inferences, and expectations shaped by internal models. Sensory substitution experiments show the brain’s plasticity, with blind people able to ‘see’ shapes through a tactile display on the tongue.

The chapter on mind discusses memory and implicit versus explicit knowledge. It references studies on change blindness and the limits of conscious awareness and attention compared to unconscious processes. Internal models, predictions and forward modeling are proposed to explain how the brain integrates information over time and constructs a coherent perception of the world.

Here is a summary of the key points from the psychology passages:

  • Unconscious processes play a large role in human cognition and behavior. Priming effects can influence our implicit attitudes and decisions without conscious awareness.

  • Memory systems operate both consciously and unconsciously. Explicit memory requires conscious recollection, while implicit memory involves unconscious influences on behavior from prior experiences.

  • Perception is shaped both by innate properties of our sensory systems and learned experiences. Different species have distinct umwelts based on their evolved sensory capacities.

  • Psychological phenomena like synesthesia show how subtle differences in brain wiring can significantly alter subjective experience and mental representations.

  • Evolutionary psychology proposes that the human mind consists of domain-specific cognitive adaptations that evolved to solve problems of survival and reproduction. Cognitive functions reflect adaptations to physical and social environments over evolutionary history.

  • Male preferences for female physical traits like youth, symmetry and waist-to-hip ratio appear to correlate with signs of fertility and genetic quality, suggesting these preferences may have evolutionary origins linked to reproductive success.

  • Unconscious processes play an underappreciated role in judgment and decision-making. Primes, intuition and emotional factors can significantly influence our rational decisions outside of conscious awareness.

Here is a summary of the key points from the source:

  • The article discusses the brain as composed of competing subsystems or agents that specialize in different tasks, drawing on ideas from Marvin Minsky’s “society of mind” theory.

  • It compares this type of distributed, loosely coupled “society” architecture to approaches like subsumption architecture that more tightly couple perception and action.

  • In the brain, multiple systems compete and cooperate to produce coherent behavior. Higher-level systems can inhibit or override lower-level ones.

  • Conflict between systems is seen as important for flexible, intelligent behavior. Systems like the emotional/irrational and rational/cognitive are viewed as competing but both contributing.

  • Memories may not be neatly categorized but involve overlapping mechanisms that are continually reinforced, leading to robust but unpredictable behaviors in real patients.

  • The brain likely employs multiple, parallel solutions for tasks like motion detection rather than a single mechanism. This produces redundancy and flexibility compared to modular, specialized models.

In summary, it presents the brain as a “democracy of mind” where distributed, overlapping specialized subsystems compete and cooperate dynamically to yield intelligent behavior. Conflict and reinforcement between systems over time leads to robustness.

  • The passage discusses debates around where in the visual system adaptation or the motion aftereffect occurs. Experiments have shown it happens at multiple levels - some areas adapt quickly, others slowly, allowing the brain to both sensitively track changes and maintain stability.

  • Similarly, memories are theorized to be stored at multiple time scales in the brain, from quick to stable long-term memories, through interactions between systems. This makes older memories more durable.

  • In biology, the brain can be viewed as a Darwinian system, where stimuli resonate with random neural circuits, strengthening them, while others fade if unused. This is compatible with the idea of multiple competing factions (“team of rivals”) in the brain congress.

  • It discusses how hypnosis can eliminate the Stroop effect, raising questions about reducing internal conflicts. It also discusses theories of dreaming content and debates around dream explanation.

  • In summarizing the team-of-rivals framework, it notes this does not solve all of AI, and more work is needed to understand how to control and update complex neural systems, as seen in the human frontal lobes.

  • Biological stories about human behavior have been misused in the past to support agendas, so any use of neuroscience or biology to inform law requires appropriate caution. However, past misuse does not mean these studies should be abandoned, only improved.

  • Gene-environment interactions are important to consider. Certain genes may increase susceptibility to environmental factors like childhood abuse or trauma leading to problems like violence later in life. However, genetic variability is also beneficial for a society.

  • Understanding these interactions could potentially inform preventative approaches, but directly modifying genes poses major ethical concerns due to lack of understanding of what genetic combinations are most beneficial. Protecting children from abusive environments through social means has historically been a better approach than hypothetically “vaccinating” against genes.

  • Overall, neuroscience and biological studies of human behavior should be improved and developed carefully with input from fields like ethics and law. They offer potential insights if done responsibly, but must avoid past misuses and oversimplifications of human nature and behavior. Both biological and social factors are important to consider.

  • Genes predisposing for aggressiveness or violence may lead to successful careers like entrepreneurship, CEO positions, or being a football hero if channeled properly.

  • Reinventing the Sacred by Kauffman discusses this relationship between neuroscience and philosophical/religious ideas.

  • There is a potential relationship between neuroscience and quantum mechanics, though the brain is at a higher temperature than typically allows for quantum effects. However, photosynthesis uses quantum effects at similar temperatures, so the brain may as well.

  • Einstein felt that our perception of time as distinct categories of past, present and future was an illusion based on psychological filters.

  • Several papers are cited that discuss possible quantum effects in the brain or the relationship between neuroscience and quantum mechanics.

  • The passage criticizes viewing the differences between disciplines as “gaps” and instead calls for meaningful collaboration and acknowledgment of insights from each side.

Here are the summaries of the cited papers in alphabetical order by first author:

Cummings, J. 1995. “Behavioral and psychiatric symptoms associated with Huntington’s disease.” This paper discusses the behavioral and psychiatric symptoms associated with Huntington’s disease.

Cytowic, R. E. 1998. The Man Who Tasted Shapes. This book examines a man who experiences synesthesia, in which he tastes shapes.

Cytowic, R. E., and D. M. Eagleman. 2009. Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia. This book explores the neurological basis of synesthesia.

Damasio, A. R. 1985. “The frontal lobes.” This paper examines the functions of the frontal lobes.

Damasio, A. R. 1994. Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain. This book argues emotions play a central role in rational decision making.

Damasio, A. R. 1999. The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. This book examines the role of emotions and body states in consciousness.

de Gelder, B., et al. 1999. “The combined perception of emotion from voice and face.” This paper investigates how humans integrate emotional cues from voices and faces.

Dennett, D. C. 1991. Consciousness Explained. This book attempts to explain consciousness from a neurological and computational perspective.

Dennett, D. C. 2003. Freedom Evolves. This book examines the evolutionary origins of human free will.

Devinsky, O., and G. Lai. 2008. “Spirituality and religion in epilepsy.” This paper discusses the relationship between spirituality, religion and epilepsy.

Diamond, J. 1999. Guns, Germs, and Steel. This book examines why some human societies have historically had greater political and economic power than others.

Eagleman, D. M. 2001. “Visual illusions and neurobiology.” This paper discusses how visual illusions relate to neurobiology.

Eagleman, D. M. 2009. Sum: Tales from the Afterlives. This book consists of short stories about possible afterlives.

Eagleman, D. M., and S. Cheng. 2011. “Is synesthesia one condition or many?” This paper examines whether synesthesia should be considered a single condition or multiple conditions.

Freeman, J. B., et al. 2008. “Will a category cue attract you?” This paper investigates how motor behavior reflects dynamic social categorizations.

Freud, S. and J. Breuer. 1895. Studien über Hysterie. This book presents case studies of hysteria and helps establish the psychoanalytic theory of psychotherapy.

Here is a summary of the citations provided:

  • Goldberg, E. 2001 discusses the frontal lobes and their role in civilized thought and behavior.

  • Goodenough, O. R. 2004 responds to issues around responsibility and punishment in regard to whose mind/perspective should be considered.

  • Goodwin, D. Kearns 2005 examines the political genius of Abraham Lincoln through his managing of rival politicians.

  • Gould, S. J. 1994 briefly discusses the evolution of life on Earth.

  • Graf and Schacter 1985 and 1987 examine implicit and explicit memory for new associations in normal vs amnesic subjects, and how interference affects these memory types.

  • Greene et al 2004 papers explore the neural bases of moral judgment and how neuroscience relates/does not relate to legal issues.

  • Greenwald et al 1998 introduces the Implicit Association Test for measuring individual differences in implicit cognition.

  • Several sources discuss vision/visual processing, memory, moral psychology, evolution, unconscious processes, motor control, neuroscience and the law, and other topics in cognitive science and neuroscience.

Here are the summaries of the papers:

  • Libet, B. 2000. The Volitional Brain: Towards a Neuroscience of Free Will. Charlottesville, VA: Imprint Academic.

This paper discusses research towards developing a neuroscience understanding of free will.

  • Lim, M., et al. 2004. “Enhanced partner preference in a promiscuous species by manipulating the expression of a single gene.” Nature 429: 754–57.

This paper shows that manipulating the expression of a single gene can enhance partner preferences in a promiscuous species.

  • Livnat, A., and N. Pippenger. 2006. “An optimal brain can be composed of conflicting agents.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103: 3198–3202

This paper proposes that an optimal brain can be composed of conflicting agents or modules that compete with each other.

  • Llinas, R. 2002. I of the Vortex. Boston: MIT Press.

This is a book that discusses neuroscience research and theories related to consciousness and the functioning of the brain.

Here are brief summaries of the papers:

  • Fan, Posner 2002: Studied how hypnotic suggestion can modulate Stroop interference, finding hypnotic suggestion reduced Stroop interference.

  • Reichenbach 1951: Outlines the rise of scientific philosophy.

  • Reitman et al. 1978: Discusses challenges of machine perception and why it is difficult for computers to see.

  • Rensink et al. 1997: Found that attention is needed to perceive changes in scenes.

  • Report to Governor 1966: Medical report on the Whitman catastrophe shooting in Texas.

  • Rhawn 2000: Book on neuropsychiatry, neuropsychology, and clinical neuroscience.

  • Ritter 2006: Transcript discussing emerging brain-scan lie detectors.

  • Roberts et al. 2004: Found female facial attractiveness increases during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle.

  • Robert et al. 2004: Found implicit affective associations to violence in psychopathic murderers.

  • Robinson et al. 2005: Discusses sociogenomics and studying social life at the molecular level.

  • Rose 1997: Book discussing biology, freedom, and determinism.

Here are summaries of the selected sources:

  • Welch, R. B., L. D. Duttonhurt, and D. H. Warren. 1986. This study investigated the contributions of audition and vision to the perception of temporal rate. The authors found that audition can dominate vision in determining perceptions of temporal rate.

  • Welch, R. B., and D. H. Warren. 1980. This work examined the immediate perceptual response when there is a discrepancy between intersensory information (e.g. what is seen vs what is heard). The authors identified systematic distortions in perception that occur in order to resolve such intersensory conflicts.

  • Wilson, T. 2002. This book explores the concept of the adaptive unconscious - how much of human behavior and decision making operates below the level of conscious awareness and intention. The author discusses how the adaptive unconscious has evolved to help promote survival and reproductive fitness.

  • Winston, R. 2003. This book examines human instincts and how primeval urges still shape modern human lives. It discusses instincts related to attachment, rank/status, territory, nurturing offspring, sexuality and others.

  • Wheeler, H. R., and T. D. Cutsforth. 1921. This study examined the cognition and representation of numbers in a blind subject using simple geometric forms. It provided early insights into non-visual representations of abstract concepts.

  • Wojnowicz, M. T., et al. 2009. This work investigated how explicit attitudes can self-organize without intention or awareness. The authors presented evidence that attitudes automatically organize in relation to existing associative memory networks.

Here is a summary of the key terms:

  • Moniz, Egas - pioneered lobotomy as treatment for mental disorders

  • Montague, Read - wrote about multistable perception, quantum consciousness, reductionism

  • Montaigne, Michel de - wrote essays exploring human psychology

  • Müller, Johannes Peter - discovered eye’s blind spot, advanced understanding of visual system

  • Natural selection - Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection

  • Neuroscience - interdisciplinary field studying the nervous system and behavior

  • Neurotransmitter system - chemicals that transmit signals between neurons

  • Occam’s razor - principle that simplest explanation is usually correct

  • Quantum mechanics/physics - theories relevant to understanding consciousness

  • Raine, Adrian - researcher on biological bases of antisocial and criminal behavior

  • Ramachandran, Vilayanur - neurologist who studied phantom limb syndrome

  • Sentencing - evidence-based approach considers offender changeability

  • Split-brain patients - helped reveal independence of brain hemispheres

  • Team of rivals framework - mind composed of multiple interacting subsystems

  • Thoughts - influenced by genetics, environment, unconscious processes

  • Unconscious - Freud’s theory of unconscious mind and hidden mental processes

  • Vision - complex process involving retinal imaging and neural processing

  • Zombie systems - hypothesized autonomous subsystems in the mind/brain

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