Background Information



What exactly is consciousness? According to Crick and Koch (1998), "there are many forms of consciousness, such as those associated with seeing, thinking, emotion, pain, and so on. Self-consciousness — that is, the self-referential aspect of consciousness — is probably a special case of consciousness." Other ones include "rather unusual states, such as the hypnotic state, lucid dreaming, and sleep walking." Additionally, memories can be brought into consciousness.

Marvin Minsky, when asked about the relationship between emotions and consciousness, describes consciousness as "not a 'thing'; it is a just a word that we carelessly use for several different techniques. Their common feature is that in each type of consciousness, some parts of the brain describe what has recently happened in various other parts of the brain. The most common forms of this are recognized when those descriptions take the form of linguistic expressions or visual representations-but there are other ways for parts of the brain to represent what has happened in yet other parts of the brain. However, because we cannot describe all of these in the usual ways, then, paradoxically, we are 'unconscious' of some forms of consciousness! I'd say that this has not much to do with emotions, except that each emotion engages different mental resources, and hence different forms of descriptions."

Exploratorium researcher, Richard Brown, reacted cautiously, "The colloquial sense of identity implied when we talk about 'being in another body' doesn't literally correspond to the head versus the rest of the body; much of what we relegate to "body" is actually in our heads, and vice versa. For instance, many important sex hormones are exchanged between the brain and the body through the blood, not nerves."





"We talked to some important people."

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the Director