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My best understanding of Stapp’s theory and other rival ones is that quantum mechanics may provide some freedom of choice, a yes/no selection of options or brain states. If this is true, as I said, I’m delighted. It certainly breathes new air into the free will discussion, which the determinists have been winning.
... Here is a brief explanation of top down control from an article in the journal Neuron: ...
...Sperry writes that “the proposed brain model provides in large measure the mental forces and abilities to determine one’s own actions. It provides a high degree of freedom from outside forces as well as mastery over the inner molecular and atomic forces of the body. In other words, it provides plenty of free will as long as we think of free will as self-determination.”So, accordingly, a person does indeed determine with his own mind what he is going to do from a range of alternatives, but the ultimate choice is restricted by a variety of factors, including available information and mental acuity. Perhaps the ultimate form of free will would not be complete freedom from all causal factors but rather unlimited causal contact with all relevant information, scenarios, choices, and possible results.And, of course, our choices are in large part determined by our personal preferences, experiences, and cultural and inherited factors. It could be argued that this is a form of determinism, but do we really wish to be free from ourselves? As Arthur Schopenhauer wondered, “We may be free to do as we please, but are we free to please as we please?”With this conception of free will it could be argued that the more we learn, the wider the experience we gain, the more logical we become, the greater our knowledge of ourselves and of history, the more our sciences advance, the greater then the extent of true human freedom. However, an interesting experiment w
Roger Sperry & Split Brain Research://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SBA2X7ZQZk
However, an interestingexperiment was performed by a psychologist in the late 1980s that seems to have bearing on thesubject of free will and may imply a different conclusion.Benjamin Libet, at the University of California at San Francisco, asked subjects to push a button ata moment of their choosing while they noted the moment of their decision as displayed on a clock. Hefound that subjects on average took about a fifth of a second to flex their fingers after they haddecided to do so. But data from an electroencephalograph monitoring their brain waves showed aspike in electrical activity about a third of a second before they consciously decided to push thebutton. Some have interpreted this result as implying that our decisions may be unconsciouslydetermined for us before we are aware of the decision, and thus free will is only an illusion.Before we jump to this conclusion, however, we immediately recognize that we do not typicallymake our decisions the way these subjects arbitrarily decided to flex their fingers. Decisions onanything important are usually made by gathering information and mulling over the differentpossibilities and their implications.
The decision to push a button at the moment of our choosing, bycontrast, seems to involve waiting for the trivial urge to strike us, a rather random, indeterminateprocess.Libet himself believes that one implication of his work is an altered view of how we exercise freewill:The role of conscious free will would be, then, not to initiate a voluntary act, but rather to control whether the act takes place.We may view the unconscious initiatives for voluntary actions as “bubbling up” in the brain. The conscious-will then selectswhich of these initiatives may go forward to an action or which ones to veto or abort, with no act appearing. . . . The existenceof a veto possibility is not in doubt. The subjects in our experiments at times reported that a conscious wish or urge to actappeared but that they suppressed or vetoed that. . . . All of us, not just experimental subjects, have experienced our vetoing aspontaneous urge to perform some act. This often occurs when the urge to act involves some socially unacceptableconsequence, like an urge to shout some obscenity at the professor.33He also considers and rejects the possibility that the conscious veto itself may have its origin inpreceding unconscious processes, writing thatthe conscious veto is a control function, different from simply becoming aware of the wish to act.
There is no logical imperativein any mind-brain theory, even identity theory, that requires specific neural activity to precede and determine the nature of aconscious control function.
And, there is no experimental evidence against the possibility that the control process may appearwithout development by prior unconscious processes.
Popper would take this as another example of downward causation, as nonrandom selection from achoice of random alternatives: “The selection of a kind of behavior out of a randomly offeredrepertoire may be an act of choice, even an act of free will.”34 If quantum phenomena have any realeffect in the brain, then perhaps their random influences are accepted when they fit into the higherlevelstructure; otherwise they are rejected.But there is another interpretation, due to another of Libet’s experiments. In 1973 Libet found thatelectrical stimulation of the sensory cortex—that part of the brain’s surface primarily responsible forprocessing tactile information from the skin—did not result in conscious sensation unless thestimulation was prolonged for at least 500 milliseconds (0.5 second). The necessity of 500milliseconds of cortical stimulation before the signal was felt also held for stimulation of the skin: inboth cases, if the signal as recorded in the cortex was less than half a second long, it was notconsciously experienced. This does not mean that the signal at the skin must last half a second, butrather that the secondary signals at the surface of the brain must last at least half a second before theycan be consciously experienced.However, Libet found that patients experienced their finger shocks almost immediately, between 10and 20 milliseconds after the shock was applied. Typical reaction time—the time it takes to perceive ashock and push a button—is about 100 milliseconds (0.1 second). So how can Libet’s observation that500 milliseconds of neural activity is required before a shock can be felt be reconciled with the factthat we can perceive and respond to such shocks in about one-fifth the time they apparently require tobecome part of conscious experience?In a series of ingenious experiments involving electrical stimulation of both skin and cortex, Libetresolved this paradox. What appears to happen is that the tactile signal reaches the cortex in about 10milliseconds but is not consciously perceived. However, the arrival time is unconsciously marked insome manner. Then, if the cortical activity due to the skin response is not interrupted but allowed tocontinue for at least 500 milliseconds, the shock is felt. But it is not felt half a second late: rather, it is“backdated” to the original arrival time of the signal.
These surprising results seem to refute the idea that every mental experience is directly correlatedwith a physical process in the brain. Or, as neuroscientist John Eccles put it, “there can be a temporaldiscrepancy between neural events and the experiences of the self conscious mind.”v
Dean Radin takes this idea a step further: He notes that the equations of both classical and quantumphysics are neutral with respect to the direction of time and so do not rule out the possibility of futureevents causing events in the past. In addition, he has presented some experimental evidence thatindividuals can subconsciously react to future events.
At the University of Nevada, people were shown a series of pictures on a computer screen. Most ofthe images were of an emotionally calming nature, such as images of landscapes and various naturescenes, but some were meant to be arousing or disturbing, including pornographic photos and picturesof corpses. At the beginning of each trial, the screen was blank. The participant would start the trial bypressing a mouse button. After five seconds, one of these images, calm or emotional, was shown forthree seconds, and then the screen would go blank again. Ten seconds later, a message informedparticipants that they could press the mouse button again whenever they felt ready for the next trial.Five seconds after pressing the mouse button, another picture would be displayed, and the sessionwould continue until forty pictures had been shown. The order in which the pictures were displayedwas chosen randomly by the computer. Throughout the session the participants’ heart rate, skinresistance, and blood volume in the fingertips were monitored.Not surprisingly, dramatic changes in all three physiological measures were recorded when theemotional pictures were shown. But what was remarkable was that the arousal began before theemotional picture was displayed, even though the participants could not have known by any normalmeans what sort of picture was going to be displayed next. This effect, of unconsciously preparing fora reaction to an impending event, has been labeled “presentiment” and has been replicatedindependently by a laboratory in Holland.35As Radin notes, if we allow “for the possibility of signals traveling backward in time, then whatLibet saw [in the experiment involving deciding when to push a button] may be the brain’s response toits own decision taking place a third of a second in the future.”36 In other words, given the apparenttemporal discrepancy between neural events and the experiences of the self-conscious mind, thesubconscious mind may generate neural activity in order to prepare the brain for the execution of animpending decision. The second experiment described may be an example of the reverse: the mindmay experience and respond to a sensation because of a signal from the future state of the brain.
Why the Newtonian 19th Century outdated and superseded Materialism is False ? : Cheryl : This Nobel prize Winner Neurobiologist Roger Sperry might interest you , since you are so fond of neurobiology :
No, I can't explain the results of that experiment. I'd have to look at how it was done. You would expect some anticipatory spike in excitement before the next picture. And you'd have to make sure the participants had not figured out, consciously or subconsciously, any pattern in when a good or bad picture would be shown next.
Of course, this is just a hypothesis, a speculative model, but it seems to fit the data I've seen better than the other models I've seen, and it does account rather well for those disturbing moments of daily life where the illusion of conscious control is broken, such as when you 'find yourself' doing something you didn't intend to do, or when you do something but don't know why, or when you 'can't stop yourself' doing something, etc. (e.g. when you accidentally blurt out the 'wrong thing' - how can that happen if you're really in conscious control of what you say?).
Cheryl :"Mind-Body Interaction" :............In the brain model proposed here the causal potency of an idea, or an ideal, becomes just as real as that of a molecule, a cell, ora nerve impulse. Ideas cause ideas and help evolve new ideas. They interact with each other and with other mental forces in thesame brain, in neighboring brains, and thanks to global communication, in far distant, foreign brains. And they also interactwith the external surroundings to produce in toto a burstwise advance in evolution that is far beyond anything to hit theevolutionary scene yet.Mind-Body Interaction:Critics of mentalism and dualism often question how two fundamentally different properties, such asmind and matter, could possibly interact. How can something nonspatial, with no mass, location, orphysical dimensions, possibly influence spatially bound matter? As K. R. Rao writes:The main problem with such dualism is the problem of interaction. How does unextended mind interact with the extendedbody? Any kind of causal interaction between them, which is presumed by most dualist theories, comes into conflict with thephysical theory that the universe is a closed system and that every physical event is linked with an antecedent physical event.This assumption preempts any possibility that a mental act can cause a physical event.28Of course, we know now that the universe is not a closed system and that the collapse of the wavefunction—a physical event—is linked with an antecedent mental event. The objection Rao describes isof course based on classical physics.Furthermore, by asking “How does unextended mind interact with the extended body?” Rao ismaking the implicit assumption that phenomena that exist as cause and effect must have something incommon in order to exist as cause and effect. So is this a logical necessity? Or is it rather an empiricaltruth, a fact about nature? As David Hume pointed out long ago, anything in principle could be thecause of anything else, and so only observation can establish what causes what. Parapsychologist JohnBeloff considers the issue logically:If an event A never occurred without being preceded by some other event B, we would surely want to say that the second eventwas a necessary condition or cause of the first event, whether or not the two had anything else in common. As for such aprinciple being an empirical truth, how could it be since there are here only two known independent substances, i.e. mind andmatter, as candidates on which to base a generalization? To argue that they cannot interact because they are independent is tobeg the question. . . . It says something about the desperation of those who want to dismiss radical dualism that such phonyarguments should repeatedly be invoked by highly reputable philosophers who should know better.29Popper also rejects completely the idea that only like can act upon like, describing this as resting onobsolete notions of physics. For an example of unlikes acting on one another we have interactionbetween the four known and very different forces, and between forces and physical bodies. Popperconsiders the issue empirically:In the present state of physics we are faced, not with a plurality of substances, but with a plurality of different kinds of forces,and thus with a pluralism of different interacting explanatory principles. Perhaps the clearest physical example against the thesisthat only like things can act upon each other is this: In modern physics, the action of bodies upon bodies is mediated by fields—by gravitational and electrical fields. Thus like does not act upon like, but bodies act first upon fields, which they modify, andthen the modified field acts upon another body.30It should be clear that the idea that only like can act upon like rests upon an obsolete, billiard-ballnotion of causation in physics.Chris Carter
[/b]Application to Neuropsychology:[/size]The most direct evidence pertaining to the effects of conscious choicesupon brain activities comes from experiments in which consciouslycontrolled cognitive efforts are found to be empirically correlated tomeasured physical effects in the brain. An example is the experiment ofOchsner et al. (2001). The subjects are trained how to cognitively reevaluateemotional scenes by consciously creating and holding in placean alternative fictional story of what is really happening in connectionwith an emotion-generating scene they are viewing.The trial began with a 4-second presentation of a negative orneutral photo, during which participants were instructed simplyto view the stimulus on the screen. This interval was intended toprovide time for participants to apprehend complex scenes andallow an emotional response to be generated that participantswould then be asked to regulate. The word ‘attend’ (for negativeor neutral photos) or ‘reappraise’ (negative photos only) thenappeared beneath the photo and the participants followed thisinstruction for 4 seconds.To verify whether the participants had, in fact, reappraised inthis manner, during the post-scan rating session participantswere asked to indicate for each photo whether they had reinterpretedthe photo (as instructed) or had used some other typeof reappraisal strategy. Compliance was high: On less than 4%of trials with highly negative photos did participants reportusing another type of strategy.Reports such as these can be taken as evidence that the streams ofconsciousness of the participants do exist and contain elements identifiableas efforts to reappraise.Patterns of brain activity accompanying reappraisal efforts wereassessed by using functional magnetic imaging resonance (fMRI). ThefMRI results were that reappraisal was positively correlated with increasedactivity in the left lateral prefrontal cortex and the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (regions thought to be connected to cognitivecontrol) and decreased activity in the (emotion-related) amygdala andmedial orbito-frontal cortex.How can we explain the correlation revealed in this experimentbetween the mental reality of ‘conscious effort’ and the physical realityof measured brain behavior?
Quote from: cheryl j on 16/12/2013 03:12:57... You may not like the article, because it is somewhat critical, but it does mention some changes Stapps made to his theory. http://web.archive.org/web/20060623070312/http://individual.utoronto.ca/dbourget/download/QLPM.pdfThanks for that link Carol, it does confirm a few of my doubts. It also points out that while Stapp's view of consciousness as based in multiple patterns of neural activity (representing qualia) is broadly reasonable - pace his need to introduce quantum phenomena, which looks like a case of 'man with a hammer' syndrome - it conflicts with his seemingly dualistic interpretation of free will, which appears to be some unexplained volitional agency that delays wave function collapse until a high probability of the desired outcome is achieved (or something like that). But this apparently separates and distinguishes free will (unexplained volitional agency) from conscious intent (also volitional agency, but based in neural activity), which raises questions of precedence and redundancy. Further, if the neural processing in the brain can give rise to consciousness and a superposition of options for action, yet is insufficient to select the appropriate action, we must ask how the judgement of suitability or desirability in this dualistic, solipsistic view, is made - it would seem that this unexplained non-physical system would also need to somehow process the same data, either to generate a sample desirable outcome to compare with the superposed options arrived at by the physical processing, or to analyse the desirability of some particular outcome on-the-fly. If the physical system is unable to make appropriate selections without an external agency, how this external agency can make its choices without also needing another parallel system to analyse the desirability of its own choices, and so-on, recursively, is unexplained. It smacks of the infinite regression of Dennett's 'Cartesian Theatre' argument.
... You may not like the article, because it is somewhat critical, but it does mention some changes Stapps made to his theory. http://web.archive.org/web/20060623070312/http://individual.utoronto.ca/dbourget/download/QLPM.pdf
It is obvious that there are details about consciousness we still have to learn about.
If, as Don contends, the conscious mind is a sovereign agent, above and beyond any material description or control, how does he reconcile the UNCONSCIOUS state we call sleep? Because; thru experiment we have recorded brain wave activity that is separate and distinct from waking moments. Here is the evidence to show that consciousness can be measured and this measuring of it proves it's material basis. If it were completely nonmaterial, these measurements would not be possible...............................
I'm curious to know what he says about questions raised by the split-brain studies he quoted - though judging by previous responses, he'll either ignore them, dump some blather and handwaving about science and materialist ideology, or post a few chapters of someone-else's book...