Consciousness: and brain damage (General)

by dhw, Saturday, January 13, 2018, 14:17 (335 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: The complexity has nothing to do with optimum size. That is your theory, nothing more. And the shrinkage involved more wiring and connections of the neurons used, not less, i.e., more complexity of connections.
dhw: I am more than happy to be corrected on the exact nature of the shrinkage: if it does not entail the loss of cells and connections no longer needed, perhaps you would tell us exactly what the shrinkage consists of.

DAVID: From the original article:
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2132589-learning-to-read-and-write-rewires-adult-b...
"Rewired brains
By the end of the study, the team saw significant changes in the brains of the people who had learned to read and write. These individuals showed an increase in brain activity in the cortex, the outermost layer of the brain, which is involved in learning.”
[dhw: Other areas of the brain were also affected]
DAVID: Not in this article but in some other entry I presented it has been shown that sapiens brains have shrunk during the development of our new civilization activities. I have assumed that the shrinkage is due to the demonstrated rewiring.

I don’t dispute brain shrinkage! But thank you for once more confirming the all-important fact that the brain RESPONDS to the implementation of new concepts! You challenged my statement that complexification had proved so efficient that “some cells and connections are no longer needed”. Shrinkage must mean that something is lost, and so I asked what else the shrinkage could consist of. You have not answered.

DAVID: Of course thoughts and concepts are produced by the pre-frontal and frontal cortex, directed by the s/s/c. The base of mental processes is of course biochemical as that describes the material funtional brain which does act as a computer under control of the s/s/c software. The ability to produce very complex thought requires a very complex enlarged cortex for the s/s/c to use. Proven by new artifact production by each stage of hominin.

dhw: I’m sorry, but this makes no sense to me. The whole essence of dualism is that the self/soul/consciousness IS the person’s thoughts, ideas, concepts, emotions, memories. The crucial obfuscation lies in your penultimate sentence: as physical beings (forget about the afterlife) we are able to produce thought – whether complex or not – and this requires the material brain for the provision of information and the material expression or implementation of thought (both of which processes are biochemical), but for a dualist the thought itself comes from the “soul” and not from the cortex. To use your otherwise totally unhelpful computer image: the software (soul) does the thinking, and the computer (brain) does the implementing. THAT is how the s/s/c “uses” the complexities of the brain. If you insist that the cortex (computer) does the thinking, then the soul (software) has no function.

DAVID: I can easily accept your version of my theory as you state it. I think that is what I have been stating all along, but perhaps not clearly.

Statements like “of course thoughts and concepts are produced by the pre-frontal and frontal cortex”, and “the base of mental processes is of course biochemical”, can hardly mean that thoughts and concepts are produced by the soul and the soul is immaterial. Since you can now easily accept that the brain provides information and implements thoughts and concepts which according to your dualism are produced by the soul and not by the brain, perhaps you will also easily accept that the expansion of the brain must have followed on from and not preceded the soul’s acts of conceptualization, but no, back you go:

DAVID: We remain at opposite poles. I can only see the brain enlarging and only then the thoughts and concepts can appear. The enlargement is provided by God's action. Enlargement first, artifacts second.

But you believe thoughts and concepts are produced by the “soul” and so they do NOT depend on the brain! It is the implementation that depends on the brain, as is shown by the “only real evidence we have” (below). Therefore just as effort to read and write changes the brain (rewiring), effort to produce artefacts changed the brain (expansion).

DAVID: More intense thought shrinks the brain in sapiens and it is the only real evidence we have about thought and brain size. If evolution builds on the past, previous more ancient brains employed this same course. Why should only sapiens brains do this?

Yet again (if you keep asking the same question, I can only give the same answer): pre-sapiens brains may well have complexified to some degree, but they reached a stage at which more brain capacity was needed to implement new concepts – hence expansion. The brain/skull then reached a size at which further expansion would have caused anatomical problems (as you said yourself, an infinitely expanding brain/skull is the stuff of science fiction). Consequently, complexification took over from expansion, and was so efficient that the brain shrank. Please explain your objections to this hypothesis.

DAVID: Your statement that our brain is at a non-enlarging state in evolution only supports my contention that our brain is the end point of God's purpose.

Your God’s purpose is a separate issue from that of the mechanics of evolution, which is what we are discussing here.


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