Intelligent Design Medicine Mind Naturalism Neuroscience

Researchers: Comatose people do show self-awareness

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Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor: Researchers found mental activity in response to verbal commands even in some “completely unresponsive” patients:

This work is relevant to the question of the relationship between the mind and the brain. It is another piece of evidence in a long line of evidence that some aspects of mental activity, most notably abstract thought, are to a significant degree dissociated from the material function of the brain.

It also highlights a significant limitation we face in evaluating the capacity for abstract thought in people who have severe brain damage: severe brain damage causes physical immobility and severely compromises behavioral responses. That makes the assessment of the capacity for abstract thought very difficult. How can we know if somebody who has severe brain damage and is in a deep coma can understand what we are saying if the brain damage prevents the patient from expressing thoughts by physical movement?

This study is consistent with the work of Wilder Penfield, who showed that higher-level abstract thought did not seem to arise from the brain in a material way.

Michael Egnor, “New edviencethat some comatose people really do understand” at Mind Matters News

Also by Michael Egnor: Science Points To An Immaterial Mind. If one did not start with a materialist bias, materialism would not be invoked as an explanation for a whole range of experiments in neuroscience

and

Can buzzwords about “neural networks” save materialist neuroscience? No. Experiments that support an immaterial consciousness often involve split or massively damaged neural networks

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3 Replies to “Researchers: Comatose people do show self-awareness

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Physical damage to the brain causes commensurate impairment or disabling of the appearance of consciousness. One logical inference is that consciousness is a product of the activities that brain. We don’t know how that happens yet but dualists have even less idea of how an immaterial consciousness interfaces with the physical brain or why it would need to or how it can be said to exist at all.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, no. The evidence instead is consistent with damage to an i/o in the loop controller impairing behaviour of the system — including, being in a locked in state. The separate evidence is, that rational, contemplative, actually reasoning consciousness CANNOT arise from the dynamic-stochastic behaviour of interacting components in a computational substrate. As a key point, observe please the force of Reppert’s point:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A [–> notice, state of a wetware, electrochemically operated computational substrate], which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief [–> concious, perceptual state or disposition] that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    Food for thought. KF

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    Kairosfocus @ 2

    Sev, no. The evidence instead is consistent with damage to an i/o in the loop controller impairing behaviour of the system — including, being in a locked in state.

    So you are trying to explain the unreactive state of a comatose human brain by comparing it to a defective process in a material computer. Yet you also claim that consciousness “CANNOT” be explained by models from computation and cybernetics? But is there sufficient warrant for such a claim in the current state of human knowledge? I would say not. We don’t yet have a clear understanding of the nature of consciousness so we are not yet in a position to say that it cannot be mimicked on a computer. We certainly can’t do it yet but that does not mean we will never do it.

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