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At The Debrief.org: Is Consciousness Really A Memory System For Our Interactions With Reality? New Research Says Maybe.


Tim McMillan writes:

A recent study published in the journal Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology proposes a new theory of consciousness, suggesting subjective awareness is merely a memory system that records our unconscious interactions with reality. 

Unique to other theories on the mystery of consciousness, researchers propose that the majority of the time, humans do not directly make decisions or perceive the outside world. Instead, these activities are performed unconsciously and then milliseconds later we consciously remember doing them. 

“A vast majority, if not all, of human behavior is actually performed unconsciously and consciousness is simply the memory of having performed specific actions,” said Dr. Andrew Budson, a professor of neurology at Boston University, in an email to The Debrief.

Budson, the lead author of the paper titled Consciousness as a Memory System, says that the idea that all our decisions and actions are unconsciously made–and that we simply fool ourselves into believing we consciously made them–may lead to some anxiety-inducing questions about free will. 

However, researchers note that several studies have already demonstrated how conscious awareness of decisions or activities only seems to occur after physiological actions are unconsciously performed. 

“This order is incompatible with the idea that perceptions, decisions, and actions are only possible when conscious awareness and thought are present,” wrote researchers. 

Neurophysiologist Dr. Benjamin Libet, a pioneer in the field of human consciousness, demonstrated the supremacy of unconsciousness over conscious thoughts and actions in a series of groundbreaking experiments in the 1980s.  

Measuring study participants’ neurological electrical activity when asked to carry out a series of simple tasks, Dr. Libet found that regions of the brain responsible for movement become active a few hundred milliseconds before the conscious decision to perform a voluntary act was made. 

Note: An alternate conclusion can be reached based on these observations of neurological activity and consciousness awareness of a decision: according to the biblical model of humans being composed of spirit and body, these results are consistent with the spirit deciding to act, then the consciousness (dependent upon the brain) registering this decision a moment later.

Ostensibly akin to quantum entanglement and Albert Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance,” four decades later, there is still no majority agreement on the interpretation or significance of Libet’s experiments. This is perhaps unsurprising, given the potential implications of Libet’s results on the philosophical concept of free will. 

For his part, Dr. Libet did not believe his results dismissed the notion of free will. Instead, Dr. Libet said he found that research participants still possessed the conscious ability to “veto” an unconsciously made decision through a process sometimes referred to as “free won’t.” 

Speaking with The Debrief, Dr. Budson pointed out that the theory of consciousness as a memory system also does not infringe on the concept of human free will. 

“Just because our decisions and actions are ultimately made unconsciously does not mean that we do not have free will—or, at least, not any more than if we made our decisions and actions consciously,” a portion of Budson’s paper states. “If major life decisions are made slowly, over minutes, hours, days, or longer, these important decisions will almost certainly have input from both our conscious mind and our unconscious brain processes.” 

Modern studies have continued to support and expand on Dr. Libet’s work and the concept that unconscious processes are the true forerunner to conscious behavior. 

A 2008 study by neuroscientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, found that the brain unconsciously makes decisions up to ten seconds before a person is aware of having made a decision.

In the recent study, the neuroscientists highlight additional research showing that conscious processes are too slow to be actively involved in activities requiring split-second decisions, such as playing music or sports. 

In this context, the theory of consciousness as a memory system begins to feel less abstract. For example, it’s widely accepted that professional sports teams regularly practice so that players will be able to unconsciously react to situations that occur during a game. 

“We knew that conscious processes were simply too slow to be actively involved in music, sports, and other activities where split-second reflexes are required. But if consciousness is not involved in such processes, then a better explanation of what consciousness does was needed,” said Dr. Budson. 

Dr. Budson and his colleagues caveat their hypothesis by noting that, “Many—perhaps most—creative endeavors, from painters to novelists, likely result from the combination of conscious and unconscious brain processes working together.” 

Offering some speculation, as opposed to a rigid academic argument, researchers postulate that academic or artistic visionaries, such as Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Jane Goodall, or Rachel Carson, etc., may have been able to see the world beyond what the conscious mind suggests it is.

“In other words, some of these individuals may have had more access to their unconscious brain processes.” 

Researchers further acknowledge that in support of their hypothesis, they intentionally ignored many of the most significant parts of any complete theory of consciousness, such as the so-called “hard problem” or how a collection of biological material can produce subjective awareness. 

Nevertheless, scientists are hopeful that their new theory of consciousness being essentially and originally a part of explicit memory, or a collective “conscious memory system,” will provide the framework for further research. 

“By careful observation and well-designed experiments, examining this memory theory of consciousness may move us toward a time in the future when such questions will seem quaint, similar to questions about what constitutes the life force that living beings have or how light travels through the ether.” 

Full article at The Debrief.
I am amazed at the amount of nonsense some "real" scientists can come up with. relatd
But where we do have 100% recall of the memories of our entire lifetimes is in the “panoramic life review” of deep Near Death Experiences (NDEs). "Life reviews" are a common feature of deep NDEs and have been discussed in some detail by near-death experience scholars such as Raymond Moody, Kenneth Ring, and Barbara Rommer. in fact, in NDE 'life reviews' there is access to 'more knowledge' than just what is available in our own memories of our own lifetimes,
Panoramic Life Review: Dannion Brinkley on Near Death Experiences The “panoramic life review” is the single most important part of the near-death experience. The single most important thing is this: there will be a stage where you will see your entire life pass before you in a 360-degree panorama. You know how many hairs were in the nose of the doctor who took you from your mother. You know the names of everybody who was in that room. http://www.suprememastertv.tv/ss/?wr_id=117
In further note to 'fuzzy' memories vs. the '100% plus' memories of NDES, in the following study, materialistic researchers who had an inherent bias against Near Death Experiences being real, set out to prove that they were merely ‘false memories’ and/or hallucinations by setting up a clever questionnaire that could differentiate which memories a person had were real and which memories a person had were merely imaginary. Simply put, they did not expect the results they got: To quote the headline 'Afterlife' feels 'even more real than real”
'Afterlife' feels 'even more real than real,' researcher says - Wed April 10, 2013 Excerpt: "If you use this questionnaire ... if the memory is real, it's richer, and if the memory is recent, it's richer," he said. The coma scientists weren't expecting what the tests revealed. "To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors," Laureys reported. The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. "The difference was so vast," he said with a sense of astonishment. Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich "as though it was yesterday," Laureys said. http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/09/health/belgium-near-death-experiences/
Likewise, the subsequent study by different researchers also found that, 'memories of near-death experiences are recalled as ‘‘realer” than real events or imagined events.'
Characteristics of memories for near-death experiences - Lauren E. Moore, Bruce Greyson - March 2017 Abstract: Near-death experiences are vivid, life-changing experiences occurring to people who come close to death. Because some of their features, such as enhanced cognition despite compro- mised brain function, challenge our understanding of the mind-brain relationship, the question arises whether near-death experiences are imagined rather than real events. We administered the Memory Characteristics Questionnaire to 122 survivors of a close brush with death who reported near-death experiences. Participants completed Memory Characteristics Questionnaires for three different memories: that of their near-death expe- rience, that of a real event around the same time, and that of an event they had imagined around the same time. The Memory Characteristics Questionnaire score was higher for the memory of the near-death experience than for that of the real event, which in turn was higher than that of the imagined event. These data suggest that memories of near-death experiences are recalled as ‘‘realer” than real events or imagined events. https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/wp-content/uploads/sites/360/2017/03/NDE-85-MCQ-ConCog.pdf
Thus my question(s) to atheistic materialists is this. First, “how is it possible for something to be real for us in the first place unless, as Planck, Schroedinger, and Wigner, pointed out, we regard ‘consciousness as fundamental’?”
“No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” -Max Planck (1858–1947), one of the primary founders of quantum theory, The Observer, London, January 25, 1931“ “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.” – Schroedinger, Erwin. 1984. “General Scientific and Popular Papers,” in Collected Papers, Vol. 4. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences. Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden. p. 334. “The principal argument against materialism is not that illustrated in the last two sections: that it is incompatible with quantum theory. The principal argument is that thought processes and consciousness are the primary concepts, that our knowledge of the external world is the content of our consciousness and that the consciousness, therefore, cannot be denied. On the contrary, logically, the external world could be denied—though it is not very practical to do so. In the words of Niels Bohr, “The word consciousness, applied to ourselves as well as to others, is indispensable when dealing with the human situation.” In view of all this, one may well wonder how materialism, the doctrine that “life could be explained by sophisticated combinations of physical and chemical laws,” could so long be accepted by the majority of scientists.” – Eugene Wigner, Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, pp 167-177.
Secondly, how is it even remotely possible, on materialistic presuppositions, for something to become ‘even more real than real’ during Near Death Experiences? I hold it to be blatantly obvious that unless Mind, particularly the infinite Mind of God, is held to be the ultimate foundation for all reality then nothing can ever possibly be real for us, much less could it ever possibly be 'more real than real'?
Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
And I don't have to rely solely on the common sense fact that, as Planck, Schroedinger, and Wigner, pointed out, consciousness must be primary in any definition of reality that we may put forth. But I can now, due to advances in quantum mechanics, also appeal, (via violation of Leggett's inequality), to the falsification of realism where is was found that "reality does not exist when we’re not observing it.”
Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007 Excerpt: Many realizations of the thought experiment have indeed verified the violation of Bell’s inequality. These have ruled out all hidden-variables theories based on joint assumptions of realism, meaning that reality exists when we are not observing it; and locality, meaning that separated events cannot influence one another instantaneously. But a violation of Bell’s inequality does not tell specifically which assumption – realism, locality or both – is discordant with quantum mechanics. Markus Aspelmeyer, Anton Zeilinger and colleagues from the University of Vienna, however, have now shown that realism is more of a problem than locality in the quantum world. They devised an experiment that violates a different inequality proposed by physicist Anthony Leggett in 2003 that relies only on realism, and relaxes the reliance on locality. To do this, rather than taking measurements along just one plane of polarization, the Austrian team took measurements in additional, perpendicular planes to check for elliptical polarization. They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.” http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/27640
Moreover, via a Wheeler’s Delayed Choice experiment, (that was done with atoms instead of photons), we find that “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,”
New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015 Excerpt: Some particles, such as photons or electrons, can behave both as particles and as waves. Here comes a question of what exactly makes a photon or an electron act either as a particle or a wave. This is what Wheeler’s experiment asks: at what point does an object ‘decide’? The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts. “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,, “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said. Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer. http://themindunleashed.org/2015/06/new-mind-blowing-experiment-confirms-that-reality-doesnt-exist-if-you-are-not-looking-at-it.html
There is much more that could be said to correct some of the numerous errors in their paper, (some of which AaronS1978 has touched upon), but suffice it for now to simply note that their "memory model' of consciousness fails on so many levels that it is literally a tour de force in a comedy of errors. Not least of which is their erroneous belief that our subjective experience of memories can somehow be produced by memories themselves. Quotes and verse:
“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” George MacDonald - Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood - 1892 “It is because we, (as souls), have a faculty of (immaterial) mind that we are capable of having concepts, thoughts, beliefs,,, things like that.”,,, – J.P. Moreland – Is the Soul Immortal? https://youtu.be/QzbdT0GxAdk?t=209 Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
As to: "suggesting subjective awareness is merely a memory system that records our unconscious interactions with reality." The first thought I had was, "Wait a minute, our memories are received into our subjective conscious experience therefore memories cannot possibly explain our subjective conscious experience." This is not a minor problem for materialists who hope to explain consciousness in purely materialistic terms. In fact,. it is known as 'the hard problem of consciousness'. And this 'hard problem' has been made semi-famous by David Chalmers
David Chalmers - Why is Consciousness so Mysterious? - (Descartes, Philosophical zombies and the hard problem of consciousness) - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTIk9MN3T6w
Moreover, the fact that subjective conscious experience, (i.e. qualia, i.e. the hard problem), presents an insurmountable difficulty to their 'memory model' is, basically, completely acknowledged by the authors themselves,,,
"Researchers further acknowledge that in support of their hypothesis, they intentionally ignored many of the most significant parts of any complete theory of consciousness, such as the so-called “hard problem” or how a collection of biological material can produce subjective awareness."
This statement by the researchers is equivalent to the researchers themselves saying of their own theory, "Oh well, whatever, never mind".
"Oh well, whatever, never mind". https://i.giphy.com/media/F2PXxpbsckrHpEoAa2/giphy.webp
But to go a bit further in so far as memories are concerned. As Dr. Egnor, (surgeon and Professor of brain surgery), has pointed out in the 'representation problem, you cannot 'represent' an abstract thought in the material brain by virtue of the fact that abstract thoughts themselves are immaterial in their foundational essence. Or as Dr. Egnor put it, "(the abstract thought of) justice has no shape or physical pattern" and thus can't possibly be 'mapped', and/or represented, in the material brain.
The Representation Problem and the Immateriality of the Mind - Michael Egnor - February 5, 2018 Excerpt: Materialism as a metaphysical perspective fails on countless levels. Nowhere is that failure more clear than in the understanding of the mind and the brain. The central failure of materialism in philosophy of the mind is the representation problem. Mental representation is a big topic and has been a fertile issue in philosophy, especially over the past two centuries. I’ll focus on the role of mental representation in abstract thought, which is where the inadequacies of materialism are most obvious. Thoughts may be divided into thoughts about particulars and thoughts about universals. Thoughts about particulars are thoughts, including perceptions, imagination, memory, etc., about particular objects in our environments. Thoughts about my coffee, or my car, or my family would be thoughts about particulars. Thoughts about universals are abstract thoughts, and are thoughts about concepts. Justice, mercy, logic, mathematics, etc., are abstract thoughts.,,,, But abstract thought is different. Consider a thought about justice. Justice is a concept, not a particular thing existing in the physical world. The materialist must ask: how can a thought about justice be represented in the brain? It certainly can’t merely be a mapped field in the cortex — justice has no shape or physical pattern, unlike my cat Tabby. A materialist would no doubt say that, like perception of particulars, thought about justice is represented in the cortex. But note carefully what representation means: a representation is a map of a thing. It presumes the existence, in the physical world, of that which it maps. A representation of a city — a map — presumes the city. A representation of my cat presumes my cat. And here’s the problem: a representation of my thought about justice presumes my thought about justice. So representation cannot provide any final explanation for abstract thought, because the representation of an abstract thought, even if it exists, presupposes the abstract thought itself.,,, https://evolutionnews.org/2018/02/the-representation-problem-and-the-immateriality-of-the-mind/
And as Dr. Egnor succinctly noted elsewhere, although material objects, (such as the brain), can store representations of 'memories', they can have no knowledge of the memories themselves since they have no immaterial minds in which to have a subjective conscious experience of the memory.
"Your computer doesn’t know a binary string from a ham sandwich. Your math book doesn’t know algebra. Your Rolodex doesn’t know your cousin’s address. Your watch doesn’t know what time it is. Your car doesn’t know where you’re driving. Your television doesn’t know who won the football game last night. Your cell phone doesn’t know what you said to your girlfriend this morning. People know things. Devices like computers and books and Rolodexes and watches and cars and televisions and cell phones don’t know anything. They don’t have minds. They are artifacts — paper and plastic and silicon things designed and manufactured by people — and they provide people with the means to leverage their human knowledge. Computers (and books and watches and the like) are the means by which people leverage and express knowledge. Computers store and process representations of knowledge. But computers have no knowledge themselves." - Michael Egnor https://evolutionnews.org/2015/01/your_computer_d_1/
And to go a bit further in regard to memories, and as Dr. Pim Van Lommel has noted, "For decades, extensive research has been done to localize memories inside the brain, so far without success."
A Reply to Shermer: Medical Evidence for NDEs (Near Death Experiences) – Pim van Lommel Excerpt: For decades, extensive research has been done to localize memories inside the brain, so far without success.,,,, So we need a functioning brain to receive our consciousness into our waking consciousness. And as soon as the function of brain has been lost, like in clinical death or in brain death, with iso-electricity on the EEG, memories and consciousness do still exist, but the reception ability is lost. People can experience their consciousness outside their body, with the possibility of perception out and above their body, with identity, and with heightened awareness, attention, well-structured thought processes, memories and emotions. And they also can experience their consciousness in a dimension where past, present and future exist at the same moment, without time and space, and can be experienced as soon as attention has been directed to it (life review and preview), and even sometimes they come in contact with the “fields of consciousness” of deceased relatives. And later they can experience their conscious return into their body. https://vdocuments.site/a-reply-to-shermer-medical-evidence-for-ndes-by-pim-van-lommel.html The Mystery of Perception During Near Death Experiences - Pim van Lommel - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avyUsPgIuQ0
Moreover, another problem worth noting in their 'memory model' of consciousness is that, when we recall memories into our subjective consciousness experience, our memories are extremely 'fuzzy' compared to the initial subjective conscious experience that generated the memory in the first place. Even people who have 'photographic memory' do not have 100% accurate recall. For instance, Kim Peek, an autistic savant of exceptional ability, could 'only' recall 98% of the 12,000 books he had read,
Get to know the real Rain Man: Kim Peek You may have seen the movie Rain Man, but did you know it was inspired by Kim Peek - a man with an amazing memory. Excerpt: Even more amazing, Kim remembered up to 98% of what he read. It’s estimated that in his lifetime Kim read and memorised as many as 12,000 books. While people with savant syndrome often become a bit of an expert in one or two subjects, Kim boasted at least fifteen! https://www.aruma.com.au/about-us/blog/get-to-know-the-real-rain-man-kim-peek/
“A vast majority, if not all, of human behavior is actually performed unconsciously and consciousness is simply the memory of having performed specific actions,” said Dr. Andrew Budson, a professor of neurology at Boston University.
So, if I understand you correctly Andrew, when you cobbled together your statement you did so unconsciously, only to remember it afterwards?
... all our decisions and actions are unconsciously made–and we simply fool ourselves into believing we consciously made them (...).
So Andrew, given that all your statements are made unthinkingly, including your statements about consciousness, why exactly should we care about anything you say? Origenes
@6 lol AaronS1978
AaronS1978 @ 4 Autocorrect is my worst enema ";^) Latemarch
The other thing they said, is, they blatantly ignored the hard problem of the consciousness, which is at the core of consciousness That’s some Anil Seth style nonsense AaronS1978
I hate my phone not knew but new AaronS1978
A very disappointing article, mainly because real scientists were coming to bizarre conclusions. I know someone who can solve problems much faster than the 'average' people around him, including myself. Another thing to keep in mind is avoiding the association between living in the 21st Century and related research done in previous years. Articles seem to be written lately to reinforce a worldview - which boils down to new is good and old is bad - that has no connection to reality. Reaction time was measured for a lot of things in the 20th Century. Braking time/reaction time for cars and trucks. The same for fighter pilots. How many rounds can a trained soldier fire from a particular weapon over a particular time? Split-second decisions mean exactly that. The above article, in my view, does not describe legitimate science. The conclusions reached are horrendous. Of course, if I fire a bow, shoot a gun and drive a car in a race, it will be stored in my memory. Big deal. Nothing new here. Regarding playing musical instruments. It is beyond stupid to accept a single word in the article about this. Training MUST occur before any musical instrument is mastered. Once that training is completed, a person knows exactly what to do to reach a certain note. It only * seems * to be an """"unconscious""" decision because the mind has been trained. It's like an Old West movie where a seasoned gunman pulls out his six-shooter and begins firing away. In other words, he practiced in order to do this so when he had to do it in a surprise situation, his training served him. relatd
Also “the point of no return” an experiment done by John Dylan Hanes in 2016 shoots this down too. They used a computer to read the on set of RP in a patient and would turn the traffic light red when it showed up. Patients were peddling on bikes and waited for a green light to go. The idea was if RP was the decision to move they would not be able to stop when RP set in. The patients could stop most of the time just not when it went past the peak of the RP pretty much after the message was sent to go AaronS1978
This is garbage and completely depends on outdated research. Libets experts was literally debunked, and the notion of the decision being made ahead of time is an artifact of a poorly done experiment https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2019/09/free-will-bereitschaftspotential/597736/ https://aphilosopherstake.com/2012/08/10/neuroscience-and-free-will-new-study-debunks-libets-interpretation/ https://mindmatters.ai/2019/09/was-famous-old-evidence-against-free-will-just-debunked/ If you want more details https://neurophil-freewill.org/ And yes your brain records your consciousness experiences this is not knew AaronS1978

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