|Subject: The influence of the mind on the brain
Date: Fri, 28 Nov 2003 09:13:26 +0200
From: Dimi Chakalov <email@example.com>
To: Mario Beauregard <beauregm@MAGELLAN.UMontreal.CA>
CC: Jeffrey Schwartz <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Henry Stapp <email@example.com>,
Kevin Ochsner <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
John Gabrieli <email@example.com>,
James Gross <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
David Colman <email@example.com>,
Alberto Peruzzi <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Alberto Peruzzi <email@example.com>,
Georg Northoff <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
J Peter Rosenfeld <email@example.com>,
Philip Van Loocke <Philip.VanLoocke@UGent.be>,
Mariko Osaka <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Roger Penrose <email@example.com>,
Evgeny Novikov <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Henry Abarbanel <email@example.com>,
Yuri Arshavsky <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Mikhail Rabinovich <email@example.com>,
Rafael Levi <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Nikolai Rulkov <email@example.com>,
Valentin Afraimovich <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Dr. Beauregard,
I noticed that you are the editor of the forthcoming 'Advances in Consciousness Research 54', in which you, Jeffrey M. Schwartz, and Henry P. Stapp will present a paper, entitled: "The Volitional Influence of the Mind on the Brain, with special reference to Emotional Self-Regulation" [Ref. 1].
I'm wondering if you and some of your colleagues would agree to shed some light on the influence of the mind on the brain. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
A few years ago, Baroness Susan Greenfield posed a very simple question to Sir Roger Penrose: Do you think that your consciousness is inside your brain? To the best of my knowledge, Roger Penrose has not yet replied,
I've tried on my web site to suggest a wild guess in the format 'both yes and no' (or Jain, in German), but let me first set the prerequisites.
We cannot measure directly the human mind or consciousness, and it is not at all clear whether consciousness is inside or outside of 3-D space, as acknowledged by your co-author Henry Stapp [Ref. 2].
I'm afraid we do not know the physics of the self-acting faculty of our brain, and should therefore refrain from any "clear cut" statements [Ref. 3], bearing in mind the famous Murphy's Law No. 15: Complex problems have simple, easy-to-understand wrong answers.
One such wrong answer would be to consider the mind as epiphenomenon and try to explain how is it that a bunch of elementary particles can, under specific conditions, conduct theoretical and experimental research on themselves, and tell other fascinated elementary particles about it.
Another wrong approach would be to embrace the idea of dualism, in any of its modifications, and start producing hypotheses which cannot be falsified with experiment or observation.
What could be the influence of the mind on the brain, which could avoid both the Marxist-Leninist epiphenomenalism and the mystical New Age dualism?
A very interesting, in my opinion, approach has been recently introduced by Evgeny Novikov [Ref. 4], based on the suggestion that "processes in the brain can be described by generalized (G) complex fields, which have real A-component and imaginary C-component. These components interact due to the nonlinearity of the equations." [Ref. 5].
It would be wonderful if Novikov's theory can produce testable predictions, possibly by magnetoencephalography [Ref. 6]. However, it seems to me that his theory may not be able to suggest a complete answer to the question of the influence of the mind on the brain.
Perhaps we need to go much deeper and search for new ideas, since the only physical phenomenon which *remotely resembles* the self-acting faculty of the brain is gravity,
Perhaps an explanation of the bi-directional "talk" between matter and geometry is a promising road toward suggesting an answer to the influence of the mind on the brain,
If some day we understand how *matter interacts with matter*, the puzzle of the self-acting ability of our brain might be solved. As of today, I think it is manifestly pointless to invoke ideas from quantum theory [Ref. 3], simply because we do not understand it. I do believe Henry Stapp will agree.
I will highly appreciate your critical comments and suggestions, and will keep them strictly private and confidential.
[Ref. 1] Jeffrey M. Schwartz, Henry P. Stapp, and Mario Beauregard, The Volitional Influence of the Mind on the Brain, with special reference to Emotional Self-Regulation, in: Consciousness, Emotional Self-Regulation and the Brain, Edited by Mario Beauregard, Advances in Consciousness Research 54, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, 2003, 273 pp. + index. Expected: Winter 03-04,
[Ref. 2] H.P. Stapp, Target BBS (Nov 26,
J.M. Schwartz, H.P. Stapp, & M. Beauregard, QUANTUM
PHYSICS IN NEUROSCIENCE AND PSYCHOLOGY: A NEW MODEL WITH RESPECT TO MIND/BRAIN
INTERACTION (p. 59): "These non-local properties refer, however, only to
the physical effects of the conscious action: they are silent on the issue
of the location of consciousness itself. No answer one way or the other
is given by the theory, in its present form, as to whether consciousness
is inside or outside of space."
[Ref. 3] H.P. Stapp, Physics in Neuroscience
(Mar. 5, 2003) (Section of a chapter in a book "Consciousness, Emotional
Self-regulation, and the Brain" ed. M. Beauregard. In prep. To be published
by John Benjamin Books in Advances in Consciousness Research Series),
p. 22: "According to quantum theory, consciousness is,
in effect, a causally efficacious reality that is connected to physical
brain processes in a non-local, non-reducible, nonredundant, non-illusory,
and non-trivial way."
[Ref. 4] Evgeny Novikov, Quaternion Dynamics
of the Brain, nlin.PS/0311047 v1,
"In previous paper  an approach to
nonlinear dynamical modeling of interaction between automatic (A) and conscious
(C) processes in the brain was presented. The idea is to use complex field
with real and imaginary components representing A- and C-processes. The
interaction is due to the nonlinearity of the system. This approach was
illustrated on the nonlinear equation for the current density in the cortex.
The nonlinearity is determined by the sigmoidal firing rate of neurons.
More general approaches were also indicated .
In this letter the quaternion (Q) approach is described.
"Note, that so-called extra-sensory effects (if they exist)
can be included in this approach by assuming that [x] has imaginary components.
"It will be interesting to apply Q-modeling to the first
principles, particularly, to the problem of unification of the four major
forces (gravitational, electromagnetic, week and strong). The fundamental
obstacle to the unification is that gravitation in its nature is quite
different from the three other forces. It resists quantization withcomplex
amplitudes, which is the natural description for the other forces. Perhaps,
in the Q-description, gravitation can be an analog of real (automatic)
process, while other three forces are more "vibrating"-analog of S-E-R-effects
in the "Brain - Universe". In the Q-description "ghosts" [3,4] with the
negative energy may have natural explanation."
[Ref. 5] Evgeny Novikov, Towards Modeling
of Consciousness, nlin.PS/0309043 v1,
"Ubiquitous phenomena are often the most difficult to
explain. During the last two centuries the problem of consciousness (C)
was considered of limits for any scientific explanation. (...) From the
physical-mathematical point of view it is desired to catch C into some
sort of equations. It is common knowledge that C is somehow connected with
the electrochemical activity in the brain. So, it seems logical to start
with equations for these processes.
"The C-processes are subjective and, as far as we know,
they can not be measured directly by the objective methods, which are used
for measuring electrochemical (automatic) processes. At the same time,
there are reasons to believe that C-processes can interact with the automatic
(A) processes. We need equations for A-fields and C-fields, which interact
despite the fact that C-fields have a different nature and can not be measured
by the same methods as A-fields. In this Letter we suggest that processes
in the brain can be described by generalized (G) complex fields,
which have real A-component and imaginary C-component. These components
interact due to the nonlinearity of the equations. Such approach seems
to be the simplest."
[Ref. 6] Mariko Osaka, Working memory and the peak alpha frequency shift on magnetoencephalography (MEG), in: Kunio Yasue, Mari Jibu, and Tarcisio Della Senta (eds.), No Matter, Never Mind: Proceedings of Toward a Science of Consciousness: Fundamental approaches, Tokyo 1999. Advances in Consciousness Research 33, John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam, pp. 341-348,
1. The human self does not change in time.
2. The subjective 'now' is totally out of the scope of modern theoretical physics.
3. The topology of cognitive state
space is highly non-trivial.
Also, we should be very cautious with some simple models of the cognitive processes in the brain, borrowed from computer science. Everything "encoded" in the brain is nothing but a pattern similar to, say, a barcode. The meaning of this "barcode" is produced by the whole brain -- the ubiquitous phenomenon of binding. This is the mystery of invariant meaning delivered by some UNspeakable Holon. It works flawlessly, despite all the differences in our brains, etc. Recall that the identity of an object is given by invariance or stability with respect to certain transformations. Physicists talk about 'observable' only if the latter is invariant under certain transformations, which in turns form particular groups of transformations. I cannot even imagine all possible transformations in all human brains, which would not even slightly obscure the precise meaning of a concept, say, 'corner', and the meaning of 'corner' will be kept invariant throughout the whole lifetime of all brains. Strangely enough, physicists call us "information gathering and utilizing systems" [M. Gell-Mann and J. Hartle, Phys. Rev. D 47, 3345 (1993)], but haven't taken even a brief Neurophysiology 101. And when you show them their ridiculous errors (I've been doing this since 1983), they pay no attention and continue with publishing their ridiculous papers. S. Hawking, for example, declares in plain English "I shall therefore discuss the psychological time arrow for computers", and then applies the second law of thermodynamics to the "information" in that "computer" (S. Hawking, A Brief History of Time, Bantam Books, New York, 1988, pp. 163-164). If he had taken Neurophysiology 101, he should have noticed that any encoding of information requires decrease of the entropy of the memory substrate, and hence soon or later we should have died of a stroke due to the irreversible structural changes in our brain. Given an approximate rate of 109 bytes per second for visual perception (this rate is calculated by physicists, of course), how come nobody has discovered in the past 80 years some continuous decrease of the entropy of the visual memory substrate, hence discovering the engrams of Karl Lashley? It's a good thing to take Neurophysiology 101.
Besides, let's not forget that we
all have evolved from
I don't see some computer here, but some people do. Anyway, it's a free world. We all have free will, in the sense that the set of all possible actions is not renormalizable, being "open" to new possibilities to emerge from 'the unknown unknown'.
Got a headache? It is really difficult
to think about your brain, with your brain.
of the brain
Dear Lutz and Evgeny,
Download the whole web site, 4.5MB,
[Ref. 1] Lutz Polley,
"Measurement" as a neurophysical process: a
"3.3 Several observers and the emergence of objectivity
"If conscious results of an observation
are determined by the vibrations of a neuron's heat bath -- how can
several observers of an object systematically agree on their results?
"4.2 Potential problems
"The scenario considered only refers
to a single act of "measurement". It It is not clear how an entire
*conscious history* would emerge.
"The key assumption was that individual
neurons of observers always are in "cat states",
i.e. superpositions of firing and resting, with only
the firing component being part
of an observer's experience."
Abstract: "Nonlinear dynamical modeling
of interaction between automatic and conscious processes in the human brain
is considered in terms of the quaternion fields. The interaction is due,
particularly, to the nonlinear firing rate of neurons. Possible connection
of consciousness with the general field theory is indicated. A new type
of symmetry between dynamics of real and imaginary fields is pointed out."