James_James_85 t1_jaaw0vj wrote

>wouldn’t there technically be some other function that initials the spark in reaction to the stimulus?

Our sensory organs (retina, skin, ...) are what converts the different stimuli into electrical messages. These travel up the sensory nerves into the brain where they induce an endless train of activity, including the reactivation of memories, the complex neural process of decision making and so on. Even something as simple as a feeling of anxiety/hunger/feeling your heartbeats/... is considered sensory input, so it would be extremely hard to completely isolate the brain from it. These serve as cues to spark a certain though or memory, which in turn sparks other memories and so on in a continuous chain.


>And what about a thought not stimulated by external factors?

There are many types of neurons, some of which will periodically fire spontaneously due to certain chemical processes (e.g., pacemaker neurons). Even you were to perfectly isolate the brain, it would still have a baseline activity, and would still think. Though in this case I'd imagine you'd be drawing blanks most of the time, the activity would translate to random flashes of thoughts/memories here and there until one of them induces a new chain of coherent thoughts.

You could look at it as if the very initial spark was the first neuron that fired in your developing brain when you were a fetus, and your brain has been following an endless causal chain of neural activity, altered by incoming messages from the sensory nerves and noise from the spontaneously firing neurons.

Consciousness, whatever it is, seems to be "just along for the ride". Whatever activity is taking place in the brain, that is what you are conscious of, yet it has no influence on that activity. Hopefully science reaches the real answer soon, brain simulations is what I'm really excited about.


James_James_85 t1_ja9uwb0 wrote

>he discusses the experiments he did over 30 years that allude to us all being tapped into one human consciousness.

One interesting paradox solved by a global consciousness is the issue of split brain patients. Patients who undergo a total corpus callosotomy have their two hemispheres completely separated. After the surgery, they emerge as two separately thinking entities, essentially two people in one body. If one imagines undergoing such a surgery, slowly closing their eyes as they drift away under the anesthetic, then waking up after. Which half would they find themselves as? I'd imagine wiring two separate brains together in the right way would cause them to start thinking they are one person instead of two as well. The traditional view that each individual has their own consciousness fails to explain such paradoxes or questions as "why am I aware of this body and not that body" or "why am I conscious of a body born in the 21st century instead of one in the year 3000", why am I conscious of a human body instead of a bird's, etc..

I had such a thought too, I imagine a single consciousness throughout the entire universe, which experiences the universe in varying degrees of awareness through completely separate entities (brains/brain simulations/...). However, it's important to note that even if this were true, no experiment would ever be able to establish any connection between separate organisms beside what can already be explained by the laws of physics. Whatever true consciousness is, it would appear that, paradoxically, it has absolutely no effect on our thoughts and decisions, or our subconscious, as all those processes can be traced back to neural interactions and chemical processes in the brain. Lesioning certain parts of the brain could for example mess with our decision making, personalities or memories.


>what sparks the initial thought in the brain?

Sensory input for example could serve as an initial spark. Certain types of neurons sometimes fire spontaneously too, due to certain chemical properties. I don't think true consciousness, whatever it is, can alter the path of a molecule or squeeze a neuron and cause it to fire, that just doesn't happen.


>I believe there’s much more to true consciousness than a bunch of 1’s and 0’s

I do to. It's easy enough to imagine why a complex enough brain would "think" it is conscious, but I could never see how it would be "truly" conscious. It's indeed a perplexing issue.


James_James_85 t1_ja7w1gi wrote

A thought experiment on consciousness:

Imagine you had an infinite piece of paper, an infinite pencil. You scan a human's brain on the cellular level and draw a 2D map of its entire neural network with all its gory details on the piece of paper, and represent electrical signals e.g. by small circles inside the axons.

Then, using your expert knowledge about chemistry and the dynamics of cell movement, you repeat an endless cycle of going through the entire drawing, erasing current electrical messages and redrawing them slightly ahead in the axons, and erasing the free dendrites and redrawing them in a slightly altered position (and any other aspect of brain function I may have missed). perhaps also feed it some visual/auditory signals through the optic/auditory nerves, and other made-up sensory inputs. In a way, you'd be doing a full "manual simulation" of the brain on that piece of paper. Overlook the fact that this would be impossibly tedious, imagine you had infinite time on your hand and are precise enough not to make any mistakes.

Now here's the question: would that "brain on a paper" have its own consciousness, provided the simulation is accurate enough?

I'd suspect yes! It would be experiencing its own "fake reality" of sorts, and as soon as you stop drawing it's like it blacks out. Draw again and its experience resumes without it noticing anything has happened. It'd also think time would run at normal speed for it, provided the sensory input you're feeding it is slowed down to the appropriate speed.

What are your thoughts?