Thursday, 8 October 2009

Exchanges at the Frontier: Patricia Churchland

@ Wellcome Trust. She is Prof. of Philosophy at University of California, with A C Grayling.

Describes herself as a Neurophilosopher. Discussed the nature of consciousness amongst lots of other topics.
coma/awake
deep sleep/awake
paying attention/not

Integration across cortex and sub-cortex.

Explained an experiment that proves that non-conscious decision making is better than conscious:

three groups of people, choice of 8 apartment descriptions to choose from: 1 is obviously the best, like close to work, cheap etc.

first group have to decide immediately, second group have 10 minutes and third group allowed to look at choices then distracted by a menial task. third group picked best, as your conscious part of the brain is distracted with another task so your subconscious takes over making the decision. She described it as accessing the 'broadband' most powerful part of your brain. sub-conscious is more intuitive and able to make better decisions without the conscious elements maybe of what people might think and other peripheral considerations.

links to my thoughts about dreams and how they can provide the best decisions or reveal a more comprehensive way to look at a situation.

Chris Frith (from the audience!) asked her about the way forward with thinking about consciousness and other problems and maybe we need to look more at how brains interact together, integrated brain studies to help us to understand the intensely complicated way our brains store and process information.

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