Merker's approach allows the formulation of an evolutionary view of consciousness that abandons a dependence on structural homology – in this case, the presence of a cerebral cortex – in favor of functional concordance. In contrast to Merker, though, I maintain that the emergence of complex, dynamic interactions, such as those which occur between thalamus and cortex, was central to the appearance of consciousness. (Published Online May 1 2007).
The metacognitive stance of Smith et al. (2003) risks ignoring sensory consciousness. Although Smith et al. rightly caution against the tendency to preserve the uniqueness of the human mind at all costs, their reasoned stance is undermined by a selective association of consciousness with high-level cognitive operations. Neurobiological evidence may offer a more general, and hence more inclusive, basis for the systematic study of animal consciousness.
(a) Learn a grammar GA for the source language (A). (b) Estimate a structural statistical language model SSLMA for (A). Given a grammar (consisting of terminals and nonterminals) and a partial sentence (sequence of terminals (t1 . . . ti)), an SSLM assigns probabilities to the possible choices of the next terminal ti+1.
The standard behavioral index for human consciousness is the ability to report events with accuracy. While this method is routinely used for scientific and medical applications in humans, it is not easy to generalize to other species. Brain evidence may lend itself more easily to comparative testing. Human consciousness involves widespread, relatively fast low-amplitude interactions in the thalamocortical core of the brain, driven by current tasks and conditions. These features have also been found in other mammals, which suggests that consciousness (...) is a major biological adaptation in mammals. We suggest more than a dozen additional properties of human consciousness that may be used to test comparative predictions. Such homologies are necessarily more remote in non-mammals, which do not share the thalamocortical complex. However, as we learn more we may be able to make “deeper” predictions that apply to some birds, reptiles, large-brained invertebrates, and perhaps other species. (shrink)
The publication in 1982 of David Marr’s Vision has delivered a singular boost and a course correction to the science of vision. Thirty years later, cognitive science is being transformed by the new ways of thinking about what it is that the brain computes, how it does that, and, most importantly, why cognition requires these computations and not others. This ongoing process still owes much of its impetus and direction to the sound methodology, engaging style, and unique voice of (...) Marr’s Vision. (shrink)
What insights does comparative biology provide for furthering scienti¿ c understanding of the evolution of dynamic coordination? Our discussions covered three major themes: (a) the fundamental unity in functional aspects of neurons, neural circuits, and neural computations across the animal kingdom; (b) brain organization –behavior relationships across animal taxa; and (c) the need for broadly comparative studies of the relationship of neural structures, neural functions, and behavioral coordination. Below we present an overview of neural machinery and computations that are shared (...) by all nervous systems across the animal kingdom, and the related fact that there really are no “simple” relationships in coordination between nervous systems and the behavior they produce. The simplest relationships seen in living organisms are already fairly complex by computational standards. These realizations led us to think about ways that brain similarities and differences could be used to produce new insights into complex brain–behavior phenomena (including a critical appraisal of the roles of cortical and noncortical structures in mammalian behavior), and to think brieÀy about how future studies could best exploit comparative methods to elucidate better general principles underlying the neural mechanisms associated with behavioral coordination. In our view, it is unlikely that the intricacies interrelating neural and behavioral coordination are due to one particular manifestation (such as neural oscillation or the possession of a six-layered cortex). Instead of considering the human cortex to be the standard against which all things are measured (and thus something to crow about), both broad and focused comparative studies on behavioral similarities and differences will be necessary to elucidate the fundamental principles underlying dynamic coordination. (shrink)
Idealized mo dels of receptive elds (RFs) can be used as building blocks for the creation of p owerful distributed computation systems. The present rep ort concentrates on inv estigating the utility of collections of RFs in representing 3D objects under changing viewing conditions. The main requirement in this task is that the pattern of activity of RFs vary as little as p ossible when the object and the camera move relative to each other. I propose a method for representing (...) objects by RF activities, based on the observation that, in the case of rotation around a xed axis, dierences of activities of RFs that are prop erly situated with resp ect to that axis remain inv ariant. Results of computational exp eriments suggest that a representation scheme based on this algorithm for the choice of stable pairs of RFs would p erform consistently b etter than a scheme inv olving random sets of RFs. The proposed scheme may be useful under object or camera rotation, b oth for ideal Lam b ertian objects, and for real-world objects such as human faces. (shrink)
Within the Judeo-Christian tradition, Sodom and Gomorrah represent locales in which threats to national formation are couched in sexual terms. The biblical narrative insists on a particular social invisibility for those sexual activities not blessed by the bonds of matrimony. Reclaiming Sodom surveys a number of institutions that have had an interest in perpetuating these views: the police, the state, the church and the law. The collection ranges through biblical scholarship, an investigation of the Founding Fathers' beliefs, the legal mobilization (...) towards the category of sodomy in 18th and 19th century England, and the US Supreme Court's 1986 Bowers vs. Hardwick decision. Analysis is provided of the ways in which the Judeo-Christian tradition has shaped anthropological accounts of the same-sex practices of non-Western people, as well as essays on how colonial gestures have marked lesbian identity in the Carribean, and derformed narratives about the racial geography of AIDS. Reclaiming Sodom explores alternatives to the force of the Sodomitic biblical narrative in Islamic, non-western, and western traditions, and discusses the ways in which sodomy calls into question normative definitions of sexuality and gender. The collection pursues the "pleasures and dangers" of these alternatives, and takes on Proust's refusal to imagine a social movement founded on the "stigma" of Sodom. The collection examines the relations between sex/gender identities and sexual acts in important and provocative ways, and argues for the political use and usefulness of both Sodom and sodomy. Reclaiming Sodom makes an important and controversial contribution to the literature on sexuality and gender, as well as the nature of sex in our culture. Contributors: Dorothy Allison, Robert Alter, Neil Bartlett, Leo Bersani, Gerald Creed, Marc Daniel, Lee Edelman, Janet E. Halley, Jonathan Ned Katz, Pierre Klossowski, Rocky O'Donovan, Guy Hocquenghem, Cindy Patton, Marquis de Sade, David Shannon, Makeda Silver, Jonathan Goldberg. (shrink)
The paper introduces the field of consciousness studies to an audience outside of philosophy and the cognitive sciences, using the work of the late David Brooks as a starting point. Brooks' account of consciousness, and the cognitive and evolutionary significance of for-the-organism properties, are discussed. Brooks' account is evaluated in the light of the debate over conscious inessentialism; and alternative lines for developing Brooks' account are proposed, drawing on the work of Gerald Edelman.
This paper explores a remarkable convergence of ideas and evidence, previously presented in separate places by its authors. That convergence has now become so persuasive that we believe we are working within substantially the same broad framework. Taylor's mathematical papers on neuronal systems involved in consciousness dovetail well with work by Newman and Baars on the thalamocortical system, suggesting a brain mechanism much like the global workspace architecture developed by Baars (see references below). This architecture is relational, in the sense (...) that it continuously mediates the interaction of input with memory. While our approaches overlap in a number of ways, each of us tends to focus on different areas of detail. What is most striking, and we believe significant, is the extent of consensus, which we believe to be consistent with other contemporary approaches by Weiskrantz, Gray, Crick and Koch, Edelman, Gazzaniga, Newell and colleagues, Posner, Baddeley, and a number of others. We suggest that cognitive neuroscience is moving toward a shared understanding of consciousness in the brain. (shrink)
Multidimensional space representations like those posited in Edelman's target article are not sufficient to capture all similarity phenomena. We discuss phenomena that are compatible with models of similarity that assume structured relational representations. An adequate model of similarity and perception will require multiple approaches to representation.