Neuroelectrical approaches to binding problems


Authors
Mostyn W. Jones
University of Manchester (PhD)
Abstract
How do separate brain processes bind to form unified, conscious percepts? This is the perceptual binding problem, which straddles neuroscience and psychology. In fact, two problems exist here: (1) the easy problem of how neural processes are unified, and (2) the hard problem of how this yields unified perceptual consciousness. Binding theories face familiar troubles with (1) and they do not come to grips with (2). This paper argues that neuroelectrical (electromagnetic-field) approaches may help with both problems. Concerning the easy problem, standard accounts of neural binding by synchrony, attention, and convergence raise serious difficulties. These are avoided by neuroelectrical approaches in which the brain’s field binds distributed processes in myriad neurons. Concerning the hard problem, binding theories do not squarely address how to get from neural unity to unified consciousness. This raises metaphysical difficulties involving reductions, emergence, etc. Neuroelectrical (and Russellian) approaches may help avoid these difficulties too. These approaches may thus deserve further investigation as binding theories.
Keywords binding problem  combination problem  hard problem  panpsychism  neurophilosophy
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