There is a broad consensus about the fundamental role of thehippocampal system (hippocampus and its adjacent areas) in theencoding and retrieval of episodic memories. This paper presents afunctional model of this system. Although memory is not asingle-unit cognitive function, we took the view that the wholesystem of the smooth, interrelated memory processes may have acommon basis. That is why we follow the Ockham's razor principleand minimize the size or complexity of our model assumption set.The fundamental assumption is the requirement of (...) solving the socalled ``homunculus fallacy'', which addresses the issue ofinterpreting the input. Generative autoassociators seem to offer aresolution of the paradox. Learning to represent and to recallinformation, in these generative networks, imply maximization ofinformation transfer, sparse representation and noveltyrecognition. A connectionist architecture, which integrates theseaspects as model constraints, is derived. Numerical studiesdemonstrate the novelty recognition and noise filtering propertiesof the architecture. Finally, we conclude that the derivedconnectionist architecture can be related to the neurobiologicalsubstrate. (shrink)
A problem that has troubled both neo-Darwinists and neo-Lamarckians is whether instincts involve knowledge. This paper discusses the contributions to this problem of the evolutionary biologist August Weismann and the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Weismann discussed an empirical homunculus fallacy: Lamarck’s theory mistakenly presupposes a homunculus in the germ cells. Wittgenstein discussed a conceptual homunculus fallacy which applies to Lamarck’s theory: it is mistaken to suppose that knowledge is stored in the brain or DNA. The upshot of these (...) two fallacies is that instincts arise through a neo-Darwinian process but are not cognitions in the sense that they involve knowledge. Although neo-Lamarckians have rightly argued that learning processes may contribute to the development of instincts, their ideas about the role of knowledge in the evolution and development of instincts are mistaken. (shrink)
Most theories and models of memory are based on two assumptions that contain theoretical problems. These problems are reflected in the memory-trace paradox, which consists in believing that the past is contained in the memory trace, and in the fallacy of the homunculus, which consists in assuming the existence of an unconscious intentional subject. We will discuss these and present an alternative hypothesis concerning the relationship between memory, consciousness and temporality. This holds that consciousness is not a unitary dimension, (...) but is the set of distinct and original modes to address the object. Among the modes of consciousness, a distinction is made between Knowing Consciousness (KC) and Temporal Consciousness (TC). KC describes the mode of addressing the object in order to know it. TC describes the mode of consciousness that temporalizes its object according the subordinate structures of temporality, the past, the present and the future. Finally it is shown how the hypothesis accounts for a variety of memory disorders and phenomena while avoiding the memory- trace paradox and the fallacy of the homunculus. (shrink)
The so-called post-Wittgensteinian Oxford philosophers are often criticized not only for failing to provide for the causal explanation of human behavior and psychological states, but also for failing to recognize that psychological explanations require appeal to sub-personal or molecular processes. Three strategies accommodating this criticism appear in so-called homunculus theories and include: (1) that the sub-systems be assigned intentional or informational content purely heuristically; (2) that the intentional or informational content of molar states be analyzed without remainder in terms (...) of molecular processing; (3) that the entire or salient range of mental or informational molar states be accessible at the molecular level, or vice versa. Option (2) proves to be the most radical and is favored by Dennett. (1) relevantly requires a reduction of the intentional. (3) is illustrated in various ways by the views of Freud, Chomsky, Fodor. (2) is shown to depend on (1) or to be idle; and (3) embraces at least in part an appeal to molar-level explanation. The argument developed attempts to show the sense in which discourse about molar and molecular-level phenomena in the psychological context is fundamentally different from macroscopic and microtheoretical-level discourse about physical phenomena. The conclusion drawn is that neither a molar nor a sub-personal level theory is suitably explanatory in the psychological sense: a psychological theory is committed rather to a set of sub-personal components of such systems, that serve to explain molar phenomena. (shrink)
Everyone has felt those tingling, tickly sensations occurring spontaneously all over the body in the absence of stimuli. But does anyone know where they come from? Here, right-handed subjects were asked to focus on one hand while looking at it and while looking away and subsequently to map and describe the spatial and qualitative attributes of sensations arising spontaneously. The spatial distribution of spontaneous sensations followed a proximo-distal gradient, similar to the one previously described for the density of receptive units. (...) The intensity and spatial extent of the reported sensations were modulated by the focusing condition, especially in respect of the left hand. Convergent focusing acted upon the conscious perception of sensations by enhancing or suppressing them. To our knowledge, this is the first ever study of spontaneous sensations, and it offers considerable insight into their sources. The presence of the proximo-distal distributional gradient is a clear sign that receptive units are involved. The enhancement/suppression effects also confirm the involvement of attention. Finally, left-hand dominance suggests several right-hemisphere processes may be involved, such as spatial and tactile perception, and probably interoception. (shrink)
Prediction, like filling-in, is an example of pattern completion and both are likely to involve processes of statistical inference. Furthermore, there is no incompatibility between inference and neural filling-in, for the neural processes may be mediating the inferential processes. The usefulness of the “bridge locus” is defended, and it is also suggested that the interpersonal level needs to be included when considering subjective experience.
Ein Homunkulus im philosophischen Sprachgebrauch ist eine postulierte menschenähnliche Instanz, die ausdrücklich oder unausdrücklich zur Erklärung der Arbeitsweise des menschlichen Geistes herangezogen wird. Als Homunkulus-Fehlschluß wird die Praxis bezeichnet, Prädikate, die auf kognitive oder perzeptive Leistungen einer ganzen Person zutreffen, auch auf Teile von Personen oder auf subpersonale Vorgänge anzuwenden, was typischerweise zu einem Regreß führt. Der vorliegende Beitrag erörtert den Homunkulus-Fehlschluß zunächst in argumentationstheoretischer Hinsicht und stellt dabei ein Diagnoseschema auf. Dann werden zwei Anwendungsfelder erörtert: Instanzenmodelle der Psyche (Platon, (...) Freud) sind ihrer Natur nach homunkulusgefährdet, denn es ist aufgrund der holistischen Zuschreibungsbedingungen mentaler Fähigkeiten schwer plausibel zu machen, wie eine innerpsychische Instanz den ihr zugedachten Beitrag leisten soll, ohne über eine eigene Psyche zu verfügen. Der zweite Anwendungsfall ist das Problem des invertierten Netzhautbildes in der Philosophie der Wahrnehmung, das wissenschafts- und philosophiegeschichtlich eingebettet und unter besonderer Berücksichtigung von Descartes diskutiert wird. Schließlich werden offensive Rechtfertigungen homunkularer Redeweisen erörtert und größtenteils zurückgewiesen. -- The homunculus fallacy is committed when someone tries to explain how the human mind works by postulating a little man within the mind or the brain. Homunculi are rarely posited with one’s eyes open. Rather, the fallacy occurs when predicates that properly apply to cognitive or perceptual achievements of persons get applied to subpersonal processes or to parts of persons (e.g., brains). The paper suggests a pattern for diagnosing homunculus fallacies. After taking a look at Freud’s and Platon’s homuncular metapsychologies, a case study is discussed in detail: the problem of the inverted retinal image which plagued the philosophy of perception since Kepler formulated it in 1604. It is argued that the irradiation patterns on the retina are not images, on pain of committing the homunculus fallacy. The paper closes with the repudiation of some frank apologies of homuncular explanations. (shrink)
Ned Block’s Chinese Nation Argument is offered as a counterexample to Turing-machine functionalism. According to that argument, one billion Chinese could be organized to instantiate Turing-machine descriptions of mental states. Since we wouldn’t want to impute qualia to such an organized population, functionalism cannot account for the qualitative character of mental states like pain. Paul Churchland and Patricia Churchland have challenged that argument by trying to show that an adequate representation of the complexity of mind requires at least 10 30,000,000 (...) homunculi. As such a large collection of Chinese is beyond comprehension, the intuitive force of Block’s example would be undercut. I argue that Churchland and Church land erroneously assume that every possible input-state combination in the human Turing-machine table must be assigned a homunculus. I attempt to restore the intuitive force of Block’s thought experiment by pointing to a way to simulate the human mind that does not require any such staggering number of homunculi. (shrink)
Background. Although genital sensations are an essential aspect of sexual behavior, the cortical somatosensory representation of genitalia in women and men remain poorly known and contradictory results have been reported. Objective. To conduct a systematic review of studies based on electrophysiological and functional neuroimaging studies, with the aim to identify insights brought by modern methods since the early descriptions of the sensory homunculus in the primary somatosensory cortex . Results. The review supports the interpretation that there are two distinct (...) representations of genital sensations in SI, one on the medial surface and the other on the lateral surface. In addition, the review suggests that the secondary somatosensory cortex and the posterior insula support a representation of the affective aspects of genital sensation. Conclusion. In view of the erogenous character of sensations originating in the genitalia, future studies on this topic should systematically assess qualitatively as well as quantitatively the sexually stimulating and/or sexually pleasurable characteristics of sensations felt by subjects in response to experimental stimuli. (shrink)
It has long been appreciated that the brain is oscillatory 1. Early measurements of brain electrophysiology revealed rhythmic synchronization unifying large swaths of the brain. The study of neural oscillation has enveloped cognitive neuroscience and neural systems. The traditional belief that oscillations are epiphenomenal of neuron spiking is being challenged by intracellular oscillations and the theoretical backing that oscillatory activity is fundamental to physics. Subjective experience oscillates at three particular frequency bands in a cognitive triad: perception at 5 Hz, action (...) at 2 Hz, and attention at 0.1 Hz. This triad functions as a means of information flow across scales of magnitude in a biological fractal. The _Homunculus Solution _is proposed in which mental experience occurs at fixed scales of biology. The mind is composed of minds, perceived as "the voices in your head." Each voice has voices inside its head to increasingly microscopic scales, forming an interactive fractal of subjective experience. Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE. (shrink)
1. Was ist ein Homunkulus-Fehlschluß? 2. Analyse des Mentalen und Naturalisierung der Intentionalität 3. Homunkulismus in Theorien der visuellen Wahrnehmung 4. Homunkulismus und Repräsentationalismus 5. Der homunkulare Funktionalismus 6. Philosophische Sinnkritik und empirische Wissenschaft Literatur .
Ein Homunkulus im philosophischen Sprachgebrauch ist eine postulierte menschenähnliche Instanz, die ausdrücklich oder unausdrücklich zur Erklärung der Arbeitsweise des menschlichen Geistes herangezogen wird. Als Homunkulus-Fehlschluß wird die Praxis bezeichnet, Prädikate, die auf kognitive oder perzeptive Leistungen einer ganzen Person zutreffen, auch auf Teile von Personen oder auf subpersonale Vorgänge anzuwenden, was typischerweise zu einem Regreß führt. Der vorliegende Beitrag erörtert den Homunkulus-Fehlschluß zunächst in argumentationstheoretischer Hinsicht und stellt dabei ein Diagnoseschema auf. Dann werden zwei Anwendungsfelder erörtert: Instanzenmodelle der Psyche (Platon, (...) Freud) sind ihrer Natur nach homunkulusgefährdet, denn es ist aufgrund der holistischen Zuschreibungsbedingungen mentaler Fähigkeiten schwer plausibel zu machen, wie eine innerpsychische Instanz den ihr zugedachten Beitrag leisten soll, ohne über eine eigene Psyche zu verfügen. Der zweite Anwendungsfall ist das Problem des invertierten Netzhautbildes in der Philosophie der Wahrnehmung, das wissenschafts- und philosophiegeschichtlich eingebettet und unter besonderer Berücksichtigung von Descartes diskutiert wird. Schließlich werden offensive Rechtfertigungen homunkularer Redeweisen erörtert und größtenteils zurückgewiesen. (shrink)
To enable microbial colonisation of the gut mucosa, the intestinal immune system must not only react to danger signals but also recognize cues that indicate safety. Safety recognition, paradoxically, is mediated by the same environmental sensors that are involved in signalling danger. Indeed, in addition to their well established role in inducing inflammation in response to stress signals, pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) and a variety of metabolic sensors also promote gut-microbiota symbiosis by responding to "microbial symbiosis factors", "resolution-associated molecular patterns", (...) markers of energy extraction and other signals indicating the absence of pathogenic infection and tissue damage. Here we focus on how the paradoxical role of immune receptors and other environmental sensors define the microbiota signature of the individual. (shrink)
BackgroundDuring the course of a previous study, our laboratory made a serendipitous finding that just thinking about genital stimulation resulted in brain activations that overlapped with, and differed from, those generated by physical genital stimulation.ObjectiveThis study extends our previous findings by further characterizing how the brain differentially processes physical ‘touch’ stimulation and ‘imagined’ stimulation.DesignEleven healthy women participated in an fMRI study of the brain response to imagined or actual tactile stimulation of the nipple and clitoris. Two additional conditions – imagined (...) dildo self-stimulation and imagined speculum stimulation – were included to characterize the effects of erotic versus non-erotic imagery.ResultsImagined and tactile self-stimulation of the nipple and clitoris each activated the paracentral lobule and the secondary somatosensory cortex. Imagined self-stimulation of the clitoris and nipp... (shrink)
This edition has been fully revised and updated, and includes a new chapter on consciousness and a new section on modularity. There are also guides for further reading, and a new glossary of terms such as mentalese, connectionism, and the homunculus fallacy.
In earlier papers I described the conscious electromagnetic information (CEMI) field theory, which claimed that the substrate of consciousness is the brain’s electromagnetic (EM) field. I here further explore this theory by examining the properties and dynamics of the information underlying meaning in consciousness. I argue that meaning suffers from a binding problem, analogous to the binding problem described for visual perception, and describe how the gestalt (holistic) properties of meaning give rise to this binding problem. To clarify the role (...) of information in conscious meaning, I differentiate between extrinsic information that is symbolic and arbitrary, and intrinsic information, which preserves structural aspects of the represented object and thereby maintains some gestalt properties of the represented object. I contrast the requirement for a decoding process to extract meaning from extrinsic information, whereas meaning is intrinsic to the structure of the gestalt intrinsic information and does not require decoding. I thereby argue that to avoid the necessity of a decoding homunculus, conscious meaning must be encoded intrinsically — as gestalt information — in the brain. Moreover, I identify fields as the only plausible substrate for encoding gestalt intrinsic information and argue that the binding problem of meaning can only be solved by grounding meaning in this field-based gestalt information. I examine possible substrates for gestalt information in the brain and conclude that the only plausible substrate is the CEMI field. (shrink)
The distinction between bottom-up and top-down control of action has been central in cognitive psychology, and, subsequently, in functional neuroimaging. While the model has proven successful in describing central mechanisms in cognitive experiments, it has serious shortcomings in explaining how top-down control is established. In particular, questions as to what is at the top in top-down control lead us to a controlling homunculus located in a mythical brain region with outputs and no inputs. Based on a discussion of recent (...) brain imaging experiments, we argue for the need to factor the interaction between the experimenter and the experimental participant into a realistic understanding of top-down control. We suggest these interactions involve a ‘sharing of scripts’ for perception and action that may be described as ‘top-top processes.’ We thereby expand the understanding of the homunculus to include elements of social cognition. This conceptual reconfiguration may grant some sort of asylum for a—not very omnipotent—homunculus. (shrink)
The soul is an elusive thing, and anyone who wants to describe it must do so with metaphors, painting it in a picture of words. The metaphors one chooses for this task will reflect the aspects one is most eager to promote of what it is to be a person, a living, breathing, thinking presence in the world. Popularly, the soul is often pictured as a little fellow inside one's head, a homunculus with whom one is in constant communication. (...) Such a picture lends color to the idea that to be a sentient being is to be in a condition of inner dialogue with oneself, reasoning things out, talking things over, and perhaps also being guided by one's conscience, an inner voice heard only by oneself. Notice that the soul so. (shrink)
Basic affects reflect the diversity of satisfactions and discomforts that are inherited tools for living from our ancestral past. Affects are neurobiologically-ingrained potentials of the nervous system, which are triggered, moulded and refined by life experiences. Cognitive, information- processing approaches and computational metaphors cannot penetrate foundational affective processes. Animal models allow us to empirically analyse the large-scale neural ensembles that generate emotional-action dynamics that are critically important for creating emotional feelings. Such approaches offer robust neuro-epistemological strategies to decode the fundamental (...) nature of affects in all mammals, including humans, but they remain to be widely implemented. Here I summarize how we can develop a cross-species affective neuroscience that probes the neural nature of emotional affective states by studying the instinctual emotional apparatus of the mammalian body and brain. Affective feelings and emotional actions may reflect the dynamics of the primal viscero-somatic homunculus of SELF-representation. (shrink)
A serious crisis is identified in theories of neurocomputation, marked by a persistent disparity between the phenomenological or experiential account of visual perception and the neurophysiological level of description of the visual system. In particular, conventional concepts of neural processing offer no explanation for the holistic global aspects of perception identified by Gestalt theory. The problem is paradigmatic and can be traced to contemporary concepts of the functional role of the neural cell, known as the Neuron Doctrine. In the absence (...) of an alternative neurophysiologically plausible model, I propose a perceptual modeling approach, to model the percept as experienced subjectively, rather than modeling the objective neurophysiological state of the visual system that supposedly subserves that experience. A Gestalt Bubble model is presented to demonstrate how the elusive Gestalt principles of emergence, reification, and invariance can be expressed in a quantitative model of the subjective experience of visual consciousness. That model in turn reveals a unique computational strategy underlying visual processing, which is unlike any algorithm devised by man, and certainly unlike the atomistic feed-forward model of neurocomputation offered by the Neuron Doctrine paradigm. The perceptual modeling approach reveals the primary function of perception as that of generating a fully spatial virtual-reality replica of the external world in an internal representation. The common objections to this picture-in-the-head concept of perceptual representation are shown to be ill founded. Key Words: brain-anchored; Cartesian theatre; consciousness; emergence; extrinsic constraints; filling-in; Gestalt; homunculus; indirect realism; intrinsic constraints; invariance; isomorphism; multistability; objective phenomenology; perceptual modeling; perspective; phenomenology; psychophysical parallelism; psychophysical postulate; qualia; reification; representationalism; structural coherence. (shrink)