Tuesday, December 25, 2007

An Odd Bit of Timing

In response to The User Illusion:

Quite so Matthias. Geörgy Buzsáki points out in his book on brain oscillations, Rhythms of the Brain, sentence number one:
"The short punch line of this book is that brains are foretelling devices and their predictive powers emerge from the various rhythms they perpetually generate. At the same time, brain activity can be tuned to become an ideal observer of the environment, due to an organized system of rhythms."

I guess this means, perturb them just the right way (as part of their environment) and hope they can right their output.

I was listening to this podcast today from 2005, Beyond Time, concepts around time... one of the people included was Ramachandran discussing an experiment in which subjects were attached to electrodes and then asked to wiggle their finger, any time they wanted to. The data revealed that there was quite a lag time between the time the brain decided to move the finger, and the time the subjects thought they had decided to consciously move the finger. About a second. That's slow for brains. Ramachandran pointed out that from this one can only conclude that the subjective awareness of an action one takes is an after-the-fact story. The idea of "free will" is an illusion - the brain decides when one will move and how, and the sense we have of ourselves enacting a movement that "I" (or our idea of self) have/has chosen, is a confabulation, a story it tells itself.

The left hemisphere must be the part that makes up this particular illusion, as it is generally regarded as the explainer/confabulator after the fact.

When it comes to pain, perhaps the reason movement illusions (inputs) work to reduce brains' pain output is that something is changed or changes in the timing of the oscillations. Just a little pause, but enough to shift an moving output, like an oscillation here... a brain wave there...

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