Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Comments Remain Open

EFC 2012 VIDEO UPDATE: The videos are all still accessible, but their links have changed. Apart from the videos for Dan Dennett and John Searle, which are both correctly updated below, the video links for all the rest of the talks below are out-of-date. 
The correct, updated  links for all the videos are  at this site (and below)

Dear All (including students enrolled for credit and other who are following the discussion online):

The comments remain open. If your comment is to a particular author, please post it as a comment on their paper. If it is for more several authors, it is best to post multiply, to each author, if you want a reply. If you just want to register the comment, you can do it on the discussion section for the day.

9-06-2012Daniel DennettA Phenomenal Confusion About Access and Consciousness
29-06-2012Antonio DamasioFeelings and Sentience
30-06-2012Joseph LedouxThe Perplexing Relationship Between Emotions and Consciousness
30-06-2012Jorge ArmonyNeural Bases of Emotion
30-06-2012Fernando CerveroCellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Pain
30-06-2012Phillip JacksonThe Brain Response to the Pain of Others: Fleeing Versus Caring
30-06-2012Catherine Tallon-BaudryIs Consciousness an Executive Function?
01-07-2012Stevan HarnadHow/Why Explaining the Causal Role of Consciousness is Hard
01-07-2012Inman HarveyNo Hard Feelings: Why Would An Evolved Robot Care?
01-07-2012Ioannis RekleitisThree Basic Questions in Robotics: New Directions
01-07-2012Dario FloreanoEvolution of Adaptive Behavior in Autonomous Robots
01-07-2012James ClarkAttention: Doing and Feeling
01-07-2012Michael GrazianoConsciousness and the Attention Schema
02-07-2012John CampbellWhat does Visual Experience Have to do with Visual Science?
02-07-2012Patrick HaggardVolition and Agency: What is it, and What is it For?
02-07-2012David FreedmanBrain Mechanisms of Visual Categorization and Decision-Making
02-07-2012Shimon EdelmanBeing in Time
02-07-2012Wayne SossinAplysia:If We Understand the Cellular Mechanisms Underlying Sensation and Learning, What Do We Need Consciousness for?
04-07-2012Bernard BaarsThe biological basis of conscious experience: Global workspace dynamics in the brain
04-07-2012Ezequiel MorsellaThe Primary Function of Consciousness in the Brain
04-07-2012Roy BaumeisterThe Why, What and How of Consciousness
04-07-2012Bjorn MerkerThe Brain's Need for Sensory Consciousness: From Probabilities to Percepts
04-07-2012Paul CisekThe Vanishing Central Executive: Distributed Neural Mechanisms for Decision-Making
04-07-2012Michael ShadlenConsciousness as a Decision to Engage
05-07-2012Wolf SingerConsciousness: Unity in Time Rather Than Space?
05-07-2012Erik CookAre Neural Fluctuations in Cortex Causally Linked to Visual Perception?
05-07-2012Bjorn BrembsBehavioral Freedom and Decision-Making in Flies: Evolutionary precursor of "Free Will"?
05-07-2012Julio MartinezVoluntary Attention and Working Memory in The Primate Brain: Recording from Single Cells
05-07-2012Christopher PackVision During Unconsciousness
05-07-2012Barbara FinlayContinuities/Discontinuities in Vertebrate Brain Evolution and Cognitive Capacities: Implications for Consciousness?
06-07-2012Gary ComstockFeeling Matters
06-07-2012David RosenthalDoes Consciousness Have any Utility?
06-07-2012Mark BalaguerA Scientifically Reputable Version of Indeterministic Libertarian Free Will
06-07-2012Adrian WardMind Blanking: When the Stream of Consciousness Runs Dry
07-07-2012Simon Baron-CohenEvolution of Empathy
07-07-2012Alfred MeleDo Conscious Decisions Ever Play a Role in Action Production?
07-07-2012Hakwan LauHow to study the functions of subjective awareness?
07-07-2012Luiz PessoaCognitive-Emotional Interactions
07-07-2012Marthe Kiley-WorthingtonComparing Elephant and Equine Mental Traits, Subjectivity and Consciousness
07-07-2012Axel CleermansConsciousness and Learning
08-07-2012Gualtiero Piccinini Is Consciousness a Spandrel?
08-07-2012Malcolm MacIver Sensory and Motor Spaces and the Emergence of Multiple Futures
08-07-2012Jennifer MatherEvolutionary Pressures and Cephalopod Consciousness
08-07-2012Eva Jablonka Evolutionary Origins of Experiencing
09-07-2012Alain Ptito Neural Mechanisms of Blindsight after Hemispherectomy: Tapping into the Unconscious
09-07-2012Amir Shmuel Neurophysiological and hemodynamic measurements of spontaneous activity and functional connectivity
09-07-2012Gilles PlourdeGeneral Anesthetics for the Study Consciousness
09-07-2012John SearleConsciousness and Causality

Sunday, 8 July 2012

X. Measuring Consciousness (Monday July 9)

Alain Ptito (McGill) Neural Mechanisms of Blindsight after Hemispherectomy: Tapping into the Unconscious
Amir Shmuel (McGill) Neurophysiological and hemodynamic measurements of spontaneous activity and functional connectivity
Gilles Plourde (McGill) General Anesthetics for the Study Consciousness
Amir Raz (McGill) Hypnosis as Experimental Tool to Study Metacognition, Causality and Volition
John Searle (Berkeley) Consciousness and Causalityabstract -- discussion thread (commentary invited) -- video (to come)

John Searle: Consciousness and Causality

            Abstract: How do neurobiological processes in the brain cause consciousness? I think this is the most important question in the biological sciences today. Two related questions: Where exactly is consciousness realized in the brain and how does it function causally in our behavior? We know consciousness happens and we know the brain does it. How does it work? How do we approach this problem scientifically? The standard way is to go through three steps. First, try to find the neurobiological correlate of consciousness. Second, try to test if the correlations are in fact causal. Do the neurobiological states cause consciousness? Third, try to formulate a theory. Why do these processes cause consciousness at all, and why do these specific processes cause these specific conscious states? One depressing feature of this entire research project is that it does not seem to be making much progress.

Mystery of consciousness  a book by me. NYRB book
The Problem of Consciousness:
How to study consciousness scientifically
Free Will as a Problem in Neurobiology

Comments invited

Amir Raz: Hypnosis as Experimental Tool to Study Metacognition, Causality and Volition

apologies: video not available
      Abstract: An early form of psychotherapy, hypnosis has been tarnished by a checkered history: stage shows, movies and cartoons that perpetuate specious myths; and individuals who unabashedly write 'hypnotist' on their business cards. Hypnosis is in the twilight zone alongside a few other mind–body exemplars. Although scientists are still unraveling how hypnosis works, little is mystical about this powerful top-down process, which is an important tool in the armamentarium of the cognitive scientist seeking to unlock topical conundrums.  Philosophical research has revealed a great deal about three categories of behavior: conscious decision-making, authorship, and sense of control. However, little conclusive evidence regarding their interdependent nature has been found, due to the difficulties in separating their influences on tasks such as decision-making.

      Demacheva, I, M Ladouceur, E Steinberg, G Pogossova, A Raz (2012) The Applied Cognitive Psychology of Attention: A Step Closer to Understanding Magic Tricks. Applied Cognitive Psychology http://www.jgh.ca/uploads/Psychiatry/Articles%20PDF/Magic1-Published.pdf
      Raz, A. (2011). Does Neuroimaging of Suggestion Elucidate Hypnotic Trance? International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 59(3), 363-377.http://www.jgh.ca/uploads/Psychiatry/Articles%20PDF/IJCEH2011.pdf
      Raz, A (2011) Hypnosis: a twilight zone of the top-down variety. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, December 2011, Vol. 15, No. 12http://psycho.unibas.ch/fileadmin/psycho/redaktion/Abteilungen/Klinische_Psychologie_und_Psychotherapie/Raz_2011_TINS.pdf
      Raz, A., & Whatley, B. (2009) Consciousness reduced: Will neuroscience confine the mind to the brain? PsycCRITIQUES - Contemporary Psychology, 54(39).http://www.jgh.ca/uploads/Psychiatry/Articles%20PDF/PSYCCRITIQUES_consciousness_reduced.pdf
      Raz, A., & Zigman, P., (2009). Using Magic as a Vehicle to Elucidate Attention. In A. Finazzi AgrËœ et al. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. London: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
      Raz, A. (2009) Varieties of Attention: A Research-Magician's Perspective. In G. Bernston and J. Cacioppo (Eds.), Handbook of Neuroscience for the Behavioural Sciences (pp. 361-369). Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, Inc. http://bit.ly/RazHypno

Comments invited

Amir Shmuel: Neurophysiological and hemodynamic measurements of spontaneous activity and functional connectivity

      Abstract: Recent functional MRI (fMRI) studies in humans have demonstrated large amplitude slow (< 0.1 Hz) fluctuations in the resting state. Importantly, these spontaneous fluctuations in the Blood-Oxygenation-Level-Dependent (BOLD) signal are often synchronized over distant parts of the brain, a phenomenon termed resting-state functional connectivity. Functional connectivity analysis identifies resting-state networks of areas that also coactivate in response to stimuli or tasks. In my talk, I'll first explore whether fMRI-measured spontaneous fluctuations reflect those seen in neurophysiological activity. I will then demonstrate that resting-state functional connectivity exists in a hierarchical manner in space. In addition to the commonly reported networks on the spatial scale of cortical areas, smaller networks can be observed at the resolution scales of sub-areas and cortical columns. I will conclude with hypotheses on the mechanisms involved, the role of spontaneous activity, and implications for clinical neuroscience.
        Carbonell F, Bellec P, Shmuel A. (2011) Neuronal Correlates of Spontaneous Fluctuations in fMRI Signals in Monkey Visual Cortex: Implications for Functional Connectivity at Rest. Brain Connect. 2011;1(6):496-510
        Shmuel A, Leopold DA (2008) Neuronal Correlates of Spontaneous Fluctuations in fMRI Signals in Monkey Visual Cortex: Implications for Functional Connectivity at Rest. Hum Brain Mapp. 2008 Jul;29(7):751-61 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18465799

        Smith et al., 2009 Correspondence of the brain's functional architecture during activation and rest http://www.pnas.org/content/106/31/13040.full

Comments invited

Gilles Plourde: General Anesthetics for the Study Consciousness

    Abstract: Although general anesthetics have been used for more than 150 years and suppress consciousness in a predictable manner, their mechanisms of action are not fully elucidated. Numerous studies have been devoted to understanding how general anesthetics impair consciousness in human subjects using either functional brain imaging or electrophysiology. These studies have obvious relevance for the study of consciousness, particularly for consciousness as a waking state and in regard to self-awareness. They have revealed the critical involvement of the thalamus and offered evidence supporting the hypothesis that the anesthetized state is associated with loss of connectivity and attenuation neuronal oscillations in the high-gamma range. In this lecture, I will first review the aspect of the pharmacology of general anesthetic that are essential to appreciate the possibilities that these drugs offer to study consciousness as well as their limitations. In the second part, I will summarize the main findings that emerge from the literature.

    Alkire MT, Hudetz AG, Tononi G. Consciousness and anesthesia. Science 2008; 322: 876-80 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2743249/
    Franks NP. General anaesthesia: from molecular targets to neuronal pathways of sleep and arousal. Nat Rev Neurosci 2008; 9: 370-86http://hopecenterdev.wustl.edu/training/bio5663/Documents/FRANKS_NATNEUROSCI_rev.pdf
    Critical involvement of the thalamus and precuneus during restoration of consciousness with physostigmine in humans during propofol anaesthesia: a positron emission tomography study http://bja.oxfordjournals.org/content/106/4/548.full

Comments invited

Alain Ptito Neural Mechanisms of Blindsight after Hemispherectomy: Tapping into the Unconscious

      Abstract: Hemispherectomy subjects (Hs) have offered a unique opportunity to study the role that subcortical structures play in blindsight because the hemisphere contralateral to the blind field is absent or non-functional. We first showed Hs could detect and localize simple targets and moving gratings, discriminate grating velocity and differentiate forms in their blind field. We suggested a role of subcortical pathways i.e. the superior colliculi (SC), with the participation of the remaining hemisphere. We reported the existence of residual vision with awareness in the blind field and showed that Hs were insensitive to motion-in-depth in their hemianopic field and that some possess blindsight as shown by a spatial summation effect i.e. subjects only react to the stimulus presented in their intact field, without being aware that the simultaneous presentation of another stimulus in their blind field lowers their reaction time. We hypothesized that this indirect method to evaluate blindsight could involve subcortical mechanisms without requiring cortical processing, and without the subject's awareness. We then reported that the cellular integrity and metabolism of the ipsilateral SC in the vervet monkey are much less affected than those of the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) after neonatal hemispherectomy. We underlined the importance of controlling intraocular light scatter and published the first fMRI study on residual vision. We concluded that the SC are likely implicated in blindsight in Hs, and we recently utilized the color vision properties of collicular cells to demonstrate its involvement in the residual visual abilities of Hs. Since the primate SC does not receive retinal input from shortwave-sensitive (S-) cones involved in colour vision, consequently rendering them colour blind to blue yellow stimuli, we tested 3 Hs who had reliably shown blindsight. They demonstrated a spatial summation effect only to achromatic stimuli suggesting that their blindsight is colour-blind to blue/yellow stimuli and is not receiving input from retinal S-cones. We concluded that blindsight is likely mediated by the SC in Hs. We were the first to use Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) Tractography to investigate pulvinar connectivity in humans and SC connectivity in Hs with and without blindsight. We demonstrated the presence of projections from the ipsi- and contralesional SC to primary visual areas, visual association areas, precentral areas/FEF and the internal capsule of the remaining hemisphere in Hs with 'Type I' or 'attention-blindsight' and an absence of these connections in Hs without it. In another study using fMRI, we demonstrated in Hs that achromatic stimuli but not S-cone-isolating stimuli in the blind field of a subject with blindsight activated visual areas FEF/ V5 and that the cortical activation pattern was enhanced by achromatic stimuli only. We concluded that the human SC is blind to S-cone-isolating stimuli, and that blindsight is mediated by an S-cone-independent collicular pathway, at least in Hs.
      The SC is the main recipient of retinal projections in lower mammals with a phylogenetically older and more primitive visual system than humans. Similar but weaker retinocollicular projections also exist in humans. Although existing SC connections to the remaining cortical areas seem to play a pivotal role in unconscious vision, blindsight subjects remain unaware of the information processed in their blind visual field. One possibility for the lack of awareness may lie in the lack of synchronicity in cerebral activation. The human visual pathways process information simultaneously and yet are able to work independently of each other (as is the case following a circumscribed lesion in a visual cortical area). For conscious perception, however, a specific synchronized activation pattern of different cortical areas involving ventral, parietal and frontal visual areas is believed to be crucial. Our results indicate that Hs with 'Type I' or'attention blindsight' are able to enhance visual performance in their blind field, but remain unaware of visual processing presumably because they are unable to access a more complex synchronous cortical activation pattern involving higher top-down mechanisms necessary for conscious vision.

      Neural substrates of blindsight after hemispherectomy http://unfweb.criugm.qc.ca/jdoyon/cours_6032/Neuroscientist%202007.pdf
      Unconscious vision: new insights into the neuronal correlate of blindsight using diffusion tractography http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/129/7/1822.full
      Neural Substrates of Blindsight in Hemispherectomized Subjects. http://www.bic.mni.mcgill.ca/~sandra/pdfs/Review_2007.pdf
      The nature of consciousness in the visually deprived brain http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3111253/

Comments invited

Stefano Mancuso: Evolution of Plant Intelligence

Unfortunately, Professor Mancuso had to cancel his trip in the last minute for personal reasons, but here is a TED video that gives the flavour of his work. Comments are still invited, on his video and on the linked readings. It is possible (though not certain) that Professor Mancuso will reply to the comments.

      Abstract: Intelligent behavior is a complex adaptive phenomenon that has evolved to enable organisms to deal with variable environmental circumstances. Maximizing fitness requires skill in foraging for necessary resources (food) in competitive circumstances and is probably the activity in which intelligent behavior is most easily seen. Biologists suggest that intelligence encompasses the characteristics of detailed sensory perception, information processing, learning, memory, choice, optimisation of resource sequestration with minimal outlay, self-recognition, and foresight by predictive modeling. All these properties are concerned with a capacity for problem solving in recurrent and novel situations. I will review the evidence that individual plant species exhibit all of these intelligent behavioral capabilities but do so through phenotypic plasticity, not movement. Furthermore it is in the competitive foraging for resources that most of these intelligent attributes have been detected. Plants should therefore be regarded as prototypical intelligent organisms, a concept that has considerable consequences for investigations of whole plant communication, computation and signal transduction.
    It should not be surprising that neuronal computation is not limited to animal brains but is used also by bacteria and plants. It is generally assumed that brains and neurons represent late evolutionary achievements which are present only in more advanced animals. But recent data suggest that our understanding of bacteria, unicellular eukaryotic organisms, plants, brains and neurons, rooted in Aristotelian philosophy is flawed. Neural aspects of biological systems are obvious already in bacteria and unicellular biological units such as sexual gametes and diverse unicellular eukaryotic organisms. Altogether, processes and activities thought to represent evolutionarily 'recent' specializations of the nervous system may be ancient and fundamental cell survival processes.

      Mindless mastery - Nature 2002 http://www.linv.org/images/about_pdf/Nature%202002%20Trewavas.pdf
      Aspects of Plant Intelligence - Annals pf Botany 2003 http://www.linv.org/images/about_pdf/Ann%20Bot%202003%20Trewavas.pdf
      Plant intelligence - Naturwissenschaften 2005 http://www.linv.org/images/about_pdf/Naturwissenschaften%202005%20Trewavas.pdf
      Green plants as intelligent organisms - TRENDS in Plant Science 2005 http://www.linv.org/images/about_pdf/Trends%202005%20Trewavas.pdf
      Plant Neurobiology as a Paradigm Shift Not Only in the Plant Sciences http://www.linv.org/images/about_pdf/Plant%20Signaling%20&%20Behavior%20%202007%20F.pdf
      Plant neurobiology: no brain, no gain? - TRENDS in Plant Science 2007 http://www.linv.org/images/about_pdf/Trends%202007%20Alpi.pdf
      Response to Alpi et al.: Plant neurobiology: the gain is more than the name - TRENDS in Plant Science 2007http://www.linv.org/images/about_pdf/Trends%202007%20Brenner.pdf
      Response to Alpi et al.: Plant neurobiology - all metaphors have value - TRENDS in Plant Science 2007 http://www.linv.org/images/about_pdf/Trends%202007%20Trewavas.pdf
      Reflections on 'plant neurobiology' - BioSystems 2008 http://www.linv.org/images/about_pdf/BioSystems%202008%20Barlow.pdf
      Plant neurobiology: from sensory biology, via plant communication, to social plant behavior - Cognitive Process 2009http://www.linv.org/images/about_pdf/Cognitive%20processing%202008.pdf
      Spatiotemporal dynamics of the electrical network activity in the root apex - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2009http://www.linv.org/images/about_pdf/PNAS%202009%20Masi.pdf
      Deep evolutionary origins of neurobiology - Communicative & Integrative Biology 2009http://www.linv.org/images/about_pdf/Communicative%20Integrative%20Biology%20%202009%20.pdf

Comments invited