Sunday, June 14, 2009


I am in Hong Kong now, attending a conference on the science of consciousness. In the morning, I gave a talk in the auditorium of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
I started my talk with a discussion on immediacy. The slide on this theme read thus.

The immediacy hypothesis

The phenomenological contents of a subject at a particular specious moment is determined by, and only by, the properties of physical properties of the subject’s brain at that moment

Another slide read thus.

Response selectivity is established in essence as a statistical property.
The selectivity to a bar of certain orientation can be empirically established only by the exposure to and comparison with the activities invoked by bars of different orientations.
Such a statistical property is not immediately available for the subject at a particular psychological moment, and cannot constitute the immediate cause of the phenomenological experience.

Our consciousness is always enshrined in the immediate now, and yet, we can reflect on the past, dream about the future. Immediacy also applies to space. We are constrained by the spatially immediate. And yet, we can conceive of things distant and non-existent.
Perhaps it is because we are ever prisoned in the immediate that we developed phenomenological state of minds such as intentionality.


Anonymous said...

If one wants to understand consciousness or collective functionality of the brain from a top down approach, I think that it is important to use statistical quantifications to build realistic/robust models that describe behavior. Tackling the problem from the bottom up, is harder to simulate/understand because of the shear magnitude of the number of things to model.

We need the top down approach to understand the big picture and the bottom up to understand the fine details of the big picture, both camps will eventually converge. I think the top down problem will be solved first, despite the recent enthusiasm of developing descriptive ODE models to explain collective neuronal behavior from a bottom up approach. But, that is just my hunch...

By the by, I enjoy your blog immensely...your way of thinking reminds me 99.7% of myself!

Ken Mogi said...

Dear, Anonymous.

Thank you for your interesting comment.
Yes, I actually think that a statistical approach should be always be there. It is certainly helpful, as you say, to obtain the big picture. I guess with the aid of a complementary method the power of the statistical approach will be more enhanced.

Please do revisit this blog, and leave comments as wonderful as this!