Abstract Details

The Neuroscience of Concepts and Consciousness  Vincent Zarcone Jr (Psychiatry, Stanford Medical School, Los Altos, CA )   C19

The neuroscience of consciousness and philosophy of mind should fully embrace the move to language that the rest of philosophy since Frege has done. As Jeffrey Gray has convincingly argued in his Consciousness, 2004, consciousness studies have not yielded a theory of perceptual consciousness. Instead they have settled for isomorphic equivalence between descriptions of conscious phenomena and descriptions of different systems in the brain. It should be possible to expand the neuroscience theories of consciousness to include the fact of the brain's creation of the matrix of concepts and the links between them. Concepts are dynamic, frequently revised processes that are widely distributed and connected in the brain.[1] Some are associated with semantic meanings but are not fully constituted by them. Semantic meanings may connect concepts but they cannot say the content of conscious percepts or concepts. They can only partially represent them. Concepts, their associated word meanings and the links between them just are patterns of electrons that occur in association cortices including those known to be required for language. They interact with subcortical areas to regulate behavior including speech behavior. Concepts are representations in each part of cycles of perceptions-memory-prospection-actions (PMPA). Bohm's (1951) discussion of the analogies between quantum and conscious phenomena suggests the matrix of concepts including the percept-concepts of all the senses is held together by superpositions of quantum events underlying each event of the matrix. The matrix in turn holds the consciousness field together and guides shifts in attention. It is possible that the matrix of concepts and words associated with them can be understood as attractors in phase space or as markers or labels for attractors. The above speculation is constrained by the facts of the brain's structure and structure functional relations. It could be the beginning of the description of the immense connectivity of the brain that makes higher order consciousness possible. Most of the talk will be devoted to specific rationales and descriptions of many research protocols that are now possible. Recent advances in the methodologies of neuroscience enable correlations of fMRI[2] and MEG signals[3] from widespread areas of the brain during the learning of new concepts and words associated with them as well as the use of new concepts learned in psychotherapy in situations in which the patient previously made maladaptive responses. Learning new concepts and the higher-level concepts that make up a gestalt of their use in specific situations will affect those areas of the brain important in regulation of emotions and those important in the increase of self-efficacy and the mediation between emotion and the return to motivated behavior. For instance, fMRI and MEG signals from new patterns in wide-spread brain areas will be seen when addicts switch from the maladaptive inner monologues and self-images to those higher-level concepts (gestalts) of themselves in action as they resist in situations that led to relapse. These studies will result in objective criteria of progress in therapy and the readiness for discharge. [1]Berwick,R.C.et.al.,TrendsCogSci17,89(2013)[2]Zatorre,R.J.,Science342,585(2013)[3]Pylkkanen,Science366,62(2019)