« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#234 — The Divided Mind

2021-02-05 | 🔗

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Iain McGilchrist about the differences between the right and left hemispheres of the human brain. They discuss the evolutionary history of the divided brain, research on surgically divided brains, popular misconceptions about the differences between the hemispheres, the left hemisphere's propensity for confabulation, the prospect that consciousness might be partitioned in an intact brain, the difference between consciousness and attention, the boundary between the conscious and unconscious mind, how face-to-face encounters differ between the hemispheres, the unique deficits resulting from damage to the left and right hemispheres, the ascendancy of the left-hemisphere in modern culture, the possibility that the brain is a mere receiver of mind, the prospect of surviving death, and other topics.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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speaking with Ian Mc Gilchrist a fellow of our souls, college, Oxford and Fell off the Royal College of psychiatrist, a fellow of the royal society hearts and he was a research fellow and narrow, imaging Johns Hopkins. and, most importantly, for our purposes is the author of the book, the master and his emissary divided brain and the making of the western world and that the focus of our conversation today we talk about the differences between the right and left hemisphere to the brain, fascinating and consequential, I think under appreciated and this yes, as into many thorny issues, that's the popular misconceptions about these differences. The process consciousness might be partitioned even in an intact brain the difference when consciousness, and attention the boundary between the conscious and unconscious mind. How is to face, encounters differ between hemispheres
deficits the result from damage to each. The ascendancy of the left hemisphere in modern culture. the possibility of the brain is a mere receiver of mind expectations about survival death We thought it was a fascinating conversation. We certainly, have gone on for many more hours and now bring you in my Gilchrist. I am here with the image Gilchrist and thank you for your enemy is a great pleasure. Some thank you so we're about to speak about what I consider one of the most interesting topics in any field, focus of our conversation is covered. really and exhaustive detail in your book, the master and his emissary, and there is also a film based on that discovered online last night, the divided brain.
But before we jump in what is Europe academic and intellectual background all my life. Really I've been interested, in philosophical questions, particularly the end the philosophy that accommodates theology and so at eighteen, I wanted to go to Oxford and study philosophy in theology, and you had You. Take an entrance examined some school subject and almost random I chose english literature and when I went to interview they said, oh you, you can't you can't do theology lastly, is not an honest degree. So in nineteen, seventy two in Oxford theology, philosophy wasn't an honest degree. Each on their own was but not the combination. I think it is now, but there were so they said. Look you obviously like a good English come and do that. So I did, and I his interested really in the philosophy of
literature and the philosophy of aesthetics and away, and something struck me as very odd about what we were doing. I got fellowship immediately after graduating, which enabled me to have time to reflect. and I thought the something that's really troubling me about the way in which we approach literature someday. In the past took great pains to create some that is unique, embodied and blue Thirdly, speaking implicit and others, you try to unpack like explaining a joke or trying to say well. This is what this poem mean. You really are losing a lot of the value and the meaning and became along in a seminar rooms and took the disembodied and made it thoroughly so too embodied and made it thoroughly disembarked. It took me implicit in made explicit and in the press This renders this entirely unique thing. This complete unique experience, something utterly general in nature. So there's something wrong with this, and I wrote a book called against criticism,
and what seemed to me wrong was that we become very DIS, embodied in the way that we think about everything. In fact, something you know I've since the earliest days reflected on the way we lead our lives nowadays that their over cerebral in some way and that the peace who says is somewhat destructive. It has its advantages, but it also has major problems, and I, to the philosophy seminars to discuss them mind body question, but I found the philosophers we just altogether too distant body. In their approach, and so I thought I'd read Oliver Sexy spoke awakening You just come out around the time of that old, and I thought this is fascinating here, someone who's attended to the individuality of his patience but made it. fleet, the amazing philosophical contain drawn philosophical, conclusions are very important.
About what happens when something changes, your brain or your body, and what that does your your person, hood You're your mind and true to your whole humanity. And I thought this is what I want to do so had to start again the study, medicine from scratch, and then the suicide qualified and then my basic jobs. in what you'd call internships, I then did it a little bit of fur, Psychology and I saw a bit of Neurology Neurosurgery and then went to the more three to study, psychiatry my interest there, it all along Bein in the overlap between minded bodies, less high got into being Somebody who writes about the mind body relationship from an embodied pretty she disappeared, the question: how did I get into the issue of liberalization, but you may be coming onto that, so we can year bitter
yes and have you had a psychiatric practice this time or or are you. retired and that mode, oh, I'm retired. Now that he is what I was approach since I can trust you first it. Best, women, mostly hospital in London and then at privately wrote, So we can talk about the divided brain, which is so they say, can about for. I think, at least in passing my podcast end on my app waking up, I have certainly written about it in at least one of my books, but given its strangeness as a phenomenon and its its relevance to it, we conceive of ourselves as persons. It really isn't. It are reported finding in science? So I think we should just described. The phenomenon itself at how we ve come to know anything about it. But the basic picture. Is that
the human brain and nato- not just human, as this is true of the avian brain and all mammalian brands, but for purposes and in most interestingly, our own brains are divided across stay they longitudinal Fisher into left and right hemisphere, ears and could have worked out in very ways. The two hemispheres could have been functionally identical, they could have shared information perfectly, could be no differences between them and one would sort of think that would be the case and yet what we have found is that they are quite different and we're gonna go into those differences- and we know is based on the fact that they can be disconnected. So maybe maybe we should. I should before dive into the the brain phenomenon. How we know any this stuff, just Spain, the title of your book that the master and his emissary, why? What do you mean by that title? O k
Well, that's, essentially, a story. Which illustrates. How I see the relationship between the two hemispheres here, we're kind of jumping ahead a bit, but does it This being a general view, the one that I was trained on that the left hemisphere is said, the one it does all the heavy lifting a new set intelligence and perceptive. the right hemisphere is a bit of a kind of a no good we don't really kind of show what it is I mean it might be there for propping up the left hemisphere make sure does fall over. I mean lit literally people have talked like that, but I I see them as having developed two entirely different roles. They ve been separated and all the brains. We know going right, the way down to reptiles and even that networks of insects number two worms and even them
ancient see, creature that we know of already shows an asymmetrical neural network news is very interesting in itself. That's what I think, as happened in humans, is the evolution of language, we ve decided to devote one part of the brain, For dealing entirely in theory of the symbols of experience rather than the gathering of expense itself. and in a new book. I'm writing. I actually take the pains to go through all the various ways in which we get a handle on the world, old cases. The left hemisphere is not as good as this is the right hemisphere. Why is that because the left hemisphere needs to be kept away from that, because this busy doing some theoretical processing now the thing is that, in fact, the right hemisphere, is actually more intelligent,
and I mean, in terms of IQ liken either in the book that I've been writing. I've got to the information, out that which sounds a bit odd It is also the one that attends much more broadly to the world perceives more makes better judgment was taken in terms not jump to conclusions. Since, in the way the left hemisphere does has social and emotional understanding in the way the left hemisphere doesn't. And indeed it is one that we rely on to be connected to make sense of the world when people have left hemisphere, stroke, they carry on for all intents and purposes, being largely in touch with the same while they were before, but when they have a Right Hemisphere street they fight It hard to understand, what's happening, what people mean when they say things the language functions ago, who bought it. is really mean anymore, so the patients care patients who cared for by people,
they have a right hemisphere, stroke. The main complaint is that they can. These patients lack any Human understanding or empathy wears a complaint with people who have left hemisphere is they have difficulty reading and writing he's really gonna very different level. Come back to the most recent history The right hemisphere is in a way the master The idea I had he was of a spiritual community, in which there was a wise spiritual master who looked after the business of a community certain flourished and grew and in a while it became, what view is that the master couldn't look after all the daily business of the community and indeed ought not to get involved with it? In fact, if he was to be able to maintain his all important over you, and so he delegated his brightest and best. So the second in command to go about doing the sort of administrative business, but this administered
a wild, very bright, wasn't bright enough to know what it was. He didn't know I'm. So he thought what is the mass and know what is neither is the sitting back at the palace merit aging seraph. Actually, I'm the one that does all the hard work here I'm the one that knows, and so he took only mantle the master and in the press, this, because you didn't know what the master knew he was not able to perform his job, and the whole community, the master and the industry fell to ruin. Now I see that as a powerful, very loosely based on a hint in nature to discuss, the relationship, advancing relationship between the right and left hemisphere in the way we have ended up in the world today in Thrall to the embassy. so the servant that doesnt really understand what the master would have known and being able to tell us about We could move on from that you're just a little reflection on this
in that you raised and divided nature, the bread. Yeah well, I was in medical school I mean of obviously we we saw it it was. There. It is on the slab and is divided, and it was just taken for granted and nobody really said why. What on earth is support, of having a mass of neurons interconnections value we seem to believe, is pretty cool. You done. The sheer number of interconnections made. Why do it right down the middle. In this way, and as I say, this has been the case in all living creatures, the b We know of indeed the corpus colossal that connects the two hemisphere abandon fibres at the base of the brain that connects about two percent of the fires of the brain Italy is a mammalian invention. Up into more sayin, birds and reptiles, and Libyans monetary seems there isn't a corpuscles than the top
So that's fascinating and indeed the chuckle feelings, Jackson, who was a great but the great fathers of modern neurology in the nineteenth century, said. It's not common enough for us to wonder at this fact that the brain is due I did in this way and when I, But to my bed training and so on this topic of different green the hemisphere was, a really unknown non subject. It was did it entirely psychology. It was tat key people play with me. Then They don't allow your career to be tainted. You can do well, don't do that scene. They don't get involved in this issue is lobbying rubbish a long time ago, but that actually to go too far first of all, it clear and undeniable. The two hemispheres do have quite different functions because or east they contribute to the budget
in this way, they contribute to human being in different ways. You can see that when people have strokes one Henderson to have a stroke in the exact same sir, our position in the other industry. The outcome is, can the difference is not good enough to say that just the same down, and they wouldn't have evolved in this way if there was really no purpose in their difference. The question simply was: what was that difference? all the things that people used to say back in the Sixtys and Seventys after the first split brain operations, which was a procedure invented to aid, paid since you had constant seizures, and somebody had the idea that it will be good idea to divide the connection between the two hemisphere says: if a seizure started in one hemisphere, it would not. Turkey overwhelm the whole brain, the other half would be able to carry on functioning, and indeed it was again. Success, achieving that, but it gave people a window.
To the difference between these two worlds. did you could actually be clever expense, cantation address problems and questions and test out each hemisphere on its own this gave rise to a literature which was in a way. People jump to a lot of conclusions. Rather fast The story was well, the right brain is kind of emotional, but the left brain is rational, at its dependable and maybe a little bit boring, but at least is very dependable it to be contacted reality where the right hemisphere is all very well if you want paint pictures, but in the end he's just so some terrible as a way of looking at them. In many ways is the inverse the truth, because I had as I've discovered and explain in my works, the left.
And this was actually less in touch with reality- less reliable, more prone to jump to conclusions more prone to quicken dirty. citizens and more prone to getting emotional inside ways. For example, emotions are not all Dickie lily in the right or left hemisphere, but one in particular is especially well represented in the left hemisphere. That's anger It is a fascinating top it what I want to revisit some of those landmass. that you just sketched, because its again. This is a topic that It seems to me most of culture and may even most of science the culture and even Neuro scientific culture has really only glass stead and it has kept. It distance I largely because it is so strange, then very disconcerting about what we
I've come to know the Organisation of the brain here and in some of its implications, I wonder what you you think about why this topic, has been, It's me. It's almost been traders, the kind of intellectual pornography ray it's been held in disrepute, as you describe but beyond the fact that there's been some cartoonish, Trails of the differences between left and right in the end is a kind of pop psychological misinformation that has been spread. Is there any other reason why you think this? We have why you are warned off this as a topic when you, during their studies are eager to made me one is that it has, as you say it have got into popular culture into certain wasted was an ad in the Volvo cars you're right, brain understanding and save people went out leaves you know that? Don't let's go near that too,
in order to remain aloof, relay your assassinated, in which, indeed it is, But the other reason is that the worsen, as I say some slightly too quick conclusions drawn in the early days in the Sixtys and Seventys moment the eighties- and these were based on, I believe in it conception, which is it? the real difference between the two hemispheres was what they do, which is there at home, sir, or the right way by question? Perhaps to us love and machine. What does it do? it is not necessarily the right question to ask the a person of a person were maybe more interested in the how in what way in what manner this is done
and what I just got to tell you that Ian was that the old division that reason and language was solely the province of the left hemisphere and emotion and visual spatial seems the province of the right hemisphere that this was not the case. Each was involved in or indeed in everything that we do here. So where does that leave? My might my my position fight ready to go on a very interesting adventure, because then one says it's not that the what it's the? How are you every case whatever it is that each hemisphere is dealing with it deals didn't, reliably consistently, predictably different way. And what is that? Well, it's I believe, with a problem. which is entirely explicable in terms of darwinian evolutionary advantage.
so yeah before we jump into that. I want about the evolutionary origins of this is insofar as we can see you're late about them and just years. Why would it be that way? It would be divided and divided in the way that they are but describe how. We know that the hemispheres. Are different in our own case, saying oh based on it. I just want to summarize the split brain research in more detail for people who made be familiar with it and The interesting thing here is that claims that you are going to make about the differences between right and laughed and in you know, you have gone so far as to suggested the right here, sphere is deem the more competent. the more fully human, the more it is, the master rather than the emissary. That is quite different from where science started one. So we started split in the hemisphere,
by cutting the corpus colossal and in those sir crazy described, and even people who were very close to that research early on felt that they went from thinking that they right hemisphere was in fact unconscious? Rather there is nothing, then it was like to be the right hemisphere that the left this year was entirely the basis for human experience of any kind the thinking that the right monsieur while it might be conscious? definitely sub human and at any end, by Michael Gazeta, who I know and who, whose very early as a cognitive, neuroscientist, studying this worked under Roger Sperrit ADA. He at one point, I'm sure he's here recanted here, but at one point he suggested that they right hemisphere was essentially beneath it. A chimpanzee in its cognitive abilities. So we, come a long way in appreciating what the right monsieur. It is doing.
Ironically, maybe it'll it. Maybe our left hemisphere that had to be dragged this way to appreciate with a right hemisphere is doing, so let us just described the original via the fairy experiments born of the narrow surgeries done by Jo Bogan and Gus, how did we were able to interrogate the hemisphere separately and know that there really are in the case of a divided brain too different points of view on the world and it really two different subjects to different people in a single human head. absolutely, and it might be worth just saying that, already in the nineteenth century, people saw that the hemisphere is quite different, famously broken decks saw it. Patients who lost their speech had damage to certain areas Only in the left, frontal lobe, not in the right, so full and.
people observing people strokes, masses, folks in one hemisphere, other over the subsequent decades, often noticed the subject seem to live in a quite different kind of a world. It wasn't just a split vote, aims. It told us this. We should also call the misses? The point you make in your book that Long before full century, before anyone thought of doing the split brain work, we already knew, or someone already knew, that The right hemisphere was sufficient four consciousness, because their word narrow anatomists, who discovered upon autopsy that people who have lived Fully normal lives, which is They conscious lives had upon inspector after death, only one hemisphere of their brains, could be the right or it could be. The left in this is yes born of the fact that people you know get there were born without one
monsieur order. You know they suffer some illness, injury very close to birth. And manage developmentally to compensate, and that is just not discovered until much later in life. Now it now. This kind of thing can be discovered during routine Neuro Emma Jane. You can discover that a fully intact person is in fact missing, here, been their entire lives, so We already knew that the right hemisphere could be conscious, and then we seem to have forgotten that over the course of a hundred years of doing neurology and neuroscience? yes, I mean what your particularly I think, alluding to there is the work of women in the nineteenth century. We amazing figure who who's it's a lot of time in the world. not sure, but I would just like to clarify something since you raised that topical is slightly different, because if somebody's had only one hemisphere from birth, which can sometimes happen because the maybe a space occupying Sacco lesions
the place where the hemisphere should be you're dealing with something rather different because from the word go, the Nero been sent nervous system will be reorganise itself to take into account this element yet still, it is true that people who develop normally can certainly live well with the right hemisphere there better off with their right hemisphere, if they ve only got to have one then, with the left anyway, to come back to the spit brain operation. Yes, vessel people were amazed by a couple of things that they just observed without doing any experiments, people who first all thinking what would it be like for somebody to have the two halves of their brain, complete with a separate when I say complete, you separate there are a couple of minor fish, minor, conifers, commissioners, that can it that's connect. The hemisphere is, but to all intents and purposes, the very much the most important had been seven.
And the answer to that was that they were remarkably normal. as if they choose him, a guess who carry on like that without doing a lot of talking to one another but they did also noticed at least in the early days after the operation going on for the first month. That's sometimes people would show completely conflicting behaviour. So a woman go to the wardrobe to take out a dress with her right hand on her left hand, but take it and put it back and take out a different one, somebody would get out money to pay from the wallet and the other had would take it away and put it back in his pocket. So this is the kind of thing that, to you saw I believe there is a case of a man trying to embrace his wife with one hand and strangle her with the other yes lily, his pusher away with her. I think the stories got more. Haven't you ever told you got better, No that's right, but
very good in interesting experiments were dead. Eyes were clever. Ingenious experiments were devised. whereby, for example, you could give information to one year or you could give me Getting information to the two ass at the same time, I normally, of course information is shared, but this case? It wouldn't be shared, and so you could actually have a different input to each chemist. And you can also do this visually using a technical text is copy in which a different Image is put up in the right visual field, which gives the left hemisphere from the one that would have been the left visual field, which goes right hemisphere, And you can then ask questions, so the person about what they see. No, what they ve done, one of the most ancient and some of those rather intricate, and would take us a long time to try to explained Vicki without a diagram
but one of the most interesting findings was. when the left hemisphere new, really nothing at all, because the information all gone to the right hemisphere. It would pretend that it knew all about what was going on. So when I was asked, why did you respond in a certain way about which it new Daedalus workers that had been in making the right hemisphere had, and that was why we had received did in that way it would make something up was plausible and it is one way of looking at it is that the left hemisphere is ordinarily, gave me, king things, happened Shit you're, in fact- and this is why might designed to get calls it the interpreter, because it can make sense whenever it sees happening and it actually seems to believe its own propaganda. and yes was the dreams of the left. Hemisphere seems to have dominated our politics of late hidden. One thing you can see is the
fabulous tory nature of the left hemisphere in the news on an hourly basis. you can indeed ended that Rogers fairy who, as you mentioned as one of the most important neuroscientist that error investigating this phenomenon, for which he was given a Nobel prize said, and he was no mean philosopher action, as well as being a neuroscientist, he said that the problem with modern West and civilization, is that it has relegated the it ignores the right hemisphere anyway? Might design again has changed his juice quite a lot and says early pronouncement here I imagine they live on to haunt him slightly, but what pleases me is some of the things I was saying earlier about the way we see left hemisphere we'll pray to buyers and more prone to jump to conclusions and make them Judgments actually comes from the work,
Nicky mindset who works in design Agus lapsing. Obviously, things have changed them, but it been a process are trying to get people to see that just because All we knew was a rather Quicken dirty formula at a certain stage. It wasn't it to dismiss hugely important questions. Why the brain divided. Why Is it a symmetrical by the way? Since the skull contains it is not, why is the connection green. The hemisphere is so much involved with inhibition rather than facilitation? These were questions haunted me and it took me said he is basically to come up with The but I was able to write in the Martian, his industry the ten years for what I've just written and I'm hoping will be published in the next twelve months soon, yes, I mean we didn't start from a very special
place, but I was completely convinced that something of great interest was being neglected and you ask: why had people not sort of gone further with it? I think the answer is to make sense of it would have required thirty years and in doing so they would have basically forfeiting their career because there when they were juniors, their bosses wouldn't want them to do research unless realisation is never get it. That's all passing and as they further on, they wouldn't about grants and even about promotion some, so actually very few people have taken the trouble to really look at this in any great depth, and you know don't you modesty. I am one of the people who has spent a caves, really really getting acquainted with the leisure. And so you know, I know some things out at that. There are people we do know them, but it's not in the general culture
I think there may be an additional reason here, which is that it's there, something impact the ball or or worry if these very difficult to assimilate about this finding into one's sensitive and zone being in the world, I want to try to make what- we are talking about here as such actively real people as we can make it but men before and will go further into just the differences between the hemisphere? Rather, we can start with which this bit basic question, which you raise your wise, the brain divided in the first place, and why would it not be functionally symmetrical? But here too strikes me as most strange about the phenomenon which you really really interest extrapolate from they split brain. Find in so this, but brain finding is that if you, if you divide brain surgically Accordingly, the calm assures release them is colossal, but the unity
and terror com assure me that there are a few others said that need not be cut but could be cut and You have this very stark finding where you have you just underneath only two points of view. you know, whatever their differences, as we will yet describe there are two points of view at that point the human mind is, is dual and the left hand quite literally doesn't know what the right hand is doing and you reminded me: again about the Contra, lateral organization of the nervous, system. They d at ease the right hemisphere, in a divided brain sees only the left side of the world and they left hemisphere sees the right side of the world is not divided left and right. I, as the left, me field within both eyes and in the right hand, field within both eyes. So you, can present an image to the right hemisphere, which the left hemisphere does at sea, but
because language is so is proportionately. Subject: by the left hemisphere, certainly and ninety five percent of people want you're talking to the subject said. So, what did you see the answer your getting you know, though, the right hemisphere hears you the answer you get in coming from the left hemisphere that has control of speech say you're talking to a person who says why I didn't see anything, and then experiment like this you can tell your justino. Can you get your left hand and reach for the object that you, you may or may not have seen, and then at that point they right hemisphere which has in full control of the left hand or near for control of the left hand can We reach and pick up an object, which is, in fact, the object that was presented to it in a visually, and then, when asked, why did you pick up this key or egg or whatever? The object was you point out the left hemisphere that point
fabulous and tell us story. It seemed always have a story as to why the in this is the left hand over which it has no control did what it did and It shows that it has basically no was a re reality testing. mechanism left to it left to its own devices? It will just publishers eyes so account of the world and its apparently the most credulous. person on earth the amazing thing about this is, if you accept happily from this? Finding that divided brain gives you Two people right to fairly different people and even if they were the same in their emotional tone and in their cognitive styles, which they're not there was only two of them at this point to different It's a view on the world. If you extract Away from that,
and realise that, as you said, the cook and intact corpus awesome only terminates on a mere two percent. And of cortical neurons right omitted it's not that every neuron is acted with every other, like neuron across the hemisphere, writer. What what we have to be imperfectly can acted even in the healthiest most intact brain which is to say there isn't perfect information sharing across the hemisphere and so it opens the question too, degree are we do all even now, to what degree is there could, the islands of consciousness In an intact brain were shifting overall in non shared spaces of conscious Where is it that it is something that is like to be part of the right Miss fear and there's something that is like to be. the left hemisphere end any given moment
His point of view may not be unified. They may be ignored, take as to whether or not this is a totally flu. situation in making come to be, unified and end separated, and by it that kind of Freudians spooky picture of the mind that the unconscious the point of view of conscious you in this moment may in fact conscious you know and looking over your shoulder in a sense near the phenomenology with which an person is identified. Subjectively may not be totality of the subjectivity. The conscious subjectivity in their own brain and I think it something about that picture. That is so weird that people just Don't want to think about it. I think it. Yes, you point
it's something. Definitely that I didn't think can be dismissed, but I think I'd like to sort of moderate that picture a little church, and the first is that we all grow up with information coming to us from both halves of the world, and it is communicated through the body and into the Bay using base and a crime and drugs. MRS, as well as the neurological system. We are describing red and the the normal person is receiving a picture will round of the world, and this information is being taken as a whole. So on the whole, we don't find ourselves noticing disinfected. We noticed that it would be very damaging for us, because we would find ourselves constantly torn like the person trying to pay and putting the money in the pocket
and it also were saying that, after usually about the first five or six months, most split brain subjects started to lose. This into manual conflict is called. So it's something that the past sort of accommodated too, but it also not just you I mean, on the other hand, is also not just split. Brain patients must be thinking it differently and seeing the will very differently, because you can produce this effect experimentally in normal subjects using Charles Cranial magnetic stimulation, which is a technique whereby you can painlessly, stimulate or suppress depending on the frequency of the policy? Areas of the brain and I dont know be probably talked about that in another like us. But in any case, the point is this: when you do that something
full fledged and ready to Go- is released. So it's not like It was there in a when you, when you knock out the left hemisphere, knock out the right hemisphere, you find instantaneously decision being made which are characteristic of what we know today. way of the right or the left hemisphere. and this can actually be advantageous in certain circumstances, say that problem solving of a certain kind. Then Snyder in Sydney is experimented on this I can be facilitated by suppressing the left, frontal, cortex and enhancing the right frontal cortex complex problems, including mathematical problems, can be more. Easily solved. In any case, all I'm really saying there is that, yes, there is something spooky
and it's not just in paying patience. I acknowledge that because, as I say, it's there ready to go and when will have a stroke and they suddenly start experiencing the world differently Did that happened just like that unless it was there and ready to go in the intact individual? So we know that is the case, but I suppose I'm less trouble by the idea that the might be to people here it looks like that. But then it would only be light that if, as it were We were sure but whatever it is, that is my left hemisphere consciousness and my right embassies consciousness were generated straight out of those emphasis. Now I suspect that this may be a point on which I differ, but I am not convinced that the brain is merely a producer of the creature of consciousness. It becomes possible to think of consciousness. That is a flow that is true.
switch. It turns Joost by the brain So you can see the brain is something that is receiving. A stream of information to both hemisphere simultaneously and together and and that that is produced seeing the whole personal experience, but the word happens when you are sufficient divide the brain. it is rather like an island in the stream where the stream has to go. Either side of the island and then reconvene again and the stories I've been telling about the camp together and the coming separately off the two hemisphere. Might be better thought of in terms such a metaphor. Sorry am suggesting These two extremes say that there are two persons answers in this. Somehow is left in some areas right. I dont think that said, I think the system,
yeah. I wasn't suggesting that I guess what I was suggesting, those that, in any picture other than perfect information sharing. Then you have to ask yourself what is left out and the consequences of its being left out for some activity in any given moment, and I, however, fluid you want to make it anything. less than perfect access across the commissioners gives you This then diagram where of conscious experience where, the two circles don't completely overlap. become ones. Then you have to ask you, or what is the penumbra lie? where the left doesn't share what the right is. In fact, experience it then vice and yet again this could be completely fluid so that you know that, you could have more global states of the hemisphere is whether, as a kind of synchrony
synchrony may in fact be what what is mediating, the sharing of of bringing our conscious perceptive, The thought at any given moment, but again the The spooky part for me is not not so much that much with the brain is doing here, unconsciously, nor outside the sperience of the kind. Subject at any moment is the idea that some of what outside Europe sperience as a conscious subject in this moment, may itself be conscious right. There The thing that just oh yes makes the hair stand up on the back of one's neck. and love it here, go ahead, we're Homeric, yet I'm just so much in New York, commenting on. That is so important. I mean, something we might come to later, because it comes back to the question of why the two hemispheres of separate in the way that they are
that much of the traffic as you describe it, bringing information together across the goalposts. Closing its inhibitory Much of the effects of the corpus correlation is one sphere. To say, I'm dealing with this. you keep out of it, because that is going to make the matter confused and I worked slow though even in a perfectly functioning brain where, as it were, one level, the communication is good. Some of the funds The fact of the communication is not positive and negative is not facilitation in Hebron But even more so I wanted to comment on the question about consciousness because of was conscious and be many different things, and- in one sense, we think the consciousness is what is in My mind that I'm aware of right now and I'm focusing on what that is
variously estimated to be between half a percent and five percent of what's going on in one's brain. In fact, I read a paper in which the yours It is said that ninety nine point, forty four percent of brain activity, was not within you'd concept, which is alarming The precise, but anyway makes the point the way I would see that is that there is also material that can quite quickly become conscious. It's just that. It's not conscious now right for regions, reasons of expediency. If we are to fund should we simply cannot be conscious of many things of which we have. Consciousness at a different level, and that can be brief, put into effect like that, if its necessary so the way I see it is the one distinction between the left and the right hemisphere, which we must have and at some point is the left This year has very narrow, beam attention that is, highly
clarified and precise. but it's only two like three three degrees of three hundred and sixty degree attention. Where is the right hemisphere see, A very broad picture- and that is quite front. It's on the look out its vigilant all the time, if you think of the field of consciousness as being a stage which life is going on the bit. This within the spotlight is a bit the left hemisphere season That's a bit, we say all unconscious at that in the spotlight moves fighting It's late? You you're no longer conscious of what you are conscious of even the few seconds ago but it's still within your conscious as it still possible view disseminated it's too bad, if, like the part of this he's not illuminated hasn't got away. It's just we're not any longer attending to in this very particular,
highly self, conscious consciousness. What would you say that that's interesting, I think I would bound the concept of consciousness a little differently there, because the so me for me, I'm a guy thing consciousness as a concept is, is actually eroded support, which is to say, we define it in sir. Geller terms. its synonymous with experience agreed younger. I, like Thomas Naples, framing idea. It is something that is alike to be a systems a bad is conscious simply saying that there is something that is likely to be a bad. If you could trade places with a bad you'd have some qualitative. character to your being in the world a awaits it wouldn't be synonymous with just having the lights go out and now so when it when talking about one's own conscience experience, I would differentiate consciousness from attention, says
I can be paying attention to one thing, but all oh dimly, aware of the things that I am trying to exclude from my experience by focusing on the one thing, there's a kind of a centre and and periphery. in a very much analogous to what we experience in vision. You know you have you fully all you know in focus vision, and then you have all the stuff you can see in the corner of Europe, your eye s answers the spotlight of attention, but then this there's, this wider field of illuminated experience that has a qualitative character and the margins of this it all it is possible to have, as you say, new, per sap send ideas and phenomenon surface and be back into direct awareness in there as William James brilliantly pointed out. Now, over a hundred years ago, arts
Experience of this, the women all boundary between consciousness and and unconsciousness has occurred of structure. They can be targeted if you're clever and emulate, with what we ve learned to do that scientifically and in all kinds of work. But even just interest, actively. You can notice things that one example it Jane gave his Eddie if you think about what it's like to suffer, the Tipp of the tongue phenomenon, you're trying to remember a word, your time. Remember: somebody's name any you can get anything there's one. On the one hand, Talking about what is absent from consciousness. Like you the word is not there. The name is not there. There is a vacancy your struggling to fill, but This vacancy has structure because some one can say to you is the name Jim and you and we know that this is not Jim, you can
salute Jim, because Jim is not the name you're trying to think of him, and yet you don't know what the name is that you're trying to think of, fascinating aspects to this, where a phenomenon like Hemi neglect which she unaware, where in our legally way get into as it was one of these diseases. wait. You know you have aim in this case a right hemisphere, lesion, usually in the bridle love which cause Does this phenomenon of people neglecting the left half of the world. And being unaware of their deficit, it of you, Tell them to draw a clock: face, fell, draw circle, but and put all the numbers on the on the right side of the clock. If you ask them to restart. Writing, the paper. They'll start writing down there that just the right half of the piece of paper, but This raises a kind of James in conundrum witches in order to systematically neglect the left.
For the world, you need to know where the middle is right and to know where the middle is. You do need to know where the left half of the world summit in order to reliably start writing on the right half of a piece of paper. Part of you it needs to have found the middle in order to jump over to the right side of things so The question is again, the very strange question from my point of view is not that some more most of this processing is happening. a blemish billina in the dark mean beneath the light of consciousness it that some of it the associated with consciousness that they could be something that is alike to see the left half of the world and then get the rest of the person to ignore it. Nothing. I just like to know the word thither the EU is trying to think of, and yet not provided or not be able to provide aid, and this year opens the door, and I am not suggesting that in an inch
brain. We have two separate people in there, but in as far as the real estate of consciousness itself might not we fully integrated it does for say a very spoke, picture, and again, a quasi Freudians picture of a cow just part of you, that you they saw of conscious, subject isn't aware: in any given moment right there. Some there's something I'd like to be part of your mind that you, the cards person in this moment doesn't during the experience and that's again, even if we are convinced that that is a part. Ability, and even if see the summit the occasion of that in your life in moments of selfish, option, organ or in moments of dream. You might experience a dream where there really seems, like there's an author of the dream that hasn't
supported you as the protagonist of the dream, not knowin. What's going on me like having a dream where dream character is telling you a joke that has punch that surprise. You Emily that's just incredible experiences that yet you just year the protagonists in your dream. You meet a person, who doesn't exist in your obviously, not aware that, because yours, it's a dream, that's not a loser dream and This person tells you a joke and your waiting to hear the punchline and then, when the punchline is delivered, actually funny and How is it possible for part of your mind to have written on demand something the other part of your mind, will find funny. All of these moments again suggest something very weird. I just I think it's just very high,
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Transcript generated on 2021-03-06.