Consciousness: A Guide to the Debates by Anthony Freeman

By Anthony Freeman

Once the area of philosophers, the examine of recognition is now an exhilarating department of technological know-how. writer Anthony Freeman, dealing with editor of the magazine of recognition stories , opens realization with a historical past of brain research, from the traditional Greeks to the current, and gives a multidisciplinary assessment of cognitive technology. Freeman untangles the conflicting theories at the operating of the mind, studying the innovations constructed for its learn over the years.

''Seeing'' v. ''believing,'' mind/body connections, zombies, and meeting line robots are only the start. Even chaos idea and quantum physics are correct, with opposing methods inciting disciplinary battles. This illustrated and obtainable quantity introduces key researchers like Wilder Penfield, who talked along with his awake sister whereas working on her mind tumor.

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They are the thalamus, including the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN); the hippocampus (Latin for “seahorse,” so named because early anatomists thought its shape resembled that creature); and the cerebellum. To appreciate how the brain actually works and how its functioning might relate to conscious experience, we need to look in more detail at the structure and functioning of the neurons, or nerve cells, that make it up. There is a “cell body,” containing the nucleus, and from that grow two types of structures that allow communication with other cells.

To add insult to injury, it was on the basis of observations made using Golgi’s own staining technique that Cajal based his opposition to the reticular theory (Jones 1999). Like Golgi, Cajal trained as a doctor but spent most of his working life as a professional academic. He held professorships successively at Valencia, Barcelona, and Madrid. Cajal was quick to appreciate the importance of Golgi’s black reaction as a technique for studying the structure of the brain, but he suspected that the appearance of a continuous network was an illusion produced by imperfections in the staining method.

There is a small gap between the axon of one cell and the dendrite of its neighbor. As we saw above, it was Cajal’s discovery of this gap, which he named the synapse, that demonstrated the error in Golgi’s reticular theory. In fairness to Golgi, however, it has to be said that the synapse not only acts as a physical break between neurons but also provides the means for them to be “in touch,” as we might say. So although he was technically wrong about their structure, in terms of the practical way that brain cells function, Golgi’s idea of a network was right on the mark.

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