So, is the Mind the Brain?


In 1956 Ullin Place published a paper called “Is consciousness a brain process?” in the British Journal of Philosophy.

While this was a philosophy paper, he included the following abstract and this is the first sentence:

The thesis that consciousness is a process in the brain is put forward as a reasonable scientific hypothesis, not to be dismissed on logical grounds alone.

So, is it a reasonable scientific hypothesis? Can it be falsified? I think it can, and in fact, I believe that there have already many numerous experiments where the hypothesis could have been falsified, but wasn’t, thus making the mind-brain identity theory a legitimate scientific theory, with considerable empirical support to boot.

So what were these experiments?

Binocular Rivalry

“The role of temporal cortical areas in perceptual organization”

…These areas thus appear to represent a stage of processing beyond the resolution of ambiguities—and thus beyond the processes of perceptual grouping and image segmentation—where neural activity reflects the brain’s internal view of objects, rather than the effects of the retinal stimulus on cells encoding simple visual features or shape primitives.

Here is another study:

“Covariation of activity in visual and prefrontal cortex associated with subjective visual perception”


…The coordination of activity among these regions was not linked to external sensory or motor events; rather, it reflected internal changes in perception and varied in strength with the frequency of perceptual events, suggesting that functional interactions between visual and prefrontal cortex may contribute to conscious vision…

And another:

“Perceptual flexibility after frontal or temporal lobectomy.”

These results indicate that the right frontal region has a particularly important role in the ability to shift visual perspective.

For more information, see:

Multistable Perception

Consciousness wikibook

Flash suppression(this is also covered in the first study listed above,with monkeys instead of humans)

“Single-neuron correlates of subjective vision in the human medial temporal lobe”

…Therefore, the activity of most individual neurons in the medial temporal lobe of naive human subjects directly correlates with the phenomenal visual experience.

For more info, see:

Flash Supression

These are some of the best empirical studies I could find supporting the legitimacy of the idea of Neural Correlates of Consciousness(NCC). If this sort of thing fascinates you, I highly suggest reading The Quest for Consciousness by Crick and Koch, which is mostly available for free online.

Allow me to end this post with a quote from Ullin Place:

An acceptance of inner processes does not entail dualism and [furthermore], the thesis that consciousness is a process in the brain cannot be dismissed on logical grounds.


1 Comment

Filed under Philosophy, Psychology

One response to “So, is the Mind the Brain?

  1. Sarah

    very interesting Gary!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s