correspondentIf you haven’t already seen it, it’s well worth watching this charmingly animated talk by Iain McGilchrist on the two hemispheres of the brain. At a brisk pace he explains how people in the past went overboard with a false and over- simplified version of what the two hemispheres do and provides a fascinating corrective. You may feel that towards the end he goes a teensy bit overboard himself in a new direction.

Also from TED is this talk in which Antonio Damasio goes in pursuit of the self – in his view an essential component of consciousness – and unexpectedly tracks it down to the brain stem.

Finally, Sergey Bulanov has kindly drawn my attention to his new website devoted to his work on developing a non-computational artificial intelligence. Sergey was originally inspired by a book of logic problems: he invented a network system for solving them and in a second phase is seeking to generalise his approach.

Thanks to Sergey and to Jesús Olmo and Ivan Savov respectively for the other links.


  1. 1. Arnold Trehub says:

    I think a strong case can be made that damage to the dorsal brain stem diminishes excitation of the ascending reticular activating system (ARAS) which, in turn, leads to reduced activation of thalamo-cortical mechanisms and to coma. So while a properly functioning brain stem is necessary for consciousness, I don’t see why Damasio should conclude that the self is located in the brain stem. Moreover, the core self is the perspectival origin for discrete events in our phenomenal spatiotemporal surround, and the neuronal connectivity of the brain stem seems to have rather diffuse connections to sensory regions of the brain. This would seem to be inconsistent with the tight spatiotopic mapping needed for adaptive action in response to events in an egocentric/subjective brain representation of the environment.

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