Encephalon

The first edition of the new neuroscience carnival Encephalon is now up at The Neurophilosopher's Blog, here. There are several good posts, and I actually learned a bit from some of them.

I have to admit, though, that I'm particularly partial to this post from BrainTechSci. A sample:

It is hard not to notice the fact that an unusually high percentage of Nobel laureates, from Gerald Edelman to Francis Crick turn their attention to the problem of consciousness and formulate embarrassingly ridiculous theories of consciousness. Why is that?

Then there are people who are completely outside the field of neuroscience who propose ridiculous theories of consciousness. For example, Roger Penrose, a well-known mathematician who invented "twistor theory", has been very vocal about his theory that consciousness is really a Bose-Einstein condensate in microtubules. Seriously, this is the peak of absurdity, but it's hard to appreciate this unless you have a biological, and better yet, a neurobiological, background and understand what a Bose-Einstein condensate is.

More like this

One of the things required for the tenure review is a full and up-to-date curriculum vitae. Having spent an inordinate amount of time updating and re-formatting my CV, it seems a shame not to make more use of it than that, so I might as well recycle it into a blog post (after stripping out my home…
Nonlocal Quantum Effects with Bose-Einstein Condensates New theoretical resutls having to do with measurements of particles in two independent condensates show some cool quantum effects (tags: physics quantum science articles) Finite-Temperature Collective Dynamics of a Fermi Gas in the BEC-BCS…
Last week, Dmitry Budker's group at Berkeley published a paper in Physical Review Letters (also free on the arxiv) with the somewhat drab title "Spectroscopic Test of Bose-Einsten Statistics for Photons." Honestly, I probably wouldn't've noticed it, even though this is the sort of precision AMO…
Zoom-Whirl Orbits in Black Hole Binaries Title of the week from PRL. (tags: science physics articles theory gravity) Phase-Slip Interferometry for Precision Force Measurements "We demonstrate a novel atom interferometric force sensor based on phase slips in the dynamic evolution of a squeezed-…

I'm not a fan of Penrose's philosophy of mind, but I think that misrepresents it a bit. Isn't his claim that mind is an emergent phenomena that includes at a fundamental level the physics of phenomena isomorphic to bose-einstein condesates? I'll confess it's been an awfully long time since I read The Emperor's New Mind. But I distinctly recall him having a fairly subtle position.

You know, it's been a while since I read it, too. About a decade, in fact. I'm sure the theory was more subtle than the post implies, but I do remember that it was pretty out there, as are many other theories of consciousness. To date, the best meta-theory that I've come across is Damasio's, but his details are a bit out there too.