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Ron Burnett

President and Vice-Chancellor, Emily Carr University of Art and Design


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Can a map of the Brain really explain the complexities of consciousness?

We have been making extraordinary advances in mapping the brain and at the same time drawing conclusions about consciousness, the ways in which we think and consequently, the ways in which we act as humans.
I consider this approach to be simplistic and reductive. I am worried that we are building "behavioural maps" that cannot account for the complexity of human thought and action. Most of all, these maps cannot account for the unconscious, that part of our brains that cannot be explained by any reference to its parts.


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  • Nov 19 2011: A map of the brain is, at least, a start at explaining the complexities of consciousness. I don't see the point of worrying about not accounting for the "complexity of human thought and action" and the unconscious. After all, we don't learn about something by insisting on understanding it all at once. If mapping the brain is some kind of dead end, it will become apparent eventually. Every conclusion will be challenged. Exactly what kind of approach would you like researchers to take?
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      Nov 19 2011: Viola, the foundations for future research are being put in place through the methodologies we are using at present. Our discussion has been about trying enrich those foundations In an effort to avoid errors in the future.

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