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Michael Roland

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Is neural activity truly the basis for thoughts, feelings, and perceptions?

"Neural activity is the physical basis, or so neuroscientists think, for thoughts, feelings, and perceptions."

In this qstatement, is Dr Seung implying that this is up for debate?


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  • Jan 20 2012: I believe so, an easy way to look at this would be the dilemma of personal verses impersonal or emotional versus logic. If we use the common example of a train travelling down a track towards 5 people and you can pull a lever to change the tracks so it would only kill 1 person, and the other example of the same situation but the only way to stop the train is by pushing a man of the bridge into it. We can see that the first example is impersonal and the second is personal. In the first case under MRI for 9/10 people the areas of the brain associated with cool rational thinking; the mediofrontal gyrus, and the left and right parietal lobes light up. However, we also know that these areas become less active during emotional thought, and this is exactly what happens in most people for the second option as well as this 4 other areas strongly associated with depression and anxiety light up. So all though by logic these are exactly the same. Due to neurological processes the majority of people would answer them differently. However, there are 1 in 10 people, the strict logicians, who when posed with the second decision they will take a much longer time to come up with an answer and decide on there being no difference between the two. But on the MRI you can see the anterior cingulate cortex light up which is the areas associated with internal conflict.

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