IULM, Milan, Italy
20/04/22 @ 3:00pm
The hypothesis of the mind-object identity as a solution to the hard problem of consciousness
Until now, neurosciences have not provided any explanation as to how and why neural activity generates conscious experience (only correlations). It is fair to say that consciousness has never been observed directly. Moreover, phenomenal experience is not compatible with the causal closure of the physical world. Therefore, how to overcome this impasse without slipping into explanations that run afoul ontological parsimony (Occam)?
An interesting alternative approach consists in setting aside the unproven premises that scholars have so far assumed and to consider a different physical candidate for consciousness – i.e. the external world. This hypothesis, dubbed the mind-object identity, is extremely parsimonious, is consistent with the neuroscientific data, solves the problem of mental causation, and in fact cancels the hard problem. The identity between consciousness and physical objects – rather than between consciousness and neural activity – requires two revisit two fundamental aspects of the physical world: the relative nature of physical properties and the spatiotemporal extension of events. Fortunately, such aspects are both widely supported by contemporary physics and phenomenologically consistent.
The mind-object identity is discussed and compared with a number of empirical cases offered by neuroscience: from hallucinations to dreams, from illusions to memory.
International School for advanced Studies (SISSA), Italy
25/11/21 @ 4:00pm
Meaning and awareness
Upon hearing a word, we recollect, both implicitly or explictly, a big load of very diverse information -- a chair might reactivate childhood memories of granny's home, trigger brain circuits for patterned vision, prime the associated word ''table'' and spur the proprioceptive information connected with the sitting position. How does this information compose into a nicely coherent whole? What aspects remain under the surface of our awareness and what information requires instead conscious access to get activated? We will address this question through computational evidence and experimental data across different populations (e.g., sighted vs. blind). These findings point to a theory of (word) meaning where multiple sources of information co-exist (contra both purely embodied and purely symbolic approaches) and possibly characterise neural processing with different spatio-temporal profiles.
Clinical neuropsychologist with a broad interest in the study of human cognition in relation to brain structure, function, and pathology. Her experimental expertise includes structural and functional MRI and intraoperative electrocortical stimulation mapping, as well as classical neuropsychological approaches.
University of Virginia
Author, researcher, lecturer on the human brain, its structure and function, and the role of information technology in sharing data for use in understanding fundamental neurological processes in health and disease.
King's College London
In 2004 he joined the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College London. His research Interests: Integration of machine learning and neuroimaging to develop diagnostic and prognostic models of psychosis; Development and validation of novel clinical tools for improving detection and treatment of psychosis; Use of smartphone technologies to investigate the impact of the built and social environment on mental health in real time (see urbanmind.info).
Università degli Studi di Milano
Professor of Philosophy of Science at University of Milan since 2001. Before that he studied at the Husserl-Archives of Leuven (1992-1993), at the Ecole Normale Superiéure of Paris (1994), and at the University of Genova (1995-1999), where he obtained my PhD in Philosophy of Science. Fields of research: Cognitive neuroscience and philosophy of mind. He is currently working on the role of motor processes and representations in joint action.
Past Visiting Professors
Professor of Psychology and director of the Stanford Center for Reproducible Neuroscience. His research uses brain imaging to understand how we learn and make decisions and how we exert self-control. Some projects he developed are Cognitive Atlas and OpenfMRI.
University of California, Davis
American neuroscientist, Professor of Psychology and head of the Laboratory of Evolutionary Neurobiology. Her research interests center on how complex brains in mammals (e.g., humans) evolve from simpler forms.
Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience
Hans Op de Beeck
Maria Ida Gobbini
Boston Children's Hospital