Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality - Anil Seth
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- TED Talk
You might therefore find it surprising that, for most of the twentieth Century, the study of consciousness was largely excluded from psychology and neuroscience. Things started to change in the late 1990s, when new technologies like brain imaging became more widely available. These days, research into the biological basis of consciousness is once again thriving, and is at the heart of the mind and brain sciences.
There are many ways to study consciousness. We can look at what happens in the brain when people lose it, such as when they fall asleep or go under general anesthesia. We can explore what shapes our conscious experiences – how the brain generates conscious perceptions from the flow of sensory signals in which it is immersed. And we can ask what it means to be a ‘conscious self’ – to have the experience of being me, or of being you. Science – guided by philosophy – is providing new answers to all of these questions, some of which you will have encountered in this TED talk.
You can listen to Anil Seth’s TED Interview with head-of-TED Chris Anderson from July 2019, or – if you really have time on your hands – his 2018 conversation with neuroscientist and author Sam Harris. He has also written about his approach to consciousness science in a 2016 article for Aeon called ‘the real problem of consciousness’, and a 2018 article for Scientific American on ‘the neuroscience of reality’.
For some other perspectives, check out neuroscientist Christof Koch’s Scientific American piece ‘what is consciousness?’ or this video of philosopher Daniel Dennett on the same question, for New Scientist. Perhaps most fun of all, check out the Rap Guide to Consciousness by peer-reviewed rap artist Baba Brinkman – for which Anil was a scientific advisor.
There’s more to explore on Anil’s webpage (www.anilseth.com) including the option to sign up for news about his books, including Being You.
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