Our brain is in a state of “controlled hallucinations”


In the end, the vision scientist figured out what happened. This is not our computer screen or our eyes.This is The mental calculations the brain performs when we see. Some people unconsciously infer that the dress is under direct light, psychologically subtracting yellow from the image, so they see blue and black stripes. Others think it is in the shadows, with blue light dominating. Their brains subtracted blue from the image in their minds and came up with a white and gold dress.

Mind not only filters reality; it constructs it, inferring the external world from ambiguous inputs.exist Be youAnil Seth, a neuroscientist at the University of Sussex, elaborated on his explanation of “how the subjectively experienced inner world is related to the biological and physical processes unfolding in the brain and body, and can be explained by these processes.”He believes that “experience Be youOr be me and stand out from the way the brain predicts and controls the internal state of the body. ”

In recent years, predictions have become popular in academia.Seth and the philosopher Andy Clark, a colleague at the University of Sussex, call the predictions made by the brain “Control the hallucinations.” The idea is that the brain is always building models of the world to interpret and predict incoming information; when predictions and our experience from sensory input diverge, it updates these models.

“Chairs are not red,” Seth wrote, “just as they are not ugly, old-fashioned, or avant-garde… When I look at a red chair, the red I feel depends on the characteristics of the chair and the characteristics of my brain. It corresponds to a set of perceptual predictions about the way a specific type of surface reflects light.”

Seth is not particularly interested in red, and even more generally not interested in color. On the contrary, his bigger claim is that the same process applies to all perceptions: “The whole perceptual experience is a neuronal fantasy that keeps in touch with the world by constantly making and remaking perceptual best guesses and controlled illusions. You It can even be said that we have hallucinations all the time. Only when we agree with our hallucinations, this is what we call reality.”

Cognitive scientists often rely on atypical examples to understand what really happened. Seth leads the reader through a series of interesting optical illusions and demonstrations, some of which are very familiar, while others are not. In fact, the squares of the same shadow look different; the spiral printed on the paper seems to rotate spontaneously; a fuzzy image turns out to be a woman kissing a horse; a face appears in the bathroom sink. To recreate the psychedelic power of the mind in silicon, he and his colleagues created an artificial intelligence-driven virtual reality setting that produced a Hunter Thompson-like animal part in a square on the campus of the University of Sussex , These animals appear piecemeal from other objects. This series of examples, in Seth’s recount, “eliminates the fascinating but unhelpful intuition that consciousness is one thing-a huge terrible mystery, looking for a terrible solution.” Seth’s point of view may make Those who prefer to believe that things look like this are disturbed: “The experience of free will is perception. The flow of time is a perception.”

When Seth described how the brain shapes experience (a “simple” problem that philosophers call consciousness), his argument is relatively solid. They are easy only when compared to the “difficult” question: why does subjective experience exist as a feature of the universe. Here, he clumsily introduced the problem of “reality”, that is, “the phenomenological characteristics of explaining, predicting, and controlling conscious experience”. It is not clear how the real problem is different from the simple problem, but somehow, he said, solving it will give us some ways to solve the problem. Now this will be a clever technique.

Seth tells a lot about the experience of people with typical brains fighting atypical stimuli, Into our senses, Susan Barry is Professor Emeritus of Neurobiology at Mount Holyoke College. She tells the story of two people getting new feelings in their later years. Liam McCoy, who had been almost blind since childhood, was able to see almost clearly through a series of operations when he was 15 years old. Zohra Damji had been severely deaf until she received a cochlear implant at the very late age of 12. As Barry explained, Damji’s surgeon “told her aunt that if he knew the length and extent of Zohra’s deafness, he would not have surgery.” Barry’s compassionate, nuanced, and keen explanations were derived from her own experience:

At the age of 48, my vision has improved significantly, and this change has repeatedly brought me childlike joy. I have been squinting since my infancy, mainly seeing the world through one eye. Then, in middle age, I learned how to use my eyes together through a vision treatment plan. Every time I look at it, everything I see is completely new. I can see the volume and 3D shape of the empty space between things. The branches stretched out to me; the lamps floated. Visiting the produce section of the supermarket, where there are various colors and 3D shapes, may make me feel a kind of ecstasy.

Barry was ecstatic about her new ability, which she described as “looking at it in a new way.” She took great pains to point out how different this is from “seeing it for the first time.” A person with vision can grasp a scene at a glance. “But when we see a 3D landscape full of objects and people, a newly sighted adult will see a hodgepodge of lines and color patches appearing on a flat surface.” As McCoy described to Barry as he was walking on the stairs Coming and going experience:


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