On Consciousness with Bernard Baars podcast

Ep 14: "Psychedelics, Impulsivity, and Brain Stimulation" with Dr. Heather Berlin *On Consciousness*

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“In many cases you can see an immediate effect, as in chronic depression – suddenly you turn on the electrodes – you don't tell them when it's on or off, right? And their whole face lights up. And you ask, "What do you feel like?" And they say, "Oh, it feels wonderful. It feels like I won the lottery! It's so great!"

 

– Dr. Heather Berlin, Neuropsychologist and Assistant Clinical Professor at Mount Sinai

  Episode 14: "Psychedelics, Impulsivity, and Brain Stimulation" with Dr. Heather Berlin *On Consciousness* 

 

In this episode, our guest is neuropsychologist Dr. Heather Berlin, an Assistant Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Berlin conducts research to better understand the neural basis of impulsivity, compulsivity, and emotion with the goal of more targeted treatment. She employs neuroimaging and neuropsychological and psychopharmacological testing of brain lesion and compulsive, impulsive, and personality disorder patients. She is also interested in the neural basis of consciousness, dynamic unconscious processes, the use of psychedelics to treat mental disorders, and in the neural basis of creativity. We discuss her work and interests in this episode.

  Talking Points:

 

  • 0:00 – Introduction 
  • 3:09 – Impulse Control and Associated Brain Areas 
  • 9:27 – Finding a Balance: Healthy Brain vs Impairment and Self Regulation
  • 17:40 – The Essence of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders
  • 24:40 – The Big News: Deep Brain Stimulation as an Effective Treatment for OCD
  • 29:29 – Brain Aspects of Stress and Resilience 
  • 37:01 – How Effective is Deep Brain Stimulation?
  • 41:59 – Advances in Psychedelic Research
  • 45:15 – Psilocybin and Ego Dissolution 
  • 54:18 – Pharmaceutical Addiction Tapering
  • 58:12 – Flow States, Mystical Experiences: “The Cosmic Perspective” 
  • 01:04:46 – Possibilities

 

Summary:

 

Dr. Berlin has done an enormous range of work, which you can distill into this very profound question: “How do we control our unwanted impulses, our desires, our emotions, our reactions with other people?” These are very common questions, starting very early in life.

For example, imagine yourself as a child looking at the most delicious food, let’s use ice cream, and not being allowed to eat it… impulse control is having to wait. Impulse control is not just a problem in childhood, it is perhaps the major problem in adults who have significant psychological troubles. This includes the addictions, but also severe mood swings that adults want to change, but do not seem to have the power to change in these moments. When it is hard to control repeated impulses, we talk about compulsions; cigarette smoking can be seen as a compulsion. When repetitive thoughts are hard to regulate, we talk about obsessions. 

There seems to be a tug of war between those deep midbrain nuclei and the control system which involves the prefrontal cortex. Various areas of the prefrontal cortex have somewhat different effects, but prefrontal is associated with self regulation, while midbrain nuclei have to do with impulses, motivations, emotions, and so on. The prefrontal cortex is sometimes called the “organ of civilization” or as Heather dubs it, “the brake system”.

The Big News

It is amazing how low level electrical stimulation by microscopic electrodes can profoundly change human mood disorders, like severe depression. The brain areas stimulated include the nucleus accumbens and ventral striatum of the basal ganglia, and local areas in the prefrontal cortex. 

“Medical science is often an art as well as a science, but Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) really can have significant effect and impact on people with difficult-to-treat conditions, like OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), but also people with intractable or untreatable depression,” says Dr. Heather Berlin.

DBS can be surprisingly effective. As Dr. Berlin points out, “DBS is a huge success story. 40 to 50% of patients with severe untreatable depression, and about 60 to 70% of patients with severe OCD all have significant improvement in people who’ve tried every first line treatment and nothing has worked. In many cases you can see an immediate effect, as in chronic depression -- suddenly you turn on the electrodes -- you don't tell them when it's on or off, right? And their whole face lights up. And you ask "What do you feel like?" And they say "Oh, it feels wonderful. It feels like I won the lottery! It's so great!" And as they're talking, you turn off the electrodes and you just see their whole affect drop right back down.” 

Surprising Advances in Psychedelic Research

In the 1960s, psychedelics got a mixed reception, because many people had spectacular experiences, but physicians often wondered if there were harmful side effects. Now we are seeing a return to psychedelics as a promising treatment for different neuropsychiatric conditions. 

The new therapies always combine the psychedelic-assisted treatment with the presence of a specialized psychotherapist. Dr. Berlin gives us a summary of the new discoveries in the use of psychedelics, including MDMA for the treatment of PTSD, psilocybin to treat anxiety and people with end of life issues, ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic, for the treatment of severe depression and particular suicidality, and more recently DMT (or ayahuasca) as a treatment for certain psychiatric illnesses. 

After 50 years of persistent efforts to find solutions, in the last decade we finally have treatments with dramatic positive effects. Dr. Heather Berlin presents us with recent medical breakthroughs for very severe life problems that have been difficult to address.

Get a 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory

 

Bios:

 

Dr. Heather Berlin is a dual-trained neuroscientist and clinical psychologist, and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mont Sinai in NY. She explores the neural basis of impulsive and compulsive psychiatric and neurological disorders with the aim of developing novel treatments. She is also interested in the brain basis of consciousness, dynamic unconscious processes, and creativity. Clinically, she specializes in lifespan (child, adolescent, and adult) treatment of anxiety, mood, and impulsive and compulsive disorders (e.g. OCD), blending her neural perspective with cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and humanistic approaches. You can visit her website at https://www.heatherberlin.com/

 

Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.   Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.   He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble.

Otros episodios de "On Consciousness with Bernard Baars"

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    Ep 17: ”Global Workspace Theory: Exploring Evidence for Widespread Integration & Broadcasting of Conscious Signals - Part Two”

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    "I think in terms of consciousness, it seems to me that these Feelings of Knowing are perhaps the conscious tip of the iceberg for this huge amount of unconscious processing that's going on of all this information in our environment, where maybe I couldn't tell you why I know there's danger, but I know." - Alea Skwara, PhD Candidate in the Perception, Cognition, and Cognitive Neuroscience (PCCN) area of the Psychology Department at UC Davis   Global Workspace Theory: Exploring Evidence for Widespread Integration & Broadcasting of Conscious Signals - Part Two Episode 17 of the Podcast On Consciousness with Bernard Baars explores the links between cutting edge brain evidence and how that supports or updates our understanding of consciousness and the Global Workspace Theory (GWT).   Talking Points 0:00 – Intro 5:24 – History of Global Workspace Theory 8:23 – Discussion Paper #1: Baars et al. (2013) Global Workspace Dynamics  9:32 - What is meant by “Widespread Integration?” 17:22 – The Neuroscience of Widespread Integration 25:26 – Corticothalamic Loops in Relation to GWT 30:10 – Localist vs Local-Global Theories 35:46 – “The Question of Introspection” 43:01 – How is Consciousness Assessed? 49:58 – Feelings of Knowing (FOKs) 54:33 – Discussion Paper #2: Gaillard et al. (2009) Converging Intracranial Markers...  1:04:20 – Discussion Paper #3: Herman et al. (2019) A Switch & Wave of Neuronal Activity 1:14:55 – Brain Oscillations: Gamma and Beta Bands 1:20:56 – Paper #4: Deco et al. 2019 Revisiting the Global Workspace 1:26:29 – Functional Rich Clubs 1:41:50 – The Future Quest for Consciousness   Summary Episode 17 is the second in a three-part series on GWT Origins & Evidence, featuring our student interviewers, Alea Skwara and Ilian Daskalov. Together with Bernard Baars, they examine the recent neuroscientific study of consciousness. After some quick introductions, Alea briefly summarizes their discussion in Part I on the history of Global Workspace, how the theory evolved, as well as some of the core hypotheses it generates. Now we dive into the brain evidence.  Global Workspace Theory (or GWT) was first formulated in the ‘80s as a psychological theory of how consciousness might operate. In Part I, we talked about the spotlight metaphor. One of the key predictions of GWT is “widespread integration and broadcasting.” This seems to be one of the predictions that can be most directly tested by brain activity, our topic today.   Cortical Binding and Propagation The trio delves into the first of 4 papers, namely Baars’ 2013 paper called “Global Workspace Dynamics.” This paper comes as the result of four decades of cumulative work, which pulls together the evidence as of 2013. 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This moves the conversation to Feelings of Knowing (FOKs), which is one fundamental type of conscious experience. Bernie makes the point that Feelings of Knowing are an integral part of the conscious stream.   Evidence for GWT: Conscious Access, Gamma Activity, and Functional Rich Clubs The next paper is by Gaillard et al. (2009). It is an outstanding example of reading work from France by Dehaene and Changeux in Paris. The title is “Converging Intracranial Markers of Conscious Access, ” and it represents probably the most precise and accurate evidence so far for cortical integration and broadcasting. The experiment compared conscious and unconscious processing of briefly flashed words. Our trio asks the question: How does the observed effect of longer lasting and more widespread brain activity during conscious perception of a word offer support for GWT? Alea explains how this evidence confirms that conscious perceptual activity is propagated widely throughout the cortex. 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Our trio explores: What does Deco’s idea of an “invariant global workspace” mean?   The Future Quest for Consciousness  As our trio wraps up, Ilian wants to know about the future of “the quest for consciousness.” Bernie and Alea agree that combining brain recordings with phenomenological interviews during meditation is very exciting.   Links to Papers Discussed in the Episode Paper 1: “Global Workspace Dynamics: Cortical ‘Binding and Propagation’ Enables Conscious Contents Paper 2: Converging Intracranial Markers of Conscious Access Paper 3: A Switch and Wave of Neuronal Activity in the Cerebral Cortex During the First Second of Conscious Perception Paper 4: Revisiting the Global Workspace: Orchestration of the Functional Hierarchical Organisation of the Human Brain   Bios Alea Skwara is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Davis where she studies cognitive neuroscience. Her primary research focuses on compassion and responses to suffering. The main question that Alea is currently trying to answer is whether meditational practices can expand the range of people that a person can feel compassion for. Ilian Daskalov is a senior undergraduate student at University of California, Irvine where he studies Cognitive Science. He holds an associate degree with honors from San Diego Mesa College. His research interests include sleep, psychedelics, and artificial intelligence. He is passionate about communicating science and promoting critical thinking.  Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.   Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.   He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble.   Get a 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory GO TO: http://shop.thenautiluspress.com APPLY DISCOUNT CODE AT CHECKOUT: "PODCASTVIP"
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    Ep 16: ”Global Workspace Theory: Exploring Origins and Evidence - Part One”

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    "One of the major features of the Global Workspace hypothesis began with limited capacity, that there has to be a compensatory event in the brain happening, and the most plausible one, for various reasons, including other people's work, of course, was that there's some kind of very wide recruitment of brain resources that happens as a function of becoming conscious of something." – Dr. Bernard Baars, originator of Global Workspace Theory and Global Workspace Dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. “Global Workspace Theory: Exploring Origins and Evidence - Part 1” with Ilian Daskalov & Alea Skwara   In episode 16 of the Podcast On Consciousness, psychobiologist and author Bernard Baars, and Student Interviewers Alea Skwara, a PhD candidate at UC Davis and Ilian Daskalov, a senior undergrad student at UC Irvine unpack the origins and various components of Baars’ Global Workspace Theory (GWT), a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex, and consciousness. GWT is a widely used framework for the role of conscious and unconscious events in the functioning of the brain, a set of explicit assumptions that can be tested, as many of them have been in the last twenty years. Global Workspace Dynamics (GWD) is the most current version of GWT – attempting to take into account the complexities of the living brain.   Talking Points   0:00 – Intro by Natalie Geld, Bernard Baars, Alea Skwara & Ilian Daskalov 5:58 – Is a Stream of Consciousness a Passive State? 11:59 – How is Consciousness Defined? 18:29 – Unpacking the Origins of Global Workspace Theory 28:37 – Features of Global Workspace Theory  37:45 – The Limited Capacity of Conscious Awareness 42:36 – Parallel Integrated Computing 50:28 – Widespread Integration and Broadcasting 1:00:55 – What People Get Wrong About GWT   Summary   Bernie opens the conversation with the point that consciousness has largely been perceived as a passive state. When scientists initially started recording brain activity, the collection of brain regions which were active in the absence of a given task were considered to be “the brain’s metabolic baseline.” This notion, however, has received plenty of pushback in recent years, and this baseline is now regarded as an active cognitive task. In an effort to get everyone on the same page, Ilian asks Bernie to define consciousness for the listeners. By using a metaphorical comparison to Galileo and his thermometer, Baars indicates that our current science is only able to give us an “operational definition,” which may differ from what consciousness actually is. In addition, by reiterating one of Baars’ metaphors, Alea explains that awareness is like a shining spotlight in a theater, while the unilluminated part of the stage, which is the majority of it, is where all the unconscious processes occur.   Origins of Global Workspace Theory   Ilian asks Bernie about the origins of Global Workspace Theory, and what inspired his thought process.  Bernie shares his story on how he became interested in studying consciousness, which was initially ignited by the limitations of strictly behavioristic views imposed upon the scientific thinking of the time. Additionally, by exploring altered states of consciousness through the practice of transcendental meditation and inspired by the field of artificial intelligence, Bernie began to formulate a model to explain the nature of awareness. The key to any scientific concept is “relative evidence.” Without that we simply get lost. And the history of speculation about consciousness is mostly about people getting lost, arguing about semantic questions and frankly wasting time. What we want, in fact, is to study nature through facts. Baars has argued that “contrastive evidence” involves the most relevant set of facts, such as sleep and waking states.   The Bottleneck Paradox: Exploring the Limited Capacity of Consciousness   Diving further into the various characteristics of Global Workspace and the questions which the theory attempts to answer, Bernie and Alea examine one of its most notable features, namely Limited Capacity, or the process of being aware of only a small percentage of what is happening in one’s mind. Limited capacity appears to be a genuine feature of the brain that continues to be a paradox. In the history of science, puzzles like this are the hardest fundamental questions to solve. Building on this topic, they also incorporate the subject of parallel integrated computing, which describes how a number of processors simultaneously tackle the same problem in order to reach the most optimal solution.   Global Access, Integration, and Some Clarifications   The discussion then moves on to the core prediction of GWT, which is “widespread integration and broadcasting.” Bernie uses the example of a chirping bird to explain that integration is the process of sound traveling to both ears at slightly different times, all the while being perceived as one.  Furthermore, Alea summarizes the broadcasting aspect of Global Workspace as the ability to “hyper focus on a narrow piece of experience.” In the final segment of the episode, Ilian and Bernie discuss some of the common misconceptions about Global Workspace Theory. Referring to the analogy of a traffic jam’s changing epicenter, Baars explains that the Global Workspace is a dynamic hub in the brain - and not static - as commonly thought.  In Episode 17 - Part 2 of our series on GWT, Bernie, Ilian, and Alea will explore the links between cutting edge brain evidence and how that supports or updates our understanding of consciousness and the Global Workspace Theory. They will begin with Bernie’s co-authored paper from 2013 -- “Global Workspace Dynamics: Cortical “binding and propagation” enables conscious contents” -- the result of four decades of cumulative work, which is important because it pulls all the current strands together. Three recent scientific papers will be unpacked that point out a plausible way in which all our sources can converge - can come together into a single conception.  This is only a start and we hope that this conversation triggers further questions.   Get a 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory GO TO: http://shop.thenautiluspress.com APPLY DISCOUNT CODE AT CHECKOUT: "PODCASTVIP"   Bios   Alea Skwara is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Davis where she studies cognitive neuroscience. Her primary research focuses on compassion and responses to suffering. The main question that Alea is currently trying to answer is whether meditational practices can expand the range of people that a person can feel compassion for. Ilian Daskalov is a senior undergraduate student at University of California, Irvine where he studies Cognitive Science. He holds an associate degree with honors from San Diego Mesa College. His research interests include sleep, psychedelics, and artificial intelligence. He is passionate about communicating science and promoting critical thinking.  Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.   Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.   He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble.
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    Ep 15: "Communicating Science Effectively and The Notion of Free Will" with Dr. Heather Berlin *On Consciousness*

    28:05

    "The idea is to help people understand how this science is relevant to their daily lives. Our brain likes novelty. It gets this sort of dopamine hit when you give it new information. Capturing attention and getting people excited about the information is really important, especially when dealing with things like public health issues, for example.” – Dr. Heather Berlin, Neuropsychologist and Assistant Clinical Professor at Mount Sinai   Episode 15: "Communicating Science Effectively and The Notion of Free Will" with Dr. Heather Berlin *On Consciousness*  For Episode #15, our returning guest is neuropsychologist Dr. Heather Berlin, an Assistant Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Berlin is a trained neuroscientist and a clinical psychologist. She is also interested in the neural basis of consciousness, dynamic unconscious processes, the use of psychedelics to treat mental disorders, and in the neural basis of creativity. We discuss her work and passions in this episode.   Talking Points   0:00 - Intro with Bernard Baars, Dr. Heather Berlin & Student Interviewer, Ilian Daskalov 1:14 - Self-regulation and impulsivity 6:59 - Communicating science effectively 10:57 - The future of AI 16:23 - The notion of free will 19:30 - Future scientific discoveries 22:33 - Advice for neuroscience students   Summary   Bernie Baars expresses his interest in the topic of human impulsivity and invites Dr. Berlin to share how her work has been shaped by studying the nature of self-regulation. Heather discusses her pursuit of trying to understand what makes us distinctly human, which led her on a journey of studying the functions of the prefrontal cortex. Additionally, the two also briefly touch on how Freud’s work has contributed to our understanding of the human mind. Bernie then welcomes Student Interviewer Ilian Daskalov, a Cognitive Science student at University of California, Irvine into the conversation to further explore her unique work, research and creative endeavors.    Relating Science to Our Daily Lives They begin with the question “What makes someone an effective science communicator?” Heather explains that while there are many ways to communicate science, the key to capturing your audience’s attention stems from relating science information to their daily lives. Heather says: “First of all, find what you are good at, what medium you might be best at. You know, my husband raps about science, right? That's his medium. Then start to cultivate your medium. I think the kind of overarching aim that runs across them all is about connecting with people. I think on an emotional level, on a personal level -- because sometimes science can be abstract and objective, and that's what we want with science. It's objective. It's not amenable to our subjectivity, but at the same time that can feel very clinical. Distant.  The idea is to help people understand how this science is relevant to their daily lives. How it's meaningful and what it means to them. Even if it's just inspiring a sense of awe, like, I don't know for sure about astrophysics, maybe it doesn't have any direct impact on our daily life, but just living in this universe and the enormity of it!! It’s awe inspiring!  Our brain likes novelty. It gets this sort of dopamine hit when you give it new information. Capturing attention and getting people excited about the information is really important, especially when dealing with things like public health issues, for example.”   Conscious AI and the Notion of Free Will Recalling a recent interview between Heather Berlin and Sophia the Robot, Ilian seeks to understand where the future development of general artificial intelligence is heading. Both Bernie and Heather express their skepticism that humanity will be able to create conscious machines. They go on to explain that while our understanding of consciousness is yet incomplete, the biological components that it consists of appear to be fundamental building blocks. Following the topic of AI, the discussion moves on to the notion of Free Will. Heather points out that although there is no evidence for the Cartesian definition of Free Will, the unconscious processes may not be predetermined. She further highlights the fact that the lack of Free Will does not excuse inappropriate human behavior as we have evolved the capacity to have self-control, primarily due to the maturation of the prefrontal cortex.  Bernie shares his thoughts on consciousness and the sense of Free Will: “Consciousness has been a huge taboo in the last 100 years, and so people are very often a little bit ashamed or inhibited or afraid of getting criticized when they speak freely of consciousness and Free Will. The key move in this new and confusing area is to state our questions in a testable and open-minded way. In good science, we should never impose our answers onto nature.  The way to study the sense of freedom that we all have is profoundly important -- it is very real -- and not an illusion. There are profound biological reasons as to why humans and animals prefer freedom over coercion. Once we ask the question this way, we can study it.”   Future Science In the final moments of the episode, Ilian inquires about any future scientific discoveries that Heather is most enthusiastic about. She shares her excitement for the potential uses of neural implants which will aid in manipulating pathways in our brains, leading to enhanced memory, creativity, and intelligence. She also expresses optimism that through gene editing, we would be able to eliminate some neurological illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s Disease. In closing, Ilian asks: “What general advice do you have for students of neuroscience and psychology?” Heather responds by urging science students to be persistent in chasing their goals and to always be bold and take risks, and says, “Just keep going, keep going, keep going, and don't let anybody stop you unless it's illegal.”   Get a 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory GO TO: http://shop.thenautiluspress.com APPLY DISCOUNT CODE AT CHECKOUT: "PODCASTVIP"   Bios:   Dr. Heather Berlin is a dual-trained neuroscientist and clinical psychologist, and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mont Sinai in NY. She explores the neural basis of impulsive and compulsive psychiatric and neurological disorders with the aim of developing novel treatments. She is also interested in the brain basis of consciousness, dynamic unconscious processes, and creativity. Clinically, she specializes in lifespan (child, adolescent, and adult) treatment of anxiety, mood, and impulsive and compulsive disorders (e.g. OCD), blending her neural perspective with cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and humanistic approaches. You can visit her website at https://www.heatherberlin.com/   Ilian Daskalov is a senior undergraduate student at University of California, Irvine where he studies Cognitive Science. He holds an associate degree with honors from San Diego Mesa College. His research interests include sleep, psychedelics, and artificial intelligence. He is passionate about communicating science and promoting critical thinking.    Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.   Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.   He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble.
  • On Consciousness with Bernard Baars podcast

    Ep 14: "Psychedelics, Impulsivity, and Brain Stimulation" with Dr. Heather Berlin *On Consciousness*

    1:08:57

    “In many cases you can see an immediate effect, as in chronic depression – suddenly you turn on the electrodes – you don't tell them when it's on or off, right? And their whole face lights up. And you ask, "What do you feel like?" And they say, "Oh, it feels wonderful. It feels like I won the lottery! It's so great!"   – Dr. Heather Berlin, Neuropsychologist and Assistant Clinical Professor at Mount Sinai   Episode 14: "Psychedelics, Impulsivity, and Brain Stimulation" with Dr. Heather Berlin *On Consciousness*    In this episode, our guest is neuropsychologist Dr. Heather Berlin, an Assistant Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Berlin conducts research to better understand the neural basis of impulsivity, compulsivity, and emotion with the goal of more targeted treatment. She employs neuroimaging and neuropsychological and psychopharmacological testing of brain lesion and compulsive, impulsive, and personality disorder patients. She is also interested in the neural basis of consciousness, dynamic unconscious processes, the use of psychedelics to treat mental disorders, and in the neural basis of creativity. We discuss her work and interests in this episode.   Talking Points:   0:00 – Introduction  3:09 – Impulse Control and Associated Brain Areas  9:27 – Finding a Balance: Healthy Brain vs Impairment and Self Regulation 17:40 – The Essence of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders 24:40 – The Big News: Deep Brain Stimulation as an Effective Treatment for OCD 29:29 – Brain Aspects of Stress and Resilience  37:01 – How Effective is Deep Brain Stimulation? 41:59 – Advances in Psychedelic Research 45:15 – Psilocybin and Ego Dissolution  54:18 – Pharmaceutical Addiction Tapering 58:12 – Flow States, Mystical Experiences: “The Cosmic Perspective”  01:04:46 – Possibilities   Summary:   Dr. Berlin has done an enormous range of work, which you can distill into this very profound question: “How do we control our unwanted impulses, our desires, our emotions, our reactions with other people?” These are very common questions, starting very early in life. For example, imagine yourself as a child looking at the most delicious food, let’s use ice cream, and not being allowed to eat it… impulse control is having to wait. Impulse control is not just a problem in childhood, it is perhaps the major problem in adults who have significant psychological troubles. This includes the addictions, but also severe mood swings that adults want to change, but do not seem to have the power to change in these moments. When it is hard to control repeated impulses, we talk about compulsions; cigarette smoking can be seen as a compulsion. When repetitive thoughts are hard to regulate, we talk about obsessions.  There seems to be a tug of war between those deep midbrain nuclei and the control system which involves the prefrontal cortex. Various areas of the prefrontal cortex have somewhat different effects, but prefrontal is associated with self regulation, while midbrain nuclei have to do with impulses, motivations, emotions, and so on. The prefrontal cortex is sometimes called the “organ of civilization” or as Heather dubs it, “the brake system”. The Big News It is amazing how low level electrical stimulation by microscopic electrodes can profoundly change human mood disorders, like severe depression. The brain areas stimulated include the nucleus accumbens and ventral striatum of the basal ganglia, and local areas in the prefrontal cortex.  “Medical science is often an art as well as a science, but Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) really can have significant effect and impact on people with difficult-to-treat conditions, like OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), but also people with intractable or untreatable depression,” says Dr. Heather Berlin. DBS can be surprisingly effective. As Dr. Berlin points out, “DBS is a huge success story. 40 to 50% of patients with severe untreatable depression, and about 60 to 70% of patients with severe OCD all have significant improvement in people who’ve tried every first line treatment and nothing has worked. In many cases you can see an immediate effect, as in chronic depression -- suddenly you turn on the electrodes -- you don't tell them when it's on or off, right? And their whole face lights up. And you ask "What do you feel like?" And they say "Oh, it feels wonderful. It feels like I won the lottery! It's so great!" And as they're talking, you turn off the electrodes and you just see their whole affect drop right back down.”  Surprising Advances in Psychedelic Research In the 1960s, psychedelics got a mixed reception, because many people had spectacular experiences, but physicians often wondered if there were harmful side effects. Now we are seeing a return to psychedelics as a promising treatment for different neuropsychiatric conditions.  The new therapies always combine the psychedelic-assisted treatment with the presence of a specialized psychotherapist. Dr. Berlin gives us a summary of the new discoveries in the use of psychedelics, including MDMA for the treatment of PTSD, psilocybin to treat anxiety and people with end of life issues, ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic, for the treatment of severe depression and particular suicidality, and more recently DMT (or ayahuasca) as a treatment for certain psychiatric illnesses.  After 50 years of persistent efforts to find solutions, in the last decade we finally have treatments with dramatic positive effects. Dr. Heather Berlin presents us with recent medical breakthroughs for very severe life problems that have been difficult to address. Get a 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory GO TO: http://shop.thenautiluspress.com APPLY DISCOUNT CODE AT CHECKOUT: "PODCASTVIP"   Bios:   Dr. Heather Berlin is a dual-trained neuroscientist and clinical psychologist, and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mont Sinai in NY. She explores the neural basis of impulsive and compulsive psychiatric and neurological disorders with the aim of developing novel treatments. She is also interested in the brain basis of consciousness, dynamic unconscious processes, and creativity. Clinically, she specializes in lifespan (child, adolescent, and adult) treatment of anxiety, mood, and impulsive and compulsive disorders (e.g. OCD), blending her neural perspective with cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and humanistic approaches. You can visit her website at https://www.heatherberlin.com/   Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.   Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.   He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble.
  • On Consciousness with Bernard Baars podcast

    Ep 13: "Thinking About Animal Consciousness" w/ David Edelman *On Consciousness*

    44:54

    "The only way we get certainty or stability in the world is to start from what we know, and gradually move to what we don't know."   - Bernard Baars, PhD, originator of the Global Workspace Theory, a theory of cognitive architecture and consciousness.    Episode 13: "Thinking About Animal Consciousness"   The question of whether some non-human animals are capable of awareness has vexed psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers of mind for many decades. In the final episode of Season One of The Podcast On Consciousness, Bernard Baars and David Edelman attempt to demystify animal consciousness. They suggest a comparative framework for investigating subjectivity that considers the human case as a benchmark, but at the same time emphasizes a kind of behavioral output as a form of report, akin to the language-based reports used in studies of human consciousness.   Talking Points: 0:04 – Intro 1:38 – Where in the brain is consciousness located? 7:44 – Consciousness in non-mammalian animals 11:00 – The visual cortex 17:15 – How is consciousness defined? 25:01 - Behaviors as markers for subjectivity 30:02 –Sensory consciousness and higher order self-awareness 34:14 – Do cephalopods belong to the big C-club? 40:22 – The awareness of the self Bios: David Edelman, PhD: A neuroscientist and currently Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, David has taught neuroscience at the University of San Diego and UCSD. He was Professor of Neuroscience at Bennington College until 2014 and visiting professor in the Department of Psychology, CUNY Brooklyn College from 2015-2017. He has conducted research in a wide range of areas, including mechanisms of gene regulation, the relationship between mitochondrial transport and brain activity, and visual perception in the octopus. A longstanding interest in the neural basis of consciousness led him to consider the importance—and challenge—of disseminating a more global view of brain function to a broad audience. Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.   Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.   He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble.   Get a 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory GO TO: https://shop.thenautiluspress.com/collections/baars  APPLY DISCOUNT CODE AT CHECKOUT: "PODCASTVIP"   #podbean #podcast #spotify #itunes #podcasting #podcastlife #stitcher #podcasts #applepodcasts #googleplay #youtube #podcasters #podcaster #soundcloud #podcastshow #newpodcast #googlepodcasts #applepodcast #iheartradio #spotifypodcast #itunespodcast #podcastmovement #entertainment #castbox #radio #subscribe #listen #neuroscience #psychology #brain #globalworkspace #gwt #bernardbaars #davidedelman #markmitton #davidedelman #bernardbaars #brainscience #sciencepodcast #science    
  • On Consciousness with Bernard Baars podcast

    Ep 12: "The Brain is Embodied and the Body is Embedded" w/ Magician Mark Mitton *On Consciousness*

    1:12:20

    "Consciousness can be firmly embedded in biology, based on the fact that all kinds of [demonstrably biological] processes that are not [by themselves] conscious are important for conscious process[ing].”   - David Edelman, PhD, A neuroscientist and a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College     Episode 12: "Consciousness in Context - The Brain is Embodied and the Body is Embedded"   In the 12th episode of ‘On Consciousness,’ psychobiologist Bernard Baars and neuroscientist David Edelman are joined by renowned master of misdirection and sleight of hand, professional magician Mark Mitton, as they consider the problem of consciousness within the larger scope of biology.   Talking Points: 00:03 – Introduction by Bernard Baars. 02:42 – Mark Mitton introduces himself. 04:55 – David Edelman introduces himself. 06:47 – David discusses cephalopods and their behavior. 09:15 – How is magic connected to consciousness? 13:20 – What are the boundaries of one’s knowledge? 18:32 – Limitations of brain imaging technologies. 21:14 – Perception and awareness. 26:05 – How does paleontology compare to hard sciences? 32:20 – The biological complexity of individuality. 39:20 – How do antibodies interact with antigens? 48:14 – Deception beyond language. 52:50 – Are simple organisms conscious? 01:01:47 - Non-conscious processes. 01:05:27 - Is consciousness a biological process?   Summary of the Conversation: Starting with the example of magic as it has recently been used by some neuroscientists to explore conscious and unconscious processing in the brain, Mitton highlights the problem of reconciling two nomenclatures and the fact that magicians and neuroscientists think about the processes they manipulate and exploit in some very different ways. This leads to a poignant and topical question, first posed by Mitton and then echoed by Edelman: What are the boundaries of our knowledge? Most magicians think of what they do as craft, and in thinking this way, are willing to afford a degree of mystery to the realm in which they ply their craft. But what about neuroscientists? It can probably be said without exaggeration that many neuroscientists are not necessarily comfortable with the limits of their own knowledge.   Baars, Edelman, and Mitton mull over the relatively recent appreciation of the richness of biological complexity and how this must necessarily alter our view of how consciousness and other aspects of natural phenomena can be woven into a unified view of biology. The complexity of myriad processes across all levels of biological organization seems to stymie our best efforts at formulating a grand theoretical framework that integrates all that we observe in nature.   In confronting the problem of biological complexity, Baars makes the point that, at least in the case of consciousness, the role of the individual hasn’t been well understood or appreciated. Once individual variation is taken into account, the notion of what adaptation means at all levels of biological organization changes radically.   Mitton offers the example of the immune response. How does the immune system recognize a foreign invader it hasn’t encountered before — or, for that matter, a chemical compound that has never existed in the history of the planet — and mount a successful defense of the body? The key to an effective immune response is a vast preexisting (and ever diversifying) repertoire of different kinds of antibodies.   Edelman contrasts this with the case of the digital computer, in which the actions of a machine are instructed by an extrinsic program. Though the example of the immune response seems quite far from the problem of conscious brain function, the role of individual variability and selectional interactions — whether between antibody and antigen or brain and the world it perceives — may be common to both biological processes.   The trio consider how we should proceed in conscious science, knowing what we don’t know. Baars suggests that, while a practical scientific approach might avoid drawing absolute lines, it makes sense to first assume that in order to be conscious, an organism must have a nervous system. All three then acknowledge that many of the functional requisites of consciousness have been objects of study for a long time, such as memory. Consciousness not only overlies the neural faculty of memory, it also depends, for what it is and what it does, on memory and other faculties that have been around for tens of millions of years. All kinds of processes that aren’t by themselves conscious are nevertheless critical to conscious processing.   Finally, Baars, Mitton, and Edelman return to the idea that consciousness is fundamentally biological, even if it seems to thrust us into a weird purview in which we need to deal with a material object called the brain that instantiates immaterial thoughts.   In closing, Mitton offers a phrase coined by Gerald Edelman that neatly encapsulates the idea of placing the mind firmly in biological perspective: “the brain is embodied and the body is embedded.”    Get a 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory GO TO: https://shop.thenautiluspress.com/collections/baars  APPLY DISCOUNT CODE AT CHECKOUT: "PODCASTVIP"   Bios: Mark Mitton is a professional magician who is fascinated by using magic to better understand how we see the world. In addition to performing at private and corporate events all over the world, and creating magic for film, television, the Broadway stage, and Cirque du Soleil, Mark tieressly explores the theme of 'Misdirection' from an interdsciplinary standpoint. He regularly presents on 'Perception' at unviersities and conferences in North America and Europe, including the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, and has lectured with the late Nobel Laureate Dr. Gerald Edelman on The Neurosciences Institute. http://markmitton.com   David Edelman, PhD: A neuroscientist and currently Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, David has taught neuroscience at the University of San Diego and UCSD. He was Professor of Neuroscience at Bennington College until 2014 and visiting professor in the Dept of Psychology, CUNY Brooklyn College from 2015-2017.   He has conducted research in a wide range of areas, including mechanisms of gene regulation, the relationship between mitochondrial transport and brain activity, and visual perception in the octopus. A longstanding interest in the neural basis of consciousness led him to consider the importance—and challenge—of disseminating a more global view of brain function to a broad audience.   Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.   Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.   He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble. *Watch Episode 12 on Our YouTube Channel!    #podbean #podcast #spotify #itunes #podcasting #podcastlife #stitcher #podcasts #applepodcasts #googleplay #youtube #podcasters #podcaster #soundcloud #podcastshow #newpodcast #googlepodcasts #applepodcast #iheartradio #spotifypodcast #itunespodcast #podcastmovement #entertainment #castbox #radio #subscribe #listen #neuroscience #psychology #brain #globalworkspace #gwt #bernardbaars #davidedelman #markmitton #davidedelman #bernardbaars #brainscience #sciencepodcast #science    
  • On Consciousness with Bernard Baars podcast

    Ep 11: Brain Regions & Neural Functions Critical to Conscious States w/ Dr Jay Giedd *On Consciousness*

    21:24

    "Episodic memory involves conscious experiences being encoded. Same goes for semantic and autobiographical memories. All varieties of memories come in through conscious moments of recall. So, I think that consciousness is the means by which any kinds of memories are established." - Bernard Baars, PhD, originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences, and a recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society. EPISODE 11: Roundtable Part Four "Brain Regions and Neural Functions Critical to Conscious States"  In the final episode of their roundtable talks, originator of Global Workspace Theory Bernard Baars, neuroscientist David Edelman, and developmental neuropsychiatrist Dr. Jay Giedd conclude their discussion by analyzing the brain areas which are critical for higher brain function, neuroimaging techniques associated with detecting conscious experiences, and the possible existence of consciousness in non-mammalian animals.     Get your 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory GO TO: https://shop.thenautiluspress.com/collections/baars  APPLY DISCOUNT CODE AT CHECKOUT: "PODCASTVIP"   Talking Points 00:03 – Introduction by David Edelman 02:09 – The Role of Thalamus and Cortex in Higher Brain Processing 08:08 – Is Memory Fundamental to Consciousness 12:14 – Brain Variations Between Mammals and Other Animals 16:22 – Differences Between Sleep and Awake States in the Human Brain   Summary of the Conversation In this absorbing episode of ‘On Consciousness,’ Bernard Baars, David Edelman, and developmental neuropsychiatrist Dr. Jay Giedd initiate the conversation by considering the functional aspects of the brain that are believed to be absolutely critical to consciousness. Bernie, Jay, and David ponder the role of cortex and thalamus in higher brain function, including conscious processing. Bernie underlines the problem of considering the linkage between thalamus and cortex as merely a simple feedback loop. From an engineering perspective, this sort of circuit could not possibly work as such an arrangement would inevitably, as Bernie puts it, lead to effective failure of the thalamocortical circuit. Instead, it seems to be the case that the cortex functions in a state of near-criticality. As Jay indicates, this implies that the cortex is always at a tipping point, i.e., close to a phase transition and “always ready to be influenced.” Elucidating the neurobiology of consciousness has been somewhat hindered by technical hurdles. But, despite the spatial and temporal limitations of current neurophysiological and imaging technologies, David observes that certain aspects of brain anatomy—including cortex and thalamus—have been established as the sine qua non of conscious experience in mammals. In an optimistic vein, Jay offers that new combinations of existing techniques (such as MEG, EEG, and fMRI) may soon yield a much clearer picture. Next, Edelman, Baars, and Giedd consider the idea that certain higher neural processes are central to consciousness, even though those processes may often function independently of any state of awareness. Memory, which seems to be fundamental to conscious experience, is one such process. While memory and recall figure prominently in conscious experience, it’s certainly the case that some varieties of memory are regularly engaged during non-conscious states and behaviors. The trio concludes the conversation by reflecting on the prospect of consciousness as a biological phenomenon. Additionally, they consider the possibility of consciousness in animals distant from the mammalian line and as it is the case of the octopus, a creature separated from the vertebrate radiation by more than half a billion years. The octopus as a possible test case for consciousness beyond the realm of vertebrates is particularly tantalizing, given that, unlike mammals, it has neither a cerebral cortex nor a thalamus.   Bios Dr. Jay Giedd Chair of child psychiatry at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and director of child and adolescent psychiatry, Dr. Giedd is also a professor of psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine, and professor in the Dept of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.   Dr. Giedd was chief of the Section on Brain Imaging, Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). His widely published research and expertise evaluates how the child's brain develops in health and illness, the factors that influence development and how to optimize treatments to take advantage of the child's changing brain. Jay and his award winning work were featured in the PBS 2 part series "Brains on Trial" hosted by Alan Alda.   David Edelman, PhD: A neuroscientist and currently Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, David has taught neuroscience at the University of San Diego and UCSD. He was Professor of Neuroscience at Bennington College until 2014 and visiting professor in the Dept of Psychology, CUNY Brooklyn College from 2015-2017. He has conducted research in a wide range of areas, including mechanisms of gene regulation, the relationship between mitochondrial transport and brain activity, and visual perception in the octopus. A longstanding interest in the neural basis of consciousness led him to consider the importance—and challenge—of disseminating a more global view of brain function to a broad audience. Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.   Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.   He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble.   *Watch Episode 11 on Our YouTube Channel! #podbean #podcast #spotify #itunes #podcasting #podcastlife #stitcher #podcasts #applepodcasts #googleplay #youtube #podcasters #podcaster #soundcloud #podcastshow #newpodcast #googlepodcasts #applepodcast #iheartradio #spotifypodcast #itunespodcast #podcastmovement #entertainment #castbox #radio #subscribe #listen #neuroscience #psychology #brain #globalworkspace #gwt #bernardbaars #davidedelman #jaygiedd #brainscience #sciencepodcast #science  
  • On Consciousness with Bernard Baars podcast

    Ep 10: Global Workspace Theory (GWT) - Brain Aspects and Evidence w/ Dr Jay Giedd | On Consciousness

    31:06

    "All models are wrong, but some are useful." And I think ultimately that's the test of a construct like Global Workspace Theory - does it lead us to greater knowledge? Does it suggest areas of research? Does it make predictions that we can test? And that's why I think Global Workspace Theory has stood the test of time. It has succeeded on all of those fronts." - Dr. Jay Giedd, Chair of child psychiatry at Rady Children's Hospital - San Diego and director of child and adolescent psychiatry, professor of psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine, and professor in the Dept of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. EPISODE 10: Roundtable Part Three - Global Workspace Theory - Brain Aspects and Evidence with Dr. Jay Giedd In the third part of their roundtable talk, neuroscientist David Edelman, Bernard Baars, originator of the global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, and developmental neuropsychiatrist Jay Giedd consider underlying neural processes and anatomical features of Global Workspace Theory and continue on their journey to unravel the complexities surrounding conscious experiences. How does consciousness come together in the brain? How does memory figure into conscious experience? Knowing how we acquire coherent perceptual insights about the world and then commit those insights to memory, can we tune the learning process to optimize the acquisition of new skills? Get your 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory GO TO: https://shop.thenautiluspress.com/collections/baars  APPLY DISCOUNT CODE AT CHECKOUT: "PODCASTVIP"     Talking Points 00:00 – Intro by David Edelman. 02:09 – David Edelman prompts Baars to summarize the key points of the Global Workspace Theory. 07:41 – Has Global Workspace Theory been interpreted correctly by scientists? What did people get right and wrong about it? 09:11 – Baars argues against the idea that consciousness is a byproduct of human biology and that instead the two are interconnected. 11:09 – Jay Giedd on how Global Workspace Theory served as a great standing ground for research in the field of consciousness. 12:41 - The trio continue the conversation by discussing the virtually limitless potential of the human brain to learn novel information. 15:36 - Jay Giedd discusses how some human skills are diminishing with the advancement of technology. 18:02 - Edelman and Giedd engage in the process of defining consciousness and ponder upon the notion of what is necessary to create a conscious experience. 21:26 - Edelman asks Baars to explain from the standpoint of Global Workspace Theory, which mammalian brain areas are involved in the conscious process. 26:24 - Baars, Giedd, and Edelman discuss the limitations of brain imaging technology.   Summary of the Conversation How does consciousness come together in the brain? How does memory figure into conscious experience? Knowing how we acquire coherent perceptual insights about the world and then commit those insights to memory, can we tune the learning process to optimize the acquisition of new skills?   In this engrossing episode of ‘On Consciousness,' Bernard Baars, David Edelman, and developmental neuropsychiatrist Jay Giedd consider Global Workspace Theory (GWT) and its underlying neural processes and anatomical features, as well as the development of the imaging technology which has afforded a detailed view of brain activity in near-real time that appears to support GWT. To begin the discussion, Bernie provides an outline of GWT. He points to the paradox that our thought processes seem to unfold serially, yet the brain architecture underlying those thought processes resembles a collection of massively parallel processors. With this insight in mind, Bernie proposed a Global Workspace in which nonconscious processes arising in different neural regions come together, those processes are somehow polled, and the most ‘popular’ among them gets broadcast throughout the cerebral cortex, amounting to a sort of ‘ignition’ of conscious experience.  From Bernie’s summary of GWT, the discussion turns to perceptual learning. As humans negotiating an incredibly complex world, one of our greatest advantages is a long maturation period that affords us the time to acquire many sophisticated skills. Given time, a rich suite of sensory faculties, a large brain, and a good understanding of the neural processes underlying learning and memory, can we somehow optimize the acquisition of specialized skills? Elaborating on this, Jay proposes the prospect of replacing native skills that are losing ground to technology with new ones — sophisticated pattern recognition being just one example. Human beings are still much better at pattern recognition than the most powerful supercomputers.  Central to conscious perception is the ability of the brain to bind perceptual input from different sensory organs into cohesive, unified percepts that somehow hold together and persist in memory. Jay observes that during development, there must be an accretive weaving together of percepts which at some point passes a threshold of complexity, yielding conscious experience. But, when do developing humans and some non-human animals cross this rubicon of awareness? New imaging techniques, including fMRI and MEG, have made it possible for researchers to record some of the functional signatures of integration of percepts. Someday, using improved versions of such techniques, we may increasingly observe the emergence of complex states of consciousness in human infants and young non-human animals. At the close of the discussion, Bernie, Jay, and David reflect on the work of Wilder Penfield, whose contributions included the identification of numerous brain regions with particular functional specializations and the seminal insight that the cerebral cortex is the organ of mind. The pioneering refinements in open skull surgery which made possible these contributions also led Penfield to observe that variations in blood coloration associated with changes in flow were strongly correlated with differences in brain area activation. In a sense, as Jay remarks, Penfield’s observation presaged the development of fMRI. Tempering the promise of neuroimaging, Jay and David conclude the conversation by pondering the shortcomings of fMRI, including limits on spatial and temporal resolution, extreme computational processing (which can lead to ‘data massaging’), and the danger of overinterpreting results.   Bios Dr. Jay Giedd Chair of child psychiatry at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and director of child and adolescent psychiatry, Dr. Giedd is also a professor of psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine, and professor in the Dept of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.   Dr. Giedd was chief of the Section on Brain Imaging, Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). His widely published research and expertise evaluates how the child's brain develops in health and illness, the factors that influence development and how to optimize treatments to take advantage of the child's changing brain. Jay and his award winning work were featured in the PBS 2 part series "Brains on Trial" hosted by Alan Alda.   David Edelman, PhD: A neuroscientist and currently Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, David has taught neuroscience at the University of San Diego and UCSD. He was Professor of Neuroscience at Bennington College until 2014 and visiting professor in the Dept of Psychology, CUNY Brooklyn College from 2015-2017. He has conducted research in a wide range of areas, including mechanisms of gene regulation, the relationship between mitochondrial transport and brain activity, and visual perception in the octopus. A longstanding interest in the neural basis of consciousness led him to consider the importance—and challenge—of disseminating a more global view of brain function to a broad audience. Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.   Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.   He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble.   *Watch Episode 10 on Our YouTube channel! #podbean #podcast #spotify #itunes #podcasting #podcastlife #stitcher #podcasts #applepodcasts #googleplay #youtube #podcasters #podcaster #soundcloud #podcastshow #newpodcast #googlepodcasts #applepodcast #iheartradio #spotifypodcast #itunespodcast #podcastmovement #entertainment #castbox #radio #subscribe #listen #neuroscience #psychology #brain #globalworkspace #gwt #bernardbaars #davidedelman #jaygiedd #brainscience #sciencepodcast #science
  • On Consciousness with Bernard Baars podcast

    Ep 9: What is the difference that makes a difference? Jay Giedd On Consciousness w/ Bernard Baars

    37:34

    "You highlighted the difference that makes a difference. Тhis is not only a neat catchphrase, but there's also something very deep about it. And sleep, in fact, is a really interesting aspect of behavior, that maybe gives us a window on the difference between conscious and non-conscious processes in the brain, because there is a distinct difference and it is recordable." - David Edelman, PhD, A neuroscientist and a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College   EPISODE 9: Roundtable Part Two - What is the Difference That Makes a Difference?    In a continuation from their previous conversation, Neuroscientist David Edelman and Developmental Neuropsychiatrist Jay Giedd, Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine and Director of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at Rady Children's Hospital are joined by Bernard Baars, the originator of the global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. In this contemplative conversation the trio touches on subjects involving how consciousness gets defined, the developing process of an adolescent human brain, and the role that sensory organs play in an individual's perception of reality.  Get your 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory GO TO: https://shop.thenautiluspress.com/collections/baars  APPLY DISCOUNT CODE AT CHECKOUT: "PODCASTVIP"   Talking Points 0:00 – Intro by David Edelman. 2:00 – David Edelman welcomes Bernard Baars to the conversation. 2:31 – Edelman initiates the discussion by revealing what consciousness means to him and how it could be reduced to main aspects (An idea which is based on his father’s views). 6:22 – Baars points out that the exploration of consciousness is an idea that has been an inevitable part of humanity and a necessary trait. 9:40 – Edelman and Baars discuss the importance of being able to socially broadcast your model of the world as part of the conscious experience. 13:17 - Giedd and Edelman discuss whether having some type of social skills is a requirement for consciousness or if it is instead a product of it. 19:12 – Jay makes a connection between social skills and the development of the cortex, its structure, and how important it appears to be for the emergence of consciousness 22:12 – The development and integration of neuronal connections in the brain, responsible for essential bodily functions such as heart rate and breathing. 24:35 – Is consciousness a constant or are there variations of it? 26:22 – The uniqueness of the olfactory system and its close interconnectedness to the emotional system. 30:31 – The sensation of smell and the human brain’s inability to recreate a memory of smell, the way it would for a visual image 32:11 – Baars steers the conversation towards visual perceptional differences. 34:55 – Jay Giedd discusses some of the rare conditions in humans which allow for the richer perception of external stimuli    Summary of the Conversation Bernard Baars has often referred to consciousness as the difference that makes a difference. When we reflect on our everyday experience versus the absence of anything attended to or recalled, as is the case during a deep, dreamless sleep or under general anesthesia — that difference which distinguishes conscious experience from the rest of our mental lives becomes quite obvious.But, how would we characterize that difference?What is it about a particular animal’s makeup — its nervous and sensory systems, its behavior, its social interactions — that singles out that animal as truly conscious? In this episode of ‘On Consciousness’, Baars, Edelman, and Giedd explore these questions in a thought-provoking discussion, starting with their perspectives on the nature of consciousness. To begin with, David posits a relatively straightforward definition of consciousness: namely, the weaving together of different sensory threads into a coherent unified percept and the persistence of that percept in memory. Bernie then offers that humans have studied consciousness for millennia, and out of that long rumination has come the realization that teaching and learning — the process of communicating and internalizing information — is an interactive exchange of conscious thought. This social domain of conscious experience could therefore be subsumed within an operational definition of awareness — at least in the human case. As David points out (and Jay amplifies) Bernie’s emphasis on the kind of social interchange of conscious percepts that occurs between humans doesn't take into account the long history of life on earth and in particular the many animals with complex brains and elaborate sensory faculties that have preceded us. Human sociality is a recent evolutionary innovation, and it seems clear that some form of consciousness existed long before we came along. And, while Bernard emphasizes the idea that human sociality accommodates our conscious experience, Jay flips this on its head, suggesting instead that consciousness may be what ultimately affords our particular social lives as humans. Moreover, for many non-human animals, survival and reproduction are contingent on social skills — but this was true long before humans walked the earth. In any case, as Jay points out, we should be able to infer whether an animal has the capacity to convey its interpretation of reality to others from the structure and function of its nervous system. Such an inference would be strongly suggestive of a rich conscious life. Next, the conversation focuses on the role of certain brain structures and sensory faculties in defining and elaborating conscious experience. In the case of human development, we can track the emergence of different perceptual and cognitive capacities, as well as the elaboration of underlying brain areas and circuitry, from infancy well into adulthood. Thus, as Jay suggests, we could in principle observe as the capacity to weave together sensory percepts into a neural representation emerges and is elaborated in the brain of a young child. In this regard, Jay asks two questions:    1) Can consciousness be considered as being on a ‘sliding scale’ during development?    2) Would we expect developing humans to get better at weaving together conscious percepts as they grow older?    With regard to evolution, radical distinctions between our sensory organs and those of animals quite distant from our phylogenetic line suggest that the varieties of conscious experience must be legion among animals. Even among humans, differences in sensory equipment must necessarily give rise to differences in conscious experience. Individuals with a condition known as Tetrachromacy — a genetic mutation that is expressed as an extra photopigment — can perceive finer gradations in the spectrum of visible light than the rest of us and are therefore capable of making color distinctions we would certainly miss.   The upshot of this lively exchange is that there is, indeed, a difference that makes a difference at the core of conscious experience, and it can be both observed in developing humans and inferred from the rich evolutionary history of complex life on earth. Though Bernie, Jay, and David barely scratch the surface of this tantalizing difference here, they provide listeners with ample armamentarium to forge ahead and continue the intellectual journey on their own. BIOS Dr. Jay Giedd Chair of child psychiatry at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and director of child and adolescent psychiatry, Dr. Giedd is also a professor of psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine, and professor in the Dept of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.   Dr. Giedd was chief of the Section on Brain Imaging, Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). His widely published research and expertise evaluates how the child's brain develops in health and illness, the factors that influence development and how to optimize treatments to take advantage of the child's changing brain. Jay and his award winning work were featured in the PBS 2 part series "Brains on Trial" hosted by Alan Alda.   David Edelman, PhD: A neuroscientist and currently Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, David has taught neuroscience at the University of San Diego and UCSD. He was Professor of Neuroscience at Bennington College until 2014 and visiting professor in the Dept of Psychology, CUNY Brooklyn College from 2015-2017. He has conducted research in a wide range of areas, including mechanisms of gene regulation, the relationship between mitochondrial transport and brain activity, and visual perception in the octopus. A longstanding interest in the neural basis of consciousness led him to consider the importance—and challenge—of disseminating a more global view of brain function to a broad audience. Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics, a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.   Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.   He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble.   *Watch Episode 9 on Our YouTube Channel!    #podbean #podcast #spotify #itunes #podcasting #podcastlife #stitcher #podcasts #applepodcasts #googleplay #youtube #podcasters #podcaster #soundcloud #podcastshow #newpodcast #googlepodcasts #applepodcast #iheartradio #spotifypodcast #itunespodcast #podcastmovement #entertainment #castbox #radio #subscribe #listen #neuroscience #psychology #brain #globalworkspace #gwt #bernardbaars #davidedelman #jaygiedd #brainscience #sciencepodcast #science  
  • On Consciousness with Bernard Baars podcast

    In the context of developing human brains, how can we understand consciousness? Roundtable Pt 1: A Neuroanatomy & Neuro-function Approach with Jay Giedd, Chief of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, UCSD

    13:11

    "I want to try to understand consciousness from a neuroanatomy and neuro-function standpoint. What would consciousness look like in a brain scanner and other types of imaging? What are we looking for, in a sense, and could I predict from basically the architecture and the anatomy, that this could be conscious, and this would not be able to be conscious?" - Dr. Jay Giedd, Developmental Neuropsychiatrist, UCSD School of Medicine, Rady Children's Hospital, and Johns Hopkins   EPISODE 8: Roundtable Part One – The Developing Brain & Consciousness – A thoughtful discussion exploring some fundamental issues that confront the science of consciousness. Namely, how do we define consciousness? What does that term mean? Where do we even start? Neuroscientist David Edelman and Developmental Neuropsychiatrist Jay Giedd, Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine and Director of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at Rady Children's Hospital talk candidly about our understanding of the complex - and often tantalizing - nature of consciousness. In the context of the developing human brain, how can we understand consciousness? To many of us, consciousness seems like a simple, commonsense notion. When we’re awake, we all know that we are, more often than not, aware—of the world, of our thoughts and emotions, of our feeling states (i.e., hunger, thirst, pain, etc.), among others. When we fall into a deep, dreamless sleep, that awareness slips away. But, this notion is actually quite confounding—particularly when one considers that there must be a specific moment during development when the brain transitions from a small, non-conscious organ comprising a few dozen cells to a complex, 86 billion-cell nexus of conscious feelings, emotions, and thoughts. When, precisely, does that moment occur? In the womb? When we are just a few weeks old? These are the key questions that David Edelman and developmental neuropsychiatrist Jay Giedd ponder in this podcast. A lively back-and-forth ensues as the two neuroscientists bring their respective backgrounds to bear on the emergence and nature of consciousness during development: one, a neuroscientist focused on consciousness in non-human animals and the other, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist who has spent more than thirty years exploring the growth and development of the human brain from embryogenesis through childhood and adolescence well into adulthood. Along the way, David and Jay reinforce the notion that memory is a sine qua non of conscious states. As they learn to negotiate the world, very young infants experience the world with their developing senses, remember certain experiences, and then modify their behaviors accordingly. But, when do the first substantive memories actually form? There is certainly a Rubicon that is crossed; we just haven’t figured out when it happens or what that passage looks like. Memory is a ubiquitous faculty across the animal kingdom; even relatively simple animals like the humble marine snail Aplysia can learn and remember at a fundamental level. Are the different developmental stages of memory in growing infants comparable to the increasingly sophisticated memory faculties found in the nervous systems of ever more complex organisms?       Roundtable Part One Talking Points 0:03 – Opening lines by David Edelman. 0:58 – Jay Giedd introduces himself, his background in psychiatry, robotics, and reproductive medicine, and how all of it ties together as he studies brain development. 1:52 – David Edelman opens the conversation by asking about Jay Giedd’s idea of consciousness. 2:15 – Jay Giedd looks at consciousness from the perspective of the developing brain in a fetus, particularly at what point does consciousness arise and how would that be detectable through a brain scanner. 3:14 – Edelman makes a connection between Giedd’s outlook on consciousness with that of the brain’s behavior during a sleeping state. 6:02 – Jay Giedd points out that a memory appears to be essential for the rise of consciousness, and how sleep, a process which no animal escaped from evolutionarily, is essential for proper memory formation. 8:57 – David Edelman describes what happens in the brain while a person is asleep and proposes the idea that consciousness may have a variety of forms and that a brain’s sleeping state may be one of several. 10:11 – Giedd brings up the role of dreams and our vague understanding of them.   Get your 40% Discount for your copy of Bernie Baars' acclaimed new book On Consciousness: Science & Subjectivity - Updated Works on Global Workspace Theory GO TO: https://shop.thenautiluspress.com/collections/baars  APPLY DISCOUNT CODE AT CHECKOUT: "PODCASTVIP"   David and Jay highlight important questions that may provide important waypoints along the way. Towards the end of their conversation, David and Jay consider the transition from wakefulness to deep non-REM sleep and its signal importance as a transition between conscious and non-conscious states during which changes in brain activity occur that we can actually study—and that provides clues as to the nature of consciousness. Sigmund Freud once said, “The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.” Though Freud was clearly referring to understanding a behavioral manifestations of a dreaming brain that may now be understood to be conscious in some sense (albeit mostly a matter of the cerebral cortex, cut off from the world, “talking to itself”), we can certainly invoke his spirit as a scientific observer in pursuit of the verifiable truth when we say that investigating the passage from wakefulness to deep sleep and back again may well help pave the royal road to understanding consciousness in the brain, whether still in the throes of development or fully formed.   Quotes from Episode 8  "There's a kind of a commonplace notion of what consciousness is. Nearly everyone sort of knows what we mean when we invoke the term. But when it comes to the actual hard-nosed scientific aspect, we really haven't arrived at any sort of consensus; at least as far as I know, there's no real consensus as to what we mean when we bring up the term, ‘consciousness.'" -- David Edelman   "When do we cross that Rubicon from non-conscious processing to conscious processing? And one of the aspects that Bernie Baars and in fact my late father, Nobel Laureate Gerald Edelman delved into was certain brain states -- certain behavioral states, actually -- that have underlying brain states that are indicative perhaps of "a difference that makes a difference." And one example might be the contrast between waking states and say a dreamless deep sleep. And the fact that we can observe through brain imaging -- through a variety of techniques -- we can observe a real difference in function there." -- David Edelman   "We all have different paths that we've taken to come to the study of consciousness and my path has been looking at it from the development of the brain. I'm a child, adolescent, and geriatric psychiatrist by training. I'm the Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry here at UC San Diego and a professor at Fukui University in Japan in Robotics, and at Johns Hopkins in Reproductive Medicine. But what ties together my interest has been the brain and how it changes throughout life. What sort of things influenced it, in good ways and in bad ways. And looking at the brain and health and illness and what permeates all of these interests is consciousness, which is in some ways the most basic and simple notion, and also one of the most difficult to grasp." -- Jay Giedd   "I want to try to understand consciousness from a neuroanatomy and neuro-function standpoint. What would consciousness look like in a brain scanner and other types of imaging? What are we looking for, in a sense, and could I predict from basically the architecture and the anatomy, that this could be conscious, and this would not be able to be conscious?" -- Jay Giedd   "For me, consciousness is more about questions than answers, even after 30 years of trying. But the memory aspect is actually a really good place to start. To what extent do babies in the womb have a memory, or even after they're born?" -- Jay Giedd   BIOS Dr. Jay Giedd Chair of child psychiatry at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and director of child and adolescent psychiatry, Dr. Giedd is also a professor of psychiatry at UCSD School of Medicine, and professor in the Dept of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.   Dr. Giedd was chief of the Section on Brain Imaging, Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). His widely published research and expertise evaluates how the child's brain develops in health and illness, the factors that influence development and how to optimize treatments to take advantage of the child's changing brain. Jay and his award winning work were featured in the PBS 2 part series "Brains on Trial" hosted by Alan Alda.   David Edelman, PhD: A neuroscientist and currently Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, David has taught neuroscience at the University of San Diego and UCSD. He was Professor of Neuroscience at Bennington College until 2014 and visiting professor in the Dept of Psychology, CUNY Brooklyn College from 2015-2017. He has conducted research in a wide range of areas, including mechanisms of gene regulation, the relationship between mitochondrial transport and brain activity, and visual perception in the octopus. A longstanding interest in the neural basis of consciousness led him to consider the importance—and challenge—of disseminating a more global view of brain function to a broad audience.   *Watch Episode 8 on Our YouTube Channel **Roundtable Episodes of the podcast “On Consciousness with Bernard Baars” were recorded and filmed in the dining room of the La Jolla house that was my father’s home for more than 20 years. These explorations of consciousness are a special tribute to David's Dad, Nobel Laureate Gerald Edelman, and his verdant imagination, immense creativity, prodigious output, and the many discussions about the scientific study of consciousness and biological science generally that we had within these four walls.

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