Dr. Stephen Braude – your memories aren’t in your brain|318|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, May 31, 2016.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    Dr. Stephen Braude – your memories aren’t in your brain|318|
    by Alex Tsakiris | May 31 | Consciousness Science

    Philosopher and parapsychology researcher Dr. Stephen Braude sees fatal flaws in the “memories stored in brain” model.
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    photo by: Scott Huettel
    Today we welcome Dr. Stephen Braude to skeptiko. Dr. braude is the former chairman of the philosophy department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He is also past president of the Parapsychological Association and is currently the editor in chief of the excellent Journal of Scientific Exploration. He’s the author of several great books including one that we’re going to talk about a lot today because it pulls together many of the ideas Dr. Braude has been working on over the years: Crimes of Reason: On Mind, Nature, and the Paranormal

    Alex Tsakiris: Let’s go back to memory trace for a minute because I want to make sure that I properly characterize what you’re saying… Is memory stored in the brain?

    Dr. Stephen Braude: I would say no. I’d say the whole idea of storage is a mistake. It’s a mistake to treat memories as kinds of things, like they’re objects. I think it’s still acceptable to say that the expression of memory is something mediated by neurophysiological processes. But to say it’s mediated by it doesn’t mean to say it’s explained in terms of it.

    Alex Tsakiris: How can neuroscience get this so wrong?

    Dr. Stephen Braude: I wish I had a good answer to that. There’s something really seductive about the idea there has to be this trace left within us otherwise it looks like magic; that we’ve got this causation over a temporal gap.
     
  2. Bucky

    Bucky Member

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    Enjoyed the interview, I was expecting this one. It's indeed all over the place but in a good way :)
    I just didn't quite get the book on suppositories joke at the end... where did that one come from? :D:D

    As regards his take on memory I am not sure I was able to follow his argument entirely... I will have to read the transcript and think about it some more before I fully understand it.
     
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  3. Alex

    Alex New

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    this might help: http://userpages.umbc.edu/~braude/ftp/pages/pdfs_pubd/braude--Memory Without a Trace.pdf

    than again, I kinda don't exactly get why he phrases it the way he does. I mean, we can go down a bunch of different paths and come to the same conclusion about memory.
     
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  4. Ever since reading Braude's argument against memory trace it's had an intuitive appeal for me, though it took a lot of reading to really get the idea.

    It's the kind of argument that I suspect would benefit from illustrations, maybe even an animation.

    Resources critiquing memory traces can be found in the Limitations of Mechanistic Thinking thread here & here, the latter from the immaterialist neuroscientist Tallis.

    In that thread arguments against human beings as mechanisms can be found here.
     
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  5. Vortex

    Vortex Member

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    I wanted to invite Braude to talk about his memory-related theories myself, but I was passing my exams and had only a very little time for the free Internet activity... So, someone obviously was faster than me.

    Who exactly? I'm just curious who persuaded Braude to come... :)
     
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  6. JD1

    JD1 Member

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    I thought Braude's arguments against survival were a bit weak. Unless I'm misunderstanding him, his alternative explanation, the living agent psi hypothesis, basically boils down to the possibility that all the supposed evidence for survival is actually an illusion conjured up by human psychic ability. I suppose that's possible, but if it's true, then it would mean we'd basically have to give up on ever coming to any evidence-based conclusion about anything, or even gathering any evidence at all, since it could all just be an elaborate illusion. Even the things Braude says he's more convinced of, like psychokinesis, could be some kind of illusion. It seems to me that at some point, you have to make a bit of a leap of faith and agree to take things at face value, otherwise you'll never get anywhere with anything. Braude also brought up a case that might call age regression into question but didn't say anything about past life regressions where people give information about their former lives that they couldn't have known in their current life, but that was later verified as true. I don't see how that could be explained as some kind of hypnosis-induced hyper-creativity.
     
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  7. Max_B

    Max_B Member

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    Whatever he's trying to convey doesn't make much sense to me... but then he admits he isn't good at theorising... so that's perhaps why.

    At least he admits that the brain must mediate memory, and it's pretty clear that the brain does stores associations (a type of memory) as a 3D network (a spatial pattern). That seems correct to me, because it doesn't seem possible to practically move access to information forward through time in the same relative space, unless you store it in spatial patterns of matter.

    But really that is only an alternative way of saying from that particular spatial perspective (a fixed brain network), that the processing appears to take place over time.

    But it's all relative between observer and observed.

    I guess something informational-like gets summed (adding hats) to the present spatial and temporal location, and it does so using spatial and temporal patterns. Looking at one of these spatial or temporal patterns, from the other, results in our general perception of either matter or energy. We get to percieve them both. That splitting seems like it might trickle down through the standard model... on through the periodic table... etc.

    I don't think it possible to separate one thing (time, space) from the other, or say which comes first, or which is more important. I also think it's pointless to try.

    But if you could apply these ideas in a practical way... show their benefits, then that's not pointless.

    I'm sure we're doing that practical application intuitively everyday anyway. But with a slightly incorrect way of understanding, that if corrected, could bring great benefits in all the places within our societies that really need them.

    Probably doesn't make much sense... but there you are.
     
  8. Alex

    Alex New

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    I sensed that he isn't pushing it quite as hard as he used to... but he's still prodding survivalists to push on.
     
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  9. Alex

    Alex New

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    interesting... what would you point to as proof. not criticizing, just curious.

    my speculation: we have some very complex biological means (maybe something like Hameroff's microtubules) of interacting with the field (for lack of better term) of consciousness. this could wind up looking like storage without really "storing." then again, it seems kind of strange that folks report being outside of their body without diminishing (or even enhancing) their memory. all very strange.
     
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  10. malf

    malf Member

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    My problem here is that a physicalist might ask, "How are you able to grant a very complex biological system one incredible feat (interacting with an immaterial consciousness/memory) but deny it another incredible feat (developing subjective experience)?" The limits of what the physical is capable seem to be arbitrarily drawn by the immaterialist.
     
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  11. Pepe Silvia

    Pepe Silvia New

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    In another interview (come to think of it, it was more of a book presentation) I watched of his, Dr. Braude mentioned that years ago he began writing a coffee-table type book titled Up Yours: An Illustrated History of Suppositories. He said that he even had an illustrator, but the project got scuttled by a Showtime special by Gallagher, in which the comedian had several jokes about suppositories, some of which were similar to ones that Dr. Braude had thought of independently. He ended with saying that he "firmly believed the time has come to insert the suppository into its proper place in history." It was pretty hilarious to hear live; I doubt this somewhat dry description of it will have the same effect :(
     
  12. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

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    Oh, please. Materialists are positing just the same kind of arbitrary "magic" line that you are criticizing when citing the supposed "complexity" required for emergence. The only difference is that the genie remains trapped in the bottle.
     
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  13. malf

    malf Member

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    Yes. That's pretty much my point.
     
  14. Inner Space

    Inner Space New

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    What synchronicity - I just watched Dr Braude's interesting "New Thinking Allowed" with Jeffrey Mishlove. Braude gives an interesting discussion on hypnosis and Disassociation Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder). Braude is a really engaging thinker. On the question of memory: over 100 years ago Henri Bergson suggested that memories are not stored in the brain. The brain, Bergson argued, is responsible for motor routines that channel memory/consciousness into action. Disrupt the brain and you disrupt the motor routines that enable the mind to channel memories into the present moment of experience. This theory is a many times more coherent then the ridiculous "consciousness is an emergent property of the brain" theory. I recommend Stephen E Robbins work for a contemporary view influenced by Bergson's philosophy on the nature of time and memory. Where is the memory of my now deceased pet cat from when I was just a 10 year old boy? I like to think that when I remember her in the present, I simultaneously exist with her still living soul even though that was the "world" of 30 years into my past. Our greatest philosophers have struggled to get a handle on the paradoxical nature of time and experience - I'm not sure neuroscientists can do much better. Biochemical traces in the brain is a pretty pathetic start.
     
  15. Alex

    Alex New

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    right, but it's actually much worse for materialists... there's no there there in their metaphysics... so they can't even speculate about consciousness outside of the brain because it would be immaterial.
     
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  16. Arouet

    Arouet Member

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    This shows the problem with pledging one's allegiance - or opposition - to any of these isms: they simply serve to reinforce bias. From all sides.
     
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  17. Max_B

    Max_B Member

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    There is evidence of associations being stored in the brain as a spatial pattern, through observations of synchronous firing of spatial patterns, which is reproducible as stimuli is switched back n forth. But I find it hard not to be amazed with Yang Dan's work with cats, where they seem able to present visual stimuli to a cats eyes, then recover the stimuli directly from the cats brain using quite crude internal probes inserted into it's visual cortex. These seem to demonstrate - all stimuli being equal - that a similar pattern of neurons fire in any particular organisms brain, when the organism is presented with identical stimuli.

    Remember I'm only claiming 'associations' are stored spatially in matter, as a way of moving access to information forward in time (as I detailed above). I don't think it's a major deal, the heavy lifting of our experience is done by another mechanism which I suspect allows these patterns to be coherently interfered with by other identical patterns (adding hats).

    I don't think people are literally outside of their body in the classic NDE OBE, I just think their sense of 'self' is logically located according to any fields intersecting their brain, which are compatible, and allow access (as above) via their networks. That they recall these experiences suggests that a spatial pattern of activation was laid down on their networks, with the strong recalls indicating the pattern was laid down in a different way to usual, and grafted onto the network and solidified in a spatial pattern that is difficult to integrate or interfere with.
     
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  18. But it's not really an argument against physicalism? The argument against traces - if Braude is correct - works against an Idealistic conception of traces as images of consciousness as well as Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance. One assumes traces - nouns that store memories - are possible, and then show how this leads to paradox, infinite regression, or some other issues that renders them impossible objects.

    This leads to the question how memories might actually work ->

    In Mind, Memory, & Time Carl Gunther suggests the past continues to exist as a block universe and the brain mediates memory access by connecting to events "stuck" in the block.

    Stephen Robbins who Inner Space mentioned above suggests memory works as part of a holographic universe where the brain "is viewed as supporting a modulated reconstructive wave passing through a holographic matter-field. The modulation pattern is determined or driven by the invariance laws defining external events."

    Seems both of these conceptions of memory might be accommodated by a non-mechanistic physicalism?

    Interaction I'd agree is problematic if we're assuming a strict dualism, but not if we assume either some commonality between mind & matter (As Inner Space mentioned, Bergson's take in Matter & Memory) or a neutral-monism/panpsychism where there is only one substance (Whitehead's Occasions)**. Note that at the quantum level at least one conception of matter - substance divisible into spatio-temporal coordinates - is challenged by a variety of experimental results so the stuff that (seemingly) makes up our reality may not be matter as conceived by physicalism anyway.

    On the development of subjective experience via complexity, OTOH, we're starting with non-conscious matter and asking it to produce consciousness. The simple argument against this is "something from nothing claims are a no go". The more detailed refutation against appeals to complexity is the back half of Clifton's An Empirical Case Against Materialism.

    **There are likely also conceptions of Idealism that don't use traces. For example not sure if Leibniz's Monads count as memory traces? I know in the past Bernardo rejected the argument against memory traces but I'm not sure about his current conclusions?
     
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  19. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

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    No, it's not. Materialism is the only one of these ideas that actually posits such a "magic line" as part of their metaphysical assumptions, the others generally part from the point that such limitations to "complexity" are irrelevant since it either permeates the medium (idealism, filter, etc.) or are a characteristic already present and manifesting in all levels of matter including animals/things without a nervous system or even a brain (panspychism).
     
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  20. Robbins' writing is fascinating - though I might be biased as I really like what I've read from/about Bergson. Even if Robbins is wrong it's good to see someone looking into ways something like a transmitter/filter theory might work and be scientifically tested.

    I do sometimes wonder what's going in the consciousness community where there are a variety of disparate persons arguing for similar things but you don't see them getting together?

    Alex/Sci combo. :)
     
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