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Does Consciousness Exist Independently of Present Time and Present Time Independently of Consciousness?  [PDF]
Birgitta Dresp-Langley, Jean Durup
Open Journal of Philosophy (OJPP) , 2012, DOI: 10.4236/ojpp.2012.21007
Abstract: While some are currently debating whether time may or may not be an illusion, others keep devoting their time to the science of consciousness. Time as such may be seen as a physical or a subjective variable, and the limitations in our capacity of perceiving and analyzing temporal order and change in physical events definitely constrain our understanding of consciousness which, in return, constrains our conceptual understanding of time. Temporal codes generated in the brain have been considered as the key to insight into neural function and, ultimately, as potential neural substrates of consciousness itself. On the basis of current evidence and opinion from neuroscience and philosophy, we consider the interrelation between consciousness and time in the light of Hegel and Heidegger’s concepts of Sein (Being) and Zeit (Time). We suggest that consciousness can be defined in terms of a succession of psychological moments where we realize that we exist in, and are part of, a present moment in time. This definition places all other perceptual or sensorial processes which may characterize phenomenal experience at a different level of analysis and centers the debate around consciousness on the fundamental identity link between awareness of the Ich (I) and awareness of what Heidegger termed Ursprüngliche Zeit (original time). We argue that human consciousness has evolved from the ability to be aware of, to remember, and to predict temporal order and change in nature, and that the limits of this capacity are determined by limits in the functional plasticity of resonant brain mechanisms. Although the conscious state of the Self is the ultimate expression of this evolution, it is devoid of any adaptive function as such.
Why the Brain Knows More than We Do: Non-Conscious Representations and Their Role in the Construction of Conscious Experience
Birgitta Dresp-Langley
Brain Sciences , 2012, DOI: 10.3390/brainsci2010001
Abstract: Scientific studies have shown that non-conscious stimuli and representations influence information processing during conscious experience. In the light of such evidence, questions about potential functional links between non-conscious brain representations and conscious experience arise. This article discusses neural model capable of explaining how statistical learning mechanisms in dedicated resonant circuits could generate specific temporal activity traces of non-conscious representations in the brain. How reentrant signaling, top-down matching, and statistical coincidence of such activity traces may lead to the progressive consolidation of temporal patterns that constitute the neural signatures of conscious experience in networks extending across large distances beyond functionally specialized brain regions is then explained.
Dimensions of Environmental Engineering
Birgitta Dresp-Langley
The Open Environmental Engineering Journal , 2008, DOI: 10.2174/1874829500801010001]
Abstract: The impact of human activity on the biosphere has produced a global society context in which scarcity of natural resources and risks to ecological health such as air pollution and water contamination call for new solutions that help sustain the development of human society and all life on earth. This review article begins by recalling the historical and philosophical context from which contemporary environmental engineering has arisen as a science and domain of technological development. Examples that deal with some of the core issues and challenges currently faced by the field, such as problems of scale and complexity, are then discussed. It is emphasized that the sustainability of the built environment depends on innovative architecture and building designs for optimal use and recycling of resources. To evaluate problems related to global climate change, storms, floods, earthquakes, landslides and other environmental risks, the behaviour of the natural environment needs to be taken into account. Understanding the complex interactions between the built environment and the natural environment is essential in promoting the economic use of energy and waste reduction. Finally, the key role of environmental engineering within models of sustainable economic development is brought forward.
Generic Properties of Curvature Sensing through Vision and Touch
Birgitta Dresp-Langley
Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine , 2013, DOI: 10.1155/2013/634168
Abstract: Generic properties of curvature representations formed on the basis of vision and touch were examined as a function of mathematical properties of curved objects. Virtual representations of the curves were shown on a computer screen for visual scaling by sighted observers (experiment 1). Their physical counterparts were placed in the two hands of blindfolded and congenitally blind observers for tactile scaling. The psychophysical data show that curvature representations in congenitally blind individuals, who never had any visual experience, and in sighted observers, who rely on vision most of the time, are statistically linked to the same mathematical properties of the curves. The perceived magnitude of object curvature, sensed through either vision or touch, is related by a mathematical power law, with similar exponents for the two sensory modalities, to the aspect ratio of the curves, a scale invariant geometric property. This finding supports biologically motivated models of sensory integration suggesting a universal power law for the adaptive brain control and balance of motor responses to environmental stimuli from any sensory modality. 1. Introduction Interaction of the human body with technological devices relies on the multisensory integration of visual and tactile signals by the human brain, as in the use of global positioning systems for navigation, or the encoding of visual and tactile spatial information for laparoscopic surgery, for example. Experimental studies have shown that the manipulation of visual objects with the two hands and the visual and tactile integration of shape information play an important role in action planning as well as motor control [1, 2]. This is particularly important in spatial perception by the blind who never had visual experience (congenitally blind people) but who are nonetheless perfectly capable of understanding the physical environments which surround them and of forming exact representations of complex spatial geometry. Visual and tactile representations of space are thus likely to share common generic properties. Understanding how the blind compensate through touch for lack of visual data is relevant in rehabilitation research and for the effective design of technological aids designed to help the blind explore real-world spaces [3]. Moreover, knowing how visual and tactile sensing is interactively programmed in the human brain has implications for medical robotics and clinical neurology as, for example, the study and treatment of neurological disorders such as spatial neglect [4, 5] or tactile allodynia
The Experience-Dependent Dynamics of Human Consciousness  [PDF]
Birgitta Dresp-Langley
Open Journal of Philosophy (OJPP) , 2018, DOI: 10.4236/ojpp.2018.82010
Abstract: By reviewing most of the neurobiology of consciousness, this article highlights some major reasons why a successful emulation of the dynamics of human consciousness by artificial intelligence is unlikely. The analysis provided leads to conclude that human consciousness is epigenetically determined, experience, and context-dependent at the individual level. It is subject to changes in time that are essentially unpredictable. If cracking the code to human consciousness were possible, the result would most likely have to consist of a temporal pattern code simulating long-distance signal reverberation and de-correlation of all spatial signal contents from temporal signals. In the light of the massive evidence for complex interactions between implicit (non-conscious) and explicit (conscious) contents of representation, the code would have to be capable of making implicit (non-conscious) processes explicit. It would have to be capable of a progressively less and less arbitrary selection of temporal activity patterns in a continuously developing neural network structure identical to that of the human brain, from the synaptic level to that of higher cognitive functions. The code’s activation thresholds would depend on specific temporal signal coincidence probabilities, vary considerably with time and across individual experience data, and would therefore require dynamically adaptive computations capable of emulating the properties of individual human experience. No known machine or neural network learning approach has such potential.
A Plastic Temporal Brain Code for Conscious State Generation
Birgitta Dresp-Langley,Jean Durup
Neural Plasticity , 2009, DOI: 10.1155/2009/482696
Abstract: Consciousness is known to be limited in processing capacity and often described in terms of a unique processing stream across a single dimension: time. In this paper, we discuss a purely temporal pattern code, functionally decoupled from spatial signals, for conscious state generation in the brain. Arguments in favour of such a code include Dehaene et al.'s long-distance reverberation postulate, Ramachandran's remapping hypothesis, evidence for a temporal coherence index and coincidence detectors, and Grossberg's Adaptive Resonance Theory. A time-bin resonance model is developed, where temporal signatures of conscious states are generated on the basis of signal reverberation across large distances in highly plastic neural circuits. The temporal signatures are delivered by neural activity patterns which, beyond a certain statistical threshold, activate, maintain, and terminate a conscious brain state like a bar code would activate, maintain, or inactivate the electronic locks of a safe. Such temporal resonance would reflect a higher level of neural processing, independent from sensorial or perceptual brain mechanisms.
Editorial Comments
Gayle Langley
Health SA Gesondheid , 2008, DOI: 10.4102/hsag.v13i2.274
Abstract: Perusing the contents of this edition of Health SA Gesondheid, one is struck by the incredible depth and range as well as the complexity of health problems which present themselves for intervention in this country. Opsomming Wanneer ‘n mens die inhoud van hierdie uitgawe van Health SA Gesondheid deurkyk, tref die ongelooflike diepte en omvang van die ingewikkeldheid van gesondheidsprobleme wat hulle vir die tussentrede in hierdie land voordoen, ‘n mens. *Please note: This is a reduced version of the abstract. Please refer to PDF for full text.
Editorial Comments/ Redaksionele Kommentaar
Gayle Langley
Health SA Gesondheid , 2005, DOI: 10.4102/hsag.v10i4.202
Abstract: The diversity and complexity of South Africa presents particular challenges to health care. Opsomming Die diversiteit en kompleksiteit van Suid-Afrika rig besondere uitdagings aan gesondheidsorg. *Please note: This is a reduced version of the abstract. Please refer to PDF for full text.
Why Geometry Radiates: Quantum Gravity as Perspective  [PDF]
Rob Langley
Journal of Modern Physics (JMP) , 2016, DOI: 10.4236/jmp.2016.76051
Abstract: It is reasonably expected 1) that a theory of quantum gravity will unify the extremes of scale currently described by General Relativity and quantum mechanics, and 2) that black holes are the crucible from which a theory of quantum gravity will emerge. In perspective, we already have a mechanism that links the local, macroscopic frame with the remote, apparently microscopic frame. A simple mathematical principle acts as a limit on D(n), suggesting a “maximum physical reality”, and that effects which are clearly perspectival at D=3 become “more real” (effectively observer-independent) with each D(n) increment. The model suggests alternative interpretations of gravitation and the quantum, entanglement, space, the Standard Model of particles and interactions, black holes, the measurement problem and the information paradox.
An internet-based intervention program for supporting families with prematurely born infants  [PDF]
Birgitta Lindberg, Kerstin ?hrling
Open Journal of Nursing (OJN) , 2012, DOI: 10.4236/ojn.2012.22012
Abstract: The purpose of this paper was to describe the development, planning and implementing of an internet-based intervention program for providing support to families with prematurely born infants. During the families initial stay at home with their infant; families were given access to use of videoconference system from their home to have contact with staff at the neonatal unit, via direct link, throughout twenty-four hours. This program successfully ended, and video-conferencing is incorporated as a tool to support families after coming home. Probably, a variety of factors has contributed to make this program successful, as for example user friendliness and the close collaboration between researchers and staff at the neonatal unit. In conclusion, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) must be taken into consideration in developing upcoming care, thereby making possible a program to extend accessibility to health care.
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