The author of Windows on the Mind offers a new way of understanding consciousness that takes us out of the old Newtonian world and into the almost mythical realm of contemporary physics–reconciling the cold facts of neuroscience with our most humanistic aspirations.
” Rejecting computer-based models of the brain as flawed, Syracuse physics professor Harth sets forth a provocative alternative model according to which simple neural mechanisms account for creativity and imagination. If Harth ( Windows on the Mind ) is correct, the mental image of a rose or a rabbit occurs near the beginning of the sensory pathways, not in a higher “command center” of the brain. In his model, the cerebral cortex creates these images using the thalamus as a “sketchpad” on which it projects the image and modifies it, drawing on previous sensory input. Similar “creative loops” exist for all the senses, combining to form a system of neural networks between the brain and the body that generates messages about the world. Consciousness, in this view, wells up through a reactivation of images, and selfhood arises from a deliberately assembled self-image grounded in experience encoded as neural memory. Based on the author’s two decades of research, this elegantly written treatise will challenge neuroscientists, psychologists and students of the mind. Illustrated.”
“Where is the seat of consciousness within the brain? How can we account for a continuum that begins with cells and neurochemicals and ends with such ethereal qualities as imagination, creativity, and that elusive being we call the “self”?” “In The Creative Loop, Erich Harth, a distinguished researcher in the physics of perception, offers a persuasive theory that explains in detailed fashion how the brain creates the conscious self, the “I” that we all experience as separate from the “It” of the rest of the world.” “The split known as the “mind-body problem” is, of course, one of the oldest questions of science and philosophy and is still among the most hotly debated today. The classical view held that there was some sort of spirit or homunculus hovering above the physical brain, looking down on the central stage of our perceptions. The prevailing scientific view today rejects not only spirit but also the very hope of there being any “central meaner” observing and making sense of experience, preferring to see unified consciousness itself as a delusion. Whereas Marvin Minsky offers us The Society of Mind and the philosopher Daniel Dennett even describes “an army of idiots” within our brains, Harth presents a view, based on long-known but generally overlooked features of brain structure, that flies in the face of orthodox materialism.”
“Harth takes us out of the old Newtonian world of machine models of the brain and into the almost mystical realm of contemporary physics, focusing on specific structures – the relays within the sensory pathways linking the sense organs and the cerebral cortex – that send information back and forth. It is these relays that, in Harth’s view, ultimately give rise to consciousness and creativity. Each relay serves as a “sketch pad” where perceptions are received and modified before being passed along. Thus what reaches the cortex is not the unvarnished truth but a truth filtered and personalized through improvisation, much like a child talking to herself as she practices her language ability. There is, then, in Harth’s view, a unified consciousness built up within the biology of the brain. It simply does not reside atop the system, but rather is deeply embedded within this “hall of mirrors” at the bottom.” “Unlike the orthodox view which finds no place for freedom of the will in its description of the brain, Harth’s approach is a celebration of the messy, intuitive nature of human consciousness and the creativity it exhibits. The beauty of this theory, and of this often lyrical book, lies in its reconciliation of the cold facts of biology and physics with our most humanistic aspirations.”–BOOK JACKET
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