"Consciousness and Neuroscience" Crick, Francis and Koch, Christof (1997)
"Consciousness and Neuroscience"
Francis Crick and Christof Koch (1997)
SITE SUMMARY: Written by Crick (a 1962 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry for his part in the discovery of DNA, and now distinguished research professor at the Salk Institute), and Koch (of Computation and Neural Systems at the California Institute of Technology [CalTech]), this document was published in print in the Cerebral Cortex scientific journal (8: 97-107, 1998). It provides an account of these scientists' ongoing experimental work on consciousness. Divided into several sections, this document has section titles including: Clearing the Ground, Why Are We Conscious? Visual Consciousness, The Nature of Visual Representation, Where Is the Visual Representation? What Is Essential for Visual Consciousness? Recent Experimental Results, Action Without Seeing (with several parts), The Problems of Meaning, Philosophical Matters, and Future Experiments.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS AND ACTIVITIES
- What is one of the major unsolved problems of modern science, according to Crick and Koch? What do neuroscientists acknowledge, yet what do they not do, and why? What do Crick and Koch "state bluntly" on the subject, and which "tentative assumption" do they make when approaching the problem? Identify four topics they think should be stated on the subject. (Hints: See the Finale, and the section "Clearing the Ground.")
- What do Crick and Koch say is "rather peculiar?" (Hint: See Finale.)
- How should consciousness be approached in a scientific manner, and why, according to Crick and Koch?
- Briefly identify the way Crick and Koch identify consciousness, then what they suggest it is better for scientists to do when thinking about it, and why.
- Crick and Koch use an initialism and an unusual word when they refer to aspects of their work. Identify NCC. What is "qualia" and the "hard problem" about it?
- What do Crick and Koch say the brain must do to be aware of an object or event?
- What is essential for visual consciousness?
- What do Crick and Koch say are two aspects that are related to the brain generating meaning? Which examples are provided? How, do they say, are these "associations derived," and which examples do they give?
- Identify at least three experiments that should be continued, according to Crick and Koch, then identify the fascinating problem these scientists encourage young neurologists to investigate, and what they would find very gratifying. (Hints: See the Future Experiments and Finale sections.)
- What should not be of concern with reference to philosophers, yet what should be listened to when they say something, according to Crick and Koch?
RELATED INTERNET SITE(S)
Francis H.C. Crick—Of the Salk Institute's Kieckhefer Center for Theoretical Biology
This Web page provides a brief overview of Crick's current position and research interests, plus past scientific accomplishments, awards, honors, and education.
Christof Koch—CalTech Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Biology
http://www.caltech.edu (click sitemap and personnel directory links, search for Koch)
See brief description of Koch's education, expertise, and recent press releases mentioning him and his work. Follow the "more press releases" link to find a link for a November 15, 2000 press release on "The human brain employs the same neurons in seeing an object and later imagining it, CalTech/UCLA research reveals." Note also a description of scientific subjects on which he works, and a list of publications, at www.its.caltech.edu/∼biology/brochures/faculty/koch.html with a "more on Koch" link that leads to a Koch Lab at www.klab.caltech.edu/index.shtml with links to research (featuring online writings by Koch with others), news, people, and places.
"Consciousness, Neurobiology of" in the MIT Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science
Koch and Crick as authors of this scientific encyclopedia entry provide a question, a statement, links to more online information, and lists of writings by and about Crick and Koch, and the subject.
The Electric Brain
Find out something about the nature of consciousness, and discover what a neuroscientist in the New York University School of Medicine says about the human brain's electric like actions that are, it is claimed, have something to do with consciousness.
http://www.google.com (click Science>Social Sciences>Psychology>Cognitive, then Consciousness link)
See list of annotated links to Web sites on the subject (e.g., Consciousness Research Laboratory, Toward a Science of Consciousness, Metaphors of the Mind, etc.).