The Mind & Brain

The Mind & Brain: Are There Differences? Darreia Johnson PHI208-Ethics and Moral Reasoning Professor: Kurt Mosser February 27, 2013 The Mind & Brain: Are There Differences? This is a fascinating subject, “the mind and the brain” because these are the kind of questions philosophers work so hard to answer. Many people believe the mind and brain are the same. Mind and Brain are two terms that are understood to mean the same when used in the colloquial sense. There is certainly some difference between the two in their making.

Brain is made of physical matter while mind is not made of physical matter. To be more elaborate brain is made up of cells, blood vessels and nerves to name a few. Mind is nothing but the thought that resides in the brain. Apart from thoughts, mind gives room for emotions, memories and dreams as well. I will address certain perspectives from different academic sources as well as my own concerning the mind and brain and how they work. In terms of a computer, we can look at the brain as the hardware and the mind as the software, but it is much more complicated than that. Mind” refers to the part of you that is capable of thought. “Brain” can be a synonym for mind, and it can also refer to the physical organ within your skull. That is, the “brain” is a physical organ while “mind” is a more philosophical concept. People sometimes make a careful distinction between the two words when discussing the philosophical concept. Like, when people are debating whether there is such a thing as an immortal soul, they will say things like, “Can the mind exist without the brain? ” In most day-to-day contexts, the two words are pretty much synonymous.

The brain, part of the central nervous system situated within the skull. It includes two cerebral hemispheres, parallel masses of deeply furrowed tissue as well as the brainstem and cerebellum. Its functions include muscle control and coordination, sensory reception and integration, speech production, memory storage, and the elaboration of thought and emotion. According to Susan Greenfield in an article I read, she has a different approach. She says: “There is a familiar dichotomy between mind and brain, hereas the concepts of ‘mind’ and ‘consciousness’ often are conflated: I wish to argue here that both suppositions are wrong. ” We want to first explore the aspects of the mind and brain. “Where ‘brain’ obviously needs no definition, ‘mind’ presents more of a trip-wire. Normally the term is used to refer to abstract airy-fairy events that float free of the biological squalor of neuronal circuitry and chemicals. But more than rather vague mental activity, ‘mind’ is used also for personal aspects of brain function, as in ‘I don’t mind’, ‘broaden the mind’, ‘make your mind up’, etc.

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We know, for example, that vision is divided up into color, motion and form processing and, in turn, the function of vision can preoccupy over 30 brain regions. Similarly, any one brain region, like the prefrontal cortex, can participate in more than one function. So brain regions are bit players on the brain stage, and not autonomous units. Within each area we know that there is complex brain circuitry, finally boiling down to the synapse, across which we find all the biochemical baggage needed to operate a system of chemical transmission: in turn, this baggage of enzymes, receptors and uptake mechanisms is the result of gene expression.

Moreover, we know that in our whole body there are merely 30 000 or thereabouts genes, so that even if every single gene in the body was devoted to a synapse, one would still be out by 1010 (assuming approximately 1015 connections in the brain). So, we can no more attribute autonomous functions to the most basic level of brain function, genes, than we can to the most macro, the brain regions. In both cases there is very little room for man oeuvre and therefore it is hard to see how personalization of the brain, the mind, might develop. Greenfield, 2002) Speaking of genes, one would agree that genes play important roles in our thought process. In The Birth of the Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexities of Human Thought, Gary Marcus takes as his goal “not to try to prove that genes make a difference—a matter that is no longer in serious doubt—but to describe how they work and to explain, for the first time, what that means for the mind” (pp. 4–5; italics in original).

He specifically disparages the popular press (and the scientists who so inform it) for announcing the discovery of a gene for this or that just as he dismisses the question “whether nurture or nature is more important” (p. 7). He understands the only meaningful answer involves their “interaction,” an understanding of which leads to the more refined and productive question, “How do genes work together with the environment to build a human mind? ” (p. 8). Nothing less is at stake than the tossing out of the gene as a permanent template.

Marcus’s chief point, made after disposing of both the dangerously fallacious “single gene” theory and the notion that genetic structure is “unmalleable” and therefore that behavior is foretold, is that “genes do for the brain the same things as they do for the rest of the body: They guide the fates of cells by guiding the production of proteins within those cells” (p. 86). The alert reader, now accepting the idea of the flexibility and plasticity of the genes, will want to know precisely how the external environment shapes the genes.

The answer, Marcus writes, is that every genetic process is triggered by some sort of signal. From the perspective of a given cell, it doesn’t matter where that signal comes from. The signal that launches the adjust-your-synapse cascade, for example, may come from within, or it may come from without. The same genes that are used to adjust synapses based on internal instruction can be reused by external instruction. Candland, 2004) It goes on to say how genes shape our behavior, I also agree with Candland’s perspective on the issue. I think that although the mind and brain often are seen as one, that they are two different entities within the same host. I was reading an article earlier that said: we can study the brain but not the mind. I disagree with that article because that is what makes it so complex, we can hold the brain in our hands but not the mind. I think the mind is measured on different levels but studied as well.

Psychiatrist, philosophers, and the field of medicine, just to mention a few, study the mind every day. They are able to draw the line between sane and insane, according to our text; Philosophy, A Conscious Decision, talks about the extreme skeptic as Descartes seems to have constructed a skepticism so powerful that it calls into question anything we have ever been certain of: that we have bodies, that there are other people around us, that we’re awake when we think we are, and even that 2 + 2 = 4.

Most important, for epistemology, is that Descartes transforms the discussion into one of doubt about what we call the external world: the world of objects that are outside of our mind, including the ordinary objects, such as tables and chairs, about which we make our most confident knowledge claims. (Mosser, 2010) This is an example how powerful and complex the mind is. Another way of learning how our minds work is to understand the brain systems that would produce mental representations with the properties just described.

For this purpose, he introduces the principle of learning by prediction and links it to Bayesian decision theory. He argues that many of the cognitive phenomena considered can be explained if it is assumed that the brain operates as an ideal Bayesian observer. This conceptualization directly builds on the notion that perception and action are proactive processes and involve the generation of mental models. The models generated by the brains are continuously tested against reality and adapted using sensory signals and prediction errors, which are computed based on probabilistic knowledge derived from past experiences.

When facing a tall animate object in a streetcar, for example, probabilistic information about the likelihood of encountering a human being versus a gorilla plays a critical role in the perceptual processes that allow for object recognition. In motor control, probabilistic knowledge (e. g. , a filled backpack typically weighs x) is combined with sensory feedback to support the optimal selection and online correction of movement when pursuing an intention (e. g. , to pick up the backpack). (Kohler, 2008)

In contrast to the above theory, it is said modern belief that the mind is the same thing as the brain, and therefore consists of genetic and chemical processes. Contrary to this notion is the more common sense view that our minds are made up of experiences in the world and with others, and while the brain may be the material home of the mind, it is not the mind itself. Professor Kando begins with a refutation of materialistic reductionism and positivism, and then builds on the work of William James, George Herbert Mead, and Joel Charon to make the case that the mind is a product of learning and not the same thing as the brain. Kando, 2008) The mind and brain are also associated with personality disorders. In this context the use of the words “mind” and “brain” in psychiatry is often associated with a set of polarities. Concepts such as environment, psychosocial, and psychotherapy are linked with “mind,” while genes, biology, and medication are often associated with “brain. ” The author examines these dichotomies as they apply to personality disorders. Method: Research on antisocial and borderline personality disorders that is relevant to these dichotomies is evaluated.

The implications of the findings for the understanding of pathogenesis and treatment are reconsidered. Results: In the clinical setting, it is problematic to lump together terms such as “genes,” “brain,” and “biological” as though they are separate and distinct from terms such as “environment,” “mind,” and “psychosocial. ” These dichotomies are problematic, because genes and environment are inextricably intertwined in the pathogenesis of personality disorders, psychosocial experiences may result in permanent changes in the brain, and psychotherapy may have its effect by altering brain structure and function.

The “theory of mind” is a useful construct for bridging “mind” and “brain” in the treatment of personality disorders. Conclusions: Severe personality disorders are best understood and treated without “either-or” dichotomies of brain and mind. Each domain has a different language, however, and the language of the mind is necessary to help the patient develop a theory of mind. (Gabbard, 2005) In conclusion, it could be necessary to associate the mind with the brain, but this is a complex issue because without the brain the mind cannot exist.

However the mind and brain are very different. Theo Clark says, Scientific knowledge suggests that the world is inanimate, purposeless, made up of material things which operate on a cause and effect basis; yet the mental world seems to involve consciousness, planning, desire etc. It would seem paradoxical that one world is the product of another. Yet this is the conclusion we are faced with if we are to make any sense of the evidence at hand and resolve one of the major questions of all time. Do the electronic processes of the brain ‘create’ or ‘give rise to’ the mind; or is it that the electronic processes Are the mind? ” The ratiocination of this question is essentially philosophical, but by necessity, it is grounded in the world of empirical science. (Clark, 2008) There are two vantages from which one can study the mind. The first-person account (“I seered”) and the third-person (“He says he sees red when certain pathways in his brain encounter a wavelength of six hundred nanometers”).

This can be broadly labeled as ‘Introspectionism’ and ‘Behaviourism’ respectively. As one cannot directly see into another’s head, methodological problems arise using Introspectionist techniques, a result of which can be seen in the foibles of much introspective psychology (such as Freudianism). Behaviourism holds that any mental events are outside the realm of empirical science; ergo, it is now the brain which is the focus, as opposed to the mind. (Clark, 2008) References Candland, D. K. (2004). ‘What Is Mind? No Matter. What Is Matter? Never Mind. Mind Is Matter: Psychology Better Mind. Psyccritiques, 49(Suppl 2), doi:10. 1037/040007 Clark, T. (2008) “Is there and Difference between the Mind and the Brain? Research, Science http://www. scribd. com/doc/2451851/Is-There-a-Difference-Between-the-Mind-and-Brain. Gabbard, G. O. (2005). Mind, brain, and personality disorders. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 162(4), 648-55. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/220501257? accountid=32521 Greenfield, S. (2002). Mind, Brain and Consciousness. The British Journal of Psychiatry,

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