Mind and brain relationship

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Mind and brain relationship

Postby Dmytro » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:31 am

Hi,

I would like to discuss the relationship between mind and brain.

To start with, here's some videos and stories of people who survived well the considerable brain damage:

Carlos Sosa:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJ4KbsCTsWc

Hemispherectomy:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSu9HGnlMV0
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemispherectomy

Michelle Mack:
http://campbellbrown.blogs.cnn.com/2009 ... f-a-brain/

Phineas Gage
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phineas_Gage
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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby Alobha » Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:18 am

SM, a patient who suffered from Urbach-Wiethe disease, may also be of interest.
There are many papers about her and her ability to experience fear. Due to the disease she lost her Amygdala and while she can experience emotions like happiness or sadness, she can't feel fear.

Interesting example from her life:
A man, whom SM described as looking “drugged-out.” As she walked past the park, the man called out and motioned for her to come over. SM made her way to the park bench. As she got within arm’s reach of the man, he suddenly stood up, pulled her down to the bench by her shirt, stuck a knife to her throat, and exclaimed, “I’m going to cut you, bitch!”

SM claims that she remained calm, did not panic, and did not feel afraid. In the distance she could hear the church choir singing. She looked at the man and confidently replied, “If you’re going to kill me, you’re gonna have to go through my God’s angels first.” The man suddenly let her go. SM reports “walking” back to her home. On the following day, she walked past the same park again. There were no signs of avoidance behavior and no feelings of fear.


Athymhormia is also interesting. A damage in the limbic system is linked to a loss of motivation and will.
There is this story of Mr M who goes swimming in the pool and
Then, suddenly, he stops. He exhales, sinks to the bottom and simply stares straight ahead. "I'm drowning," he realizes, strangely unperturbed. He knows that a few strong kicks would bring him back to the surface. But he can't quite bring himself to do so.


Best wishes,
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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby danieLion » Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:27 pm

When I discuss Mind & Brain I like to make sure some basics are covered.

I'd start with William James' Principles of Psychology, Patricia Churchland's (Neurophilosophy), Korzybski's Science & Sanity, Robert Anton Wilson's Quantum Psychology (and some Crowley and Tim Leary if you dare); some Joseph E. LeDoux, Oliver Sachs, Daniel Goleman and Robert M. Sapolsky's Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers; some Daniel J. Siegel and Gerald Huther's The Compassionate Brain: How Empathy Creates Intelligence; and some primers on the latest glia research like Andrew Koob's The Root of Thought and R. Douglas Fields' The Other Brain.

And, if you've already read some or all of the above, I'm ready to discuss based on that.

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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby Dmytro » Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:19 am

Thank you, Alobha, for excellent links and quotes.

We have a limited range of perception - it's like being in a room.
There's a thing directly observable - brain - it's like a box in a room.
And there's a thing observable through its manifestations - mind.

Say, we are in a room and a box, somewhat like a radio or a music box, exhibits complex behavior.
When we disrupt certain parts of the box, certain components of behavior cease.
Yet such experiment isn't complete. The source of behavior may be inside the box or outside, as in the case of the radio.

Complete experiment would involve restoring the box in a significantly modified form. The behaviour then should be significantly altered.

For example, if the amygdala is restored in a new form, would the same fears manifest? Or they would be completely different?

Or, if the part of the brain is damaged, with loss of memory, and then restored, with new neural paths, would the same memories manifest? Or something would radically change?

http://www.context.org/iclib/ic06/gilman2/
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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby daverupa » Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:14 am

Dmytro wrote:1. We have a limited range of perception - it's like being in a room.
2. There's a thing directly observable - brain - it's like a box in a room.
3. And there's a thing observable through its manifestations - mind.


1 is true; 2 is false; 3 is inferred, and may be true or false or partly both, depending on the definition of 'mind'.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby danieLion » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:46 pm

Dmytro wrote:
For example, if the amygdala is restored in a new form, would the same fears manifest? Or they would be completely different?

Hi Dmytro,
Are any two (or more) manifested fears the same (amygdala thought experiment aside)?

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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby danieLion » Wed Jun 13, 2012 12:19 am

Dmytro wrote: Or, if the part of the brain is damaged, with loss of memory, and then restored, with new neural paths, would the same memories manifest? Or something would radically change?

Hi Dmytro,

Memory is too systemic throughout the nervous system too be isolated in such a way where we could say one way or another. For instance, we speak of things like "muscle memory"; and I recently heard a blip on the radio that something like %80-90 of seeing is remembering.

My dad was in a car accident right before I was born and suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). I grew up hearing about what great guy he used to be. So, that goes to "personality" change. And of course he had all the classic memory problems of someone with a TBI. However, he's never said to me anything like, "I doubt whether my memories are actually mine." Despite the changes, the scales still weigh towards the fact brain damage doesn't negate every aspect of personal continuity among temporal events. This I attribute to mind, not brain.

Our brains are always changing which means we're constantly undergoing brain transplants. We just get confused about the implications for personal continuity over time because our perspective is too limited. That is, the rate at which most brains turn over cells is slow compared to someone with a brain injury. Nonetheless, normal brains and injured brains are still in the same "neuro-genesis" game--just at different paces.

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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby danieLion » Wed Jun 13, 2012 1:10 am

Here http://dharmaseed.org/talks/audio_player/348/8644.html at 3:43-7:00 to..., Dr. Daniel J. Siegel bemoans the inadequacy of mental health "education" by highlighting the fact that out of the 88,700 mental health professionals he's interviewed, only %2-5 had even one lecture on what the mind is.

Daniel J. Siegel wrote:The definition of mind I now use with my patients and students was the result of a remarkable collaboration. In 1992, I organized an interdepartmental group at UCLA to study the connections between the brain and the mind. I'd recruited forty scientists from a wide range of fields, including linguistics, computer science, genetics, mathematics, neuroscience, sociology, and of course developmental and experimental psychology....

It quickly emerged, however, that each of the disciplines had its own way of seeing reality, and although we could easily agree that the brain was composed of a set of neurons encased in the skull and interconnected with the rest of the body, there was no shared view of the mind, and no common vocabulary for discussing it. A computer scientist referred to it as 'an operating system.' A neurobiologist said the 'the mind is just activity of the brain.' An anthropologist spoke of 'a shared social process passed across the generations.' A psychologist said the 'mind is our thoughts and feelings.' And so it went, until I beceme worried that the tension from these differing perspectives in the group might lead to its dissolution. I had to create some acceptable working definition of the mind before we could address our fundamental seminar topic.

Here is the definition I ultimately offered to the group, a place to begin our explorations together: 'The human mind is a relational and embodied process that regulates the flow of energy and information.' That's it. Amazingly, every person in the group--from all the various fields involved--affirmed that this definition fit with their own field's approach.

The mind is real and ignoring it does not make it go away. Defining the mind makes it possible for us...to share a common language about the internal nature of our lives.
Mindsight, 2011, Bantam: pp. 51-52, my emphases


Daniel J. Siegel wrote:
4. Integration of Memory


Memory can be defined as the way in which a past experience alters the probability of how the mind functions in the future. Memory shapes how we experience the present and how we anticipate the future, readying us in the present moment for what comes next based on what we’ve experienced in the past. This broad view enables us to examine the findings of two aspects of memory and explore how their integration can promote well-being. Segregation of these memory functions, in contrast, may be seen as one aspect the source of mental suffering.

Experience creates the activation or “firing” of neurons. This neuronal activation can in turn lead to alterations in the connections among neurons, the basis of neural plasticity. Throughout our lives we embed experience into memory via a first layer of processing called “implicit” or “non-declarative” memory. Before one and a half years of age, this early implicit layer of memory is the only form available to the growing infant. But even beyond that early age, we continue to create implicit memories but they are then often selectively integrated into the next layer of processing called “explicit” or “declarative” forms of memory.

Implicit memory involves the perceptual, emotional, and behavioral neural responses activated during an experience. It is likely that our bodily sensations are also a form of implicit memory, but these have not been formally studied in research paradigms. Mental models, or generalizations of repeated experiences called “schema,” are also a form of implicit memory. The brain also readies itself to respond in a fashion called “priming” in which past experiences shape the way we prepare for the future.

Implicit memory encoding does not require focal, conscious attention. A second crucial feature of implicit memory is that when we do retrieve an element of implicit memory into awareness we do not have the internal sensation that something is being accessed from a memory of the past. We just have the perceptual, emotional, somatosensory, or behavioral response without knowing that these are activations related to something we’ve experienced before.

The second layering of memory is called explicit and involves the two forms of factual (or “semantic”) memory and episodic (or memory for an episode of an experience in the past). Episodic memory has a sense of the self and of time. Both semantic and episodic memory appear to require focal attention for their encoding and when they are retrieved from storage into present awareness they do have the internal sensation that something is being activated from the past. The hippocampus may serve an important role in memory integration as it functions as an “implicit memory puzzle piece assembler” that clusters the basic building blocks of the various elements of implicit memory together into framed pictures of semantic and episodic memory. These framed pictures of explicit memory can then be further integrated into autobiographical memory, a function that may involve rapid eye movement sleep as our dreams integrate our past experiences, our daytime events, and our emotional themes of our lives.

One proposal about trauma’s effects on memory is that it may transiently block the integrative function of the hippocampus in memory integration. With massive stress hormone secretion or amygdala discharge in response to an overwhelming event, the hippocampus may be temporarily shut-down. In addition to this direct effect of trauma of hippocampal function, some people may attempt to adapt to trauma by dividing their conscious attention, placing it only on non-traumatic elements of the environment at that time. The resultant neural configuration of blocked hippocampal processing, when reactivated, can present itself as free-floating, unassembled elements of perception, bodily sensation, emotion, and behavioral response without the internal sense that something is coming from the past. Beliefs and altered states of mind may also enter consciousness as the implicit mental models and priming become activated in response to environmental or internal triggers resembling components of the original experience. This “implicit-only” form or memory can be one explanation for the flashbacks and symptomatic profile of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The key to memory integration is the neural reality that focal attention allows the puzzle pieces of implicit memory to enter the spotlight of attention and then be assembled into the framed pictures of semantic and self-memories. With such reflective focus, what was once a memory configuration capable of intrusion on a person’s life can move into a form of knowing that involves both deep thoughts and deep sensations of the reality of the past.
Source: http://www.ithou.org/node/2730


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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby danieLion » Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:17 am

William James wrote:DIFFICULTY OF STATING THE CONNECTION BETWEEN MIND AND BRAIN.

It will be remembered that in our criticism of the theory of the integration of successive conscious units into a feeling of musical pitch, we decided that whatever integration there was was that of the air-pulses into a simpler and simpler sort of physical effect, as the propagations of material change got higher and higher in the nervous system. At last, we said (p. 23), there results some simple and massive process in the auditory centres of the hemispherical cortex, to which, as a whole, the feeling of musical pitch directly corresponds. Already, in discussing the localization of functions in the brain, I had said (pp. 158-9) that consciousness accompanies the stream of innervation through that organ and varies in quality with the character of the currents, being mainly of things seen if the occipital lobes are much involved, of things heard if the action is focalized in the temporal lobes, etc., etc.; and I had added that a vague formula like this was as much as one could safely venture on in the actual state of physiology. The facts of mental deafness and blindness, of auditory and optical aphasia, show us that the whole brain must act together if certain thoughts are to occur. The consciousness, which is itself an integral thing not made of parts, 'corresponds ' to the entire activity of the brain, whatever that may be, at the moment. This is a way of expressing the relation of mind and brain from which I shall not depart during the remainder of the book, because it expresses the bare phenomenal fact with no hypothesis, and is exposed to no such logical objections as we have found to cling to the theory of ideas in combination.

Nevertheless, this formula which is so unobjectionable if taken vaguely, positivistically, or scientifically, as a mere empirical law of concomitance between our thoughts and our brain, tumbles to pieces entirely if we assume to represent anything more intimate or ultimate by it. The ultimate of ultimate problems, of course, in the study of the relations of thought and brain, is to understand why and how such disparate things are connected at all. But before that problem is solved (if it ever is solved) there is a less ultimate problem which must first be settled. Before the connection of thought and brain can be explained, it must at least be stated in an elementary form; and there are great difficulties about so stating it. To state it in elementary form one must reduce it to its lowest terms and know which mental fact and which cerebral fact are, so to speak, in immediate juxtaposition. We must find the minimal mental fact whose being reposes directly on a brain-fact; and we must similarly find the minimal brain-event which will have a mental counterpart at all. Between the mental and the physical minimal thus found there will be an immediate relation, the expression of which, if we had it, would be the elementary psycho-physic law.

Our own formula escapes the unintelligibility of psychic atoms by taking the entire thought (even of a complex object) as the minimum with which it deals on the mental side. But in taking the entire brain-process as its minimal fact on the material side it confronts other difficulties almost as bad.

In the first place, it ignores analogies on which certain critics will insist, those, namely, between the composition of the total brain-process and that of the object of the thought. The total brain-process is composed of parts, of simultaneous processes in the seeing, the hearing, the feeling, and other centres. The object thought of is also composed of parts, some of which are seen, others heard, others perceived by touch and muscular manipulation. "How then," these critics will say, "should the thought not itself be composed of parts, each the counterpart of a part of the object and of a part of the brain-process?" So natural is this way of looking at the matter that it has given rise to what is on the whole the most flourishing of all psychological systems — that of the Lockian school of associated ideas — of which school the mind-stuff theory is nothing but the last and subtlest offshoot.

The second difficulty is deeper still. The 'entire brain- process' is not a physical fact at all. It is the appearance to an onlooking mind of a multitude of physical facts. 'Entire brain' is nothing but our name for the way in which a million of molecules arranged in certain positions may affect our sense. On the principles of the corpuscular or mechanical philosophy, the only realities are the separate molecules, or at most the cells. Their aggregation into a 'brain' is a fiction of popular speech. Such a fiction cannot serve as the objectively real counterpart to any psychic state whatever. Only a genuinely physical fact can so serve. But the molecular fact is the only genuine physical fact — whereupon we seem, if we are to have an elementary psycho-physic law at all, thrust right back upon something like the mind-stuff theory, for the molecular fact, being an element of the ' brain,' would seem naturally to correspond, not to the total thoughts, but to elements in the thought.

What shall we do? Many would find relief at this point in celebrating the mystery of the Unknowable and the 'awe' which we should feel at having such a principle to take final charge of our perplexities. Others would rejoice that the finite and separatist view of things with which we started had at last developed its contradictions, and was about to lead us dialectically upwards to some 'higher synthesis' in which inconsistencies cease from troubling and logic is at rest. It may be a constitutional infirmity, but I can take no comfort in such devices for making a luxury of intellectual defeat. They are but spiritual chloroform. Better live on the ragged edge, better gnaw the file forever!

The Principles of Psychology, Volume 1, pp. 176-179.


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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby danieLion » Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:43 am

Alfred Korzybski wrote:The verbal division of 'body' and 'mind' remains verbal, and also involves a language whose structure does not correspond to the structure and functioning of the organism. A language is like a map; it is not the territory represented, but it may be a good map or a bad map. If the map shows a different structure from the territory represented - for instance, shows the cities in a wrong order, or some places east of others while in the actual territory they are west., - then the map is worse than useless, as it misinforms and leads astray. One who made use of it could never be certain of reaching his destination.

Science & Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics, p. 498 [General Introduction: "On the Mechanism of Time-Binding (Part VII); Identification, Infantilism, and Un-Sanity Versus Sanity: Consciousness of Abstracting" (Ch. XXX).].


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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby Alex123 » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:21 pm

danieLion wrote:
Alfred Korzybski wrote:The verbal division of 'body' and 'mind' remains verbal, and also involves a language whose structure does not correspond to the structure and functioning of the organism..

metta


Right. There is this opinion that mind = brain, and brain is part of the body. So the division (mind vs body) is more linguistic than actual.

If one believes in some sort of idealism, then the body would be part of the mind (mental content), and there the division in mind vs body would also be false...
”Even the water melting from the snow-capped peaks finds its way to the ocean."
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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:51 pm

This book relates to this discussion:

Man and his Destiny - the Release of the Human Mind: a study of citta in relation to dhamma in some ancient Indian texts, by Jan T. Ergardt.

A fundamental claim in this work is that part of the pedagogical strategy employed by the Buddha was to massage the old atman-brahman complex and rework it as a citta-dhamma complex while upholding anatta.

In my opinion, the work dances around a bit between cogent argument and flights of fancy; worth slogging through just for the comprehensive analysis of the key term citta in the Majjhima, which is why I mention it here.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby danieLion » Thu Jun 14, 2012 12:10 am

Alex123 wrote:
danieLion wrote:
Alfred Korzybski wrote:The verbal division of 'body' and 'mind' remains verbal, and also involves a language whose structure does not correspond to the structure and functioning of the organism..

metta


Right. There is this opinion that mind = brain, and brain is part of the body. So the division (mind vs body) is more linguistic than actual.

If one believes in some sort of idealism, then the body would be part of the mind (mental content), and there the division in mind vs body would also be false...

Hi Alex123,
Korzybski was not of the opinion that mind = brain and if you look closer you'll see that's not the implication he wants us to draw.

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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby danieLion » Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:09 am

R.E.A. Johansson wrote:Citta, Mano, Vinnana--a Psychosemantic Investigation

In this report, l an attempt will be made to clarify the psychological contents of the above Pali tenns. The approach is psychological rather than linguistic.

Citta is most commonly translated by: thought(s), mind, heart, mood, emotion, idea, reasoning, attitude, consciousness.

Mano: mind, thought, inner sense.

Vinanna: consciousness, discriminative consciousness, rebirth-consciousness, /relinking/ consciousness, cognition, intellect, intellection, intelligence.

Many of the English terms are very vague. The reason may be eitherthat the corresponding Pali tenms are equally vague or that the exact meaning of then is not known....


For more, go to

http://ahandfulofleaves.files.wordpress ... ansson.pdf

MANY, MANY thanks to Ancientbuddhism for this and all the other resources he posts.....

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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby danieLion » Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:12 am

daverupa wrote:This book relates to this discussion:

Man and his Destiny - the Release of the Human Mind: a study of citta in relation to dhamma in some ancient Indian texts, by Jan T. Ergardt.

A fundamental claim in this work is that part of the pedagogical strategy employed by the Buddha was to massage the old atman-brahman complex and rework it as a citta-dhamma complex while upholding anatta.

In my opinion, the work dances around a bit between cogent argument and flights of fancy; worth slogging through just for the comprehensive analysis of the key term citta in the Majjhima, which is why I mention it here.

Thanks daverupa,
Do you know if it improves on R.E.A. Johansson's work?
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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby daverupa » Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:00 am

danieLion wrote:Do you know if it improves on R.E.A. Johansson's work?


I'll have to get back with a response after reading Johansson's paper.

:reading:

:thanks:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby danieLion » Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:23 am

Dmytro wrote:Hi,

I would like to discuss the relationship between mind and brain.

To start with, here's some videos and stories of people who survived well the considerable brain damage:

Carlos Sosa:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJ4KbsCTsWc

Hemispherectomy:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSu9HGnlMV0
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemispherectomy

Michelle Mack:
http://campbellbrown.blogs.cnn.com/2009 ... f-a-brain/

Phineas Gage
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phineas_Gage

Hi Dmytro,
Just watched/read all these links and if I had to go by these alone I'd have to say that mind is independent of brain. So, what do you think that implies about the relationship?
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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby danieLion » Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:24 am

daverupa wrote:
danieLion wrote:Do you know if it improves on R.E.A. Johansson's work?


I'll have to get back with a response after reading Johansson's paper.

:reading:

:thanks:

Cool. Thanks back.
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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby pegembara » Thu Jun 14, 2012 4:49 am

Mind and brain are not one and the same nor totally different.

They are co dependent like sheaves of reeds. Without brain there cannot be mind but without mind the brain cannot be known.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: Mind and brain relationship

Postby Dmytro » Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:24 am

Hi danieLion,

danieLion wrote:Just watched/read all these links and if I had to go by these alone I'd have to say that mind is independent of brain. So, what do you think that implies about the relationship?


Well, some experiences in life urged me to consider that mind is independent of brain. Rupert Sheldrake offers some easy to do experiments and data:

http://www.sheldrake.org
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnA8GUtXpXY

Evidently humans are normally unable to function without the brain. IMHO, brain serves input, output and energy support functions for the mind which is unable to carry these functions itself. And there are beings who can do without the brain.

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