The brain and learning, information processing theory, and problem-solving

The second site under this week learning: The brain and learning, information processing theory, and problem-solving methods during the learning process enumerates:


This site expands on pertinent information on “Intelligent Design Theory and Consciousness and Information Processing”. Dr. Nancey Murphy, Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary, argues on the functions of our eyes in information processing theory.  She vividly defends her point with the relationships between the physical object and the mental life of the information processor and distinguishes the difference between consciousness and information processing.  She does not refute the idea that there is evidence that individual neurons possess language, and that the basic unit for communication consists of two neurons and their entire field of interacting:  dendritic and synaptic connections. Here again the researcher has ample source on various component of information processing.  While information processing in the brain is highly complex, each neuron uses a simple mechanism for transmitting information.  I understand that there is a difference between consciousness and information processing, which is a biological function; but I do have problem with her analogy in “life does not require a new kind of entity, that is, complex bodies have the quality of being alive if they interact with the environment in a special way. Similarly, mind is not a new kind of entity, rather complex living beings have mental qualities if they interact with the environment in a special way”.  Consciousness is a subjective experience or awareness or wakefulness or the executive control system of the mind.  It is an umbrella term that may refer to a variety of mental phenomena.  In information processing, I can detect and realize what everyday experiences consist of but I find it difficult to define objectively consciousness.  “Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives.” (Schneider and Velmans, 2007).

Consciousness in medicine (e.g., anesthesiology) is assessed by observing a patient’s alertness and responsiveness, and can be seen as a continuum of states ranging from alert, oriented to time and place, and communicative, through disorientation, then delirium, then loss of any meaningful communication, and ending with loss of movement in response to painful stimulation.  Consciousness in psychology and philosophy has four characteristics: subjectivity, change, continuity and selectivity. Intentionality or aboutness (that consciousness is about something) has also been suggested by philosopher Franz Brentano. However, within the philosophy of mind there is no consensus on whether intentionality is a requirement for consciousness.

Consciousness is the subject of much research in philosophy of mind, psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience and artificial intelligence. Issues of practical concern include how the presence of consciousness can be assessed in severely ill or comatose people; whether non-human consciousness exists and if so how it can be measured; at what point in fetal development consciousness begins; and whether computers can achieve a conscious state.

Published in: on March 14, 2010 at 9:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

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