Your Brain Sees Things You Don’t

spoonVia ScienceDaily:

University of Arizona doctoral degree candidate Jay Sanguinetti has authored a new study, published online in the journal Psychological Science, that indicates that the brain processes and understands visual input that we may never consciously perceive.

The finding challenges currently accepted models about how the brain processes visual information.

A doctoral candidate in the UA’s Department of Psychology in the College of Science, Sanguinetti showed study participants a series of black silhouettes, some of which contained meaningful, real-world objects hidden in the white spaces on the outsides.

Saguinetti worked with his adviser Mary Peterson, a professor of psychology and director of the UA’s Cognitive Science Program, and with John Allen, a UA Distinguished Professor of psychology, cognitive science and neuroscience, to monitor subjects’ brainwaves with an electroencephalogram, or EEG, while they viewed the objects.

“We were asking the question of whether the brain was processing the meaning of the objects that are on the outside of these silhouettes,” Sanguinetti said. “The specific question was, ‘Does the brain process those hidden shapes to the level of meaning, even when the subject doesn’t consciously see them?”

The answer, Sanguinetti’s data indicates, is yes.

Study participants’ brainwaves indicated that even if a person never consciously recognized the shapes on the outside of the image, their brains still processed those shapes to the level of understanding their meaning.

“There’s a brain signature for meaningful processing,” Sanguinetti said. A peak in the averaged brainwaves called N400 indicates that the brain has recognized an object and associated it with a particular meaning.

“It happens about 400 milliseconds after the image is shown, less than a half a second,” said Peterson. “As one looks at brainwaves, they’re undulating above a baseline axis and below that axis. The negative ones below the axis are called N and positive ones above the axis are called P, so N400 means it’s a negative waveform that happens approximately 400 milliseconds after the image is shown.”

The presence of the N400 peak indicates that subjects’ brains recognize the meaning of the shapes on the outside of the figure.

“The participants in our experiments don’t see those shapes on the outside; nonetheless, the brain signature tells us that they have processed the meaning of those shapes,” said Peterson. “But the brain rejects them as interpretations, and if it rejects the shapes from conscious perception, then you won’t have any awareness of them.”

“We also have novel silhouettes as experimental controls,” Sanguinetti said. “These are novel black shapes in the middle and nothing meaningful on the outside.”

Read more here.

158 Comments on "Your Brain Sees Things You Don’t"

  1. Simon Valentine | Nov 20, 2013 at 9:42 pm |

    lol combine embedded signal error correction with technology and what do you get?

    a digital copy of Brian Greene lecturing on intelligent particles and sigil physics interwoven with plans to build an Oblivion gate >.< but srsly no joke.

    energy is fake. 'nuf said. just part of the grand "lie to me baby!" scheme. besides, is it not due to a rapport, or is hive mind 'professional suicide'? how many connections or how much transpondence is shared between the data awaiting correlation? one? what, so this is LOTR time now? more like inception time. to which the back-of-the-bus says "lame". furthermore, are not both theories (architecture-based or hive-based), among other possible interpretations of the data (phonons, anyone), equivalent? where's the equal interpretations interpretation?!? buh. no wonder i don't read 'science articles'. that's what osmosis is for.

    scientists. failing to realize they've assumed they've solved unsolved problems since [irrelevant]. face it. human capacity is pretty damn pathetic. it's sad. it can be worked on. hmm? sports fans do the same thing? yeah, pretty much everyone piles into the bus.

    not with all the correct information in the world would an illegitimate enterprise be acceptable. collegiate circus anyway. so much monkey poo even Slim Shady can't stand up. aaand i'm hungry. no, thirsty. buh. TOOTLES!

  2. Calypso_1 | Nov 20, 2013 at 9:47 pm |

    tor nørretranders summed this up (albeit dryly) for public conception 20 years ago.

    • Simon Valentine | Nov 20, 2013 at 9:50 pm |

      &the back of the bus goes up and down, up and down, the bus runs over the roadkill clown aaaalll of the daaaaays&

    • Simon Valentine | Nov 20, 2013 at 9:52 pm |

      sorry. that guy seems intriguing. it seems i have something to do now :))

    • Simon Valentine | Nov 20, 2013 at 10:06 pm |

      oh … i may be able to pick up where [he/Libet] left off. it’s something i’ve been [not] working [enough] on. the insights are still in the original zip file. glossing over some comments on Amazon i see “Libets work, dealing with processing time for consciousness, is discussed but not very skillfully.” that pushes me right on the brink of “worth it”. it could be just the nudge i need.

    • Rhoid Rager | Nov 21, 2013 at 12:45 am |

      I looked up Tor’s work thanks to your reference. Exformation has now entered my vocabulary. I find it sad and discouraging that ideas like this are presented as new and exciting when they’ve already been covered before by other thinkers. It’s sad and discouraging, because it seems to imply that there really is no stable continuum to the knowledge we have as a species. As Graham Hancock has pointed out before, we seem to be a species with amnesia. This is likely due to the functioning of power structures and practices to cut people off from each other so that more sharing cannot be undertaken. Maybe we’ll grow out of it eventually, but not likely in my lifetime. Perhaps in the next…

      • Simon Valentine | Nov 21, 2013 at 9:59 am |

        to take a note from some ancestry:

        maybe we are meant to develop as a procedural species, much like reproduction is already highly procedural, rather than develop as a strong blood line through time or a continuous stream of memory and teaching.

        at the same time, there are far too many merits important to the survival of any of it/us encapsulated within “information ought survive” to ignore. Yggdrasil?

        • Calypso_1 | Nov 21, 2013 at 11:54 am |

          Quite. I think the growing feeling is that consciousness itself may be procedural/modular and not a unified structural ‘essence’. It may very well go the way of the aether.

          • Simon Valentine | Nov 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm |

            *wince* *time passes* *realization*

            okay it’s all good. i read aether and immediately thought “oh shit, no! i’m using aether!” but i nearly immediately realized the better translation. one options being the reincarnation of aether. reincarnation of essence. both into more mature forms. sort of like “currently we don’t deserve and honestly can’t honestly maintain carpet/rug words as given”. so until the work gets done to recycle the words, indeed sir, indeed. bitter sweet.

            in coincidence perhaps i was intended to write during lunch break concerning a few thoughts of where the stuff meets the nothing. in terms of fractals and modulation of ideation. friction of course turns out to be just such a word as is currently incapacitated until further work/notice. anywhoot, i find myself using the word aether to indicate something more like “a [complex] combination of ‘space’ and ‘void’ remaining as yet entangled in so much as our comprehension and abilities regarding it are concerned”. not exactly a ‘Greene’s black hole hologram [virtual particle basis] lecture’, cuz it’s absurdly more generalized, even appearing to hop into zen and yin yang sorts of things.

      • Simon Valentine | Nov 21, 2013 at 11:13 am |

        gave it some more thought. i considered the possibility of ‘due to some as-yet not/un surpassed ceiling’ ‘the treatment of personal achievement as a resource would nearly be deforested out of existence, leaving our monkey minds to whither and die’

        that said, evolution. and the fact that continuous information and partial solutions are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

      • Calypso_1 | Nov 21, 2013 at 11:32 am |

        Hope it proves a fruitful line of inquiry.
        The new & exiting thing is bad entertainment journalism. The experiment, like most is built on much previous work. But I’m sure the publishing industry has a newer pop sci book that will be talking about this stuff. So you’ll have a few more research studies come out to wet the imagination and then a book.
        In many ways the knowledge continuum we have is unstable. We lose sooo much. Knowledge management is a huge field in itself.
        We do have amnesia & aphasia of various sorts – what else are our language differences? Given the structure of the organism we exist in we are extremely limited & fragile as carriers of the broader skill/knowledge set uncovered by the species.

    • Rhoid Rager | Nov 21, 2013 at 3:03 am |

      Actually the concept of exformation very much resembles what Michael Polanyi referred to as tacit knowledge–and that was in the 1958. I imagine that Descartes or Kant probably considered this kind of latent epistemology, as well, and gave it a different label.

      • Calypso_1 | Nov 21, 2013 at 11:23 am |

        I know the philosophical underpinnings have been available to processes these concepts. The significance of what was put together in The User Illusion was the all the neurological data that without such an explanation is rather incomprehensible.

  3. Simiantongue | Nov 20, 2013 at 11:26 pm |

    “…indicates that the brain processes and understands visual input that we may never consciously perceive.”

    You don’t say?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f29kF1vZ62o

    • oneironauticus | Nov 21, 2013 at 10:44 pm |

      Eh…Derren Brown is just an entertainer…I doubt very much something like this would really work, but feel free to try it on friends and family to prove it to yourself.

      • Calypso_1 | Nov 22, 2013 at 11:41 am |

        one might say the repetitive application & results that such entertainers have of these skills in a performance environment amounts to repeated experiments.
        It would be interesting to see the same ploy tried w/ multiple trials & subjects.

        • oneironauticus | Nov 22, 2013 at 8:34 pm |

          I doubt that he actually has the skills he claims…of course I believe that thought can be influenced by subtle machinations, but this example is specific to the point of incredulity…to me, anyway.

  4. Funny. I didn’t realize that there is a ‘me’ separate from my brain. If only people thought things through rather than living by the assumption that they aren’t their brain.

    • You’re not going to suggest there’s a subconscious, are you?

      • oneironauticus | Nov 21, 2013 at 10:46 pm |

        O_o …let’s not start that again…or…let’s.

      • No such thing as subconscious. Where is it exactly?

        • Calypso_1 | Nov 21, 2013 at 11:25 pm |

          The same place the rest of thoughts are. They are processes occurring in the brain. Conscious awareness simple correlates with gamma synchrony of cortical regions. Many neural processes are capable of becoming conscious many are not.

          • You can separate yourself from thought and know something about it? Impressive. I also find it rather impressive that you know conscious awareness is separate from the events it correlates with.

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 22, 2013 at 12:01 am |

            Yes to the first, because ‘thought’ is not awareness, nor process or perception. It is a relationship between them. The continuity of these relationships is illusory and even that can be observed and guided within limits.

          • You are only a thought. No thoughts, no you as you think of yourself. You’re a concept. You cannot know anything about yourself without separating yourself in order to analyze and gather information about yourself. Impossible. You say the continuity of that relationship is illusory but if that is true then how can you say it exists? You’re been fed all these ideas but they are abstractions. You cannot know anything about yourself or your mind because you are but a chemical reaction produced by what we call mind.

          • > You are only a thought.

            That’s like saying a hand is the glass it holds. Or that neurons are the electric signals they convey.

          • The hand is the glass it holds and vice versa. You cannot separate yourself from the glass you are holding. Only thought can create that separation and recall past information that says ‘this is a hand and this is a glass’. Without thought it would be one movement and not two separate things.

          • *drops glass*

          • Yet cannot separate the event of holding glass and dropping glass without thought. Otherwise it’s one movement.

          • And with thought, I do separate them.

          • Who does? You are separate form the thought so that you can do such things?

          • Yes, I am. I am an animal with a brain that thinks.

          • I disagree. I say it’s impossible.

          • And I say you should try meditation.

            Just a thought. 😉

          • I did meditation for 10 years until I realized it’s a waste of time. Why do you meditate? What do you think you will achieve?

          • I meditate because it helps me to focus on the present, and also to observe and challenge my own thoughts.

          • There is no present. Everything is past. By the time the mind realizes it’s in the present it’s already the past. Not to mention you have to recall past memory in order to know anything about the present. The present is something we will never experience since experience requires thought and thought is on a time lag so to speak. Second of all ‘you’ cannot challenge or observe your thoughts since you are the thought itself. Think about it! The best you can do is recall past knowledge of what you have been told about thought. All thinking about thought is about thought and not thought itself. We can never know our own thoughts as it would require that there is a ‘you’ separate from thought that observes itself. Impossible.

          • I thought about it, and I find what you say to be incoherent.

          • You’ll get the hang of it.

          • I don’t want to get the hang of it.

          • Okay.

          • oneironauticus | Nov 22, 2013 at 8:23 pm |

            I can’t tell if you were a philosophy major or a neuroscience major…you’ve somehow combined the obnoxiousness of both…

            This: “All thinking about thought is about thought and not thought itself” is the part that is most “incoherent”, in my estimation…how can a thought about a thought not also be a thought?

            Well, what the hell is it, then? All invisible unicorns are pink!

          • I laughed out loud on that first sentence. Good one!

            Asking what is thought is nonsensical because it would require that you can separate yourself from it in order to look at it and know what it is. Is there even such thing as thought at all?

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 22, 2013 at 9:22 pm |

            How about this. At this point in humanities evolution of awareness of its own cognitive process the term ‘thought’, or similar terms of comparative meaning, are used by the majority of population units to describe any activity of cybernetic CNS activity involving high-level cortical regulation.
            The term ‘thought’, for said population, also has been appropriated to define, as of yet, unsubstantiated concepts of self, individuation and emergence of non-biological properties. However, such a definition for some, due to information gained both through internal exploration and collective scientific work, are antiquated and inconsequential for both the nature of their own existence and paths of further endeavor and definition of these processes and their properties.

          • Evolution of awareness? Stop there. Please define your terms. This sounds messy.

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 22, 2013 at 10:54 pm |

            My ‘terms’ are indefinite to your stated position. See reference to population groups.

          • oneironauticus | Nov 23, 2013 at 11:59 am |

            “Is there even such thing as thought at all?”

            Well, that’s what I’ve been asking you. You can not know you are thought until you know what is thought…you intuit the concept of Thought, but how does one accomplish this amazing (and very possibly unique to our species) feat?

          • Agreed. That is why I don’t know anything about thought. I know that the activity happening in the body is what culture has told me is thought, other than that I don’t know what it is or where it comes from. All I can do is use the information that has been given to me in order to try to fit it into some kind of framework that makes sense but it’s a futile task. That’s why I say that all conversations are fundamentally meaningless. That doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining though. 🙂

          • Next time you sit down to meditate try asking yourself who is it that is meditating and watching thoughts. See for yourself if there is anything other than thought or if it’s merely thought watching thoughts. If there is no thinker then how can one say there are thoughts in which they can call their own? Try to see for yourself if there is anything beyond thought. It’s important that you are brutally honest with yourself about the subjective experience. Try not to rely on any theories or assumptions and see for yourself and by yourself if there is anything to it at all.

          • My subjective experience was that my perceptions and thoughts were not me.

            Please note that I’m not trying to tell you what your subjective experiences were. And that I don’t mean the same thing by the words I’m using as you do when you use those same words.

          • So your thoughts told you that you aren’t your thoughts. Very interesting. I think you might want to go back to the drawing board on that one.

          • My brain’s awareness was of it’s thoughts, then it turned it’s attention to it’s sense perceptions, and then back and forth. Do I need to include scare quotes around most of the words in that?

          • Without thought you aren’t aware of anything. Thought says that thought is aware of thought. Thoughts can’t know anything about awareness. It can know definitions about awareness but it cannot know the true nature of awareness. Furthermore we cannot separate ourselves from thoughts or awareness or sense perception. Thought creates that separation, if not for thought you wouldn’t even assume you are aware. I’m not saying there is no such thing as awareness, I’m saying that if there is any such thing we cannot know anything about it.

          • We can be aware of things without thought. Thoughts can know things about awareness. We can differentiate ourselves from thoughts and awareness and sense perception. Thought does not create that differentiation, and without thought I would know I was aware, though I wouldn’t call it that. We can know things about awareness.

          • How exactly can I be aware of something without thought? If I’m in a thoughtless state what is it that tells me I’m aware in order to know I’m aware? If I’m in a thoughtless state there can be no conceptualizing at all because conceptualizing is thinking. The only way we can know anything is through memory/thinking otherwise there is a blank mind. A blank mind means no subjective experience at all. For you to even talk about being able to be aware of objects without thinking you would first have to have first hand experience of a thoughtless state. Since you are the thought it’s impossible for you to have a thoughtless state and to tell yourself anything about it in order to communicate it at all. This is as obvious as it gets once you’ve realized it for yourself.

          • Also, you say thought doesn’t create differentiation. Please tell me what does then. How can you possibly know that without thought? Let’s say there are two objects, one is a red ball and the other a blue ball. In order to know the difference between the two objects you must use memory/knowledge/thinking i.e the mind. Without thoughts there is nothing to tell you that one ball is red and one ball is blue.

          • Sense perception tells you one looks different than the other. That difference is real, and not a result of memory and knowledge (i.e., babies can tell). “Red” and “blue” are the arbitrary categories that you’re right about.

            The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon, but that doesn’t mean there is no moon.

          • The problem is you are relying on knowledge to tell you about your subjective experience. Observe for yourself that sense perception doesn’t “know” things in order to create differentiation between objects. Your eyes do not say to you that they are looking at something. Thought interprets perception and creates the separation and tells you that your eyes are looking at an object. Without thought there is simply seeing, without interpretation. Try this experiment with yourself: Look at an object in front of you. Now figure out how far away that object is from your seeing. Can you separate the sense perception from the object it’s observing? What is the distance between your seeing and what is being seen? You might discover that there is no distance between the object and the perception of the object. One requires the other, it is one thing. The experience and the experiencer cannot be separated without the use of thought. We are not fundamentally separate from the world around us, it’s knowledge that interprets sense perception and creates a narrative thus creating the appearance of differentiation.

            The point of the finger pointed at the moon koan is to show that words and concepts are not reality, they are merely pointers at something that cannot be captured by thought. There is no separation between your experience of the moon and yourself without the finger being believed to be really pointing at reality.

          • I disagree.

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 22, 2013 at 5:48 am |

            Wrong.

            In part.

            In part.

            Irrelevant to the underlying nature of the organism.

            Wishful thinking.

            I did not say that it did.

            None of these ‘ideas’ were fed to me, some are not ideas- they are perceptions of processes; abstraction is irrelevant.

            Syllogistic Fallacy.

          • All ideas are fed to us. No thought belongs to you or me. All knowledge is learned or passed down. All knowledge is created by thought and language. We were given a language and we were given all the concepts we know. There is no such thing as an original thought. Everything you or I know has been fed to us. There is no subjective you or I outside the realm of thought.

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 22, 2013 at 2:53 pm |

            Now you are conflating ‘thought’, language & knowledge.
            You are working with the assumption that I believe in ‘thought’ at all.

          • The you that may or may not believe in thought is thought. Language and knowledge is thought. Without thought there is no subjective ‘you’ there is no language and no knowledge.

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 22, 2013 at 3:25 pm |

            You are pandering metaphysics.
            I’m going to go play with slime mold.

          • Sounds fun. Enjoy!

          • oneironauticus | Nov 22, 2013 at 8:18 pm |

            “All knowledge is learned or passed down.”

            Man, Mitochondrial Eve must have been like, crazy-smart… 😀

          • Haha. It’s actually an accumulation of knowledge built up over thousands or millions of years. But I think you know that already. 🙂

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 22, 2013 at 8:59 pm |

            Other Memory!

          • oneironauticus | Nov 22, 2013 at 8:15 pm |

            “You cannot know anything about yourself without separating yourself in order to analyze and gather information about yourself”

            …then what makes you so certain that you are “only a thought”?

          • Because I’ve never experience anything but thought. There is nothing outside the realm of thought. If there is then please let me know what it is and where I can find it.

          • oneironauticus | Nov 22, 2013 at 8:51 pm |

            HOW…do you know…that what you are experiencing is thought…you have to be outside of the thought to name it and perceive it, by your own estimation, no?

          • You are absolutely correct with your last sentence and I believe I answered this question a few minutes ago when you asked “If you don’t know if brains exist, then how can you be certain that you are “just a brain”

            But to ask, how do I know what I am experiencing is thought requires the belief that there is a ‘me’ that can be divided in two in order to create both the observed and the observer. Otherwise it’s a meaningless question in which I have no answer for. Thought cannot be experienced, thought is the experience and thought therefore cannot be experienced.

          • oneironauticus | Nov 22, 2013 at 11:40 pm |

            Well, it would appear that nearly everyone who has tried to communicate with you on that particular issue so far, seems to believe there is a difference between “brain” and “thought”, but you don’t make this distinction. So, no, I don’t believe you had answered this question before, exactly (even if my questions were similar and getting at the same point)…but you believe you have. Well, that’s really a separate issue, I suppose…

            I guess my main point, in reply to this comment, is that if what you say were true, then you could not know anything at all, not even what you say you know to be true…

            This: “Otherwise it’s a meaningless question in which I have no answer for” is proof that you are not yet understanding what I thought was a clear enough question…

            Let me try again: You say you are “thought” (or brain, or whatever). How can you know you are “thought” if you cannot know Thought? You have to be outside of “thought” to recognize the very concept of thought; to name it…to see it…whether or not you are *actually* outside of thought, you have to, on some level, theorize / intuit just what it *would be like* to be outside of thought in order to even conceptualize what “Thought” is…

            Am I going to have to answer my own question for you?

            Okay, consider that humans “theorize” (think thoughts about) things which have never existed and they have never seen ALL the time…infinity, for example…

            Is this how you would explain “it” being accomplished? I repeat: you cannot know you are only a thought unless you have had thoughts about thoughts; whether or not they were “real” thoughts about thoughts is almost irrelevant and besides, unprovable in either direction…

            Right. I’m going to take a nap and see if this makes sense in the morning…

          • First off, you say I make no distinction between brain and thought but I don’t remember ever being asked if there was a distinction. All that can be said about that is thought creates the brain, without thought you would know nothing about the brain including the knowledge that it exists, subjectively speaking.

            In regards to your main point that if what I were saying is true then I couldn’t know anything. I agree. Fundamentally there is nothing to know. On the level of exchanging information as we are doing in this forum there is plenty to say, none of which is actually fundamentally true. This conversation is as meaningless as the sound of cats mating in an alley. But it’s entertaining none the less and I don’t have anything better to do, obviously.

            You asked, “How can you know you are thought if you cannot know thought.”
            This is a very valid question. I only “know” what culture has taught me just like everyone else. I’m using the same ineffective words as everyone else to basically say nothing. As I stated before, nothing anybody says is fundamentally true. We’re all just making a bunch of meaningless noise and interpreting it into something meaningful. The only knowledge that is of any value is practical knowledge for example how to feed yourself or how to drive a car or whatever. Anything that ventures off into the metaphysical, mystical, psychological, neurological or spirituality is pure noise.

          • oneironauticus | Nov 23, 2013 at 11:35 am |

            Well. I just disagree.

            The imagination, intuition, etc. are important, if only because most of the beliefs you might imagine you have rid yourself of, but still swim in your thoughts, are based only on imagination and intuition. Democracy. Infinity. Equality. Love.

            None of those concepts really exist anywhere, but most can easily imagine what they would be like and perhaps choose to strive towards them. (Except infinity, I suppose…unless you want to say that’s obviously the basis for Immortality…)

            They are important because everything awesome that humans do (positive and negative–see where “Purity” takes certain groups) appears to be because we have this capability to intuit concepts which do not exist and have never existed.

            And I disagree that these are necessarily culture-taught. I am suggesting that these “thoughts about thoughts” are arrived at by a similar path to that which one discovers 2+2=4.

          • All of these imaginary concepts that you think are so wonderful are basically what is causing the destruction of the planet and the human race. Instead of leaving things alone and letting nature take it’s course we’ve built up an empire of separation of which conflict and violence are the product. We wouldn’t need the concept of world peace if we hadn’t contrasted the natural peace with violence and greed that stem from separation. I’m not talking about natural violence such as that in the animal kingdom but about the violence man has created through separation such as war and conflict. This separation induced violence is what will eventually wipe our race off the planet once and for all. Nature doesn’t need the concept of equality and love, it has no use for it. What exists in nature without man is already a natural order that needs no improvement. Take the concept of love for example. If you see a mother bear with her cub, the way she protects and feeds the cub and sacrifices her comforts for the well being of her cub, that is love. Man;s definition of love creates separation. In order for what we call love to exist we must separate ourselves into love and loved instead of the single unitary movement that already naturally exists. The concept of “morality” wouldn’t exist if we weren’t “immoral”. The concept of love wouldn’t exist if we didn’t hate. For every concept we create we create a new apparent duality that doesn’t actually exist naturally. You cannot have love without hate and you cannot have hate without love. We’ve been taught by culture that we need all these concepts but really the only reason we need them is to perpetuate the insanity we’ve already created, otherwise there is no use for them. You say that you disagree that these concepts are culture taught. 2 + 2 is a concept created by man. If there were no humans there would be no concept of 2 + 2. Nature has no use for our numbers or math. Only man needs these things in order to try to make sense out of the world around them because they feel separate from the world around them.

            As for your question about cats. As far as I know cats don’t think thoughts the same way a human does. A cat doesn’t tell itself that it’s an individual and name objects which creates a duality. The cat just reacts to stimuli and memory triggering. If cats do think they don’t think to themselves like humans do. Human thought shows itself in basically two forms, language and images. If you pay attention to your thoughts you’ll notice they only come in these two forms. If you spoke no language at all most of your thoughts would appear in the form of images. But in order to tell yourself anything about these images you’d need language to do it. Notice how your thoughts are in the native language you speak? You are right that cats don’t get depressed, cats don’t have a concept for depression nor do they have a concept for love. What is there is there without the need for concept separation. We can learn more by watching the animals in the wild than we can from reading any books.

          • oneironauticus | Nov 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm |

            I agree to an extent, and I agree that 2+2 is man-made, etc…I happen to have a preference for these dualities to exist, because even if I did not practice them in reality, they still make for great art…

            Forget for a moment whether these dualities are ultimately “good” or “bad” (another dichotomy, after all) my original point is that these are still thoughts about thoughts.

            What do you think about gorillas, chimps, and bonobos which have been taught sign language and seem to recognize concepts of “self”? Is this division taught to them via language, or is it inherent in primates (would they be able to grasp the concept if it were not already a part of their “thoughts”), or is it inherent in “higher animals”?

          • You say you have a preference for the dualities. This is true of everybody. The mind only knows dualities, if not for the duality the mind wouldn’t exist. In essence the mind is the duality. It is impossible for the mind to want to get rid of the mind because it cannot conceive of anything beyond mind except in the form of concepts. It’s a vicious cycle.

            Just because animals have been taught to recognize themselves in a mirror doesn’t mean that they believe themselves to be separate from the world around them. Belief is the cause of separation and belief is a thought or concept that doesn’t naturally occur in nature without man creating it. I don’t believe that animals think to themselves or tell themselves anything about themselves.

          • oneironauticus | Nov 23, 2013 at 8:45 pm |

            I don’t just mean recognizing themselves in mirrors. I mean recognizing their name and referring to themselves by that name.

            There is also video evidence of a chimpanzee signing to itself, (the chimp is alone and unaware it is being filmed) while looking at a picture book of fruits. It signed “sweet” and “good” while looking at these pictures. This would seem to suggest that there is indeed some limited conceptualizing.

          • Dogs recognize their own names. Memorizing sounds doesn’t imply self-awareness. Humans after-all are animals so I’m not saying it’s impossible for animals to develop some sort of self awareness. But notice how man is the only species that is capable on destroying the entire planet while man is also the only species to preach love and peace.

          • oneironauticus | Nov 23, 2013 at 8:56 pm |

            “and referring to themselves by that name.”

            Right. That’s why you have to acknowledge both sides to find the middle. You can’t over-come the human duality problem by simply ignoring both extremes, no matter what the Buddha said. Sitting under a tree for 30 years or whatever isn’t *practical*, Buddha…psh! (I know you agree…)

          • Yes I agree. However in my opinion duality isn’t a problem and it can’t be solved. There is no way around it. Mind can’t kill mind. It’s only a problem if you try to do something to get rid of it.

          • oneironauticus | Nov 23, 2013 at 9:02 pm |

            K, well, chimps are on their way man…

            You never did answer my assertion that you have essentially acknowledged that thoughts-about-thoughts do, in fact, exist…you said elsewhere that thoughts-about-thoughts cannot exist, and yet, we are talking about thoughts-about-thoughts…in fact, talking about the fact that we are discussing thoughts-about-thoughts is a thought-about-a-thought-about-a-thought…

            You can’t explain how this trick is accomplished. This intuiting of the beyond, even if it is not “really” outside of itself…

          • It is thought that tells you the destruction of the planet and the human race are bad. It is thought that tells you that the empire of separation and human conflict and violence are bad. And it is thought that tells you that nature and unity and animals are good. You are practicing separation by defining the former as different from the latter.

          • Yes it is thought that tell us destruction of the planet and the human race is bad, of course. However, I never claimed that it is bad. I could care less if the human race is destroyed to be honest, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened already. Nature has no concept of good or bad. If everybody died tomorrow nature would use that energy to recycle it throughout the universe thus nothing is lost but the thinking mind that is afraid of loss. I’m not saying thinking is bad either. It is what it is and there is nothing we can do about it. I am also not claiming that anything is good. Animals aren’t good, they just are what they are. Lastly, I’m not claiming to know anything that you don’t know or that I don’t create separation by thinking just like everyone else. We’re all in the same boat, none of us better or worse than the other.

          • You’ve never observed your own thinking? It’s a very common practice in meditation.

          • Meditation is a waste of time. Thoughts cannot observe thoughts and derive any information from them. It’s a feedback loops of thoughts, there is nothing outside of thought. If there is we cannot know anything about it. Impossible.

          • Is a brain a thought, or a thinker?

          • We cannot separate ourselves from the brain and derive any meaningful information from it. All we can do is regurgitate theories and information we’ve been fed since children and hope to fit them into some kind of framework that makes sense to the conceptual mind. There is no thinker.

          • Do brains really exist, or are they merely thoughts?

          • How would I know?

          • How would a thought think?

          • It doesn’t think. That’s the point.

          • If I am a thought, and thoughts cannot think, then I cannot think. And, I assume, neither can you.

          • Your question make no sense because it implies that there is a me separate from my thoughts that does the thinking.

          • If I am a thought, and thoughts cannot think, then I cannot think.

          • Thinking happens but there is no thinker. The same way your heart beats but you are not beating it. The same way the wind blows but nobody is blowing it. Thought is a spontaneous arising not coordinated by anyone. Thought is what takes responsibility for thought and claims to be the thinker. Observe this for yourself, don’t take my word for it.

          • oneironauticus | Nov 22, 2013 at 8:50 pm |

            Okay, so you won’t mind if I come over to your house and steal all your stuff anymore than you would blame a hurricane for destroying it all?

          • There is no thinker just like there is no operator of the hurricane. Both thinking and hurricanes are natural phenomenon. This doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t be upset if my brand new Xbox One got stolen or destroyed. Fundamentally it doesn’t matter why or how it happened, only that it happened. However, I prefer to live in a world where people’s property doesn’t get stolen or destroyed by hurricanes so I would call the police and hope you go to jail. At the same time if I had the ability to stop a hurricane I would. If we lived in some weird universe where calling the cops can stop both a thief and a hurricane I’d call the cops because I prefer to have my Xbox One rather than not have it.

          • oneironauticus | Nov 22, 2013 at 11:21 pm |

            But how do you know the Xbox One exists?

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 23, 2013 at 12:21 am |

            au contraire
            Obama Ra operates hurricanes via HAARP.

          • Oh yeah, I almost forgot what website I’m on. 🙂

          • The brain is the thinker. There is no verb without a noun.

          • You think the brain produces thoughts? Not that the entire body contributes to what we call a thought? Can a brain think and be self aware without the rest of the body?

            You say there is no verb without a noun. This is the prime example of how we as humans mistake words for reality. Do you think reality fits into the narrow construct of our limited language? A verb without a noun says absolutely nothing about the nature of reality. No humans = no verbs or nouns…and yet reality goes on without us.

          • > Do you think reality fits into the narrow construct of our limited language?

            In this particular case, yes, I do.

          • Maybe inform a thought with meta-information on how or what to think?

            Kind of like being conscious of being conscious.

            And being conscious of the consciousness that is conscious of being conscious?

          • oneironauticus | Nov 22, 2013 at 8:24 pm |

            If you don’t know if brains exist, then how can you be certain that you are “just a brain”…do Thoughts really exist, or are they merely thoughts about thoughts (which you deny exist)?

          • I’m not certain that I’m just a brain. I’m certain that there is no ‘me’ separate from the brain. Thought says there is a brain and thought is passed down information. Without that information there is no me in existence in order to know anything. This passed down knowledge, which is also the process of naming and labeling objects, has created separation between things that would otherwise be inseparable and thus couldn’t be named. Thought tells us that this is an object and the object is made of atoms. Without thought there to interpret and name there is one movement without separation, naming, labeling or understanding because it would be impossible to name an object without the use of thought.
            If there is any such thing as thought it can only think about thoughts otherwise it would have to separate itself into two parts, the observed and the observer. Since there is no separation without thought it would be impossible to know anything about the nature of thought. All we can do is use the information we’ve been fed to attempt to fit answers into a framework that validates information we already have.

          • I prefer U.G. to Jiddu.

          • Both were worthless losers. They know just as much as you and me.

          • And they’re both dead so what good can they do any of us now anyways?

          • Yes, I have touched a brain at the state fair.

          • Sense perception!

          • I percieve that experience as physical proof that brains exist. It is possible that everyone else is playing a gigantic joke, by claiming brains exist. Is it highly plausible though?

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 22, 2013 at 11:24 am |

            You are incorrect. Thought can observe thought & derive information from them.
            The problem is your definition of thought. ‘Thought’ is not a singular thing. That is one of the fundamental illusions of unified self & mind.

          • ‘I’ cannot observe thought because I am a thought. No thoughts = no me as I know myself. The subjective me cannot exist without thinking. When death occurs the brain stops and I no longer exist. All I can observe is the past knowledge I’ve learned about thought and apply it to more thought which creates a feedback loop of thought. No useful information can come from this feedback loop. You say thought is not a singular thing. Everything is a singular thing until thought separates them into different things. Without thought there is just one movement that can’t be separated into parts.

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 22, 2013 at 2:16 pm |

            If you observe internal workings with the same degree of clarity with which you apply to external representations provided by others then the elements of misrepresentation you experience are obvious to this observer.

          • You’re missing the point. Ask the question ‘who is observing thoughts’? In order to observe thought you must be separate from thought, that’s obvious. Simply put, there is no observer. The observer is a thought that thinks it is observing itself but there is no self to observe, only more thought. It’s not even thought which observed, it’s the knowledge of thought that is being recalled and applied to thought. It’s an endless loop. There is nothing outside of thought that we can say anything about.

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 22, 2013 at 2:44 pm |

            ‘Thought’ is a mere syntactic abstraction in itself and only has meaning as imbued by your construct. I am not even talking about thought. The observer is not a thought. Anymore than the liver or the retina is a thought.

          • The observer is a thought. If the observer is not a thought then what is it exactly? Remember that in order to answer that question you have to use thought of which otherwise you could know nothing period.

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 22, 2013 at 3:20 pm |

            Conflation of separate process. If I must use my fingers to type this they are not the words. A neural process (which some might assume to be a ‘thought’) may be activated in synchrony with a parallel process. In doing, depending on the the nature of the secondary process it may be sensitive to the patterns of the first such that it is able to emulate, ie reflect. However, it is not identical, it will have different pathways available some of which are accessible to ‘conscious’ perception. Meaning only that they relay to memory circuits. None of this supposes the existence of an entity, self or the need to apply a vague vernacular such as thought. Outside of the processes that are available to rapid feedback reintegration, which are generally held to be the clustering of networks seen as ‘self’, there are processes that will operate unabated completely outside of the realm of any ‘awareness’, yet triggered by the initial emulation. These may or may not produce feedback or new elements of plasticity that will integrate at a perceptible level. Most likely they will be wholly outside of any ‘thought’ yet they are active neural processes indistinguishable from any neural correlates of such ‘thought’ only in that they do not produce synchronus wave states with other networks. The vast majority of such activity we know nothing. It is a black box, just as are all physiological operations. This neither creates the existence of something outside the organism (though in fact it has led to this via technology) or disassembles the biological form apart from the many layers of complex emergence that simple systems naturally produce.

          • I understand what you are trying to say. But what I’m pointing to is much more simple than that. The above comment can be negated by noticing that the only way you can know anything about what you’ve said above is through the use of thought. Perception is not thought but in order for you to formulate a concept of perception first requires that thought interpret perception and then conceptualize it into words. Anything that lies outside the realm of thought cannot be know to you or I except in the form of theories and assumptions. The subjective ‘I’ cannot know anything except as thought/memory. You have to be a self in order for you to know anything about self. This is as simple and obvious as it gets. Without self there is no way for you to know yourself, obviously. So everything you’ve said above is information that has been put into your thinking structure in order to formulate a concept that you can put into words. There is no way for you to experience what you are talking about which renders it meaningless except on the level of assumption.

      • Even if there were a soul, can a soul ‘know’ things? Can it posses knowledge of anything? Have you even thought this through ever?

        • I don’t know if souls exist, let alone if they can know things.

          What I’m wondering is how you’d categorize the brainwaves signalling meaningful processing of things that the person being tested is not conscious of seeing described in the article?

          • Because the ‘person’ is a thought and thoughts don’t know things. A thought isn’t a ‘thing’ that can posses knowledge. Especially knowledge of itself.

          • I repeat, what I’m wondering is how you’d categorize the brainwaves signalling meaningful processing of things that the person being tested is not conscious of seeing described in the article?

          • I don’t understand the question. I could answer in several different ways but I want to know exactly what you mean before I answer.

          • Exactly what did I write that isn’t clear? Did you read the article?

          • What was the point you were trying to make exactly?

          • I was trying to see how you were defining words. Now I believe we aren’t really speaking the same language and have no way of really understanding one another.

          • Welcome to reality where every human has a completely different interpretation depending on their background and accumulated knowledge and no two interpretations can be the exact same. All we can do is compare bits of information against each other and hope to fit it into some sort of mutual framework that satisfies previously accumulated knowledge. Real communication between two people is basically impossible.

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 22, 2013 at 8:53 pm |

            I don’t believe your interpretation is different because your thoughts are not original.

          • I don’t understand your point. Why would the thoughts have to be original in order for the interpretation to vary?

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 22, 2013 at 10:56 pm |

            thus you are mired in the consequence of your own declination

          • “Welcome to reality” …like I’ve never run into sloppy word usage before.

          • I didn’t mean anything by it. Was just trying to be funny.

    • oneironauticus | Nov 21, 2013 at 10:47 pm |

      You mean if people used their brains to understand that they are only their brains? What say you of gut bacteria’s effects on consciousness?

      • There is nothing separate from the the brain that you can call ‘you’.

        • Calypso_1 | Nov 21, 2013 at 11:08 pm |

          My enteric nervous system says otherwise.

          • Once your brain is dead and just the enteric nervous system is functioning where exactly are you? You are just a thought. A result of a chemical reaction in the body. There is no ‘you’ that can separate itself from the body and tell itself self anything about itself. That would be ridiculous.

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 21, 2013 at 11:20 pm |

            I said nothing about separation from the body or brain death.

          • You implied it. Otherwise what was your point?

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 21, 2013 at 11:33 pm |

            I implied no such thing.
            The human ENS is a network capable of more nerual interactions than the entire cerebral cortex of a cat – autonomously of the brain. There are experiences processed as ‘thoughts’ & sensations that arise there. It is largely responsible for regulating the entire chemical tone of the brain itself.

          • You’ve just used memory of past learned knowledge to separate what is happening in the body into separate events. The only way you can separate these events is through the use of thought. That thought is you. You are a thought and nothing more. If you weren’t just a thought you’d be able to know things without the use of thought which is impossible. No thought = no knowledge of anything period.

          • First you say we are brains, then you say we are thoughts, then you say you have no way of knowing whether brains exist or not. Are you, perhaps, a solipsist?

          • Saying we are our brain or our thoughts is the same thing. Without the brain there is no thinking and vice versa. We have no way of knowing anything outside the realm of thought, that’s all that I’m saying.

          • Given that without the brain there is no thinking and vice versa, I maintain that saying we are our brain or our thoughts are very different things.

            I would say we have no way of knowing anything outside sense perceptions, which precede linguistic thoughts.

  5. Marco Alencar | Nov 21, 2013 at 9:20 pm |

    When I was 13 years old, I made up a theory that our sensorial system gets everything around us but our perceptual functions select those ones relevant for our current context of needs/demands/wantings to show on our conscious screen. I made that up to explain how intuition (like the forethought of consequences of certain contexts and events) and fast reaction to unnoticed stimuli (like jumping out of the way of a car you didn’t noticed but was in your visual field) would work. The conscience was too slow to react and to narrow to sustain all those informations.

  6. Ted Heistman | Nov 22, 2013 at 10:54 am |

    I think my brain picks up more of this stuff than other people who weren’t tortured as a child. So I guess I am lucky.

    • I’m having trouble parsing your comment. I was abused as a child (too?) and I think there are areas where I’m more observant and areas where I’m less observant than other people.

  7. Remember the book, Subliminal Seduction, by, Wilson Bryon Key ? Advertisers and the pushers of propaganda have known of the brain’s ability to capture the hidden and camouflaged in print and film ‘ forever ‘. The ability

  8. Mary Thomas | Dec 4, 2013 at 10:56 am |

    Remember the book, ” Subliminal Seduction “, by, Wilson Bryon Key ? Advertisers and the pushers of propaganda have known of the brain’s ability to capture and identify the camouflaged in print, film, and even over the airway* ” since forever “. Let us hope this study will be used to learn how to protect ourselves from abuses by the unscrupulous. *We process what we do not conscientiously hear also.

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