Who is in control

Good Nova, as usual. Anil Seth appears.


Your Brain: Who’s in Control? A review.

(my comments are usually in brackets, always in italics)

Dive into the subconscious to see what’s really driving the decisions you make.


{Interestingly they advertise “body + brain” but do they walk the walk they talk? Let’s take a look.}

Sleep and sleep walking

7:50 Being conscious isn’t an all prefrontal cortex dynamic, it involved other regions of the brain.


8:55 Anesthesia renders a person unconscious.

“Her brainstem is “out”, she is unconscious."

14:00 split brain = two brains

The two sided brain

(Regarding the two sided brain and the corpus callosum - before all our philosophizing about two brains (or two minds) in one person, we need to absorb the fundamental concept of our bilateral bodies, the neural signals traveling from left go to right and vis verse allows the left and right side of the body to track what the other side is doing, moment by moment. That’s a simple requirement for all bilateral creatures.)

22:35 Here’s an example of the philosophizing that irks me so. It’s a constant reinforcing that we should be thinking that our brains are a unitary “being”- I don’t think it’s “intentional,” simply an intellectual undercurrent (attitude?) rooting in history.

Yet, think deeply about yourself, you contain a multitudes of personalities, driven by your various interactions with different people and situations. Also, not to forget, is the influence your physical body’s condition and circumstance play upon the entire brain.

It’s fascinating, insightful, but I don’t think it should be overblown into a grand mystery, the way it happens. It’s something we’re already aware of without appreciating it.

22:45 I like how Nancy Kanwisher explains it. “… a search for where am I in all of this is a little bit misguided. Because the “I” is not such a unitary thing in the first place.”

(After that, I think Bobby Kasthuri drops the ball when he says: “That feeling of unity of me is actually distributed across almost the entire 90 billion neurons. This illusion that there is a single person inside our skulls.”)

(He drops the ball because he fails to mention the entire body is an integral part of that brain’s 90 billion neurons and our feeling of “I” - along with our brain’s nonstop processing what the body is nonstop doing.)

23:26 “I think that most human beings like to imagine their mind is under their own control.”

(Ironically, a litany of human psychological issues revolves around the dysfunction caused by us not being in control of our mind, wanting to be in control and “failing”. Meaning it’s something we are actually already aware of, even if it’s not enunciated or understood.)

23:50 Finally the revelation that there are things around you that influence your brain.

(Which brings me to appreciation that consciousness is not about ‘receiving information’, consciousness is about “interacting with outside information (influences).)

24:08 Thalia Wheatley: “A lot of our brains are devoted to understanding other people.”

Daniela Schiller: “Our brain doesn’t work in isolation. They constant learn, take, compare to other brains”

Luke Chang: “Our brains have evolved to effortlessly reason about other people, and emotions similarly have evolved as ways that guide our behavior.”

26:00 How does that work?

Emotions and regulators.

Insula - brains (personality) thermometer . . .

Information processing . . .

Ventral Medial Prefrontal Cortex

Prefrontal Cortex

The case of Phineas Gage*, (learned about this guy while still at Tabor (<12).

28:40 Whalia Wheatley: “That was the key moment in neuroscience history. When people realized oh it’s not just memory, language, that’s up there in the brain, your personality is up there, your morality is up there. Things that make you, you, are up there.”

“We are the company you keep. Other people bring out things in us, in particular ways.”

30:10 Great image (mathematical rendition) of our brain.

30:15 How experiences interacts with biological evolutionarily, experience, brain, and passed along generations.

31:50 Bianca Jones Marlin: “Researchers began to discover that your environment and your experiences can change the way genes are activated in your body and your brain.

(then why imply, through silence, that the brain is separate from the body? The should be reinforcement of the awareness that the two are intimately connected. It comes back to understanding consciousness as the inside reflection of our body dealing with life.)

“Our genes are constantly changing based on our environment.”

34:10 “Which means there’s a memory that’s somehow transmitted through sperm and egg, through implantation and represented in offspring. It is as if we are observing a change in evolution over the timespan of one generation.”

There is no “as if”, we are observing … !

If you think about it, “evolution over generations” is a human construct built upon limited understanding.

Evolution plays out on a daily basis, one moment after another,

This moment right now is the living spark of evolution, built upon all the days that preceded this one, and that will be superseded by all the future moments.

After 35:00 Seth Anel: “Feelings of Agency, but the science is telling us these are not necessarily bound together. Different aspect of your self can be manipulated, or taken back all together.”

35:40 Heather Berlin: “… we feel like we have control. Like we have agency, right?”

36:00 Uri Maoz: “An agent is the author of their own story.

Most of what’s happening in our brain we are not conscious of. Then I think this gets you starting to think, wait a minute, this there really everything under my control?”

Where’s our body in any of this perspective?

I read a continuation of being trapped within our mindscape, and blinkered to the physical. That Abrahamic self absorption I harp on. The lens of understanding the body brain connection, within the light of billions of years of evolution has more to offer.

“Choice and agency aren’t always that straightforward”

Why should they be? We are biological creatures in a constant dance with a reality and events we don’t control, but must react to and flow with. How else could it be? We don’t come out of the mists of myth, we have body/brains honed to work together by hundreds of billions of year of experience.

This dynamic becomes straightforward through the lens of appreciating our consciousness as the inside reflection of our biological/physical body in action. It puts the entire body/mind conflict within a manageable framing.

TMS and a rather dubious test


“We are feeling like we are the authors of our actions, with just a little messing around it tends to fall apart.

It’s fragile.

Memories, our sense of agency, they are all things our brains evolved over time, but they are fragile and can be manipulated under circumstance.

Everything has to align …”

Well, yeah. Should we be expecting anything different? These things aren’t revelations, they are currents we must navigate during our individual live.

I believe too many people try to process all this through the strength of their own minds, without deeply appreciating the evolutionary biological reality of our consciousness being produced by our body/brain.


Levels of agency, sure

44:20 “Your sense of agency also has to do with the feedback you get after you make a decision, physical, social and emotional. …”

I think, sure, of course, how could it be any different.

Appreciating consciousness as an interaction, not command and control.

Having a little bit of a grasp of all the layers within your body and how the brain communicates with every millimeter of the body, being aware of the neural impulses from our limbs, always high fifing their counterparts as they flash past each other on the way to the brain via the corpus callosum.

46:00 Letting go of your consciousness … improving . . . being in the zone, thinking about it ruins ‘the zone.’

Here again, all of this makes all the sense in the world, through the lens of appreciating our intimate brain/body system, rather than the brain being a command and control center.

50:40 Whalia Wheatley: “The brain is who you are, it’s really different than any other organ in that sense.”

That was really sad to hearing her framing it like that, especially coming from her since she had some of the most relatable attitude - but that quote demonstrates what, to me, seems like an unnecessary disconnect, one that simply isn’t warranted by the data. One that modern philosophers ought to be embracing and wrestling with.

51:00 “my particular pattern of neuronal connections actually creates me.”

Another very poor framing.

My particular neuronal connections actual creates my “mindscape.”

It is the body I inhabit that creates the “me” through which I live and experience the world.

I am the consummation of my human mindscape driven by my physical body/brain.

It is not a matter of, “I think, therefore I am”

All the modern evidence is pointing to it being a case of: “I am, therefore I think.”

Why not stress that perspective? Don’t have to change anything about the scientific evidence being amassed, this is all about our expectations, and the myths and attitudes that have been ingrained in us as we grow.

Fascinating show and fun exercise, thanks for posting it Lausten.

Question: How do you interact with your environment? How do you perceive the influences that forces “you” (your brain) to produce “action potentials” that lead to responses to those influences?

How does our environment interact with us?
In a scrambled order,
Attentiveness (what are you present to), temperature, humidity, air quality, does your body’s homeostasis indicators feel comfortable, or are you hungry, food and drinking water availability, water quality, ambient sounds and the signals they project, how we perceive those signals, threatening, reassuring, misleading, the smells (chemicals) that waft through the air, sleep, doesn’t sleep quality depend on environmental conditions, and so on and so forth.

It’s an interesting question and at first glance that above might not satisfy you, but chew on it a while, our reality is in all the nuances.

It’s an excellent question, with a cornucopia of answers. The material and cells in our bodies have an unbelievable turn over time. Being replaced with material our body’s collect from the environments around us.

All that stuff is real, yet easily dismissed as inconsequential, when through my lens it all matters.

What makes you think that I have dismissed that “stuff” as inconsequential? It seems that I have provided a range of consequential information about the relationship between chemistry, Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic life, biology, flora, fauna.
I have not neglected any portion of life as it relates to Gaia, the host biome.

It’s the words you use to explain yourself.

Ironically, or not, I stumbled on this, this morning:

"We need to return to the question: what’s at the root of all this?
The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has influentially argued that we think with our bodies as much as our minds – we feel sensations, emotions, affects on our bodies – the pressure on the feet, the photon on the eye, the quickening of the heart – before we think. He said ‘‘feelings point us in the proper direction, take us to the appropriate place in a decision-making space, where we may put the instruments of logic to good use.’’ "

Then & Now - April 14, 2023
Although listening to that video we shouldn’t overlook he’s referring to modern tamed wilderness. We have culled the wilds of most deadly animals, even insect populations are a fraction of what they used to be. I can be a happy hippy grooving on the moment while walking the woods around me in complacent comfort, be they in South Carolina or my rural Colorado home - whereas a couple hundred years ago and beyond, my grooving butt would have been annihilated by anyone of countless creatures and traps - with that same attitude. (not that it doesn’t get ‘real’ now and then, but that’s the exception, rather than the norm )

I don’t particularly like killing, so I’ve only been on a couple deer hunting expeditions with in-laws (a bonding thing ), I myself never had one in my sights, which would have been fascinating, (I can imagine myself not pulling the trigger, or not, after all, I have no qualms about doing the butchering and eating the meat. So in the moment I might have felt compelled to pull the trigger, as a moral test of my self-consistency. Or not. I have had to kill a couple dogs over the years so it’s not like I’ve never been bloodied, so to speak. ). But the really important thing that I did experience, with a sort of revelatory impact, when walking through the forest as a focused stalker, is how entirely differ my experience was from my usual happy nature’s child la-de-da.

This brings us to the fog of nuance.