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Some posts from antiquity...  Ranting about the Brain
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: More thoughts on Synaesthasia & Random Misfires
As you probably don't recall I had written about the concept of a modular mind with regards to creating an artificial intelligence. One thing I had thought about (but not written down yet) was the creative process, which a strictly logical computer simulation would have trouble replicating.

I thought about a random 'synaptic misfire' system where parts of the brain, subprocessors if you will, would connect and shoot off random images or concepts to other subprocessors. I thought perhaps this would stimulate a creative process where the individual components would struggle to reconcile hard facts or 'truthful' data with the spurious ones randomly shuttled about the brain, drawing unusual conclusions.  *1

A couple of days ago I was reading up on V. S. Ramachandran's studies into synaesthasia and the idea that creative people were seven times more likely to be 'afflicted' with the condition and I was struck by an epiphany as if a bell had rung in my head.

The synaesthetic condition seems to have remarkable parallels to the creative process I was trying to replicate, except where I had considered temporary, random connections and images the synaesthete experiences a more 'hardwired' condition. It is this connection, where certain subprocessing nodes are always connected and certain kinds of data are always shared, that the perhaps inappropriate data is processed as creativity.  *2

I think in my synthetic brain I would start experimenting with these cross-wired conditions on a more temporary basis. I don't see an advantage to a permanent communication between two normally disconnected nodes except in a larger pool where one mind can be completely bent and the rest 'normal' enough to compensate. Perhaps short-term synaesthetic connections between random centers?

The synaesthetic condition fascinates me, and I always wonder how many of our modern phrases or cultural traditions are a result of crosswired brains? "Green with envy," "Cowardly yellow." Was the first person to use these a synaesthetic writer? My mind at least is fascinated by the idea.

1. Naturally this wouldn't be occuring all the time or legitimate thought processes would suffer excessive corruption. Perhaps though this would mimic real life thinking in a tired, drugged or dreaming mind? I've had days like that. =)

2. I've been thinking of the nature of consciousness a lot lately as well, and one thing I come to repeatedly but can't verify as truthful is a statement made in a Dilbert strip. "The region of the brain responsible for conscious thought doesn't show activity until after a decision is reached" or similar. I envision a 'conscious' center that doesn't plan the actions so much as reverse engineer the processes completed by the rest of the brain. 'A decision was made to turn left, deemed correct because the memory center recalled a left at this location at a previous time resulted in a favourable result' or 'A decision was made not to trust this man because men fitting the profiles flagged are reinforced as dangerous. Flagged attributes include dirty, mean looking, holding an ice-cream towards me, and driving a freshly painted van with no license plates. And that's why I'm running, I get it now.'
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