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Consciouness and the "RAM" of the Brain

Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 5:39 am
by Star
First off, I would just like to say hi. I am a new member and was surprised and pleased to find a forum discussing Julian Jaynes. Most of the time when I mention Julian Jaynes to people, they are most likely to go "huh?". I am strictly a lay person, but when I read Julian Jaynes a few years ago, I was struck by the cross-discipline approach and his eye for details that to most people remain unconnected. I also appreciated his novel approach on the ideas of consciousness, perception and learning.

I can't remember if Jaynes discusses this specifically, but I know of a person who seems to be not fully conscious; I have known this person all my life. It would appear that there may be a spectrum for consciousness with some individuals being more or less so.

I was recently flipping through TOOCITBOTBM and was struck by Jaynes' description of endurance and the apparent lack of fatigue in patients with schizophrenia. He indicates that one of the products of consciousness could be fatigue. Could it be that consciousness takes a lot of power or energy, much in the way that certain programs bog down the random access memory on our computers? As Jaynes notes, schizophrenics excel at simple sensory perception. I am not sure if the filters the rest of us have are caused by just being conscious or if the development of such filters allows us to be conscious. Again, maybe Jaynes does discuss this, but it has been a few years.

edit: grammar. It is not prudent of me to write before the coffee starts working.

Re: Consciouness and the "RAM" of the Brain

Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:30 pm
by selfreplicate
In relation to your idea of 'consciousness requiring lots of energy', I was surprised to hear this during a lecture on the uniqueness of humans:

-Playing in a chess tournament can kill 3-4000 calories, just by using one’s brain.

Robert Sapolsky: The uniqueness of humans ... umans.html

Re: Consciouness and the "RAM" of the Brain

Posted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:38 am
by Star
Thanks for posting this. I was not aware that sustained high-level mental activity could burn that many calories, but it makes sense.

Re: Consciouness and the "RAM" of the Brain

Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:10 am
by Moderator
I happened to see something on willpower that is somewhat related to this:
Human subjects who exerted willpower in lab tasks had lower glucose levels than control subjects who weren’t asked to draw on their self-control. Furthermore, restoring glucose appears to help reboot run-down willpower. One study, for example, found that drinking sugar-sweetened lemonade restored willpower strength in depleted individuals, while drinking sugar-free lemonade did not.
See page 3 of this article for more:

Re: Consciouness and the "RAM" of the Brain

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 5:12 pm
by Star
Thanks for the link to the study. It would appear that my idea might have some merit to it and I appreciate the input.

I did happen to come across this article as well...
It is well established that the brain uses more energy than any other human organ, accounting for up to 20 percent of the body's total haul. Until now, most scientists believed that it used the bulk of that energy to fuel electrical impulses that neurons employ to communicate with one another. Turns out, though, that is only part of the story.

A new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA indicates that two thirds of the brain's energy budget is used to help neurons or nerve cells "fire'' or send signals. The remaining third, however, is used for what study co-author Wei Chen, a radiologist at the University of Minnesota Medical School, refers to as "housekeeping," or cell-health maintenance.
here: ... ain-need-s

Although only animals were used in the study discussed in the article, Wei Chen, who is a co-author of the study, indicated that he was going to study humans in the near future. I found the web page on him through his university and according to his webpage, he is working on a similar study of the human brain. What caught my attention was that he is going to look at brain fuction for normal and pathological conditions.