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When Consciousness Does Not Decide,
Is Consciousness A Hard Problem?

Conscious Awareness is a Physical Phenomenon
Consciousness has long been suspected to be a spiritual or paranormal entity. Conscious awareness itself is the subjective experience of being awake and aware one's surroundings. Its connection to the brain has confounded humanity.  How can a physical organ be linked to something that is considered spiritual? This is the hard problem of consciousness. Philosophers have debated this question for centuries, with some proposing a separation between the mind and body, others denying the existence of the problem, and still others claiming that all things are conscious.

In the field of neuroscience, Francis Crick and Benjamin Libet are two names that are widely known. Crick, who is best known for his discovery of the structure of DNA along with James Watson, also made significant contributions to the study of consciousness. On the other hand, Libet was a neurophysiologist who conducted experiments on the relationship between conscious will and the brain's activity.  Together, the work of Crick and Libet has greatly influenced our understanding of consciousness and the relationship between the brain and our experiences.

Francis Crick posited that the claustrum, a thin layer of gray matter in the brain, could be responsible for enabling consciousness.  Consciousness allows for the integrated perception of multiple objects and events, rather than isolated attributes. The region is thought to coordinate information from various sensory domains and enable the conscious experience of perceiving integrated perceptions. When the claustrum is deactivated, the patient loses consciousness.

Conscious awareness receives observation signals from the brain, such as the decision-making process of the motor system, which can act before conscious awareness is even aware of it.  Libet conducted a series of experiments in the 1980s and 1990s to study the relationship between conscious will and the brain's activity. He found that unconscious processes in the brain precede conscious decisions.  The view, that conscious will is the cause of our actions, is an illusion. Libet's experiments sparked a great deal of debate and discussion in the field of neuroscience and continue to be the subject of ongoing research and investigation.

However, recent scientific findings indicate that decision making is actually a pattern recognition process in the brain.  It is a purely physical phenomenon. Abraham Thomas discovered that intuition, which allows for rapid problem-solving, is powered by a pattern recognition algorithm. Intuition leverages vast human memories to deliver answers to complex questions in just 20 milliseconds.  In reality, intuition enables the brain to identify patterns. Intuition, as a powerful pattern recognition process, enables the brain to make decisions and take actions.  This same pattern recognition process allowed AlphaGo to defeat human players in the game of Go.

Consciousness, on the other hand, merely observes these decisions and actions. It is composed mainly of intangible feelings and experiences, also known as qualia, which cannot be quantified. Millions of qualia combine to create the unique conscious experience, triggered by intuition from multiple brain regions. Qualia are triggered by the brain's pattern recognition processes in various regions, including the somesthetic association region for touch and the olfactory system for smell.

The link between feelings and brain activity is well-established. The somesthetic association region of the brain uses pattern recognition to identify objects through touch.  A Nobel Prize-winning discovery established the link between the olfactory system and the sense of smell. Additionally, the motor systems in the brain make decisions and act before conscious awareness, as shown by the findings of Benjamin Libet. He discovered that motor neurons in the brain fired 350 milliseconds before a subject consciously decided to press a key. Consciousness does not act, but rather observes.

Intuition, the brain's ability to quickly recognize patterns, plays a major role in conscious awareness. The brain uses this ability to make decisions and act, while conscious awareness simply observes these actions.  Many machines are designed to make decisions and take action based on pattern recognition, similar to how the brain functions. The human brain contains multiple competing intelligences, and the highest priority decision is made by one of these intelligences. Consciousness is not the decision-maker, but instead observes the decisions made by the brain.

The brain makes the decisions, while conscious awareness observes and receives signals. Brain function can override conscious will, such as in the case of avoiding a risky action. Consciousness is not the decision-maker, and even one's willpower is limited by the brain's overriding priority for safety and practicality. Conscious will is merely a desire, and not the decision-maker. Intuition enables the brain to make instant decisions in just 20 milliseconds, transmitting the information to conscious awareness 350 milliseconds later.

The scientific community continues to debate the spiritual nature of consciousness, but the link between the brain and consciousness is clear. If a precise time delay can be measured between a brain action and its conscious perception, as demonstrated by Benjamin Libet, how can consciousness be considered a spiritual entity? There is scientific evidence for the physical nature of conscious awareness.  The process is logically linked to pattern recognition processes and decision-making by the nervous system in the brain.  In conclusion, consciousness signals are not spiritual, but instead the result of physical processes in the brain.  All evidence exists to dispel the idea of conscious awareness being a spiritual or paranormal entity.

This page was re-written by ChatGPT and last updated on 29-Jan-2023.