Preview: Jay Ingram's Theatre of the Mind
Jay Ingram's Theatre of the Mind
Last Build Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2008 05:11:37 PST
Copyright: Copyright Jay Ingram 2006
JITOTM46: The Rubber Arm
Thu, 31 Jan 2008 05:11:37 PST
It starts as a simple illusion: place a rubber arm next to your own on a table, hide your arm, and stroke the fake one with a paintbrush. You'll be amazed! You'll be transfixed! You'll be in the mood to question just how easily your awareness can me misplaced!
The trick is a simple one, but the implications are profound. If stimulating a simulated limb can send your mind into a tizzy... isn't consciousness itself all about location, location, location?
Where is the mind, really? Can it be above and behind the body, as in a third-person-shooter? What about floating up and away, as in an out-of-body-experience? Can your mind be in your heart, as some Native peoples believe? Where did Helen Keller - blind and deaf from birth - feel her mind was? How did Wayne Gretzky "see the ice from above?"
These and many other questions are asked intriguingly, if not answered resoundingly, in the latest episode of JITOTM, The Rubber Arm
. We stimulate - you respond!
JITOTM45: Butterfly Mind
Sun, 16 Dec 2007 18:44:45 PST
Humans have wondered if animals can think for ages. But here's a new twist on the old question: How do you think you're influenced by speed of movement, and or kind of movement, when it comes to deciding whether an animal has a mind?
That curious question, from Jay to you, is inspired by research that indicated people seem likelier to attribute the quality of "mind" to animals that move at near-human speed.
Anthropomorphism? Egotistical bias? Or just an odd anomaly of data? It's not clear why, for example, turtles might be judged to have "mind" while cows and squirrels make the cut.
Sometimes studying consciousness is more about questions, than answers. Give the questions a listen and then send your responses to this week's episode of JITOTM, Butterfly Mind
JITOTM44: Jolting the Thalamus
Mon, 01 Oct 2007 16:25:07 PDT
Stimulus and response: one of life's most elementary relationships. Response, or lack of response to stimuli is one way modern medicine determines someone's condition, especially when it comes to severe brain injury.
Now, the application of a special kind of stimulus may hold promise for some people in states of prolonged unconsciousness or partial consciousness. It seems that in one man's case, at least, applying electric current to the thalamus - a walnut-sized region near the centre of the brain - led to a significant improvement in his minimally conscious state.
He's regained a vocabulary of basic words, and is engaging with loved ones and even playing cards. All from a little zap to the thalamus? So it would seem... and that raises some weird and wonderful questions about the possibilities for others in similar states.
Listen along as we speculate on the implications in the latest episode of JITOTM, Jolting the Thalamus
JITOTM43: Eyes and Mind
Thu, 09 Aug 2007 05:25:29 PDT
You know that whirring sound your hard drive makes when it's working on a big application? What if REM - rapid eye movement, which normally signifies dreaming - is actually a sign your brain is "chugging" when it's writing to memory?
The suggestion is that you might be dreaming all night long; it's just that you can only remember dreams that happen during REM sleep - because any other dreams you might have just don't 'stick'.
It's a wacky, unsubstantiated theory from a certain podcaster who admits to knowing nothing about it, but it makes for a good discussion. One that includes winking, blinking, darting, RAM, ROM, dreams, long-term memory, memorizing multiple decks of cards, solving Rubik's cube blindfolded...
The usual good stuff, in other words. You'll be blinking along to the conversation in this week's edition of JITOTM, Eyes and Mind
JITOTM42: Consciousness Questions
Fri, 27 Jul 2007 18:56:02 PDT
It's one of our favourite things to do, but let's face it, we don't do it enough. The comments and emails from listeners are always often intriguing, sometimes inspiring, and always interesting. We took a few moments on a summer's afternoon to discuss the consciousness of twins, the power of neural marketing, the Pepsi challenge, Jay's multiple trips to the MRI in the cause of science...
It's a little random and at times, lofty - fundamental disconnect between human consciousness and nature, anyone? - but it's a whole lot of fun. Whether you're being complimentary, confusing, supportive, or argumentative... we're listening, and we love it.
Especially when we get to sing heavy metal riffs to cure your earworms: You have to hear it to believe it... dear listeners, these are your Consciousness Questions
JITOTM41: Simulated Consciousness
Wed, 13 Jun 2007 15:29:15 PDT
It's the year 2030, and Moore's Law still holds true: in fact, computers have become so sophisticated that it is now possible to simulate human consciousness perfectly. So perfectly, that it's indistinguishable from the real thing. Thus, it's possible, by inputting really rich data, to simulate a past environment in complete detail, effectively endowing sim-like characters with their own consciousness.
That's the sort of scenario envisioned by philosopher Nick Bostrum. Cool stuff, eh?
Now... suppose someone simulates, say, the month of June, 2007? Suppose they create a couple of characters called "Jay" and "David." Suppose those two characters have a simulated discussion, using their carefully crafted artificial intelligence to optimum effect... Just how, exactly, will you, the listener, know whether this is the real deal, or not?
That's the question in this episode of JITOTM, Simulated Consciousness
. Trust us if you dare!
JITOTM40: Earworms and other Oddities
Mon, 09 Apr 2007 09:09:59 PDT
Remember earworms? Of course you do - that's the problem. Earworms are those little phrases of songs that you just can't get out of your head. There's not a whole lot of research out there on earworms, but some findings suggest that unusual rhythms and odd melodic twists - like lack of resolution - may make them more memorable.
That's how it works with audio cues, anyway. We've talked about them before. But what about visual memories? And smells, tastes, and touch sensations? Is there such a thing as an "eyeworm?"
We have no clue... But come on in, the speculation's fine in this week's episode of JITOTM, Earworms and Other Oddities
JITOTM39: Cell Phone Consciousness
Sat, 24 Mar 2007 19:20:43 PDT
You can walk and chew gum at the same time. You can also sing and play guitar at the same time, or at least some people can. But can you write and watch the hockey game at the same time? "Multi-taskers" would say yes... Jay says, maybe not. But then, Jay's not a big believer in multi-tasking period.
Multi-tasking is a challenging subject to talk about. The topic is rife with speculation, much of which is based on data collected from one of the most common attempts at multi-tasking: driving while talking on the cell phone. What's the difference between talking to a friend on the phone, and a talking to a passenger next to you?
We don't know, but we're asking good questions in this week's episode of JITOTM, Cell Phone Consciousness.
JITOTM38: You Asked Us Again
Thu, 15 Feb 2007 16:05:51 PST
You keep asking us questions, and it's been ages since we answered them. We're listening, really! And to prove it we've taken on your comments as this week's topic for discussion.
We've got the kid who learned to count in her mind, a fellow who had to fight his way out from under his duvet in a lucid dream, and a curious gentleman who wondered if the soul was the same as the unconsious mind. All this and more in this week's episode of JITOTM, You Asked Us Again
JITOTM37: Imagine the Future
Mon, 22 Jan 2007 19:17:55 PST
How do we think about the future? It seems obvious, right? We just... think about it! But a pair of recent studies are shedding new light on what parts of the brain are involved in that simple activity, and it's more complex than you might think.
That's especially true when you think about the fact that for both Buddhists, and physicists... the future doesn't exist! Find out what's to come in this week's episode of JITOTM, Imagine the Future
JITOTM36: Kinds of Consciousness
Wed, 10 Jan 2007 16:14:13 PST
You know what consciousness is like... for you. But what was it like for an early human? What would it be like if you could heed your gut feelings better? What if you had a better sense of smell? Let's get really funky: what if you were a bee? Or a robot? Or a computer program trained to fly like a bird?
You don't know, do you? Neither do we. But we're talking about what it's like, anyway - it's just too interesting to resist - on this week's episode of JITOTM, Kinds of Consciousness
JTITOM35: Deja Vu Again
Fri, 29 Dec 2006 18:39:09 PST
This one may seem eerily familiar: it's deja vu again. Those uncanny moments where you'd swear you've been there before are endlessly fascinating, especially because no one really understands what exactly is going on in the mind to cause them. Recent research featuring a blind subject may shed some light on the subject, but then.... haven't we heard that before somewhere?
You may need to listen twice to this episode of JITOTM, Deja Vu Again
JITOTM34: Flashbulb Memories
Sun, 24 Dec 2006 10:53:07 PST
We all have them, and to some extent, we all share them. But why, and how, do flashbulb memories imprint themselves so strongly on our consciousness? Whether it's the death of an American president, or the series-winning goal of a Canadian hockey hero, something is going on in our minds - or is it our hearts? - in those memorable moments...
Find out what might be behind the camera of consciousness in this episode of JITOTM,Flashbulb Memories
JITOTM33: Cosmic Consciousness
Sun, 24 Dec 2006 10:25:50 PST
Now the big question: what happens when a normal person grasps the unity of everything? You'd think it would be great achievement, because it's seen that way by monks and shamans and other spiritual adepts. But for ordinary folks, a moment of cosmic consciousness may be followed by a lifetime of disappointment!
Find out what's wrong with becoming one with the universe in this week's episode of JITOTM, Cosmic Consciousness
Sun, 24 Dec 2006 10:26:46 PST
Five is blue. Mountains are bitter. Get it? If you do, you're either a poet, or a person gifted with synesthesia. Synesthetics can sometimes 'feel' colour, or 'hear' visual stimuli. The phenomenon is both intriguing, and revealing when it comes to speculating on how the mind may work.
Taste the synthesis of the senses in this week's episode of JITOTM, Synesthesia
JITOTM31: Altered States
Sun, 24 Dec 2006 10:27:05 PST
What qualifies as an altered state of consciousness? That's what one of our listeners wanted to know. Drugs, meditation, dreaming, daydreaming, and the runner's high (and not canoeing!) are the 'official' states as recognized by the scientific consensus. The real question is, what causes these altered states in the first place?
Alter your own state of mind by bending an ear to this week's episode of JITOTM, Altered States
JITOTM30: Dream Consciousness 3
Sun, 24 Dec 2006 10:27:34 PST
The dream of all dreamers: to take charge of the surreal circumstances that present themselves, and take control of the dream. That's what lucid dreaming is all about.
Twenty years ago, it was a fringe topic, barely worthy of scientific investigation - in fact, the scientific consensus was that lucid dreaming was impossible! After all, how could you be conscious, and asleep, at the same time?
Share in the disappointments as well as the delights of dreamland in the final episode of the JITOTM dream trilogy: Dream Consciousness 3
Thanks for listening!
JITOTM29: Dream Consciousness 2
Thu, 09 Nov 2006 06:33:48 PST
Do dreams contain a deeper wisdom? The plot thickens: we're into our second episode exploring "sleep, dreams, and weirdness," and we're picking it up in a peculiar place.
Last week, we were just dipping our toes into dreamland, and I mentioned two peculiar sorts of dreams that recur with me: dreams where I meet dead people I've known, and dreams where I meet my rock & roll heroes.
Credit Jay with an open mind: he likes hard evidence, but he loves a compelling story, too. So this episode begins by exploring dream conversations with my dear departed grandmother, and moves on to some serious (rude) words of advice, imparted by a dream version of Irish rockstar Bono!
What does it all mean? That's the rub. No scientist can tell you where dreams come from, let alone what a dream means, and we're not about to try.
But there are a few things we know. For example, 20 % of kids who are ten will report dreams they've experienced; while 80 % of kids at age 12 do. Kids younger than that do dream, but their dreams are not well-developed, nor particularly interesting (with the exception of night terrors). Yet waking consciousness has been fully developed since about age four!
That's a mystery. And it leads to another: the bizarre, intriguing, but scientifically frustrating case of the lucid dreamers. That's where we're headed by the end of this episode of JITOTM, Dream Consciousness 2
Thanks for listening!
JITOTM28: Dream Consciousness 1
Sun, 05 Nov 2006 15:59:51 PST
Now we're getting into the good stuff. We've talked about dreams before, but we've never really delved deeply into the experiences that await the lucky visitor to dreamland.
This is some of the very richest, most intriguing territory in the world of consciousness studies, so we're going to present this discussion in three parts. I originally thought it might be "sleep, dreams, and weirdness" ... but right off the top, Jay pointed out that non-dreaming sleep isn't really consciousness anyway.
Good point - but then, isn't it odd that dreaming IS considered consciousness? After all, you're lying there prone and inactive, just as you are during the rest of the night... but when your mind enters the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, you become AWARE even though you're not AWAKE.
And in that state of mind, what dreams may come? It's difficult to investigate dreams scientifically, but we're collectively learning lots as we go along. And it's clear that dream studies offer some of the most exciting insights into the workings of human consciousness.
The trouble is that all dream reports are completely subjective- we can only know what goes on in a dream from the dreamer's perspective. On the other hand, that means our own experiences of dreams are fine fodder for discussion: Jay's, mine, and yours too, we hope.
Enter, sandman... in this episode of JITOTM, Dream Consciousness 1.
JITOTM27: Coma Consciousness
Fri, 27 Oct 2006 06:51:08 PDT
Controversy alert: a woman in a so-called 'vegetative state' proves to have what investigators suggest may be a 'rich mental life', according to functional MRI scans.
As Jay puts it, this is going to set the cat among the pigeons. The obvious question raised, is how many people in so-called vegetative states are actually experiencing a rich mental life? This new finding is bound to influence discussion of cases like that of Terry Schiavo, and the ethical issues it raises.
But let's not jump to conclusions. We don't yet know for a second what the findings really mean; just because one person in a vegetative state shows brain activity doesn't mean they all have brain activity. It's a sad fact that most people who are thought to be brain-dead really are brain-dead.
Nevertheless, this is an immensely important finding in the field of conscsiousness research, and one well worth the flurry of discussion it's bound to raise. We dive into the debate in this week's episode of JITOTM, Coma Consciousness
JITOTM26: The Shadow Self
Tue, 17 Oct 2006 19:53:42 PDT
Okay, we said we'd be back in September, and it's now mid-October. But we really are back... and better than ever, we hope.
Actually, our slogan for this year could be "Shadows of Our Former Selves," because we've cut out theme music, the song of the week, and the massive file sizes that were hallmarks of Season One.
That's because we're making a concerted effort to be more laid back, casual and interactive this year -based in part on the feedback we got from our friends and fans at Podcasters Across Borders in Kingston last spring. We're hoping that you'll find the conversation more accessible and stimulating as a result.
So it's back to the new grind in this week's epsiode of JITOTM... aptly titled The Shadow Self
Thanks for listening, and thanks for staying subscribed.
JITOTM25: It's A Wrap
Wed, 19 Jul 2006 16:31:33 PDT
All good things must come to an end, and that includes JITOTM. This makes 25 episodes for Season One, and we decided to give the last word to you…mostly, anyway.
One of the best things about JITOTM is the feedback and questions we get from our listeners. That includes everything from childhood amnesia anecdotes, to speculation about the location of consciousness, to comments and critique on the podcast itself.
That interaction is a big part of our success, and we’d like to thank all of you for your interest and participation in Season One. We’ll be back for Season Two in September with lots more conversation about consciousness. Meanwhile, take a deep listen to one more round of listener commentary in this week’s episode of JITOTM, It’s A Wrap
Thanks for listening, happy summer, stay subscribed and we’ll talk to you in September!
JITOTM24: Dream Rehearsals
Wed, 12 Jul 2006 22:15:47 PDT
No one knows exactly why we dream, let alone why we dream the things we do. But one dream researcher has an interesting theory about nightmares...
Studies have shown that two-thirds of dreams actually centre on threats. Finnish researcher Ante Revonsuo theorizes that these threatening dreams may function as a sort of virtual rehearsal for real-life scenarios.
But if that's the case, then why are so many threatening dreams totally outlandish? Are you really likely to be attacked by aliens or werewolves? That's just one of the objections being asked by Revonsuo's critics, including Antonio Zadra at the University of Montreal.
The debate has beome a little bit snippy... but these kinds of challenges are what makes the scientific process both effective, and interesting. Get a ringside seat for the battle of the dream researchers in this week's episode of JITOTM, Dream Rehearsals
Thanks for listening!
JITOTM23: Musical Dreams
Wed, 12 Jul 2006 10:42:36 PDT
A recent study shows that musicians dream about music more than regular folks do... which probably comes as no surpise. After all, they've surely got music on their minds.
Still, the study's findings raise some interesting questions. Many people report dreaming music that is totally unfamiliar; that is, it seems they may have literally dreamed up new compositions. So what's the relationship between music and consciousness? Dreams, after all, are a type of consciousness, so it's possible that the music is being created in the dream-conscious state, just as it appears to be created in the waking-conscious state.
Or is it the other way around? Is music being created subconsciously, whether you're awake or dreaming, and then simmering up into the conscious mind? Sing a song of creative speculation in this week's episode of JITOTM, Musical Dreams
. Thanks for listening...
JITOTM22: Creativity & Consciousness
Wed, 05 Jul 2006 08:19:10 PDT
We've already learned in JITOTM21 that subliminal messaging can work, at least in a limited way, in a limited set of circumstances. Which raises another important question: if you can sometimes be persuaded subconsciously, how is subconscious thinking affecting your everyday decisions?
Thank goodness for Ap Dyksterhuis, our favourite consciousness researcher. Dyksterhuis displayed his usual ingenuity in designing an experiment that measures subjects' ability to be creative - consciously, or subconsciously.
But how do you measure creativity? Dyksterhuis should get a prize for this one: he based his experiment on the ability to name a new kind of Italian pasta! Slurp up a plateful of creative consciousness research in this week's episode of JITOTM, Creativity & Consciousness
. Thanks for listening...