A Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at Sussex University, Anil K Seth has more than a hundred publications to his name. In this TedTalk, he presents some mind blowing theories on consciousness and how our brains help us perceive the world.
All the billions of microscopic neurons in our brains are constantly active as they create a conscious way of experiencing the world for each of us. Seth argues that the way this process works is that our brains continuously hallucinate. Whatever hallucinations we reach a consensus on, then become reality.
According to German Theoretical Physicist and Nobel Prize winner Max Planck, the consciousness is the very base of everything else that we say and everything which we perceive to be real.
Inside the brain, the neurons work together to create this experience of the conscious that is unique to each individual. The how and why of this process is essential to know because there can be no sense of the world for us without the consciousness.
Planck argues that even matter is only derived from the consciousness. Even if we haven’t figured it out yet, these two things which seem to be completely separate are actually inextricably connected. For Seth, without consciousness there can be no life.
There are those who would postulate that the intellect and the knowledge of one’s own self are what matters. Yet, for Seth, it is the consciousness which is constantly generated by a tiny biological machine that truly makes us live. Differentiating between consciousness and intelligence, Seth says that consciousness is based more on just the fact that we are here and alive.
Visualize yourself as a brain relying solely on a continuous thread of electrical impulses coming in from the different senses. What we’re experiencing changes depending on what communication is sent to the brain. Pay close attention to the illusions that Seth uses to illustrate this point.
They reveal how that even when the info sent by the senses is the same, the brain keeps changing how we perceive it. Like Plato said, our own senses are deceiving us. According to Seth, the brain uses the messages along with any pre-existing knowledge to make informed guesses. It can’t actually hear or see anything going on outside the skull so our perception is usually just the brain’s best guess as to what is happening.
Therefore, we aren’t just looking at what’s happening around us, we are constantly creating that experience for ourselves. Our experiences originate not just from external circumstances but more so from what is going on inside our minds. Our brains constantly hallucinate.
Your brain is hallucinating right now as you’re reading this. Even the way you see yourself is only a hallucination that your brain has come up with. In the end, all of reality is merely hallucinations that we’ve agreed upon.
You can listen to Anil Seth’s iconic talk here:
For more information, you can check out the video below: