WELCOME TO THE
LABYRINTH OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Through these doors one may view the brain from
the brains own point of view. The starting point for this
labyrinth is several sets of functional brain imaging
studies, or scans of brain metabolism during various tasks.
Positron Emission Tomography, or PET, is the principle imaging
technology, and most of the studies encompassed here have been
archived in the Brainmap database at the University of Texas Research
Imaging Center (http://ric.uthscsa.edu/).
The current state of the art in
imaging thoughts: PET studies are detemined efforts to locate
particular mental functions in particular regions of the brain.
PET methods favor localization hypotheses. But a review of
several hundred PET studies reveals that localized functions are
the exception, not the rule. Instead, the brain generally employs
Multidimensional scaling and the space of
mind: What then? If the brain is not a
bureucracy of functional specialists, what is it? It is -- in my
view -- a radical democracy. A cooperative kibbutz in which
everyone pitches in a bit on just about everything. Or, in the
language of cognitive science, the brain is a distributed
processor. But distributed processors are hard to understand,
requiring special interpretive strategies. One microscope of
complexity is multidimensional scaling, and through its lenses we
can see terra cognita, the space of mind.
Enter the Labyrinth, a virtual world
defined by 34 PET experiments. The labyrinth itself is a
three-dimensional map of 34 distributed patterns of activation
reported in the PET literature. The motivation for this approach
is discussed above, in "The current state of the art."
The approach itself uses multidimensional scaling, discussed just
above. Distances between points in the labyrinth correspond to
dissimilarities between patterns of activation. The labyrinth is
color coded; with a little exploration you should be able to
interpret the colors. The labyrinth is written in VRML 2.0
(Virtual Reality Modelling Language 2.0). Your
browser might need a plug-in capable in VRML 2.0.
After that you are free to explore the space of mind.
Discuss the Labyrinth