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什么是意识 – 译学馆
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什么是意识

What is consciousness? - Michael S. A. Graziano

“当然就发生在我们的大脑中 但为什么就意味着不是真的呢”
这里有两幅房子的图片
Here are two images of a house.
有一个很明显的区别
There’s one obvious difference,
但是对这名叫P.S.的病人来说
but to this patient, P.S.,
它们看起来完全一样
they looked completely identical.
P.S.曾患中风 右脑受损
P.S.had suffered a stroke that damaged the right side of her brain,
导致她对左边的一切毫无知觉
leaving her unaware of everythingon her left side.
虽然她看不出这两栋房子有什么不同
But though she could discern no differencebetween the houses,
当研究人员问她更喜欢住进哪个房子时
when researchers asked herwhich she would prefer to live in,
她选择了那个没有着火的房子
she chose the house that wasn’t burning—
不是一次 而是每次都选对
not once, but again and again.
她的大脑仍在处理
P.S.’s brain was still processinginformation
来自整个视野范围内的信息
from her whole field of vision.
她能看到两幅图像并分辨出它们之间的区别
She could see both images and tell the difference between them,
她只是自己不知道罢了
she just didn’t know it.
如果有人在她左边扔球
If someone threw a ball at her left side,
她可能会躲开
she might duck.
但是她也许并没有注意到球
But she wouldn’t have anyawareness of the ball,
也不知道自己为什么要躲闪
or any idea why she ducked.
她的这种情况被称为半侧空间忽略
P.S.’s condition, known as hemispatial neglect,
揭示了大脑对信息的处理
reveals an important distinction betweenthe brain’s processing of information
以及我们对信息处理的经验间的重要区别
and our experience of that processing.
这种经验就是我们所说的意识
That experience is whatwe call consciousness.
我们可以意识到
We are conscious
外部世界和内在的自我——
of both the external world and our internal selves—
我们意识到一幅图像
we are aware of an image
就像我们意识到自己在看一幅图像
in much the same way we are aware of ourselves looking at an image,
或我们的内心想法和情感一样
or our inner thoughts and emotions.
但是意识从何而来?
But where does consciousness come from?
几个世纪以来 科学家 神学家和哲学家
Scientists theologians, and philosophers
一直试图弄清
have been trying to get to the bottom
这个问题的真相——
of this question for centuries—
但没有达成任何共识
without reaching any consensus.
最近一种理论认为
One recent theory is
意识是大脑对自身活动的不完美描述
that consciousness is the brain’s imperfect picture of its own activity.
要理解这一理论 就需要
To understand this theory, it helps to
对大脑处理 来自感官信息的方式
have a clear idea of one important way
有一个清晰的认识
the brain processes information from our senses.
它基于感官输入 构建模型
Based on sensory input, it builds models,
不断更新 简化对世界上
which are continuously updating, simplified descriptions
物体和事件的描述
of objects and events in the world.
我们所知道的一切都是基于这些模型
Everything we know is basedon these models.
这些模型永远无法捕捉所描述事物的每个细节
They never capture every detail ofthe things they describe,
只够让大脑做出适当的反应
just enough for the brain to determineappropriate responses.
例如 一个建立在视觉系统深处的模型
For instance, one model built deepinto the visual system
将白光编码为没有颜色的亮度
codes white light as brightnesswithout color.
在现实中 白光包括
In reality, white light includes wavelengths that
相当于我们所能看到的所有不同颜色的波长
correspond to all the different colors we can see.
我们对白光的感知是错误的 并且过于简单化
Our perception of white light is wrongand oversimplified,
但却足以让我们的大脑正常工作
but good enough for us to function.
同样地 大脑的身体模型
Likewise,the brain’s model of thephysical body
可以追踪我们四肢的构造
keeps track of the configurationof our limbs,
但却不能追踪单个细胞或肌肉的构造
but not of individual cellsor even muscles,
因为这一层次的信息并不需要用来计划行动
because that level of informationisn’t needed to plan movement.
如果没有持续追踪
If it didn’t have the model keeping track
身体的大小 形状
of the body’s size, shape,
以及任一时刻是如何运动的模型 我们很快就会受伤
and how it is moving at any moment, we would quickly injure ourselves.
大脑也需要自己的模型
The brain also needs models of itself.
例如
For example,
大脑有能力关注特定的物体和事件
the brain has the ability to pay attention to specific objects and events.
它还控制着注意力
It also controls that focus,
根据我们的需要 将注意力从一件事转移到另一件事上
shifting it from one thing to another, internal and external,
从内部转移到外部
according to our needs.
没有集中注意力的能力
Without the ability to direct our focus,
我们就无法评估威胁
we wouldn’t be able to assess threats,
吃完一顿饭或正常工作
finish a meal, or function at all.
为了有效的控制注意力
To control focus effectively,
大脑必须建立自己注意力的模型
the brain has to construct a modelof its own attention.
860亿个神经元不断的相互作用
With 86 billion neurons constantlyinteracting with each other,
大脑自身的信息处理模型
there’s no way the brain’s model of itsown information processing
不可能是完全自我描述的
can be perfectly self-descriptive.
但是就像身体的模型
But like the model of the body,
或者我们对白光的理解一样
or our conception of white light,
它也没必要完全自我描述
it doesn’t have to be.
我们确信自己有一个形而上学的主观经验
Our certainty that we have ametaphysical subjective experience
可能来自于大脑的一个模型
may come from one of the brain’s models,
以有力而深刻的方式
a cut-corner description of what it meansto process information
处理信息意味着什么
in a focused and deep manner.
科学家们已经开始试图弄清楚
Scientists have already begun tryingto figure out
大脑是如何建立这种自我模型的
how the brain creates that self model.
核磁共振成像对准确找到所包含的神经网络是一种很有前途的研究方法
MRI studies are a promising avenuefor pinpointing the networks involved.
这些研究比较了人在意识到
These studies compare patternsof neural activation
或没有意识到感官刺激
when someone is and isn’t conscious
比如图像时的神经激活模式
of a sensory stimulus, like an image.
结果表明 无论参与者是否意识到图像
The results show that the areas neededfor visual processing
视觉处理所需的区域
are activated whether or not the
都被激活
participant is aware of the image,
但只有当他们意识到看到图像时
but a whole additional network lights up
整个额外的神经网络才会亮起来
only when they are consciousof seeing the image.
半侧空间忽略症患者 比如P.S.
Patients with hemispatial neglect,like P.S.,
通常是整个神经网络的某个特定部分受到了损害
typically have damage to one particularpart of this network.
对神经网络更大的损害
More extensive damage to the network
有时会导致患者陷入植物人
can sometimes lead to a vegetative state,
或无意识的状态
with no sign of consciousness.
这样的证据让我们更易于理解
Evidence like this brings us closerto understanding
意识是如何在大脑中形成的
how consciousness is built into the brain,
但还有很多东西要学习
but there’s still much more to learn.
例如 神经网络中与意识相关的神经元
For instance, the way neurons in the networksrelated to consciousness
计算特定信息片段的方式
compute specific pieces of information
超出了我们当前的技术范围
is outside the scope of ourcurrent technology.
当我们用科学来解决意识问题时
As we approach questions of consciousnesswith science,
我们将开辟探索人类身份的新途径
we’ll open new lines of inquiryinto human identity.

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视频概述

本片介绍了意识的产生与意识的运转方式。

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翻译译者

甪里

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视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MASBIB7zPo4

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