Turing instabilities in biology, culture, and consciousness?

One of the last pieces of work I started during my time at Ikegami Lab in Tokyo has finally been published. It is part of my efforts to try to understand the qualitative transition toward human symbolic cognition.

Turing instabilities in biology, culture, and consciousness? On the enactive origins of symbolic material culture

Tom Froese, Alexander Woodward, and Takashi Ikegami

It has been argued that the worldwide prevalence of certain types of geometric visual patterns found in prehistoric art can be best explained by the common experience of these patterns as geometric hallucinations during altered states of consciousness induced by shamanic ritual practices. And in turn the worldwide prevalence of these types of hallucinations has been explained by appealing to humanity’s shared neurobiological embodiment. Moreover, it has been proposed that neural network activity can exhibit similar types of spatiotemporal patterns, especially those caused by Turing instabilities under disinhibited, non-ordinary conditions. Altered states of consciousness thus provide a suitable pivot point from which to investigate the complex relationships between symbolic material culture, first-person experience, and neurobiology. We critique prominent theories of these relationships. Drawing inspiration from neurophenomenology, we sketch the beginnings of an alternative, enactive approach centered on the concepts of sense-making, value, and sensorimotor decoupling.

To download the paper, click on the paper’s title above.

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5 Comments

  1. Tom Froese said,

    July 12, 2013 at 12:34 am

    An extended online debate inspired by this article can be found here:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/1i2h0f/scientists_propose_a_theory_that_paleolithic_cave/

  2. janien said,

    July 15, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Dit is op The Sausage Machine herblogden reageerde:
    Nieuw (psychedelisch) licht op prehistorische grotschilderingen (hallucinaties): ik las er eerst over in de Knack-Avondupdate onder de pittige titel “Ook holbewoners zaten aan de drugs”. Toen ik op zoek ging naar de originele paper van het onderzoek waarover verslag werd gedaan, kwam ik op de blog van eerste auteur dr. Tom Froese terecht.
    “Altered states of consciousness thus provide a suitable pivot point from which to investigate the complex relationships between symbolic material culture, first-person experience, and neurobiology. We critique prominent theories of these relationships. Drawing inspiration from neurophenomenology, we sketch the beginnings of an alternative, enactive approach centered on the concepts of sense-making, value, and sensorimotor decoupling.” Deze passage in de abstract trok mijn aandacht. Dit document moet ik in mijn dagboek bewaren, dacht ik: hier en nu.
    http://www.knack.be/nieuws/wetenschap/ook-holbewoners-zaten-aan-de-drugs/article-4000351069936.htm

  3. Tom Froese said,

    July 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Coverage of this article has extended to the mainstream media:

    Daily Mail UK

    More internet coverage:

    Gizmodo Australia

    Gizmodo En Español

  4. Tom Froese said,

    August 7, 2013 at 10:50 am

    The article was now discussed in the Brazilian news:

    ISTOE independente

    Also, due to this ongoing publicity, the publisher of Adaptive Behavior has decided to make the article freely available on the journal’s official website:

    Free download from SAGE

    It looks like some commentaries will be published on one of the next issues as well.

  5. Tom Froese said,

    October 11, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Our article was covered by Plus magazine.


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