This week’s TED talk is by Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist who is most well known for his book, Descartes Error, and his research on the importance of emotions to cognition.  In the talk, Damasio describes consciousness as the combination of your mind, which is a flow of mental images, and the self, i.e. your “you.”  Consciousness occurs when “self comes to mind” (see screenshot from the talk below), which just happens to be the name of his most recent book, Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain.

Although it’s a bit dry, I really, really enjoyed this talk and am looking forward to reading the book when my mind catches up to my self!  One issue I struggle with when considering monism vs dualism and my current position of non-reductive physicalism (or emergence) is how the self can be maintained when the material within our bodies is constantly turned over and made new. Damasio poses in this talk that it’s the connections between the body, brainstem, and cerebral cortex that constitues self and that his model explains why some self-like behavior is observed in animals.

Great and informative talk. Enjoy!