Chapter 1

Theorem I: The Mind is Part of the Functioning Brain

1.1. Properties of the mind and mental processes

The mind and mental processes have many properties. Some are physical properties, which are properties that can be tested physically, and some are functional properties, which are properties that are related to their functions, such as being private, subjective, intentional, representational, etc. [1-6]. However, in order to determine the physical nature of the mind and mental processes, it is necessary to examine their physical properties, which are as follows:

Physical properties of the mind and mental processes (PM)

PM1. Required physical properties

PM1.1. Their nature is non-material.

PM1.2. Their functions are signal processing.

PM2. Observed physical properties

PM2.1. Their locations are at their neural processes.

PM2.2. Their occurrences and existence are with their neural processes.

PM2.3. Their information is part of their neural processes’ information.

PM2.4. Their abilities depend on their neural processes’ abilities.

PM2.5. Their capacities depend on their neural processes’ capacities.

PM2.6. Their changes are with their neural processes.

PM2.7. Their processing capabilities are fast, dynamic, and information-intensive.

PM2.8. Their activities are associated with electromagnetic activities.

 

PM1. Required physical properties

Required physical properties are physical properties that the mind and mental processes are required to possess by their definitions (D1, the prior chapter). They are as follows:

PM1.1. Their nature is non-material.

By definition, the mind is a non-material entity, and so are its mental processes, which are the mind’s parts that function to do certain activities. This definition comes from the fact that they have never been found by any means to have mass, shape, and size and have never been found to be tangible, visible, audible, smellable, or testable.

PM1.2. Their functions are signal processing.

Because the definition requires that the mind functions to sense, operate, and send signals, the mind’s and mental processes’ functions must be signal-processing.

 

PM2. Observed physical properties

Observed physical properties are physical properties that the mind and mental processes are observed to possess. They are as follows:

   PM2.1. Their locations are at their neural processes.

The mind and mental processes have definite locations in space. There has long been an unfounded belief among many people and even some philosophers that the mind and mental processes do not have definite locations in space [2]. However, this belief has never been scientifically proved. On the contrary, at present, there is a lot of evidence that the mind and mental processes have definite locations. They always occur in the functioning brain. Never have they been found elsewhere, such as in the heart, the abdomen, or the hand. This is evident from the fact that such a body part can be injured, removed, or replaced without any effects on the mind or mental processes. Also, they have never been found to occur or exist in a non-functioning or dead brain either. If one wants to find, examine, monitor, manipulate, or destroy them, then find, examine, monitor, manipulate, or destroy the functioning brain, respectively. Thus, for all intents and purposes, the mind and mental processes have definite locations in space: in the functioning brain.

Where in the functioning brain do the mind and mental processes occur? They do not occur in the blood vessels, the meninges, or any other tissue of the brain other than the functioning neural circuits. This is evident from the fact that diseases that affect only brain tissue other than neural circuit tissue, such as atherosclerosis of the brain blood vessels, pure meningitis, or intracerebral calcification, do not have effects on the mind and mental processes. Also, injuries or electrical stimulations to these structures without affecting neural circuit tissue do not have effects on the mind and mental processes. On the contrary, diseases, pharmacologic agents, electrical stimulations, or magnetic stimulations that affect only neural circuit tissue but do not affect other brain tissue have effects on the mind and mental processes. Therefore, the locations where the mind and mental processes occur must be in the functioning neural circuits. Furthermore, advance in cognitive neuroscience at present has revealed that each specific mental process’s occurrence can be pinpointed to its specific neural circuit, such as mental processes for the visual identification of a face are found to occur at the occipital face area, the fusiform face area, and the ventral anterior temporal lobe, where various facial identification neural circuits are [7-10]. This is true in general. Therefore, mental processes’ locations are at their functioning neural circuits.

Where in the functioning neural circuits do the mind and mental processes reside? The functioning neural circuit is composed of the signal-processing part, the metabolism part, and the structural modification (of synapses, dendrites, etc.) part. Because the mind and mental processes perform signal-processing functions (property PM1.2.), it is unlikely that they reside in the metabolism part or the structural modification part because these parts cannot receive, operate, and send signals (the structural modification part can just store and provide signals, but cannot receive, operate, or send signals by itself). The only part that can process signals and that the mind and mental processes most likely reside in is the signal-processing part. This is proved by the fact that anything that affects the signal-processing part but does not affect the other parts, such as an electrical stimulation, a magnetic stimulation, or a pharmacologic agent that affects only the signal-processing part, can affect the mind and mental processes. Therefore, the locations where the mind and mental processes exist are specifically the signal-processing parts of their functioning neural circuits: the neural processes. If one wants to find, examine, monitor, manipulate, or destroy the mind or mental processes, then find, examine, monitor, manipulate, or destroy their neural processes, respectively. Thus, for all intents and purposes, the definite locations where the mind and mental processes exist are at the neural processes.

Definition. The outside world and the external world

“The outside world” and “the external world” are the terms that will be used frequently in this theory. They are “outside” and “external” from the mind’s point of view and mean the world that includes everything except the mind and the place where it resides (the neural processes of the brain). Thus, the body and even the non-neural-process part of the brain, such as the cerebral blood vessels and the meninges, are also included in the outside/external world.

PM2.2. Their occurrences and existence are with their neural processes.

It has never been found that mental processes occur and exist alone by themselves or with anything else other than certain neural processes, which will be called the neural processes of the mental processes or the mental processes’ neural processes or their neural processes. For example, the visual perception mental process occurs and exists with only the visual perception neural process, which is the neural process of this mental process: when the visual perception neural process starts functioning and continues to exist (such as when visual stimuli arrive at the visual perception areas, when the ischemic visual neural process recovers from ischemia after blood reperfusion occurs, or when the visual neural process is stimulated by a migraine aura, epileptic activity, electrical stimulation, or magnetic stimulation), the visual perception mental process occurs and continues to exist with the visual perception neural process. Conversely, when its neural process stops functioning, the mental process ceases to exist. For example, when the visual neural process stops functioning (such as because there are no visual stimuli, because there is an abrupt cessation of blood supply in acute ischemic stroke, or because there is a sudden injury to the neural process), the visual perception mental process ceases to exist too. The visual perception mental process has never been found to occur and exist alone by itself or with anything else other than its neural process. This is true for all other mental processes. As the mind is composed of mental processes, the mind’s occurrence and existence are with the functioning brain, which is composed of neural processes, only. This has always been observed to be true.

   PM2.3. Their information is part of their neural processes’ information.

The mental process’s information, which manifests as the mental process’s details (such as the color, the brightness, and the movement of all the points in a mental image or the pitch, timbre, and loudness of a perceived sound), is part of its neural process’s information. There can be no mental process’s information that is not part of its neural process’s information because the mental process does not have other sources of information than those of its neural process. If this is not the case, then there must be the mental process’s information that is not part of its neural process’s information manifesting, such as there must be some extra image in the perceived vision even if the object of that image is not seen by the subject and thus does not become the neural process’s information, or there must be some of the mental process’s information left manifesting after the neural process stops functioning, such as there must be some part of the perceived vision left occurring even after the eyes have been closed or even after the occipital lobes have been destroyed. But these never happen. On the contrary, it always happens that whenever the information in the neural process changes or disappears, the information in the mental process changes or disappears accordingly. For example, when there is a lesion in the ventral or caudomedial occipitotemporal or ventromedial occipital cortex, which functions to create color information of the opposite visual field, the perceived vision in the opposite visual field will inescapably lack color information, resulting in achromatopsia (color blindness) in that visual field [11-14]. Thus, mental processes’ information is part of their neural processes’ information.

   PM2.4. Their abilities depend on their neural processes’ abilities.

The mind’s and mental processes’ abilities in sensing something in the outside world, performing mental operations, and affecting things in the outside world are not arbitrary but depend on their neural processes’ abilities.

  1. In sensing things in the external world, the mind and mental processes do not have the abilities to sense them by themselves but depend on neural processes’ sensing abilities. For example, to mentally see or hear anything in the external world, the mind and the visual or auditory mental process cannot see or hear anything by themselves but depend on the sensing abilities of the visual or auditory neural process (and the visual or auditory receptors), respectively. If these neural processes are impaired and lose the abilities, the mind cannot see or hear anything, even if it wants to. Also, in humans, the mind and mental processes have the abilities to sense only visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, somatosensory, proprioception, vestibular, and some internal organ stimuli because the human neural processes have only these abilities. What sensing abilities the neural processes do not have, the mind and mental processes do not have either. For example, because the human neural processes do not have the abilities to sense magnetic stimuli, which can create magnetoreception in birds, bats, bees, and sharks [15-17], and to sense electric stimuli in the way that electroreception (which is not the tingling sensation or pain that we feel when we get an electrical shock) is created, like that in electric fish [18], the human’s mind and mental processes do not have the abilities to sense these stimuli either.
  2. Regarding mental operations, the mind and mental processes do not have the abilities to operate mental functions by themselves but depend on neural processes’ operating abilities. For example, to consciously perceive the meaning of the visual word “home”, the visual mental process that perceives the meaning of this word cannot relay this perception to the consciousness mental process directly by itself – this mental operation depends on the neural operation that consists of the relay of the information from the visual perception neural process to the consciousness neural process via their connection. If there is damage to the neural operation (at either of the neural processes or at their connection), this mental operation cannot occur, and the conscious perception of the word “home” will not occur. Also, what operating abilities the neural processes do not have, the mind and mental processes do not have either. For example, because the human neural processes do not have the abilities to know what is in the mind of another person, to completely understand what the dogs, cats or other animals are talking, and to know transcendentally what is happening on the other side of the world, the human’s mind and mental processes do not have these abilities either. (These extraordinary abilities have never been definitely proved to exist.)
  3. In the matter of affecting the outside world, the mind and mental processes do not have the abilities to affect the outside world by themselves but depend on their neural processes’ abilities to affect to outside world. For example, to affect anything in the external world with its hand, the mind cannot command its hand to do anything by itself but depends on the abilities of the volitional motor neural processes to command the muscles of the hand. If the volitional motor neural processes lose this ability, the mind cannot command the hand to do anything, even if it is its hand. Also, what the mind and mental processes can do to affect the outside world is limited to only what the neural processes can, that is, by volitional motor movement (such as using hands, legs, and vocalizing organs), by non-volitional motor movement (such as smooth muscle contractions and various motor and autonomic reflexes), and by secretion of hormones or other substances (such as pheromones, sweat, and digestive enzymes). What the neural processes cannot do, the mind and mental processes cannot do either. For example, because the human neural processes cannot command the body or a physical object to levitate, teleport, or change its physical form and cannot shoot a beam of laser or other energy from its hand to destroy something (as seen in the movies), the mind cannot execute these extraordinary deeds either. Even its own body or itself, the mind can affect only as much as the neural processes can. What the neural processes cannot do, the mind cannot do either, even if it is its own body or itself. For example, the mind cannot, no matter how hard it tries, heal a body wound instantly, slow down or reverse aging processes in its body, or halt a dementing disease that is affecting itself, because no neural processes have the abilities to do that.

Thus, the mind’s and mental processes’ abilities depend on their neural processes’ abilities.

PM2.5. Their capacities depend on their neural processes’ capacities.

The capacities of the mind and mental processes are not arbitrary but depend on the capacities of their neural processes.

  1. The sensing capacities of the mind and mental processes are not unlimited but depend on those of their neural processes. What sensing capacities the neural processes do not have, the mind and mental processes do not have either. Because the sensing neural processes can sense any specific sensation only in limited ranges (such as the limited frequency ranges and the limited amplitude ranges of the visible spectrum and of the audible spectrum, and the limited spatial ranges of the visual field and of the audible area) and with limited acuity (such as the limited acuity of vision, hearing, and touch feeling), the mind and mental processes can sense only in the limited ranges and with the limited acuity too. For example, the mind can see only in the visible spectrum, under enough light, within the restricted visual field, and with limited acuity – all the same limited capacities of the neural processes – that is why the human mind cannot see things in infrared or ultraviolet, cannot see things when it is dark, cannot see what is behind the back of its head, and cannot see things in as much fine details (such as in micromillimeter details) as it wishes.
  2. The operating capacities of the mind and mental processes are not unlimited but depend on those of their neural processes. What operating capacities the neural processes do not have, the mind and mental processes do not have either. For example, the mind does not have the capacities to remember all the texts on a newspaper page at a glance, to understand what ten people say when they talk to it simultaneously, and to solves ten mathematical equations in the mind at the same time because no neural processes have these operating capacities.
  3. The affecting capacities of the mind and mental processes are not unlimited but depend on those of their neural processes. What affecting capacities neural processes do not have, the mind and mental processes do not have either. For example, the mind cannot command one hand to type one story while commanding the other hand to write another story at the same time, to tap a tango rhythm with one foot while waving a wand in a waltz rhythm with one hand, and to recite one story while writing another story because no neural processes have the capacities to accomplish these actions.

Thus, the mind’s and mental processes’ capacities depend on their neural processes’ capacities.

   PM2.6. Their changes are with their neural processes.

When there are changes in neural processes, the corresponding mental processes will change with their neural processes simultaneously and similarly (both qualitatively and quantitatively). For example, in an acute case, mental processes change instantly with neural processes when a sudden head injury occurs, and the types (quality) and degree (quantity) of mental processes’ changes depend on the types and degree of neural processes’ injury. In a subacute case of a brain tumor destroying the frontal lobe, the person’s personality, intellect, and emotion change gradually and worsen proportionally to the degree and types of neural process destruction. In a chronic case of Alzheimer’s disease, the patient’s personality, intellect, memory, and language capability change little by little but relentlessly as more and more neural processes in the corresponding brain areas degenerate slowly but inexorably.

This is also true in experiments and psychoactive drugs administration: whenever neural processes (such as visual, auditory, or somatic perception neural processes) are changed by electrical or magnetic stimulations, the corresponding mental processes (such as vision, auditory, or somatic perception) will change simultaneously; and whenever psychoactive drugs, such as sedatives, anxiolytics, or psychedelics, exert effects on neural processes, the corresponding mental processes mental processes will change accordingly and simultaneously.

Thus, when there are changes in their neural processes, the mind and mental processes cannot resist the corresponding changes even if they try not to change. On the other hand, if their neural processes do not change, the mind and mental processes cannot change even if they try to. For example, the mind cannot change its behavior, understand difficult things, or attain a spectacular sports skill all of a sudden whenever it wishes because the involved neural processes cannot change so.

   PM2.7. Their processing capabilities are fast, dynamic, and information-intensive.

Because the signals that the mind and mental processes process are signals that have information in the order of millions of bits, such as the information that is contained in a vision [19], the mind’s and mental processes’ processing capabilities must be information-intensive of this order. And because the signals that the mind and mental processes process are signals that are always changing and changing fast, in the order of milliseconds, such as the visual [19] and audio signals of a movie, the mind and mental processes must have fast, dynamic processing capabilities of this order, also.

   PM2.8. Their activities are associated with electromagnetic activities.

Although the mind and mental processes are non-material entities, their activities are not physically traceless – they are associated with electromagnetic phenomena. Whenever there are the mind and mental processes, electromagnetic activities are always there. Their electrical activities can be recorded as EEG (electroencephalography) at the scalp, as ECoG (electrocorticography) at the cerebral cortical surface, or as single-unit recordings in the cortex (intracortical neural recording). Their magnetic activities can be recorded as MEG (magnetoencephalography) just outside the brain. Not only can these electromagnetic activities signify the presence of the mind and mental processes, but they can also give information about the state or event of the mind and mental processes at that moment. For example, a continuous isoelectric EEG (i.e., no EEG activity) signifies that there is no mind or mental processes occurring; a generalized slow-wave EEG that is unresponsive to stimulation signifies that the mind and mental processes are being severely deranged; spike discharges over the occipital area signify that a visual epileptic aura is occurring; generalized 3 Hz spike-and-wave discharges signify that the mind is in the state of absence seizure; and various sleep EEG patterns signify that the mind is in certain stages of sleep. As specific patterns of electromagnetic activities are always present when and where there are the mind and mental processes in specific states and change or vanish when and where the mind and mental processes change or cease to exist, the mind’s and mental processes’ activities are definitely associated with electromagnetic activities.

1.2. Theorem I

From the observed properties listed above, it is evident that, physically, a mental process cannot occur, exist, and function by itself alone but must occur, exist, and function with a certain neural process (its neural process). And because a mental process occurs and exists with its neural process at the same location, has information as part of its neural process’s information, has abilities dependent on those of its neural process, has capacities dependent on those of its neural process, and changes and disappears with its neural process, it can be concluded that a mental process is part of its neural process, which is a certain neural process, in these senses. This theory asserts this as Theorem I.

Theorem I: A mental process is part of a certain neural process.

In general, thus, mental processes are parts of certain neural processes, and the mind, which is composed of all mental processes, is part of the functioning brain, which is composed of all neural processes. Therefore, the mind – the non-material entity that exists in an animal with a nervous system and that functions to sense, operate, and send signals – is proved to be part of the functioning brain in the senses that it occurs and exists with the functioning brain at the same location, has information as part of the functioning brain’s information, has abilities dependent on those of the functioning brain, has capacities dependent on those of the functioning brain, and changes and disappears with the functioning brain. Theorem I for the mind is thus as follows:

Theorem I: The mind is part of the functioning brain.

In other words, the mind does not exist and does not function independently of the functioning brain. The concept that the mind is a functionally independent entity – freely functioning and depending on nothing except itself – is not correct.

1.3. Generalizations

The evidence that is used to establish this theorem is mainly from human studies. A lot of similar evidence can be found for various higher vertebrates such as chimpanzees, dogs, dolphins, birds [20-25]; thus, it is reasonable to extend this theorem to include the minds and mental processes in these higher vertebrates. Regarding animals in protostomes, although their nervous systems are anatomically inverted from those of deuterostomes, both of them are basically and functionally similar in that their neurons and other neural tissue are similar and are highly genetically conserved [26-29], that they consist of networks of neurons connecting with each other via synapses, and that their neural processes use electrical and/or electrochemical signals to send information between them. Moreover, several kinds of higher animals in protostomes demonstrate complex behaviors like higher animals in deuterostomes too [21,22, 30-35]. Finally, as the observed physical properties in section 1.1 can also be demonstrated in these protostomes, it is logical to infer that their minds and mental processes are physically similar to ours and that their mental processes are parts of their neural processes and their minds are parts of their functioning brains, as well. Accordingly, this theorem is generalized to include all animals with a nervous system and, with the mind and mental processes defined as in the previous chapter, asserts that mental processes are parts of certain neural processes and that the mind is part of the functioning brain for all animals with a nervous system.

1.4. Predictions

  1. A mental process (such as a visual perception, thinking, emotion, consciousness, and self-awareness) will always be found to occur with a certain neural process (such as a visual perception neural process, thinking neural process, emotion neural process, consciousness neural process, and self-awareness neural process) – it will never be found to occur without a certain neural process. Similarly, a mind will always be found to occur with a functioning brain – it will never be found to occur without a functioning brain. This means that, whenever and wherever there is a mental process, there must be a neural process that the mental process is part of, then and there.* A neural process can be verified to be the one by experiments that manipulate the neural process. If the neural process is the one, there will be corresponding changes in the mental process when there are changes in the neural process. Similarly, this means that, whenever and wherever there is a mind, there must be a functioning brain that the mind is part of, then and there. A functioning brain can be verified to be the one that the mind is part of by similar processes used in identifying the neural process.
  2. Every event in a mental process (such as a visual perception change from perceiving the red color to perceiving a house, a thinking change from thinking leisurely to solving a problem, or an emotion change from happiness to sadness) will always be found to be associated with an event in a certain neural process (such as an event in a neural process in the occipital cortex, in the frontal lobe, and in the amygdala, which can be investigated by EEG, ECoG, MEG, fMRI, etc.) – it will never be found to occur without a corresponding event in a certain neural process. Similarly, every event in a mind will always be found to be associated with an event in a functioning brain – it will never be found to occur without a corresponding event in a functioning brain. The neural process and the functioning brain in these cases can be similarly identified by the verifying processes in 1.
  3. For a pair of a mental process and a neural process in 1., the predictions that are valid for the neural process in any event or experiment that affects the neural process in any aspect that the mental process is part of the neural process, such as that the neural process will start functioning, change, or stop functioning, will be valid for the mental process. This is similarly true for a pair of a mind and a functioning brain.

(* As in the process of proving this theorem, it does not matter whether the neural process that a mental process is part of occurs naturally or artificially [e.g., by electrical or magnetic stimulation], the neural process that the mental process is part of can be naturally or artificially occurring.)

1.5. Remarks

It is to be noted that the concept that the mind and mental processes are closely associated with or dependent on neural processes is not a novel one. This concept has long been present in philosophy [2,4,36-41] and in cognitive neuroscience and related fields [4] for a long time. At present, scientific evidence (from studies in clinical neurology, neuropharmacology, neuroimaging, and cognitive neuroscience and studies in other related fields) indicating that mental processes are completely associated with their neural processes and that the mind is completely associated with the functioning brain – that both of the former entities never occur, exist, or function without the latter entities – are overwhelming to the point that this concept is irrefutable. Although this is not stated in cognitive neuroscience and related fields explicitly as a theorem, it has been the basis of studies and experiments related to the mind in these fields for a long time, as can be seen when one searches the literature. However, because this concept is most basic and very crucial to the understanding of the nature of the mind and mental processes, it is proved explicitly and stated definitely as Theorem I of this theory. However, it is to be cautioned that this theory asserts that mental processes are part of their neural processes and that the mind is part of the functioning brain but does not assert that mental processes are identical with their neural processes and that the mind is identical with the brain. This theory does not support the concept that the mind and the brain are identical (The mind-brain identity theory [2,37,38]). On the contrary, according to this theory, it is basically impossible for the mind to be identical with the brain and for mental processes to be identical with neural processes because, by this theory’s definition, the mind and mental processes are non-material while the functioning brain and neural processes have both material and non-material parts. The entity that is the mind and mental processes will be discussed and identified in the next chapter.

 

Next: Chapter 2 – Theorem II >

Back to Introduction & Definitions


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