The human brain feels like the final frontier in biology: a mysterious, squishy locus of incomplete theories and unanswered questions. But its riddles are beginning to unravel. Neuroscientists and philosophers are building a better picture of our brains, how they work and why we think and feel the way we do.
Anil Seth is one of the clearest, most engaging and most cited researchers on the workings of the brain. His work is an effort to answer some of science’s hardest questions with huge implications across all fields of human endeavour: how do our brains give rise to consciousness?
Anil is the Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex, where he also runs the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science. He’s the author of the new book, Being You: A New Science of Consciousness, which is getting rave reviews from all quarters. Anil also happens to be a member of Exponential View and a dear friend.
I had the pleasure of speaking to him on this week’s podcast. He was absolutely captivating on consciousness research, the state of the art in neuroscience, and the problems a better understanding of the brain could soon start to solve.
You can listen to our discussion here, or read a transcript here.
The Big Idea
One of the key ideas in consciousness science is the distinction between ‘easy problems’ and the ‘hard problem,’ a distinction first made in the ’90s by legendary philosopher David Chalmers (whom I am looking forward to chatting with on the podcast in a few weeks). Easy problems deal with how the brain works: what are the mechanisms at play? The ‘hard problem’ is why consciousness should arise at all. Anil’s research builds on this distinction.
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