Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Christine Skarda - Neuroscience and Buddhism

Christine Skarda was a neuroscientist and philosopher of mind, then she dropped out for a three-year retreat after meeting with a Buddhist monk, and then the Dalai Lama, who both encouraged her retreat.

Before she left the science world, though, she saw through the illusion of how the brain breaks reality into discrete parts - that we actually perceive wholes, but the brain breaks that down into the fragments that enter consciousness.

The book that explains her revelations is a FREE e-book, downloadable in PDF form.
[NOTE: I should mention that this is a neuroscience book, not a Buddhism book, but her insights confirm what the Buddhists have known for 2,500.]
The Perceptual Form of Life
by Christine Skarda (1995)
Editorial Review

How does our experience of the world arise?

Perceptual neuroscience explains perception as a process of putting things together. Neurons process information about an independent external object by creating neural representations of its individual features. The perceptual system then progressively integrates these isolated features to form a perceptual whole, a complete neural representation of the actual object.

But how this binding process occurs remains a mystery. It is in fact the central problem for perceptual neuroscience today. After more than a half century of searching for the complete internal correlates of external objects and events, neuroscientists have found no evidence for their existence.

The Perceptual Form of Life proposes a new model of perception that explains the same research data without relying on the concept of neural representation. In this new model, perceptual systems do not construct internal correlates. They do not integrate information or connect the internal world of the organism with external reality. Instead, perceptual systems break the unbroken web of reality apart--into features, objects, physiological subsystems, and perceivers. The new model posits a revolutionary view of brain functioning and entails a very different set of predictions.


Tor Hershman said...


DNA should have never evolved beyond.....KITTIES!!!

Heidi Alfonzo said...

great post! I'll tweet it!