Michael Spivey

Michael Spivey

Professor of Cognitive Science

Title: Who You Are: The Dynamics of Brain-Body-Environment

Cognitive neuroscience shows that your consciously willed actions are determined several seconds in advance by neural activation patterns in prefrontal cortex. That is, your brain knows what you’re going to do before you do. But what causes those neural activation patterns? Informational relationships between multiple brain areas, between brain and body, and between body and environment, together cause those neural activation patterns that determine your actions. Evidence from neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, and robotics all point to the idea that a definition of the self requires inclusion of not only neural and morphological aspects of the organism itself, but also physical aspects of the environment (including other organisms). Who-you-are is clearly more than just the contents of your brain and body.

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