Challenging Perception and Our Conscious Experience – Anil Seth #590

Challenging Perception and Our Conscious Experience – Anil Seth #590

In this intriguing episode of Bulletproof Radio, Dave welcomes Anil Seth, a leading researcher, writer, and public speaker on consciousness science, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence. Anil has broad experience communicating new ideas from the forefront of research in these areas, which confront some of humanity’s greatest questions and challenges.

In his work, Anil seeks to understand the biological basis of consciousness by bringing together research across neuroscience, mathematics, artificial intelligence, computer science, psychology, philosophy and psychiatry. He’s currently a professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex and founding co-director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science.

As well as pioneering this interdisciplinary approach, Anil is recognized for his influential theories about how conscious experiences of the world and self are (distinct) forms of ‘controlled hallucinations.’ His TEDtalk “How Your Brain Hallucinates Your Conscious Reality” has been viewed nearly 7.4M  million times.

This episode will up-end what you think about perception and reality—and how much, or little, control, we really have. Here’s a sneak peek at the conversation:

About Perception

  • “Perception doesn’t come from the outside in. It really goes the other direction. It comes from the inside out.”
  • “The purpose of perception is not to figure out objectively what’s out there in the world. The purpose of perception is to enable our adaptive behavior.”
  • “We need to develop ways of training our perception.”

About Sensory Experience

  • “Language carves up the sensory world in some more bits.”
  • “The same things in your brain are happening when you’re having a hallucination, perceiving something that other people don’t, as when you engage in normal perception. It’s just some aspects of the balance has changed.”
  • “As humans, we don’t just passively experience a stream of sensory information. We’re always actively sampling our worlds.”

Enjoy the show!
Listen on Apple Podcasts or iTunesListen on Google Podcasts

Follow Along with the Transcript

Challenging Perception and Our Conscious Experience – Anil Seth #590


Book: Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes
TEDtalk: How your brain hallucinates your conscious reality
The Most Unknown
The Life Scientific
Essay: The Real Problem

Key Notes

  • Colours don’t exist as colours out in the world 00:03:30
  • Overcoming an entire lifetime of perceptive training 00:23:00
  • Having points of view reinforced 00:27:50
  • A brain is a machine for prediction 00:33:45
  • Is using VR too much, flirting with madness? 00:41:30
  • The purpose of perception 00:48:45
  • Blog Ideas:
  • What does “your brain hallucinates your conscious reality” mean? 00:02:30
  • The implications of differing perceptions 00:09:50
  • Can we train consciousness perceptions? 00:13:05
  • How long does it take to retrain? 00:21:15
  • How Dave trained himself not to see fast food joints 00:24:30
  • What is deep dreaming? 00:36:10

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