25 January 2010

Sex and Jazz: The Improvisational Brain

Improvisation is central to jazz. Every performance is unique, a musical flight of the creative moment. How does the brain accomplish such an intricate and instantaneous crystallization of near-chaotic sublime balance?
Spontaneous improvisation was in each case associated with a highly congruous pattern of activations and deactivations in prefrontal cortex, sensorimotor and limbic regions of the brain. In addition, the majority of these regions showed functionally reciprocal patterns of activity. That is, activations during improvisation were matched by deactivations during the control tasks, and vice versa, when each condition was compared to the resting baseline.

...The changes in the prefrontal cortex consisted of a deactivation in the lateral parts and activation in the medial parts of the prefrontal cortex. The medial part is thought to play a role in the complex phenomenon of the self, internally motivated self generated content and as such this activation can be explained by the fact that improvisation is also a way of expressing one’s own musical voice or story. The deactivation of the lateral part is explained by the occurrence of free floating attention, permitting spontaneous expressions without interference of self-monitoring. _Dr.Shock

Compare what happens in the frontal cortex of a jazz improvisationalist with what happens in the frontal cortex of a female brain in orgasm -- a "sexual improvisationalist".
But when a woman reached orgasm, something unexpected happened: much of her brain went silent. Some of the most muted neurons sat in the left lateral orbitofrontal cortex, which may govern self-control over basic desires such as sex. Decreased activity there, the researchers suggest, might correspond to a release of tension and inhibition. The scientists also saw a dip in excitation in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, which has an apparent role in moral reasoning and social judgment—a change that may be tied to a suspension of judgment and reflection. _SciAm

Areas of the pre-frontal lobes that govern judgment, self-control, and self-vigilance tend to be shut down in both improvising jazz musicians and in orgasming women. Other areas of the brain having to do with body sensations experience amplified activity during both jazz and sex.

You may ask, "so what?" Well, consider this: what if the proper test of human level consciousness has more to do with the ability to orgasm or to "feel jazz" than it does with playing chess or algorithms?

The human brain and the human body work together. Separate them, and neither one can function well. The mind is embodied within the brain, but in a sense the brain is co-embodied along with the physical organism. The idea that one can create a human equivalent mind without taking into account how the brain and body improvise our reality, moment by moment, is irrational.

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Blogger kurt9 said...

Good one, that.

I agree that the brain and the rest of the body is an integral whole. I think it unlikely that the AI people are going to succeed in creating machine sentience in the manner they expect.

There is another reason why I do not expect sentient AI soon and why I don't even consider it to be that useful. We make machines to be used as tools as extensions of ourselves and our capabilities. A sentient AI, on the other hand, is an entirely separate conscious entity, entitled to the same rights and freedoms as the rest of it. To regard such as a tool is to legitimize slavery. This is unacceptable. In actuality, making a sentient AI is not much different than having a kid. The sentient AI would then need to learn how to live its own life and cooperate with humans and other AI's. This is essentially the same socialization process involved in raising kids. If the AI researchers make lousy parent, they are likely to do a lousy job in creating and nurturing AI's as well.

Monday, 25 January, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

The only exposure most persons have to machine intelligence is via popular media. HAL, Mr. Data, the Terminator, the Matrix, I Robot, AI, and so on.

Thoroughly anthropomorphised beyond ridicule and caricature. The reality will be far different and more sobering.

But we will try to see them as human anyway. We imagine that our need for existential companionship justifies lying to ourselves.

We don't have to see the road all the way to the end. Just far enough ahead to plan for the next stretch beyond.

Friday, 29 January, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah fascinating connection on jazz and female orgasm -- music activates the vagus nerve as John Beaulieu has determined -- also Daniel Levitin's music and the brain book focuses on the cerebellum. In 2004 it was proven that the female orgasm is also via the vagus nerve -- connection to the lower body. I have a blog book on this -- "deep disharmony" http://naturalresonancerevolution.blogspot.com -- on psychic music (tantra and nonwestern music).

Thursday, 09 December, 2010  

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