How do we fend off relativism, moral and otherwise? In a system of change, we must quantify the shifts in individual and social sentiment, philosophy, cognition, and pathology. Basically the entire bandwidth of the human brain would be the ideal sample size. The non-conscious aside, reinforcers of behaviour at various self-perceived time increments rests on Thorndike’s principle of pleasure or opposition there of. Memory is punctuated with sentiment. For instance, ask a person to describe the type of thinking when your mind is aware of each passing second. How about chunks of 15 minutes, one hour or one waking day? If I have a day to think about something my mindset, or consciousness, changes. Compared to, if my mental activities were limited to instances of the moment-to-moment we describe that type of activity differently. This is one variable of many possible worlds or brain states. What if patterns of these properties were identifiable? Considering the functionally introspective nature of thought, current technology using functional MRI (fMRI) may not be good enough. Due to an fMRI machine measuring blood flow the changes could use the same liquid pathways with differing concentrations of molecular or chemical compositions. I am unaware of how this technology works but I could imagine higher (or lower) concentrations of thought constituent cocktail containing more mass and therefore slowing the flow. I am doubtful of the approach because blood flow, even at differing densities would be regulated systematically throughout the body. How else could we construct an experiment to test this hypothesis? Hanzhang Lu, Xavier Golay, and Peter van Zijl wrote a paper in 2015 called, Alternative Methods for fMRI. This paper highlights the limitations of our current brain imaging technology. Blood Oxygenation Level-Dependent (BOLD) contrast is the most common in the field of brain imaging. Efforts to develop these more advanced methods were largely driven by the goal of overcoming the main physiological limitation of the BOLD technique, namely that it is based on an epiphenomenon linked to the interplay of several hemodynamic parameters that have complex relationships with neural activity. The goal of developing alternative fMRI methods is to provide means that may result in more quantitative assessment of neural activity and better determination of spatial and temporal extent of brain activation. Some of these methods also have a higher sensitivity in detecting activation and may be useful in certain fMRI applications. Cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebral blood volume (CBV) are based on hemodynamic changes associated with neural activation. The third method is based on diffusion properties of brain parenchymal water. The final and fourth technique being considered directly detects neural activity via small electrical currents or magnetic fields generated by neurons. This approach sound the most appealing but its validity is the subject of ongoing debate, and still in a research stage.
Benchmarking increments of time and measuring differences in cognition is cutting edge and unexplored territory. Insert philosophy. Insert the p.(x) philosophy of Big Data Determinism. Once we have a robust, testable, and subsequently falsifiable model to gather reliable data on our cognitive chains deterministic tendencies will become more prevalent and change the nature of our social structures and consequently our consciousness. Its up to the thought leaders, philosophers and intellectual community to put forth bodies of knowledge to fill voids of knowledge and understanding. Bridging this gap turns the mountain laden journey through trials and tribulations to a smooth highway of unempeding obstacles. Albeit there will be bumps in the round, careful planning, large and varying sample size (group participation) is key to early adoption. A consumer app maybe ideal. I offer the planksip® Gadfly app as one possible measuring apparatus. Similar in stage to magnetic neural signal detection, the philosophy of neural technology, both are in their beginnings. This technology could change our species. Careful and deliberate understanding is necessary as we approach this event horizon, because there is no going back.
Hanzhang Lu is affiliated with the Advanced Imaging Research Center, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, USA. ↩︎
Xavier Golay is affiliated with the Department of Brain Repair and Rehabilitation, UCL Institute of Neurology, London, UK. ↩︎
Peter van Zijl is affiliated with The Russell H Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA and the FM Kirby Research Center for Functional Brain Imaging, Kennedy Krieger Research Institute, Baltimore, USA. ↩︎
Lu H., Golay X., van Zijl P. (2015) Alternative Methods for fMRI. In: Uludag K., Ugurbil K., Berliner L. (eds) fMRI: From Nuclear Spins to Brain Functions. Biological Magnetic Resonance, vol 30. Springer, Boston, MA. ↩︎