anencephaly and consciousness

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Shen1986
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anencephaly and consciousness

Postby Shen1986 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:28 pm

Hi

I came across one strange phenomena which I cannot explain rationally and which dualists/believers in the soul are using like a example that their beliefs are real:

Its the case of Nickolas Coke who had a form of consciousness:

Nickolas had anencephaly, meaning he was only born with a brain stem. Most babies with that condition are still born or die shortly after birth. But Nicholas lived a remarkable life.

Some of the final images of Nickolas Coke show him smiling at a pumpkin patch. "He was laughing because he thought it was funny that we couldn't get him to stay still enough to roll off the pumpkins.," said Sherri Kohut, Nickolas' grandmother.

Taken from: http://www.koaa.com/news/miracle-child- ... in-pueblo/

How this is possible that he has some form of consciousness?? When people with anencephaly is usually blind, deaf, unconscious, and unable to feel pain. Some individuals with anencephaly may have a partial brain stem, which means that certain reflex actions (such as breathing or responding to touch or sound) may occur. However, the lack of a working cerebrum entirely rules out the possibility of ever gaining consciousness.

Taken from: http://www.in.gov/isdh/files/anencephaly.pdf

If someone knows more about this and a rational explanation I would be very glad. Thanks for reading this and your time.
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Re: anencephaly and consciousness

Postby nmblum88 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 9:48 pm

The only rational explanation is that none of it happened.. although the Reader's Digest and supermarket tabloids are full of such tales: they understand full well who is included in their readerships .
You may have to live with that.
If Nicolas Coke, born with only a brain stem, was photographed smiling, the smile was not really a smile but - perhaps - the result of gas..
The brain's the thing without which nothing much happens.!
Including too often a normally operating digestive system, and most certainly normal respiration..
And as a grandmother myself, let me assure you that grandmothers are notoriously unreliable reporters of their grandchildren's accomplishments... all grandchildren are "regular little Einsteins" to their Nanas.
And beautiful as well.
And if there really is a sentient Serri Kohut, one can't really blame her for having desperate responses to a terrible and desperate tragedy for everyone concerned.
But if the story itself has even a germ of truth, all it really says that we, as a society under the constraints of religion, have to be the craziest AND CRUELEST one ever to grace the earth.
Because no veteranarian worthy of the name would allow a puppy born in such extremes to live for 10 minutes.

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Your fanciful card games, movie sojourns and exciting overseas trips, that all take place within the four walls of an aged care retirement home, do not suggest your own children offered you the care, I gave my parents."

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Re: anencephaly and consciousness

Postby Poodle » Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:30 pm

This is the telling part ... "He was laughing because he thought it was funny that we couldn't get him to stay still enough to roll off the pumpkins.," said Sherri Kohut, Nickolas' grandmother.

I must assume that Sherri had a gadget which displayed not only when Nickolas was thinking but what he was thinking. Clever bit of technology, that. This is simply a no-doubt doting grandmother projecting her wishes onto her grandson. It's remarkable that he survived so long, but that's about all. There's no evidence - not an inkling - of consciousness.

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Re: anencephaly and consciousness

Postby nmblum88 » Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:32 am

Poodle wrote:This is the telling part ... "He was laughing because he thought it was funny that we couldn't get him to stay still enough to roll off the pumpkins.," said Sherri Kohut, Nickolas' grandmother.

I must assume that Sherri had a gadget which displayed not only when Nickolas was thinking but what he was thinking. Clever bit of technology, that. This is simply a no-doubt doting grandmother projecting her wishes onto her grandson. It's remarkable that he survived so long, but that's about all. There's no evidence - not an inkling - of consciousness.


I can't stay still enough to roll of the pumpkins either.
So of course my sympathies lie with Nickolaus who must have found it even more arduous..
Look, just the telling of the tale, the repeating of it as if it were some sort of reportage, is manipulative and shameful..

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Your fanciful card games, movie sojourns and exciting overseas trips, that all take place within the four walls of an aged care retirement home, do not suggest your own children offered you the care, I gave my parents."

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Re: anencephaly and consciousness

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:04 am

Anencephaly is not a black or white condition. It is not a case of 'no brain', but more one of very little brain. The degree of brain development in an anencephalic child is obviously minimal, but not quite zero. The tiny amount of development varies from child to child, and it is quite possible this case had a little bit more brain - enough for breathing, and some minimal response to certain stimuli.

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Re: anencephaly and consciousness

Postby 4_Fraks_sake » Sun Feb 17, 2013 2:56 pm

I don't know that it's rational, but I do have a theory... I'm a little nervous about sharing it here because, #1 - it includes in the premise there is a soul, and B) - This is exactly how I got sucked into a different forum based on religion (which I abandoned because most of them were judgmental, mean spirited, myopic a$$holes that were more interested in ranting about how their interpretation of religion was right, and anybody that didn't agree was damned to hell for eternity). I call it 'The Trinity Of Man' - my take on how three separate components can be one singular thing:

"The mind [the brain], the body and the soul. They are all separate, yet together complete a singular human being. When one of those components is missing or damaged, it is evident.

A person with a dysfunctional or undeveloped mind is seen as mentally handicapped. The body functions to the ability the mind allows, but the soul is there and evident in the persons actions and attitudes. My friend with Downs Syndrome functions at a moderately high level, she struggles with her limitations, but more so with the perceptions of other people. I have told her many times not to worry about how other people view and react to her because anyone that has spent more than 5 minutes with her can clearly see she has one of the kindest, sweetest souls on this earth. She is generous with not only her material things, but also her love and attention. Her response to that was, "How do I get those jerks to pay attention to me for 5 whole minutes?" I responded that everyone has a free will, so it's up to them to chose that for themselves. Personally, I feel very sorry for anyone missing out on knowing her.

A person with a dysfunctional body is obvious: Stephen Hawking clearly has a remarkable mind, and the fact that he is willing to share his insights with the rest of us is surely evidence of a generous soul.

A person without a soul is thankfully more rare, but evident in sociopaths."

So that's my theory. I could be wrong - I'm still fine tuning it: I think imagination is tied more to the soul than the brain... but feel free trash it.

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Re: anencephaly and consciousness

Postby nmblum88 » Sun Feb 17, 2013 4:37 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:Anencephaly is not a black or white condition. It is not a case of 'no brain', but more one of very little brain. The degree of brain development in an anencephalic child is obviously minimal, but not quite zero. The tiny amount of development varies from child to child, and it is quite possible this case had a little bit more brain - enough for breathing, and some minimal response to certain stimuli.


No, it isn't a black and white condition, but it certainly by any standards comes down on the side of black.
And with a vengeance.
There is no recorded case of an neonate afflicted with three quadrants of its brain either missing has ever been able to don anything for itself, and if there is any development ...as you say, "tiny" it is usually more accurately described as infinitesimal.
A difficult subject to discuss really, because it is, happily, quite rare, thus the parents of such neonates are deprived of most of the support systems that help luckier humans survive such tragedy..
And the suggestion that there is even the faintest hope of viable improvement in such cases, really bolster the so -called "pro-life" arguments against abortion as so as such crippling disabilities are discovered by examination of the gravid mother.....
Because not only are such births difficult for parents to overcome, but a young family - any family for that matter - would be emotionally and financially crushed by the needed care and the cost continual medical attention, usually in institutions..
Does it really sound like an expression of "heart" rather than the utmost cruelty to suggest that any optimism whatever can be offered by such disaster?
.

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Your fanciful card games, movie sojourns and exciting overseas trips, that all take place within the four walls of an aged care retirement home, do not suggest your own children offered you the care, I gave my parents."

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Re: anencephaly and consciousness

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:48 pm

To Frak

No, you will not impress too many people on this forum by assertions of the reality of an immaterial soul.

Skepticism involves a need for credible, empirical and objective evidence. The reason people on this forum do not believe in souls is because there is no credible, empirical, and objective evidence for the existence thereof.
Last edited by Lance Kennedy on Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: anencephaly and consciousness

Postby 4_Fraks_sake » Sun Feb 17, 2013 8:55 pm

To Lance:

I agree with you - I can't prove I have soul (immaterial or not - a long time ago there was a guy that thought he could prove the existence of a soul by weighing people on their deathbed - but he got chased out for the sake of decency), but I think I might - and given enough time (hopefully another 40 years if I take better care of myself) maybe I'll find out for myself. That's the one thing about dying that I look forward to... I don't know what's next, I've heard a lot of theories (some of which, I am more skeptical about than others), and we will all find out sooner or later. I'm hoping to go out either drunk off happiness surrounded by grandchildren or drunk off wine or a good scotch surrounded by mute cabana boys ; )

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Re: anencephaly and consciousness

Postby Shen1986 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:14 am

I had a discussion about this with a atheist who I thank very much and also all of you I also thank. Actually there is no need of soul in the first place. Someone with anencephaly has the ability to respond to some stimuli reflexes for example. There was even one animal a chicken who was more alive then Nickolas Coke ever would be:

On September 10, 1945, farmer Lloyd Olsen of Fruita, Colorado, United States, had his mother-in-law around for supper and was sent out to the yard by his wife to bring back a chicken. Olsen chose a five-and-a-half-month-old cockerel named Mike. The axe missed the jugular vein, leaving one ear and most of the brain stem intact.[2][3]

Despite Olsen's botched handiwork, Mike was still able to balance on a perch and walk clumsily; he even attempted to preen and crow, although he could do neither. After the bird did not die, a surprised Mr. Olsen decided to continue to care permanently for Mike, feeding him a mixture of milk and water via an eyedropper; he was also fed small grains of corn.

When used to his new and unusual center of mass, Mike could easily get himself to the highest perches without falling. His crowing, though, was less impressive and consisted of a gurgling sound made in his throat, leaving him unable to crow at dawn. Mike also spent his time preening and attempting to peck for food with his neck.[2]

Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_the_Headless_Chicken

This chicken had most of the brainstem intact and could do these things. Now this could be even possible for Nickolas Coke because the brainstem is involved even in consciousness:

Functions

There are three main functions of the brainstem:
The brainstem plays a role in conduction. That is, all information relayed from the body to the cerebrum and cerebellum and vice versa, must traverse the brain stem. The ascending pathways coming from the body to the brain are the sensory pathways, and include the spinothalamic tract for pain and temperature sensation and the dorsal column, fasciculus gracilis, and cuneatus for touch, proprioception, and pressure sensation (both of the body). (The facial sensations have similar pathways, and will travel in the spinothalamic tract and the medial lemniscus also). Descending tracts are upper motor neurons destined to synapse on lower motor neurons in the ventral horn and intermediate horn of the spinal cord. In addition, there are upper motor neurons that originate in the brain stem's vestibular, red, tectal, and reticular nuclei, which also descend and synapse in the spinal cord.
The cranial nerves III-XII emerge from the brainstem.[3] The cranial nerves supply the face, head and viscera.
The brainstem has integrative functions (it is involved in cardiovascular system control, respiratory control, pain sensitivity control, alertness, awareness, and consciousness). Thus, brain stem damage is a very serious and often life-threatening problem.

Taken: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainstem

So there is the possibility like Lance said that the brainstem could produce a small form of consciousness that can respond to primitive stimuli. Even some scientists are pointing in the direction that the brainstem in the search for consciousness.

Like in this article:

http://mindhacks.com/2007/09/15/brain-s ... ciousness/

Also these seems more plausible thanks to this:

The emergence of consciousness, as assessed with a motor response to a spoken command, was associated with the activation of a core network involving subcortical and limbic regions that became functionally coupled with parts of frontal and inferior parietal cortices upon awakening from dexmedetomidine-induced unconsciousness. This network thus enabled the subjective awareness of the external world and the capacity to behaviorally express the contents of consciousness through voluntary responses. Interestingly, the same deep brain structures, i.e. the brain stem, thalamus, hypothalamus and the anterior cingulate cortex, were activated also upon emergence from propofol anesthesia, suggesting a common, drug-independent mechanism of arousal. For both drugs, activations seen upon regaining consciousness were thus mostly localized in deep, phylogenetically old brain structures rather than in the neocortex.

Taken: www.sciencedaily.com/.../120404102140.htm

So the explanation is that the brainstem can produce some form of reflexes and therefore Nickolas was smiling but he had no real consciousness only responded to stimuli what he saw. He also according to the video on the page had his eyes were open, his mouth and body moved, but his responses to stimuli don’t appear to extend beyond instinct. During the pumpkin patch episode, for example, the fact that they were trying to keep him still might have meant they were physically touching him enough to provoke a primal response to that alone.

This is taken from here: http://asktheatheist.com/?p=1372#comments

Here I also discussed Coke with a atheist and skeptic.

Besides there is also the possibility nmblum proposed that Nickolas grandmother interpreted the sings as a smile..

BTW: I would all like to thank for your answers I really appreciate it.
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Re: anencephaly and consciousness

Postby Shen1986 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:04 am

Wanted to add something new what I found:

Even as newborns, babies know exactly how to scrunch up their faces and cry. And no wonder -- new research from England suggests that we practice making mean faces even before we're born.

Researchers at Durham and Lancaster universities found that even by 36 weeks of gestational age fetuses are able to grimace and make complex facial expressions -- and this developmental stage may help doctors better gauge fetal health. Fascinating.



“This suggests that we can determine the normal development of facial movements and potentially identify abnormal development too," study co-author Dr. Nadja Reissland, a senior lecturer in Durham University’s psychology department, said in a written statement. "Our research indicates that the expression of fetal facial movements is a developmental process which seems to be related to brain maturation rather than being linked to feelings."

The researchers studied 4D scans of 15 healthy fetuses at 24 weeks making simple facial expressions, like a slight curl of the lips into a smile. Then they studied images of fetuses at 36 weeks making complex facial expressions, like a grimace of "pain." The researchers think that making these faces prepares the fetus for learning how to communicate once out of the womb.

"It is vital for infants to be able to show pain as soon as they are born so that they can communicate any distress or pain they might feel to their carers," Reissland said in the statement, "and our results show that healthy fetuses ‘learn’ to combine the necessary facial movements before they are born."

While it's unclear whether a grimacing fetus is actually feeling pain, Reissland said, additional research may explore whether noxious conditions in the womb -- for example, from the effects of smoking or alcohol consumption -- may delay the development of these fetal facial expressions.


Taken from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/0 ... 98280.html


Also here:

Facial Expressions Develop Before Birth, Researchers Show

Sep. 14, 2011 — Babies in the womb develop a range of facial movements in such a way that it is possible to identify facial expressions such as laughter and crying. For the first time, a group of researchers was able to show that recognisable facial expressions develop before birth and that, as the pregnancy progresses from 24 to 36 weeks gestation, fetal facial movements become more complex.

The group of researchers include Dr Nadja Reissland, a psychologist and Professor James Mason Director of Research in Medicine and Health of Durham University, Professor Brian Francis, Professor of social statistics at Lancaster University and Dr Karen Lincoln, consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, where the fetal scans are collected.

The group examined video-taped fetal facial movements obtained by 4D ultrasound machines in the later stages of pregnancy.

They recorded the same fetuses after they had been found to be healthy at their 20 week scan, several times between 24 and 36 weeks of gestation. They found that the movements of the fetal face become more complex over time.

Fetuses at the first stage of observation (24 weeks) were able to move one muscle in their face at a time. They would for example stretch their lips or open their mouth. By 35 weeks gestational age, fetuses combined a number of facial muscle movements, combining for example lip stretch, lowering of the eyebrows and deepening the nasolabial furrow, thereby turning isolated movements into recognisable and increasingly complex expressions.

Professor Brian Francis from the Department of Maths and Statistics at Lancaster University said: "This is a new and fascinating insight into the remarkable process of fetal development. This research has for the first time demonstrated that in healthy fetuses there is a developmental progression from simple to complex facial movements, preparing the fetus for life post birth."

Although the fetus cannot make any sounds, the development of facial expressions means that at birth, the baby has already developed the facial movements to accompany crying and laughing.

Dr Nadja Reissland from Durham University said: "We have found so much more than we expected. We knew that the baby blinks before birth and that some research has identified scowling before birth. However in this study for the first time we have developed a method of coding and analysis which allows us to objectively trace the increasing complexity of movements over time which results in recognisable facial expressions."

The researchers argue that these patterns of the motor movements are developed before the baby feels the emotion, just as the baby practises breathing movements in the uterus even before it has drawn a breath.

The discovery could help potentially identify health problems in utero, since there is a link between fetal behavioural patterns and the development of the fetal brain. Looking at differences between normal and abnormal fetal facial developments may indicate problems with brain development.

The researchers now plan to look at whether fetal facial movement might help differentiate between fetuses of mothers who smoke during pregnancy and non-smokers. They will also examine the development of facial expressions relating to anger, smiling and sadness.


Taken from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 090927.htm

If a baby can do this in a womb there is no wonder that the child was able to respond to stimuli and laugh when he was out of it.
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Re: anencephaly and consciousness

Postby kennyc » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:53 am

We anthropomorphism many things including babies smiling from gas, animals thinking about things etc. It's just what we do.

There is a reason, we want to understand what that other person is thinking/feeling in order to enhance our survival in a social interaction.

That said I believe there is a full spectrum of awareness from simple cellular awareness of self vs. environment to full human-like self-awareness/consciousness.

Certainly the child had some basic awareness that was needed to carry on living, breathing, eating, metabolizing etc. as far as self-consciousness, no.
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Re: anencephaly and consciousness

Postby kennyc » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:56 am

Shen1986 wrote:Wanted to add something new what I found:
....

Taken from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 090927.htm

If a baby can do this in a womb there is no wonder that the child was able to respond to stimuli and laugh when he was out of it.



Yes, but that is a fetus with a fully functioning/developing brain.
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Re: anencephaly and consciousness

Postby kennyc » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:58 am

And so what does all this prove? That Colorado is the center for lack of brain development.... :lol: ;) :| :twisted:
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Re: anencephaly and consciousness

Postby Shen1986 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:50 am

kennyc wrote:
Shen1986 wrote:Wanted to add something new what I found:
....

Taken from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 090927.htm

If a baby can do this in a womb there is no wonder that the child was able to respond to stimuli and laugh when he was out of it.



Yes, but that is a fetus with a fully functioning/developing brain.


That is true and thanks for pointing that out. I just wanted to point this out that when a child in the womb can do this then maybe a person with Anencephaly has some respond to stimuli. Nothing more or less to be precise..

It is even in the wikipedia when I am now checking it again:

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) describes the presentation of this condition as follows: "A baby born with anencephaly is usually blind, deaf, unconscious, and unable to feel pain. Although some individuals with anencephaly may be born with a main brain stem, the lack of a functioning cerebrum permanently rules out the possibility of ever gaining consciousness. Reflex actions such as breathing and responses to sound or touch may occur."[3]


Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anencephaly

We anthropomorphism many things including babies smiling from gas, animals thinking about things etc. It's just what we do.

There is a reason, we want to understand what that other person is thinking/feeling in order to enhance our survival in a social interaction.

That said I believe there is a full spectrum of awareness from simple cellular awareness of self vs. environment to full human-like self-awareness/consciousness.

Certainly the child had some basic awareness that was needed to carry on living, breathing, eating, metabolizing etc. as far as self-consciousness, no.


True and I agree. I however think that some animals have even self-consciousness.
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Re: anencephaly and consciousness

Postby kennyc » Mon Jul 22, 2013 12:03 pm

Shen1986 wrote:...
True and I agree. I however think that some animals have even self-consciousness.


Absolutely they do, I'm not saying otherwise. This has even been demonstrated scientifically in the case of apes, chimps, and other animals (including some birds)...
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Re: anencephaly and consciousness

Postby Major Malfunction » Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:42 pm

kennyc wrote:
Shen1986 wrote:...
True and I agree. I however think that some animals have even self-consciousness.


Absolutely they do, I'm not saying otherwise. This has even been demonstrated scientifically in the case of apes, chimps, and other animals (including some birds)...

I'll go with that. There's definitely something in there. I can see it in their eyes.

Won't stop me from killing and eating them if I'm hungry but.
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