What is the meaning behind the statement: “neural correlates for mental activities”


I am now reading the “Mind Illuminated” where the author states:

>Over and over again, we find there are neural correlates for mental activities. Although some will resist this statement, I believe we will eventually find that all mental phenomena, without exception, have their neural correlates.

A quick search on wikipedia gave me the following definition for a neural correlate:

> the minimal set of neuronal events and mechanisms sufficient for a specific conscious percept.

But how to connect what the authors says and the definition? Is it that when you activate certain neurons in the brain, then you can access a concrete mental state?

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3 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

What the author says is that every mental activity has a neural activation pattern. There is no mind that is independant of your brain. (This doesn’t mean you can reconstruct the mental state from the neural activity, just that there always IS neural activity when a mental phenomenon occurs)

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s sounds like he’s saying the mind has its basis in the brain. That neural behaviors (like movements of chemicals or signals in the brain) affect “all mental phenomena” … so even seemingly abstract things like consciousness or thought or emotion are the result “neural behavior” (stuff happening in the brain).

I’m not sure why he suggests this would be controversial as opposed to widely accepted in the medical community but whatever. Maybe he’s referring to the notion that the fact that consciousness results from neural activity, and therefore you can’t have consciousness without a living brain, seems to refute the idea of something like a soul or life after death which seem unlikely/impossible given current knowledge. Hopefully there is a lot we don’t know cause frankly the notion of an afterlife is not looking too plausible right now.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Brain activity patterns: Things like brainwave pattern or blood flow to certain areas. It is in no way surprising by the way that our nervous system shows specific activity that correlates with certain behaviour. Neural correlates are the physiological underpinnings of thought processes and behaviour, the physiological activity that can be mapped to the research subjects of the discipline of psychology. I would even go as far and state that saying that there isn’t a neural correlate for any given behaviour is the more controversial statement. Cognitive and affective neuroscience are almost exclusively about identifying said neural correlates and their commonalities across people.