Now more than ever before, we have the tools to study the mysteries
of consciousness. Memory, dreams, the self are now being examined using
high-tech brain scans developed by physicists on the cutting edge of
Dr. Michio Kaku, professor at the City College of New York, is among them. In The Future of the Mind,
he gives readers a look at some of the most astonishing research in
neuroscience today, and presents a vision of what future innovation
might bring. NPR's Arun Rath speaks with Kaku about the advances in
technology and our understanding of human consciousness.
On the organization of the brain
We used to
think the brain was like a computer. But now we realize that's not true
— there's no programming of the brain, there's no windows. And we think
the brain is more like a large corporation. ... In a corporation, you
have subdivisions that operate independently of the main office. And
that's why we have an unconscious mind, because you have to have, for
example, emotional reactions to things very quickly.
On what makes human consciousness special
can imagine things far beyond our body. We can imagine social
hierarchies much more complex than what we actually have, and we can
simulate the future. And so these are three levels of consciousness.
Consciousness-one level is understanding where we are in space.
Consciousness two is where we understand our position in society: who's
top dog, who's underdog, and who's in the middle. And type-three
consciousness is simulating the future ... only humans have this ability
to see far into the future. Read More and Listen to the NPR Interview