ChrissyBlue

Consciousness During Sleep

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Hello. I'd like your opinion on an unusual topic that's been weighing heavily on my mind.

My concern is that our consciousness dies in our sleep and is replaced by a "copy". At first, I thought that couldn't be the case due to dreams and brain waves that are recorded during sleep studies. But then I read further and the argument is brain activity is not enough evidence for consciousness to continue while we sleep and that dreams could just be memories with the illusion of consciousness when we awaken.

So the question is, are brainwaves and dreams proof that our consciousness doesn't die during sleep? 

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You, as a person, are your cells, which are configured uniquely as you, so I don't see how you can be replaced by a copy in your sleep. I am disregarding external intervention. Could you give a reference to this idea?

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14 minutes ago, ChrissyBlue said:

So the question is, are brainwaves and dreams proof that our consciousness doesn't die during sleep? 

Brainwaves, maybe. Because they are continuous, unlike dreams. 

But it is quite possible that our sense of continual consciousness is just an illusion we create from our memories. 

2 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

You, as a person, are your cells, which are configured uniquely as you, so I don't see how you can be replaced by a copy in your sleep. I am disregarding external intervention. Could you give a reference to this idea?

But your cells are constantly being replaced (see also Trigger’s Broom or Theseus’s Ship). 

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30 minutes ago, ChrissyBlue said:

My concern is that our consciousness dies in our sleep and is replaced by a "copy"

 

1730121-Dalai-Lama-XIV-Quote-If-a-proble

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25 minutes ago, Strange said:

Brainwaves, maybe. Because they are continuous, unlike dreams. 

But it is quite possible that our sense of continual consciousness is just an illusion we create from our memories. 

But your cells are constantly being replaced (see also Trigger’s Broom or Theseus’s Ship). 

Operative word is 'configured' - in the sense of an ensemble. I don't think there's routine replacement of cells that reside in areas that store memories... kinda defeats the point. :)

Edited by StringJunky

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29 minutes ago, ChrissyBlue said:

So the question is, are brainwaves and dreams proof that our consciousness doesn't die during sleep? 

Science actually doesn't try to prove things true (because you can't). You can prove something is false, but not true.

So instead we amass evidence in support of an idea. I certainly think brainwaves and dreams are supportive evidence that consciousness doesn't "die" (I assume you mean something like losing Random Access Memory when you shut off your computer). It's my understanding also that there's nothing in the brainwave patterns of a sleeping person to suggest anything shuts down. Neurons communicate more locally during sleep, and there's less connected activity.

Another piece of evidence is the sense of time. When you've slept for a period of time, upon waking you retain a sense of having spent that time in sleep. However, if you're given a general anesthetic (say, before a medical operation), you wake up afterward having felt like you just went to sleep, even though hours may have elapsed. Again, the neurons don't stop communicating, but they form more localized signals, isolating brain activity. 

47 minutes ago, ChrissyBlue said:

But then I read further...

I also would like to see a reference to the piece you read. I'm very curious why the author believes our consciousness dies when we sleep, and where we get this backup copy from when it does. It's sounds contrived, and unnecessarily complex. If consciousness doesn't die when you sleep, you don't have to figure out where you're storing/getting a complete copy of your consciousness (whatever THAT entails).

I'm betting the author is a computer specialist rather than a neurologist.

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18 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

Science actually doesn't try to prove things true (because you can't). You can prove something is false, but not true.

So instead we amass evidence in support of an idea. I certainly think brainwaves and dreams are supportive evidence that consciousness doesn't "die" (I assume you mean something like losing Random Access Memory when you shut off your computer). It's my understanding also that there's nothing in the brainwave patterns of a sleeping person to suggest anything shuts down. Neurons communicate more locally during sleep, and there's less connected activity.

Another piece of evidence is the sense of time. When you've slept for a period of time, upon waking you retain a sense of having spent that time in sleep. However, if you're given a general anesthetic (say, before a medical operation), you wake up afterward having felt like you just went to sleep, even though hours may have elapsed. Again, the neurons don't stop communicating, but they form more localized signals, isolating brain activity. 

I also would like to see a reference to the piece you read. I'm very curious why the author believes our consciousness dies when we sleep, and where we get this backup copy from when it does. It's sounds contrived, and unnecessarily complex. If consciousness doesn't die when you sleep, you don't have to figure out where you're storing/getting a complete copy of your consciousness (whatever THAT entails).

I'm betting the author is a computer specialist rather than a neurologist.

"How I hate those little slices of death we call sleep" - Edgar Allen Poe. Possibly inspired by that.  :)

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Thanks for the responses. Basically, what caused me worry was a conversation on Reddit. The guy arguing for this said no one knows what happens in the brain when someone loses consciousness or where the consciousness goes. That, because brain waves continue, doesn't mean our consciousness continues and that for all we know we could die when we lose consciousness and be replaced by a copy. He argued that perhaps the processes responsible for consciousness shut off and when they come back on create a new consciousness like the way the brain recreates memories when you remember them instead of actually storing them. The only reference he gave was concerning dreams. He said the theories of neurological origin of dreams (shown here Https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream under neurological theories) prove dreams aren't proof. I'm not sure if any of what he said is true. I think the brain does actually store memories so that part of what he said is probably false. I know this is a ridiculous thing to worry about, but the idea of it kind of creeps me out. Do you guys think any of what this person said is true? 

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1 minute ago, ChrissyBlue said:

Do you guys think any of what this person said is true? 

It really depends on how one defines consciousness, and what thresholds are set between sleep and wakefulness. He also seems to be conflating the idea that we are "conscious" beings with the idea that we're "conscious" while awake. They're different usages of one single word.

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19 minutes ago, ChrissyBlue said:

He argued that perhaps the processes responsible for consciousness shut off and when they come back on create a new consciousness like the way the brain recreates memories when you remember them instead of actually storing them. 

Remember this: that which is presented without evidence can be dismissed without evidence,.. he pulled it out of his ass.

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Here is an interesting article on the effect of anaesthetics on brain function and consciousness. I'm not sure it answers the question, but does suggest that all the brain activity that corresponds to "conscious" activity (even when asleep) can be stopped and replace with something else, but we still wake up and are (or think we are!) the same person. 

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2 hours ago, Strange said:

Here is an interesting article on the effect of anaesthetics on brain function and consciousness. I'm not sure it answers the question, but does suggest that all the brain activity that corresponds to "conscious" activity (even when asleep) can be stopped and replace with something else, but we still wake up and are (or think we are!) the same person. 

I think I understand. So even if brain activity that corresponds with consciousness is stopped, when you wake up your same conscious experience is continued? It's not that your consciousness dies and a copy is created, when you wake up, that just thinks it's you? 

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3 hours ago, ChrissyBlue said:

The guy arguing for this said no one knows what happens in the brain when someone loses consciousness or where the consciousness goes. That, because brain waves continue, doesn't mean our consciousness continues and that for all we know we could die when we lose consciousness and be replaced by a copy. He argued that perhaps the processes responsible for consciousness shut off and when they come back on create a new consciousness like the way the brain recreates memories when you remember them instead of actually storing them.

Similarly, just because brain waves continue during wake doesn't mean our consciousness continues, and for all we know we die and are replaced by a copy continuously.

The conjecture seems silly either way.

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6 hours ago, ChrissyBlue said:

Hello. I'd like your opinion on an unusual topic that's been weighing heavily on my mind.

My concern is that our consciousness dies in our sleep and is replaced by a "copy". At first, I thought that couldn't be the case due to dreams and brain waves that are recorded during sleep studies. But then I read further and the argument is brain activity is not enough evidence for consciousness to continue while we sleep and that dreams could just be memories with the illusion of consciousness when we awaken.

So the question is, are brainwaves and dreams proof that our consciousness doesn't die during sleep? 

If I'm not too late to this discussion, I believe the answer resides in how we understand or define consciousness.  If by consciousness you're referencing our general awareness and sense of self, sleep merely alters our awareness and partly suspends our conscious sense of self but it does not cause the kind of death and renewal your query implies. 

Consciousness, as a reference to or descriptive of awareness, is merely a measured response to stimuli.  Generally, our brainwaves and brain activity amid sleep are responses to stimuli and are, therefore, evidence of awareness albeit an altered state of awareness.  Sleep studies have provided evidence, for example, of a correlation of increased brain activity when sleep study participants received sound and heat stimuli. This in itself is evidence that awareness, as a measure of consciousness, doesn't cease or die when we sleep.

Dreaming is an interpretive process our sleeping brain engages when it's stimulated to increase activity during sleep.  Dreams are how our sleeping brain interprets what it believes it is experiencing when it is stimulated by the metabolic processes of the brain and body that occur during sleep. 

Consciousness, as it may relate to our sense of self and identity relative to our experiences and environment, is dependent on how brain function integrates and focuses that quality.  From my perspective of the metadata, our sense of self and identity is dependent on how our brain is stimulated to activate and integrate responses from the stores of experience and memories it has amassed in our lifetime.  For example, our consciousness of who we are while awake and aware is not the same consciousness suggested by our dreams.  This distinction occurs because there is a distinction between the stimuli our waking and sleeping brain receives.  That distinction is suggested by the low activation of our prefrontal cortex amid dreaming, which is attributable to diminished stimulation during sleep.  So when we dream, our brain creates a consciousness that is generally oblivious of being asleep in bed because it is not stimulated in the way it is while awake. 

Edited by DrmDoc
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50 minutes ago, DrmDoc said:

If I'm not too late to this discussion, I believe the answer resides in how we understand or define consciousness.  If by consciousness you're referencing our general awareness and sense of self, sleep merely alters our awareness and partly suspends our conscious sense of self but it does not cause the kind of death and renewal your query implies. 

Consciousness, as a reference to or descriptive of awareness, is merely a measured response to stimuli.  Generally, our brainwaves and brain activity amid sleep are responses to stimuli and are, therefore, evidence of awareness albeit an altered state of awareness.  Sleep studies have provided evidence, for example, of a correlation of increased brain activity when sleep study participants received sound and heat stimuli. This in itself is evidence that awareness, as a measure of consciousness, doesn't cease or die when we sleep.

Dreaming is an interpretive process our sleeping brain engages when it's stimulated to increase activity during sleep.  Dreams are how our sleeping brain interprets what it believes it is experiencing when it is stimulated by the metabolic processes of the brain and body that occur during sleep. 

Consciousness, as it may relate to our sense of self and identity relative to our experiences and environment, is dependent on how brain function integrates and focuses that quality.  From my perspective of the metadata, our sense of self and identity is dependent on how our brain is stimulated to activate and integrate responses from the stores of experience and memories it has amassed in our lifetime.  For example, our consciousness of who we are while awake and aware is not the same consciousness suggested by our dreams.  This distinction occurs because there is a distinction between the stimuli our waking and sleeping brain receives.  That distinction is suggested by the low activation of our prefrontal cortex amid dreaming, which is attributable to diminished stimulation during sleep.  So when we dream, our brain creates a consciousness that is generally oblivious of being asleep in bed because it is not stimulated in the way it is while awake. 

You're not too late at all. Your post was very clear and helped me understand further. I tried to "like" the post, but apparently, I reached my limit for the day.

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8 minutes ago, ChrissyBlue said:

I tried to "like" the post, but apparently, I reached my limit for the day

You can always try tomorrow after you sleep tonight. I liked it, too, for its clarity and the good natured help it provided. 

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12 hours ago, iNow said:

You can always try tomorrow after you sleep tonight. 

When you will be a different person and so get a new allocation of "likes" :eek:

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16 hours ago, ChrissyBlue said:

It's not that your consciousness dies and a copy is created, when you wake up, that just thinks it's you? 

More evidence that supports this idea being false is the very nature of a copy of anything. They're never exactly the same, there are always some slight deviations, additions, and omissions that become compounded the more you keep making copies of copies. If your consciousness was copied EVERY TIME YOU FALL ASLEEP, it wouldn't take long before there were noticeable changes (maybe not noticeable by the individual, but certainly by those who know them best). 

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