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Publications [#208941] of Joshua Vogelstein

Papers Published

  1. Vogelstein, Joshua T. and Vogelstein, R. Jacob and Priebe, Carey E., Are mental properties supervenient on brain properties?, Scientific Reports, vol. 1 no. 100 (2011), pp. 11, 10. 1038/srep00100, doi [], [doi]
    (last updated on 2012/09/19)

    The "mind-brain supervenience" conjecture suggests that all mental properties (e.g. consciousness, intelligence, personality, etc.) are derived from the physical properties of the brain. The validity of this conjecture has been argued in philosophical terms for over 2,500 years. Alternative conjectures, including various non-physical causes of mental properties, seem rather implausible to many, but proving or disproving these alternatives has remained elusive. To address the question of whether the mind supervenes on the brain, we here frame a supervenience hypothesis in rigorous mathematical terms. Specifically, we propose a modified version of supervenience (called epsilon-supervenience) that is amenable to experimental investigation and statistical analysis. To illustrate this approach, we perform a thought experiment that illustrates how the probabilistic theory of pattern recognition can be used to make a one-sided determination of epsilon-supervenience. The physical property of the brain employed in this analysis is the graph describing brain connectivity (i.e., the brain-graph or connectome). Epsilon-supervenience allows us to determine whether a particular mental property can be inferred from one's connectome to within any given misclassification rate > 0, regardless of the relationship between the two. To the philosopher, this work shows how philosophical conjectures can be transformed into statistical hypotheses that are amenable experimental investigation. This allows the philosopher to gain empirical support for her rational arguments. To the statistician, this work points out the limitations of hypothesis testing; and suggests that some of these limitations have not previously been fully appreciated. To the neuroscientist, this work indicates that much of contemporary research can be framed in terms of investigating supervenience. This should provide further motivation for cross-disciplinary research between neuroscientists and statistical graphtheoreticians.
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