Books published

Buddha Purnima 032

Chapter on “The Embodied Brain, Mind and Self.”

The Embodied Brain, Mind and Self:

Neuroscience and Intuitive Wisdom


Vinod D Deshmukh, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Neurology (Emeritus)

University of Florida, Jacksonville, Florida, USA.



“Never forget that the universe is a single living organism possessed of one substance and one soul, holding all things suspended in a single consciousness and creating all things with a single purpose that they might work together spinning and weaving and knotting whatever comes to pass.” Marcus Aurelius.


“Words heard or read, will only create images in your mind, but, you are not an image.

You are the power of perception and action, behind and beyond the image.” Nisargadatta Maharaj


“I am life. I am the space in which all things happen.

I am consciousness. I am the now…” Eckhart Tolle.




One of the most exciting new ideas in the neuroscience of cognition is the concept of embodiment and embeddedness of living organisms in their environment. This new perspective takes life or living organisms as the middle ground between the two extreme neuro-philosophical positions of realism (all-is-matter view) and idealism (all-is-mind view). The brain of a living organism is embodied and its body is embedded in the natural ecosystem. In simple words, all cognitive events do not occur in the brain alone. The organism and its brain are not isolated biophysical structures. Therefore, looking for the conscious mind and self-awareness in the brain alone is unproductive. We need to expand our field of enquiry and consider the brain, the body, the personal environment, and the world as interactive constituents of a unified biophysical system, in which the conscious and subconscious mental processes and events occur. Being a single dynamic system, all of the constituent parts are interactive and interdependent. There is a continuous dynamic flow of energy, matter and information between these constituents. Each living organism is interacting with its environment by its action-perception cycle. The conscious mind and ego emerge from such an interactive matrix of energy-information flow. Information guides energy and the energy shapes the matter. The circadian biorhythms are continuously linked to the biospheric (geological-atmospheric-solar-lunar-cosmic) cycles. All life is embedded in the biosphere and the cosmos. What is observed and experienced depends on two factors: i) the sensorimotor capacities of the organism and ii) the organism’s mode of attention at the moment of interaction, namely, the vector mode of directed attention and the matrix mode of undirected attentiveness, vigilance or awareness. Historically, some these ideas have been discovered by intuitive observations and insightful wisdom by the wise seers from all over the world. A few examples of such profound intuitive insights and wisdom are quoted in the final section of this chapter.



            The world is continuously changing and so are we. But, at a singular experiential moment or in a window of simultaneity, we define ourselves in the world and the world defines us. Our selfhood defines our moment-to-moment presence and experience. It depends upon the momentary integration or a self-conscious unity that emerges from a distributed consensus of multiple, simultaneous and situational events.  Please see figure 1.


Figure 1: A diagram representing the embodied cognitive system, constituted by the brain, the body, the personal environment and the world, cosmos or universe. There is a constant bidirectional flow of energy, matter and information between the brain, the body, the environment and the cosmos. What is observed or experienced at a given space-time point or in the window of simultaneity, depends up on the individual observer’s mode of attention, the self-situation perspective, and the tools used for observation and action.


Most of the cognitive activity is a transfer, a flow or an exchange of energy-information between two cognitive agents or systems. Cognition is like a conversation between two persons, or an internal dialogue with oneself. During meditation, all such conversations pause and resolve momentarily. Then, the mind remains empty, clear, silent, serene and alert. In such a meditative presence, the limitless holistic mind, both conscious and subconscious, is integrated, spontaneous, and creative. Some surprising new creative ideas and solutions may dawn on one in such a unique fundamental state of essential energy, awareness and being. By directing one’s attention we define our world of experience, and the world of experience, in turn, defines us from moment-to-moment.


            The classical view of cognition is based on a computational approach. The brain is presumed to act like a computer, an information-processing machine with algorithms that process sequential, multimodal symbols or representations stored in its memory. Sensorimotor systems act only as input-output devices, receiving and transmitting information to the environment. Environment or the world is independent of the cognitive system and it plays a limited passive role in the organism’s cognition and mentation. In the behaving robots all behaviors are programmed in a detailed and stepwise, algorithmic manner. All cognition is presumed to occur in the brain, which serves as the central processing unit. The standard cognitive science includes sub-processes such as perception, memory, and attention, language, learning and problem-solving.


Embodied Intelligence

            Weigman [1] challenged such a classical view of cognition by asking a bold question: “Does intelligence require a body?” This question applies to both living organisms as well as intelligently behaving robots. The basic idea in embodiment is to learn from experience by actively interacting with the given environment, using one’s sensorimotor capabilities, just as children learn by interacting with their environment. From an evolutionary perspective, the brains have always developed and evolved in the context of a body in the world in order to survive and thrive. To understand the world, we must experience the world. An apple cannot be fully duplicated by mere programming, but we can experience it directly. It is the interaction with environment that gives meaning to the symbolic representations like words and images.


Motor experience is a prerequisite for perception and cognition. It is the recursive action-perception cycles that lead to cognition. Motor neurons are active during movement as well as the observation of a movement. In social interactions, understanding the actions of others, their goals and intentions requires an internal simulation of the observed events. Thus social intelligence and skills are developed through active organism-environment interactions, personal experience and learning.


Embodied Cognition

            In 2002, Margaret Wilson [2] presented an excellent review article on the six views of embodied cognition.  In embodied cognition, the brain interacts with the body and the body interacts with its environment. Thus, the brain, the body and the environment constitute a unified cognitive system. The sensorimotor systems play an active role in information-processing. There seems to be a small role played by the algorithmic processing of symbolic representations and stored memories.


The six views of embodied cognition have been elaborated by Wilson. They are:

  1. Cognition is a situated or embedded. Cognitive activity occurs in the context of real world environment, and it inherently involves the active participation of perception-action systems.
  2. Cognition is time-pressured. We think as if the mind is on the hoof. Cognition has to be understood in terms of how it functions under the pressure of real-time interactions with the environment.
  3. We off-load cognitive work onto the environment due to our limited cognitive capacity in terms of attention and working memory. We use the environment in order to hold and manipulate information to minimize our cognitive workload. We use books, calendars, smart phones, and computers to archive relevant information for current and future use. We use such information on a need-to-know basis.
  4. The environment is an interactive part of the cognitive system. The informational flow between the brain, the mind and the world is dense and continuous. The situation and the situated cognizer form a unified dynamic cognitive system.
  5. Cognition is for action. The function of the mind is to guide action and the situation-related behavior. It is used for better motor and behavioral control in order to improve personal experience and adaptation to the environment for survival and thriving.
  6. Off-line cognition is body-based as it occurs in dream sleep and day-dreaming. The mental activity is grounded in the sensorimotor processing, which evolved for the successful interaction with the environment.


In artificial intelligence and the behavior-based robotics [3], the cognitive system can be considered as a controller with actuators and sensors that interact with its environment and learn from its experience. Such a cognitive system is situated or embedded in its interactive environment. The same model can also be applied to biological organisms as embodied cognitive agents, situated or embedded in their personal environments.


            The embodied cognition with its various aspects was well introduced in a book form by Shapiro [4]. He briefly described the standard cognitive science, which involves algorithmic processing of symbolic representations, and which is based on the computational theory of mind. The standard cognitive science includes sub-processes including perception, memory, attention, language, learning and problem-solving.  The embodied cognitive approach has three main themes or hypotheses, namely, the conceptualization, the replacement and the constitution hypotheses.


In the conceptualization theme, the properties of an organism’s body limit or constrain the concepts that an organism can acquire and develop. The understanding and conceptualization of the surrounding world would depend upon the kind of body and its sensorimotor capacities, which the organism happens to have. In this sense, each organism develops its own experiential world and leads an interactive life within it. In the replacement theme, cognition does not depend upon computation or the algorithmic processing of symbolic representations. It depends upon the organism’s bodily interactions and experiences of the environment.


In the constitution theme, the body and the world play a constitutive role in cognition. In other words, cognitive events do not occur just inside the brain, but, in a dynamic cognitive system, in which the brain interacts with the body and the body interacts with the world. The brain is embodied and the body is embedded in its environment. The brain, the body and the world constitute a single unified cognitive system. With the concept of extended cognition, the body is literally part of the mind, and the mind extends beyond the body into the real world through information exchange.


Ecological Psychology

Gibson’s ecological theory of perception is comprehensive and revealing [5]. He suggests that the environmental stimulation, that the organism is exposed to, has both successive and simultaneous character and structure. This structured stimulation depends upon the energy and information sources and resources in the environment. The brain of an organism resonates to such energy-information or the signal input. For resonating or tuning, he discusses the inadequacy of an analogy of a radio receiver.

“This model is inadequate because there would have to be a little man to twiddle the knobs. The perceiver is a self-tuning system. What makes it resonate to the interesting broadcasts that are available instead of all the trash (noise) that fills the air? The answer might be (that) the pickup of information is reinforcing.” [4:36].


Gibson also makes a crucial point that the to-be-perceived information does not come to the observing organism passively, but it is actively searched and sought out.

“Each perceptual system orients itself in appropriate ways for the pickup of environmental information, and depends upon the general orienting system of the whole body. Head movements, ear movements, hand movements, nose and mouth movements, and eye movements are part-and-parcel of the perceptual (cognitive) system they serve… They serve to explore the information available in sound, mechanical contact, chemical contact, and light.” [4: 35].


By self-tuning, Gibson means a self-correcting mechanism like the pupillary reflex accommodation to the intensity of light in the eye and also many other automatic, and adaptive physiological mechanisms. Certain dynamical systems are capable of self-correcting in order to maintain a desired level of performance or a specific variable like the body temperature, blood pH, oxygen level, and a particular mode and type of behavior.


Embodied Mind

Varela, Thompson and Rosch [6] published a landmark book, The Embodied Mind, in 1991. These authors explain what they mean by the word “embodied.”

“By using the term embodied we mean to highlight two points: first, that cognition depends upon the kinds of experience that come from having a (particular) body with various (but specific) sensorimotor capacities, and second, that these individual sensorimotor capacities are themselves embedded in a more encompassing biological, psychological and cultural context. By using the term action we mean to emphasize once again that the sensory and motor processes – perception and action – are fundamentally inseparable in lived cognition (experience).” [4: 52].


Perception and action are inseparable in the sense that they determine each other. Perception leads to action and action defines perception. Such a circular causality forms an action-perception-action loop. The contents of perception are partly determined by the actions of an organism, which are guided by the organism’s perceptions of the world.


In order to explain the embeddedness of an organism’s body in its environment, two opposing views called, Chicken and Egg Positions have been described.

“Chicken Position (Realism): The world out there has pregiven properties. These exist prior to the image that is cast on the cognitive system, whose task is to recover them appropriately (whether through symbols or global subsymbolic states). Egg Position (Idealism): The cognitive system projects its own world, and the apparent reality of the world is merely a reflection of internal laws of the system.” [4: 53-54].


The first position is a statement of realism. It commits one to believe in a reality that is independent of any sensory-perceptual awareness and is known only through symbolic representations. The second position is that of idealism, where a reality external to the mind of the cognizer is not recognized. The concept of a living organism and an embodied sensorimotor action and cognition define a middle ground between these two extreme views.


Thelen applied the dynamical systems theory to the cognitive phenomena and the concept of embodiment [7, 8].

“To say that cognition is embodied means that it arises from bodily interactions with the world. From this point of view, cognition depends on the kinds of experiences that come from having a body with particular perceptual and motor capabilities that are inseparably linked and that together form the matrix, within which reasoning, memory, emotion, language, and all other aspects of mental life are enmeshed.” [4:56].


Clark proposes six essential principles of embodied cognition [9, 10, 11]. The first is the principle of “nontrivial causal spread” that applies to the cognitive system, which uses the external resources, factors and forces to achieve extraordinary behavioral results as seen in some of the behaving robots like slinky who climbs down a staircase in a very human like manner. Slinky’s movements are guided by gravity without much complex internal computation.


The second is the principle of “ecological assembly.” With this principle, an organism is able to use structured information from the environment with minimal effort in order to duplicate it on the basis of memory or simulation using its mirror neuron system. The organism uses the environmental resources in order to solve problems efficiently and with minimal effort, memory and representations.


The third is the principle of “open channel perception.” With this organism is continuously monitoring the environment and making changes only when needed in order to achieve the desired results.


The fourth is the principle of “information self-structuring.” Information seeking and perception are active processes involving an organism’s sensorimotor mechanisms. An organism or a robot structures an object or a situation by actively moving and exploring the environment, and thus, informationally self-structuring and guiding it.


The fifth principle emphasizes that the perception is a “sensorimotor experience.” Clark suggests that the locus of perceptual experience is not, as might ordinarily be thought, in the brain, but it is instead, spread out across many cycles of the organism-world interactions.


The sixth principle is that of “dynamic-computational complementarity.” By this Clark suggests a middle ground for explaining the embodied cognition. In this scheme, cognition would involve aspects of both the system dynamics as well as computation with some representation. The dynamic systems and computational approaches are complimentary.


The replacement hypothesis relies on two main ideas, a) the cognition emerges from interactions in a dynamical system and b) a robot can be designed and structured to behave autonomously.


“The dynamical system is any system that changes over time. The dynamical systems theory (DST) is the mathematical apparatus that describes how systems change over time. The first step in describing the behavior of a dynamical system is to identify those parts of it that change. The second step is to map out all the possible ways in which these parts might change. A change is described in DST as a change in state, and so the map of all possible changes is known as the state space.” (Shapiro 2011:116). [4: 116].


Kelso, in describing the control or the order parameter of an emergent or self-organizing system or a pattern, stated [12]:

“The control parameter does not prescribe or contain the code for the emerging pattern. It simply leads the system through the variety of possible patterns or states… the order parameter is created by cooperation of the individual parts of the system, here the fluid molecules. Conversely, it governs or constrains the behavior of the individual parts.” [4:117].


Dynamical Cognitive Systems

Van Gelder proposed Dynamical Hypothesis for the cognitive systems [13]. It specifies that the cognitive agent is the dynamical system itself and that we should understand cognition as a dynamical process. Cognition happens in time. The components of a cognitive system are continuously changing. Cognitive agents or perceivers actively explore their world and through their interactive activities pick up new information. Thus, action leads to perception, which creates new opportunities for further actions, which results in new perceptions.


The circle of causality from which cognition emerges comprises of the brain, the body and the environment. In such a tripartite cognitive system, the brain is embodied through its interactions with the body and the body is embedded in the environment through its interactions. The three components are continuously connected through their biophysical, psychological and social interactions. Embodiment and embeddedness broaden the boundaries of the cognitive system. Cognition does not happen just in the brain, but it emerges from the dynamical interactions between the brain, the body, the external reality and the socio-cultural milieu.


Sensorimotor Theory of Perception

Noe and O’ Regan proposed a sensorimotor theory of perception [14]. The following are some of their proposed arguments in favor of a sensorimotor view of perception rather than a computational approach with algorithmic processing of representations.

1              The experience of vision is actually constituted by a mode of exploring the environment.

2              There can be no one-to-one correspondence between visual experience and neural activations. Seeing is not constituted by activation of neural representations.

3              Neural activity alone is not sufficient to produce vision.

4              We propose that experience does not derive from brain activity. Experience is just the activity in which the exploring of the environment consists (occurs). The experience lies in the doing.

5              Our ability to perceive not only depends on, but is constituted by our possession of this sort of sensorimotor (ability and) knowledge.

6              What perception is, however, is not a process in the brain, but a kind of skillful activity on the part of the animal as a whole (in its environment).

7              Perceptual experience is a mode of skillful exploration of the world.” [4:164-165].


Embodied Decision Making

Animals have to make instantaneous decisions in uncertain and emergent situations. They may involve facing or avoiding a danger or taking advantage of an opportunity by approaching and pursuing it. In such situations, choices and their cost and benefit, are defined by the momentary geometry of the immediate environment, which continuously changes during the animal’s ongoing activity. This is especially evident during predator and prey interactions. Both have to make instantaneous decisions in order to succeed and survive. Predator-prey interaction becomes a dynamic system [15].


Instantaneous decisions are made during interactive behavior. To understand decision-making in the context within which it evolves, both the organism and its environment have to be considered. A cognitive agent’s interaction with the ever-changing world is dynamic. The environment at a given moment defines the potential field for interaction, through which the state of the cognitive agent has to flow. Behavioral goals are the attractors towards which the state tends to move and the decision points are the ridges between basins defined by different goals and the current situational geometry. The flow field is not static, but it changes continuously as the agent moves and the surrounding world changes.


Another example of this dynamics is seen in the American football game. There are two major roles played by the players. The quarter-back player has to keep his attention on the whole field and make a decision to throw the ball at a particular receiver-player. This mode of attention is called, eye-on-the-field or the matrix mode. The receiving player in the field has to run and position himself to catch the ball accurately. Such a focused attentive behavior is called, the eye-on-the-ball or the vector mode. These two are crucial modes of attentiveness and activity that define success or failure in this game and many other team sports.


In general, the central executive system is presumed to function from the frontal lobes and it is involved in intentional deliberation, decision-making and commitment. The orbitofrontal cortex and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex are involved in appraising the affective economic value of the given situation. Goal-to-plan of action probably takes place in the lateral prefrontal cortex.  This projects to the premotor and the motor cortex, which control motor activity and specific movements. The sensory-perceptual systems are then involved in the online feedback and further tuning of the ongoing motor activity to achieve success in a given situation. An opposing view is that there is no central executive in the frontal lobes, but, only a distributed consensus that emerges from the recursive and mutually inhibitory interactions between the frontal and parieto-temporal perception-action systems. The cortical and subcortical systems, including the cerebellum and the basal ganglia, are also involved in arriving at the critical decision for action, alternative action, or non-action. Such a distributed consensus may take up to about 150 ms in humans.


Humans act as cognitive agents in their dynamic environment to achieve certain goals. They do so by actively exploring the situational environment, by adapting and flexible planning. Cognitive activity is always situational and it occurs in a particular context. Knowing is inseparable from doing. Education should favor learning by active exploring and doing, rather than by passive accumulation of knowledge based on memory.


The Embodied Brain-Mind

The mind is both embodied and relational [16]. It is interdependent on people and their bio-psycho-social and cultural environment. The brain, the body, the mind, the self and the environment jointly together regulate the energy, matter and information flow. They co-determine the state of our brain-mind-body and thus define how we perceive, think and feel, both individually and collectively. Human body is highly interdependent and integrated with the biophysical environment. The holistic world view, which espouses mutual causation between the brain, the body, as well as the physical and social environment, is consistent with the complexity theory and the recent principles of embodied cognition.


Cardiac vagal tone, measured as respiratory sinus arrhythmia represents a continuous, subconscious biomarker of stress level. It is a physiological index of self-regulatory capacity affecting bodily homeostasis, emotional regulation, executive cognitive function and overt behavior. Both external and internal stress down-regulate prefrontal cortical function, which is the hub for the central executive control.


Meditation, yoga and mindfulness help to reduce and prevent stress, anxiety and depression. These mental-behavioral skills and lifestyles not only reduce negative emotions like anger, fear, disgust, hatred, greed and lust, but also promote positive emotions like calmness, joy, friendliness, and compassion. Mindfulness is awareness of one’s present moment experience with nonjudgemental perception and acceptance.

“When changing behavior at the individual or population level and whether targeting physical or emotional health, an important lesson is that the task is best accomplished, when the Neuroception (Interoception) generates feelings of safety (and satiety). The reason is that feeling of being safe promotes cognitive flexibility and inhibits dominant impulsive emotional reactions to life events. People with higher vagal tone are able to self-regulate negative facial expressions and report a lower frequency of adverse responses to environmental stressors as compared to those with low vagal tone.” [16:661]


The Embodied and Disembodied Cognition and the Brain

One strong premise of embodied cognition is that the sensorimotor simulation is a necessary component of lexical-semantic representation, motor imagery and motor enactment. Brain is both highly modality-specific like visual, tactile and auditory modalities, as well as modality-nonspecific, as in the multimodal convergence zones in parieto-temporal cortex, serving semantic-conceptual processing.


In a study of 14 patients with Broca’s nonfluent aphasia, it was found that the size of the lesions alone in the vocal motor and premotor areas of the frontal lobe (BA 4 & BA6) was not sufficient to predict the severity of cognitive deficits. The involvement of multimodal convergence zones in the parieto-temporal areas had to be considered to account for the deficits.  The multimodal convergence zones are known to support semantic-conceptual processing and they are probably involved in the semantic memory, imagination and day-dreaming. The latter processes are examples of disembodied cognition [17]. The authors used the Hub-and-Spokes model for analyzing the functional cortical networks and their activities, where the hubs are the multimodal convergence zones and the spokes are the unimodal perceptual-motor areas.


The Embodied Self

            Seth has presented the embodiment of selfhood very well in his recent opinion article [18]. His key definitions are provided in the section on glossary below.


Brain is considered as a Bayesian machine with the predictive coding and predictive error correction capabilities based on the behavioral context. Bayesian approach to the brain function investigates the capacity of the nervous system to operate in situations of uncertainty, in a fashion that is close to the optimal result prescribed by Bayesian statistics, which is based conditional probability. For example, if an event A has occurred, then the probability of an event B occurring is more or less based on the conditional fact that A has already occurred. Bayesian approach provides a context and a space-time background to an event under consideration. One of the most relevant features of the world for a particular organism is the organism itself. The internal physiological milieu provides a primary reference for the organism as the material me. This supports the organism’s adaptive interactions with its environment.


Anterior insular cortex (AIC) is a crucial neural hub for the anticipatory visceromotor control and the critical self-management of the internal milieu by adaptive sympathetic and parasympathetic activities. AIC also integrates the processes of interoception, exteroception, visceral representation, emotional awareness and its relevance to the dynamic selfhood. AIC and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) are connected to limbic and fronto-parietal areas. AIC contains a viscerotopic map and it serves as a limbic sensory area. ACC serves as the limbic motor area. AIC and ACC are also connected to the subcortical structures like the periaqueductal gray, parabrachial nucleus, amygdala, nucleus accumbens, and the orbito-frontal cortex. The optimal functioning of this AIC-ACC neural circuit is crucial for conscious self-awareness and our sense of selfhood.


Reins on the Brain

Dotov proposed a radical embodied cognitive neuroscience (RECN) perspective based on the dynamical systems theory, the complex systems theory, self-organization, and the ecological psychology [19]. He suggested that the central nervous system should be treated as a nonlinear dynamical system guided by circular causality including the brain, the environment and behavior. He proposed two roles that the CNS had to fulfill in order to allow an animal to behave adequately in its niche. In its first role, the CNS had to be enslaved easily by patterns of behavior that guide the animal through its environment. In the second role the brain had to switch flexibly among behavioral patterns. He called this the metastable circuit breaker. The term neurodynamics could be used to designate the study of the brain as a dynamical system. In conclusion, Dotov suggested:

“An important objective of RECN is to motivate a neurodynamics that is more ecological, (and) less isolated in the head (brain). The initial steps offered here involve Ashby’s logical argument of what self-organization might mean and some untoward consequences from failing to realize the importance of the environment… The slaving principle and the notion of order parameter, backed by the analytical tools and theory of synergetics, serve to give more rigorous footing to the idea that macroscopic order at the level of behavior can dictate the mesoscopic and microscopic activity of the brain regions and neurons… the top-most order parameter is a behavioral pattern in the animal-environment system, (and) not (in) a neural field… The extended mind and (the) extended cognition hypotheses maintain that cognition is massively distributed beyond the body. Cognitive functions encompass not only multiple and flexibly connected brain regions but also body parts and slices of the environment (in space-time).”


Peripersonal Space

The individual organism’s experiential space-time, from inside out, can be divided into internal, personal, peripersonal, distant and far. The internal space is what one becomes aware of during quiet, eyes-closed meditation. Personal space is the awareness and the image of one’s own body and the skin surface. The peripersonal space is the reachable and interactive space surrounding one’s body. The distant space is the landscape one sees and hears from. The far space is the limitless sky with innumerable stars, galaxies and the Milky Way.


In fact, an individual organism’s experiential space is always unitary, but, it gets divided into different segments as described above depending on the organism’s directed attention (attentional vector), purpose of action and the role he or she intends to play in a given situation. Our attentiveness or vigilance has two modes: vector mode and matrix mode. The vector mode is like an arrow of attention that simultaneously defines the subject-object duality, its coupling and the situational space-time experience. The matrix mode is the overall background and the context for the present self-situation. The matrix is the essential, undirected attentiveness from which the attentional vector emerges momentarily and interacts with the object in the environment, thus, creating the individual’s limited momentary experience.


The perceptual-experiential space is unitary. It is mapped on to the cortical surface as the Penfield’s homunculus with somatotopic representation of the body in proportion to its functional use. For instance, there is more cortical space devoted to mouth, face and hand area than to the whole of the trunk. This homuncular map is again adaptable depending upon the individual’s use of its body parts. This phenomenon is called, neuroplasticity. Most of the tertiary, multimodal association areas of the cortex are devoted to the autobiographical memories and experiential associations [20, 21, 22].


The peripersonal space (PPS) can be conceived as a multimodal perceptual-motor system, interfacing the body with its environment. PPS has a personal safety boundary with defensive mechanisms for threatening stimuli and also welcoming responses to the oncoming enticing stimuli. PPS may serve as a sensorimotor interface between an organism and its environment, for rapid self-defense, goal-directed actions, and rapid online corrections of action-perception sequences.  The spatial coordinate system can be egocentric or space-centered on the eye, hand, head or chest. PPS may be germane to action-execution as well as action-perception by the activation of the fronto-parietal mirror-neuron system. PPS is represented by a population of neurons from the premotor and parietal areas, which integrate tactile stimuli from the surface of the body as well as the audiovisual stimuli presented from the surroundings. The organism’s action-perception cycle defines what is near and far to the organism and its ongoing experience.


Conscious perception can occur not only at a singular point in space-time, but, also in a window of simultaneity, where multiple events are occurring simultaneously, for a given duration of space-time. It is like a snap-shot or a frame of reference in a movie, where all simultaneous events are recorded in an instant. The sequence of multiple frames make a story for the movie. Every organism faces a constant barrage of stimuli from its environment. Some are threatening and others are inviting. Each organism has to avoid or approach an oncoming stimulus adequately to survive and thrive in a developing environment.


PPS serves as an immediate interactive field for bodily protection and goal-directed action. PPS is anchored to the specific body parts and it can move as the body parts move, for instance, the movement of a hand, eyes or head. The other mode of action is the multimodal sensory vigilance or an undirected alertness. This may be captured and made directed by the objects and events occurring in the surroundings.


The Theory of Event Coding

            One of the theoretical frameworks for embodied cognition is the theory of event coding [23]. With the concept of the embodied brain-mind-self, the first and second person perspectives have to be integrated. There cannot be a second or third person perspective without the first person perspective [24]. Ideomotor theory considers humans as active agents that perform actions to reach a particular goal. Goals are acquired by actively exploring the environment as well as the bodily states. Such an exploratory activity creates an association between the actions and the perception of action-consequences. This action-perception binding forms the basis for voluntary action. By directing attention to the specific association of action-perception, the human agent is able to activate the specific motor-behavioral pattern to actualize the action-effect.


Cognitive activity is always situated in a particular environment and occurs in a specific context. Thus, knowing is inseparable from doing. Therefore, education should favor doing and hands-on learning about one’s body, mind and environment. It is more effective and creative than the passive accumulation of verbal and visual knowledge based merely on books and memory. These principles also apply to the cognitive robotics and ecological psychology. In behavior robotics, the robotic device can act and sense and learn. Thus, it explores its environment. It does not have to be programmed for each and every minute step that it may require to take to achieve its behavioral goal.


According to the embodiment approach, the cognitive agent can offload cognitive work to its environment. It reduces the amount of information that the cognitive agent has to process to achieve a desired result. For instance, with easy access to smart phones, one does not have remember and recall one’s family and friends’ telephone numbers. With the memory-devices like a notepad, a calendar, a cell phone, or a computer, the environment can act as a memory-store for the cognitive agent. Therefore, the cognitive agents do not have to develop elaborate models of the self and the situational world. With the interactive partnership of the brain, the body and the environment, the cognitive processing load gets distributed to a broader cognitive system. In this way the cognitive activity is extended beyond the individual brain.


Matter-Energy-Information Perspective of the Human Brain and Conscious Life         


To understand our own conscious experience and the world that we live in, appreciating the energy perspective is crucial. It is a fact that all Life is embedded in a single energy-field. From Einstein’s famous equation E = MC2 which shows the equivalence of matter and energy, it is reasonable to consider both the biophysical energy and the mental energy as interrelated forms of energy. Matter-energy-information (MEI) are aspects of the same substance, the same natural Reality. MEI manifest at multiple levels of natural organization, including our own bio-physical body, mind, and consciousness. MEI’s transformative patterns are evident in all natural events and life experiences.


Our feeling of arousal-energy can take three major forms: i) personal arousal-energy, ii) transpersonal or collective group energy, and iii) transcendental, or holistic arousal-energy. It depends upon a well-functioning reticulo-limbic-cortical nervous system and the ubiquitous circadian rhythms.


Human attention depends on three neural networks: i) a subcortical, alerting network that maintains an adequate level of conscious arousal-energy for cognitive processing; ii) a posterior cortical orienting network, which directs the body, head, ears, and eyes towards an interesting or alarming object, event, activity, or experience, chosen to be attended to; and iii) an anterior cortical central-executive network, which enhances the perception of the selected target event or object, and suppresses the interference by distracters like other objects, events, images, and thoughts [25]. Attention can be focused on a specific place, time, and modality like vision, audition, thought, etc. Focusing in space enhances the processing of that region of interest, whereas, focusing in time enhances the processing of events at the present moment. It is the basis of presence or present mindedness, which is also known as Vipassanā or mindfulness in the Buddhist, and Zen literature.


Arousal-Awareness, Attentional Energy and Cognitive Work

            By definition, energy is the capacity to do work. Thus attentional energy is involved in performing sensory-motor and cognitive work. Several neurotransmitters from the brainstem reticular activating system, projecting to cerebral cortex are involved in generating arousal-awareness, conscious attentional energy and cognitive work. These may include norepinephrine, dopamine, acetyl choline, serotonin, histamine and orexin. In general, the norepinephrine-based neuronal synchronization mediates scanning arousal-awareness and novelty detection, whereas, the dopamine-based synchronization mediates directed selective attentional energy and cognitive work, which leads to attention-based learning, memory creation and memory recall. These are the major components of cognitive work processing and episodic mentation. The vector mode of attentional energy is transient and dissipative through the synaptic decay of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine whereas, the matrix mode of arousal-awareness is more enduring and stable. Please see Fig. 2 below. The two types of dopaminergic neurons and neural circuits have been shown to exist in the brainstem, namely, the phasic or transient type and the tonic or enduring type.


Figure 2. A diagram showing the two modes of attention, namely, the matrix mode of scanning arousal-awareness and the vector mode of selective attention and cognitive work. Some of the information in this diagram is based on the reference [27].


Richard Deth published an outstanding book on the molecular origins of human attention and the dopamine-folate connection [26]. Here is a synopsis of some his ideas and conclusions.

“Attention allows the prioritization of selected information above a background of awareness. The capacity for attention is a critical skill that is particularly well developed in humans. Attention is closely linked to our ability to learn. We learn that which we attend. How and when we use attention guides our personal development. Neurotransmitter dopamine plays a crucial role in the molecular mechanism of attention. Person to person differences in the quality of attention are common and in some cases can be traced to genetic origin. Disturbances in the molecular mechanism of attention can result in mental illness.”

“Attention is provided by molecular events that control neuronal firing. Neuronal firing represents the flow of information. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine modulate the information flow at neuronal synapses. Neuronal firing is coordinated by synchronous oscillations. Synchronized firing provides a mechanism for unifying separate information into a more complex whole. Attention is associated with an increase in the amplitude of the 40 Hz synchronized oscillations.”


Deth, Kuznetsova and Waly, in their breakthrough research, provide evidence of the solid state signaling and the role of D4R receptor in attentional processing [27]. They differentiate between the scanning awareness and the selective attention.

“Awareness of sensory information is distinct from attention. For example, awareness facilitates rapid scanning of an array of information, while attention is associated with higher probability of learning and memory encoding. Awareness is frequently a precursor to attention, as selected information is prioritized. Because awareness and attention are obviously closely related processes, they may share a common neuronal and biochemical basis.” [p 274-275].


These authors further describe a hypothetical sequence of events during the scanning awareness and the activation of selective attention.

“The initial norepinephrine-based awareness information may guide subsequent development of dopamine-based attention…Thus activity of norepinephrine releasing nerves would promote synchronization of incoming information, leading to a low-level, rough-draft type of awareness. Such synchronization would be continuous and seamless, rather than episodic and focused like attention, facilitating scanning of the environment and unburdened by attachment to anything. During awareness we constantly make comparisons with prior experience-based expectations. If this vigilance reveals a lack of harmony or is somehow incongruent with memory-based expectations, the presence of novelty is recognized, which can be the basis for activation of dopamine-dependent attention.” [p 276].


Einstein on the Cosmic Unity and Order

Albert Einstein has clearly expressed his views on the truth of the cosmic unity and the awe-inspiring natural order. He succinctly stated his perspectives on his cosmic religious feelings, cosmic religion, and the dignity of the cosmic being. He also expressed his feelings about the nature of god and the cosmic creation. Here are a few of his quotations [28].

“It isn’t important that people understand this or that philosophical system. What they should understand is that they are endowed with a mind that has the power to unveil the mystery of life. This knowledge should make every man an individual thinker. If man becomes more aware of his dignity as a cosmic being than of his ego in the flesh, our world would then have peace.” [p 57].

“I believe that I have cosmic religious feelings. I never could grasp how one could satisfy these feelings by praying to limited objects. The tree outside is life, a statue is dead. The whole nature is life, and life, as I observe it, rejects a God resembling man. I like to experience the universe as one harmonious whole. Every cell has life…Matter too has life; it is energy solidified. Our bodies are like prisons, and I look forward to be free, but I don’t speculate on what will happen to me. I live here (and) now, and my responsibility is in this world now.” [p 63-64].

“Tell those who sent you (Mr. Hermanns) that the law of conservation (of energy) prohibits me from saying that matter can be dissolved into mind. Whether mass is transformed into atoms, electrons, or motion, it is still a reality, a manifestation of eternal energy. This oneness of creation, to my sense, is God.” [p 69].

There is no permanence in matter, but there is in energy. Matter combined with energy is the substance of the universe.” [p 129].


Jung on Purusha, the Holistic Being and the Absolute Presence

            Professor Carl G. Jung gave four lectures on The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga to the Psychological Club in Zurich, Switzerland, from October 12, 1932 to November 2, 1932. A book with the same title was edited by Shamdasani S., and it is published by the Princeton University Press in 1996 [29].It is a fascinating book with lots of interesting facts and interpretations by such a legendary figure in the history of modern Psychology. Here are a few quotations from the book, which are so insightful and admirable.


“Purusha (Atman or Being) is a symbol that expresses the impersonal (universal) process. The (real) self is something exceedingly impersonal, exceedingly objective. If you function in yourself, you are not yourself (ego) – that is what you feel. You have to do it as if you were a stranger: you will buy as if you did not buy; you will sell as if you did not sell. Or, as St. Paul expressed it, “But it is not I that lives, it is Christ that liveth in me,” meaning that his life had become objective life, not his own life but the life of a greater one, the Purusha.” [p 40].

“Purusha is first seen (realized) in Anāhata (uncreated or spontaneous chakra): the essence of man, the supreme man, the so called primordial man, then becomes visible (understandable)…That is the first inkling of a being within your psychological or psychical existence that is not yourself (ego) – a (holistic) Being, in which you are contained, which is greater and more important than you, but which has an entirely psychical existence.” [p 45-46].


“The recognition that the psyche is a self-moving thing, something genuine and not yourself, is exceedingly difficult to see and to admit. For it means that the consciousness (interactive and dualistic), which you call yourself, is at an end. In your consciousness everything is as you have put it, but then you discover that you are not the master in your own house, you are not living alone in your own room, and there are spooks about that play havoc with your realities, and that is the end of your monarchy. But, if you understand it rightly, and as Tantric Yoga shows you, this recognition of the psychogenic factor is merely the first recognition of the Purusha…The thing that unites them all, (and) that expresses them all, is the concept (or the reality) of energy.” [p 54-55].


“To speak about the lotus of the thousand petals above, the Sahasrāra (chakra) center, is quite superfluous because that is merely a philosophical concept with no substance to us whatever; it is beyond any possible experience. In the Ajnā (chakra) there is still the experience of the self that is apparently different from the object, God. But in Sahasrāra one understands that it is not different, and so the next conclusion would be that there is no object (no other), no God, nothing but Brahman (holistic reality of energy-awareness-being). There is no experience because it is one, it is without a second. It is (looks) dormant, (but) it is not, and therefore it is Nirvāṇa.” [p 57].


“Suppose somebody reached the Ajnā center, the state of complete consciousness, not only self-consciousness. That would be an exceedingly extended consciousness, which includes everything – energy itself – a consciousness which knows not only “That is Thou” but more than that – every tree, every stone, every breath of air, every rat’s tail – all that is yourself; there is nothing that is not yourself. In such an extended consciousness, all the chakras would be simultaneously experienced, because it is the highest state of consciousness (Turiya), and it would not be the highest if it did not include all the former experiences.” [p 59].


“Only when we reach a standpoint that is outside the experience in question, can we wholly understand what we were experiencing before…How, then, can we put aside our personal standpoint, which represents the sthula aspect, and take another, a suprapersonal one, which will show us where we actually are in this world?…It is as if we viewed our psychology and the psychology of mankind from the standpoint of a fourth dimension, unlimited by space and time (and person). The chakra system is created from this standpoint. It is a standpoint that transcends time and the individual…Without personal life, without the here and now, we cannot attain to the suprapersonal. Personal life must first be fulfilled in order that the process of the suprapersonal side of the psyche can be introduced.” [p 64-66].


“To activate the unconscious means to awaken the divine, the Devi, Kundalini – to begin the development of the suprapersonal within the individual in order to kindle the light of the gods. Kundalini, which is to be awakened in sleeping Muladhāra world, is the suprapersonal, the non-ego, the totality of the psyche, through which alone we can attain the higher chakras in a cosmic or metaphysical sense.” [p 68-69].


“Chitta is the conscious and unconscious psychic field, collective mentality, the sphere in which the phenomenon of Kundalini takes place. Chitta is simply our organ of knowledge, the empirical ego into whose sphere Kundalini breaks. Kundalini in essence is quite different from chitta. Therefore her sudden appearance is the coming up of an element absolutely strange to chitta. If she was not entirely different from chitta, she could not be perceived.” [p 70]. “Chitta is really no more than a mirror of the Purusha. There are no Klesha (distress) at this stage. And when that happens, there is an absolute presence, the real presence of the self, and then appears the identity of the Ātman with the Paramātman.” [p 92].


“The metaphysical and metapsychical idea is that in the very center of the psychic organism, which is in the very center of the cosmic organism, there is a subconscious sound force (Anāhata nāda) that regulates life unconsciously, and one should realize the meaning of that sound power by meditation. It must come up into the conscious, and if one can let it work in consciousness it becomes stronger.” [p 101].


  1. Krishnamurti on Life Energy

“Energy is action and movement. All action is movement and all action is energy. All desire is energy. All feeling is energy. All thought is energy. All living is energy. All life is energy. If that energy is allowed to flow without any contradiction, without any friction, without any conflict, then that energy is boundless, endless. When there is no friction there are no frontiers to energy. It is friction which gives energy limitations. So, having once seen this, why is it that the human being always brings friction into energy? Why does he create friction in this movement which we call life? Is pure energy, energy without limitation, just an idea to him? Does it have no reality?” [30].


Energy without motive: As long as there is a time interval between the observer and the observed it creates friction and therefore there is a waste of energy. That energy is gathered to its highest point when the observer is the observed, in which there is no time interval at all. Then there will be energy without motive and it will find its own channel of action because then the ‘I’ does not exist. – Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, 120.


“The self is not a static entity but very active, alertly capable in its demands and pursuits; to follow and to understand the endless movement of the self, a keen (and) pliable mind-heart is necessary, a mind capable of intense self-awareness. To understand, mind must delve deeply and yet it must know when to be alertly passive. It would be foolish and unbalanced to keep on digging without the recuperative and healing power of passivity. We search, analyze, look into ourselves, but it is a process of conflict and pain; there is no joy in it for we are judging or justifying or comparing. There are no moments of silent awareness, of choiceness passivity. It is this choiceless awareness, this creative passivity that is even more essential than self-observation and investigation.” Ojai, California, 1945. From the Collected Works 4.


The Holistic Mind or Psyche and the Intuitive Wisdom


            I have attempted to understand and integrate the modern neuroscience with the ancient intuitive wisdom, especially from India, through several of my publications. [31-34]. I will show below some of the examples of these similarities between the concepts from the ancient intuitive wisdom and the current scientific literature related to the embodied brain, the mind and the self.



The holistic mind is beneficent to all life and it is limitless. It contains both the conscious and the subconscious, the figure and the ground, and the foreground and the background of our awareness.  It is the nondual, effortless, egoless source, the primordial energy-awareness-being. It is the energy-source of life itself. It can be accessed by a quiet, non-interactive, speechless, silent and serene awareness. That is the supreme within, the pristine Turiya sthiti or the fourth state of awareness.


Historically, this has been variously described as the muse, the genius, the inspiration, the intuition, the wisdom, the teacher, the guide, the companion, the beloved, the spontaneous, the effortless, the timeless spring, the speechless silence, the natural bliss, the radiant emptiness or fullness, the flow or pause state, the selfless being, the natural mind, the infinity within, the Ākāshika field, the cosmic being, the absolute presence, the Buddha-nature, Atma-Sphūraṇa, the Divine, the Spirit, Saraswati the goddess of Knowledge, goddess Kundalini, Vishņu-padam the abode of peace, and the universal Atman-Brahman. It has an infinite potential or capacity, supreme benevolence and love for all Life and Nature.

Well-known Vedic aphorisms:

What is beyond is holistic, Pūrṇa. What is here is holistic. From the holistic emerges holistic. When the holistic is removed from holistic, what remains is holistic. Holistic, Pūrṇa is the infinite Reality that can only be realized by direct (existential) experience.

One holistic energy (flame) manifests in infinite ways. (Atharva Veda).

I am at peace with myself (and the world).


Ken Upanishad has described the fundamental questions and the answers beautifully:

By whom willed and directed does the mind light on its objects? By whom commanded does life the first, move? At whose will do (people) utter this speech? And what god is it that prompts the eye and the ear? ||1||


Because it is that which is the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind, the speech, indeed, of the speech, the breath of the breath, the eye of the eye, the wise, giving up (wrong notions of their self-sufficiency) and freeing themselves from the world, become immortal (fearless and blissful).

Kaivalya Upanishad expresses it thus:

I am that incomprehensible holistic energy that acts without hands and feet that can see without eyes and hear without ears. I can comprehend various forms, but, no one knows me as the timeless energy-awareness (arousal-awareness). Kaivalyopaniṣad 21.

Adi Shankarāchārya expressed it as follows:

Atman, the Self is always with us (here and now). But, it seems so remote and beyond (our reach) due to our self-ignorance (and limited self-perspective and conscious preoccupation). When we overcome our self-ignorance (and realize the Truth), then, suddenly the Atman is found like a (missing) golden chain, which has always been there around our neck.

Patanjali’s Yoga sutra states it clearly:

Yoga is calming the fluctuations of a (wandering, ruminative and agitated) mind. Then the self (shines and) abides in its natural (essential) state.


Swami Swaroopānanda of Pāwas said this:

Dwell your mind on the incessant, spontaneous, inner Sphūraṇa (conscious arousal-energy-awareness).


Sri Ramana Maharshi expressed it this way:

Within the sanctum of the heartBrahman alone exists. “I…I”-feeling pulsates and shines as the Atman itself. Enter your heart yourself, by self-inquiry, and/or ego-mergence. By quietening breathing, (and mentation), abide blissfully in your essential being, the true self.

Summa iru. (Be still and silent). If you remain still (silent), without paying attention to this, without paying attention to that, and without paying attention to anything at all, you will simply through your powerful attention to being, become the reality, the vast eye, the unbounded space of essential awareness.


Traditionally, the spontaneous, blissful, existential sound of the holistic silent energy is called Anāhata Nāda, which has been well described in the Hatha Yoga Pradīpikā. Here is a quotation:

The knowable exists inside the audible reverberations of the spontaneous (Anāhata) sound. The mind unites with the knowable and merges in it. It is the highest seat or abode of Lord Vishnu.

Shiva sutra says:

Ātmā is (essential) conscious awareness (Caitanyam).


Pratyabhijñāhṛdayam: The Secret of Self-Recognition declares:

By developing and expanding the interval between two thoughts (madhya), one achieves the state of spontaneous bliss.


Subodha Panchadashi says:

The energy is not different from the person, who possesses it, because they cannot be experienced separately.


Ashtavakra Gita expresses it like this:

King Janak said: “Infinite as space am I, and the phenomenal world is like a limited jar; this is true knowledge. There is nothing then to be renounced, to be accepted, nor to be resolved.”


Saint Tukaram summarized his personal feelings and self-realization experience beautifully in his devotional song:

“Where ever I go, you are with me (as a companion, a friend or a teacher). You guide me through this life. I walk through this life’s journey with your support. You carry my burden along (out of compassion). You give meaning to my senseless (words) utterances. You took away my shyness (diffidence or fear) and gave me courage (to express). Now, all people have become my friends or relatives. Tuka says, now, I live playfully (in this world) with your grace. You have given me bliss, both inside and outside.”


My father, Shri D. G. Deshmukh, wrote to me in a letter, almost 55 years ago, when I was a final year medical student. He said, “Vinod, the divine cosmic energy is always with you.” We cannot see that energy, as an object or a person, but, that cosmic energy is always acting through us, supporting, guiding, loving and caring for all of us. It is the natural law. It was a profoundly effective message for me. It took my fear away and gave me courage to study and succeed in my examinations and also it encouraged me throughout my professional career and personal life. My father was my beloved first teacher and a loving-caring guide. In addition to teaching Sanskrit and Vedanta, he taught me to be curious, creative and compassionate in my personal life. I cannot thank him and my mother enough. I humbly dedicate this scientific and philosophical work to their kind and loving memory.


Acknowledgement:   I thank Sunanda V. Deshmukh, MD., for her careful review of the manuscript and many valuable suggestions.


Glossary [based on ref. 4, 18, 35, and 36]

Affordance:          J. J. Gibson’s term for a property of an object that invites opportunities for particular sorts of action. A branch affords perching for a bird, but not for a pig.

Algorithm:             a finite sequence of steps that transforms an input, e.g., information about shading, into an output, e.g., information about depth.

Behavior-based robot:        a robot built on simple mechanisms that connect perception directly to action, with no representational intermediaries.

Computational theory of mind:         the view of mind according to which cognition consists in computational operations on symbolic representations, where these symbols are discrete entities, and where the operations begin on representations of sensory input and end with thoughts or instructions to the motor system.

Emotion:                an affective state with psychological, experiential, behavioral and visceral components. Emotional awareness refers to conscious awareness of an emotional state.

Experience of body ownership:        the experience of certain parts of the world as belonging to one’s body. It can be distinguished into that related to body parts (e. g.., a hand) and a global sense of identification with the whole body.

Figure-ground:     relating to the principle that perception has two parts: a figure that stands out in good contour and an indistinct and homogeneous background.

Foreground-background:   in perception, the distinction between the object of attention, which is foreground, and details in the background, which are less likely to receive individual attention.

Foregrounding:    the process or technique of highlighting certain aspects of a complex stimulus to make them the focus of attention.

Hypothesis of Embedded Cognition:                the hypothesis that cognition is more thoroughly dependent on the environment than cognitive science has typically supposed, but does not actually extend into the environment.

Hypothesis of Extended Cognition:  the hypothesis that cognitive process extends beyond the brain and into the world.

Idealism:                the view that there is no world external to the mind.

Information self-structuring:             Clark’s term for describing systems that structure their environment for the purpose of simplifying cognitive tasks.

Interoception:      the sense of the internal physiological condition of the body.

Interoceptive sensitivity:    a characterological trait that reflects individual sensitivity to interoceptive signals, usually operationalized via heartbeat detection tasks.

Mirror neuron:    a neuron in the premotor system that becomes active when observing an action or performing that action.

Niche:    an environment defined relative to an organism’s adaptations.

Open channel perception: Clark’s term for perception that depends on a constant connection between the perceiver and the world.

Order parameter:                                in a dynamical system a term that expresses the behavior ensuing from the interaction of parts. Also called the collective variable.

Organism-bounded process:             Clark’s term for a process that takes place within the bounds of an organism.

Organism-centered process:             Clark’s term for a process that extends beyond an organism, but in which the organism is a central component.

Parameter:            a term in a dynamical system that stands for one of the forces acting on or within the system.

Perception-action cycle:    a cycle in which perception leads to particular actions, which in turn create new perceptions, which then lead to new actions, and so on. (Like the chicken and egg phenomenon).

Phenomenological tradition:             a philosophical tradition with historical roots in France and Germany that emphasizes the close inspection and analysis of experience.

Predictive coding:               a data processing strategy whereby signals are represented by generative models. It is typically implemented by functional architectures in which top-down signals convey predictions and bottom-up signals convey prediction errors.

Principle of ecological assembly:      Clark’s term for the idea that organisms will exploit the environment in different ways depending on their own internal resources.

Realism: the view that there is an observer-independent world to which our perceptual systems give us access.

Replacement:       a hypothesis within embodied cognition according to which computational and representational explanations of behavior should be abandoned in favor of explanations that emphasize self-organizing behavior or dynamic interactions between an organism’s brain, body and environment.

Representation:   most basically, something that is used to stand in for something else.

Resonate:              Gibson’s term for the process by which the brain picks up information in light (and other forms of energies by synchronization).

Selfhood:               the experience of being a distinct, holistic entity, capable of global self-control and attention, possessing a body and a location in space and time. Selfhood operates on multiple levels – from basic physiological representations to metacognitive and narrative aspects.

Self-organizing:    a system is self-organizing when it produces a complex behavior through the unguided interactions of its parts.

Sensorimotor skills:             skills that grow from the association of particular sensations with particular action.

Sensorimotor theory of perceptual experience:          a theory that identifies perceptual experience with sensorimotor skills.

Situatedness:        the cognitive enriching relationship between an organism and its environment.

State space:          within dynamical system theory, the space of all possible states of a dynamical system.

Subjective feeling states:   consciously experienced emotional states that underlie emotional awareness.

Transduction:      the process by which stimuli are encoded into representations (or activity-patterns) that can then be processed further.

Using the world as its best model:   Brook’s slogan to capture the idea that when creatures are in continuous contact with the world they have no need to build representations of the world.



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Deshmukh Book Cover SKU-001051422_COVER_V3_low

Dear Family and Friends,
I hope you have already received my earlier announcement of the publication of book, Natural Bliss. 
If you are interested in downloading the ebook version, there is a specific link for that, which is based upon the type of reader you have. Please follow the instructions in the following new link.
Vinod and Sunanda

Dear Family and Friends,


On this auspicious occasion of Diwali, a celebration of Light, Knowledge, Wisdom, Friendship and Compassion, I am very happy to announce the publication of my new book

Natural Bliss: A Collection of Photo-Poems and Essays, Inspired by Nature.


The book contains about 150 of my original photo-poems and essays with about 120 of the original color photographs. Many of the photographs were taken at the time and place, where the poem was inspired. That is why, they are called “Photo-poems.” It also contains some of the paintings by my wife, Sunanda and myself. The book cover and a brief introduction to the book is attached.


Hope you will enjoy reading this new book. The book is published in all three formats: eBook, soft cover and hardcover edition (which will be available soon). The book is published by Author house Publishers, Bloomington, Indiana, USA. It is available on their website It is also available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Here is a direct link to purchase the book through Author House:


With kind regards and best wishes for

A Very Happy, Healthy and Blissful Diwali and New Year.




Vinod and Sunanda Deshmukh


November 12, 2015

1) The Astonishing Brain and Holistic Consciousness: Neuroscience and Vedanta Perspectives. Nova Science Publishers, New York, NY, in 2012.

If you would like to read the book, please down load a free pdf of the book from the link below:


2) Poet’s Vision: A Collection of Original Poems, Essays, and Photographs (2005)


3) A Poet’s Walk: A Collection of Poems, Essays, and Photographs (2002)


4) The Last Leaf: A Collection of Poems and Essays (1993)


5) Presence: The Key to Mental Excellence (1990)


6) Noninvasive Measurement of Regional Cerebral Blood Flow in Man

Vinod D. Deshmukh and John Stirling Meyer (1978)

SP Medical & Scientific Books, Spectrum Publications, New York, NY










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