So, the standard approach and western thought always say that the mind is independent of the body. This is Rene Descartes. So he came up with this ‘cogito ergo sum’. So “I think therefore I” and so there dualism was always – anything mental is one, and anything physical is the other, the body is different. So they had this very clear-cut line separating these two spheres. But over the last 40-50 years, there has been this new approach coming up in the West in neuroscience literature of Embodied Cognition. So where they start to wonder, if the body is not really that separate from your mental processes is. So they start wondering if there’s components of the body that contribute to mental processing and one very famous one was this thing, called the Somatic Markers Hypothesis. So basically, it says that emotionally charged events, when you experience them, they produce some body changes. These body changes, they are remembered in some structures in the nervous system and then, these structures in the nervous system which maintain the traces of those events, they draw upon these when in future, you have to make some decisions or do some behaviors, and I actually got to work with the writer of this book, who came up with the hypothesis – Antonio Damacio. I spent a few months in his labs, a huge lab, is wonderful.
So he basically titled his book Descartes’ Error. So he thought that this concept of the mind being independent of the body was false. So, his very kind of simple and elegant way of proving that, the mind and body are not independent was this thing, called the Iowa Gambling Task. So this was a computer game, where you had these four decks of cards, like playing cards and the person had to like click at random, like you got like a 20, 30 tries, each deck had cards which were both positive or negative. So some card would give you money, some cards would take away money from you, and each deck had different proportions of the gain and debit card. So like some decks if you kept clicking, you would probably make more money, some decks we kept leaving you would probably lose more money.
So the fascinating thing here was that, in normal people when your cursor hovered over like decks, a deck see was the bad deck, your skin would start sweating and sure start showing evidence of stress. The fascinating thing there was like, this was long before the person himself was able to say that the C deck is the bad deck. So, clearly this proves that the body was showing changes, there are parts of the brain body, which knew that this was the bad deck, before the person’s conscious mental processes could say that this was the bad deck. So this was wonderful and this led to a lot of debate and discussion and it’s spawned a very interesting new field and as a result of research that has come out of that, there’s been a resurgence of interest in this concept called Interoception, which is like the internal sense of the body, how the body’s various internal states are communicated to the brain