Here's some excerpts from a story in the June 2021 issue of Scientific American, "The Brain Electric," by Christof Koch.
Koch makes some great points about the current state of science's understanding of the brain/mind. There's no doubt that the mind is the brain in action. Meaning, no brain, no mind.
But even though the physicality of mind is clear, there's plenty of mystery left to be explored in the highly complex three pound hunk of meat that resides between our ears.
-- You're headed toward a storm that's a couple of miles away, and you've got to get across a hill. You ask yourself, "How am I going to get over that, through that?"
-- You see little white dots on a black background, as if looking up at the stars at night.
-- You look down at yourself lying in bed from above but see only your legs and lower trunk.
These may seem like idiosyncratic events drawn from the vast universe of perceptions, sensations, memories, thoughts and dreams that make up our daily stream of consciousness.
In fact, each one was evoked by directly stimulating the brain with an electrode.
As American poet Walt Whitman intuited in his poem, "I Sing the Body Electric," these anecdotes illustrate the intimate relationship between the body and its animating soul.
The brain and the conscious mind are as inexorably linked as the two sides of a coin.
...As neuroprosthetic devices move through clinical trials, they will help people with visual impairments see and those with physical disabilities perform actions such as steering a wheelchair with their thoughts, like the mind-Pong-playing monkey.
For everyone else, the benefits of highly invasive brain surgery are unlikely to outweigh the costs.
But the true Annapurna ahead involves understanding how three pounds of excitable brain matter is responsible for seeing, moving, and suffering.
Yes, the physical substrate of heaven and hell is rooted in bioelectric signals that obey natural laws. But that tells us precious little about how a trillion electrical signals spiking each second, streaming over networks of tens of billions of heterogeneous cells, constitute a sight, sound, or emotion.
Intracranial brain stimulation highlights the daily miracle of the brain's water changing into the wine of consciousness.
The question remains, though: What is it about the brain, the most complex piece of active matter in the known universe, that turns the activity of 86 billion neurons into the feeling of life itself?