Are mental properties supervenient on brain properties?


Journal Article

The "mind-brain supervenience" conjecture suggests that all mental properties are derived from the physical properties of the brain. To address the question of whether the mind supervenes on the brain, we frame a supervenience hypothesis in rigorous statistical terms. Specifically, we propose a modified version of supervenience (called ε-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 ε-supervenience. The physical property of the brain employed in this analysis is the graph describing brain connectivity (i.e., the brain-graph or connectome). ε-supervenience allows us to determine whether a particular mental property can be inferred from one's connectome to within any given positive misclassification rate, regardless of the relationship between the two. This may provide further motivation for cross-disciplinary research between neuroscientists and statisticians.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Vogelstein, JT; Vogelstein, RJ; Priebe, CE

Published Date

  • January 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 1 /

Start / End Page

  • 100 -

PubMed ID

  • 22355618

Pubmed Central ID

  • 22355618

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2045-2322

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2045-2322

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/srep00100


  • eng