I was listening to another fascinating interview of a scientist on the way home, this time about perception. It started with a quick discussion about senses but most of the interview was about time, how we all live in the past (because our brain has to wait for all the inputs to arrive before processing the stuff, all of 'em including what's coming from the toes) and whether time really does go at a slower pace in scary situations (which connects this with the previous interview ;). Turns out we only think we had a different experience of time when we really only have a different memory of it. See, in a scary situation, memory records many more bits and pieces of information. The brain doesn't process more, it's only that more of it is remembered. So after the fact, because you remember more details, it feels as if you were actually perceiving more and it feels like more time has passed than actually did.

Anyway, another very important part was when he talked about the importance of the integrity of your body (presumably especially but not only the brain) when it comes to your identity. They cite the famous case of Phineas Gage who lost a part of his brain in an accident and subsequently changed personality. Well, this reignited in me the question of where/what our consciousness really is. I'm inclined to believe (as Phineas Gage's example seems to confirm) that it exists strictly in our biology (maybe not just the brain,as is often assumed). But if it does, then it's born of chemical reactions or in other words is no much more than a glorified (and biological ;) machine. And that's where the trouble starts, as I also believe in free will. How to reconcile both? I know the question has been asked for ages and I'm not bringing anything new to the plate, but that's the point: it makes me feel like exploring this question a bit more. I have read GEB already but maybe you can recommend something else about this very topic?

Sorry if this post is not very clear, I had to write it quickly before forgetting about it but also before having enough time to do a good job of it.

If you'd like to listen to the interview (he's fortunately much more articulate than I am about his work), you can find it here: Dr. David Eagleman's interview.