Ok, here is the hypothetical: If the hunger center of your brain was theoretically attached to the brain of another; who would feel hunger?
What do you mean by “attached?”
(And for that matter, what do you mean by “THEORETICALLY attached?”)
My understanding is that the so-called “hunger center” senses blood chemistry and possibly takes inputs from other CNS areas (like “the clock”) and issues orders to your digestive system to get ready for food. It is these changes in your digestive system that then become the rumbling stomach (actually intestines?), etc. and which are interpreted as hunger.
The science of the mind and body may have advanced since I became aware of that explanation, but if the explanation has only been elaborated - not changed in type - then it would suggest that there is not really any brain state that corresponds exactly to Hunger, rather there is a sensing of the body preparing to be fed, which sense impressions are interpreted as hunger.
So: if the above is largely accurate, the person or people “feeling the hunger” would be those whose digestive juices and digestive tract muscles were ‘rocking on,’ getting ready to dissolve any hapless edibles sent their way. Who those people are depends upon the connection you posit.
I suppose, if the blood chemistry was coming from one body and the CNS signals from another, and the control signals to the digestive tract routed so that the (likely) feedback signals were not properly associated, it might be possible to confuse the poor “hunger center” and end up with an unpredictable or even dangerous outcome.
Is this question related to a Straight Dope question answered by Cecil? I didn’t find it anywhere.
On a related note, I worked on a Straight Dope mailbag question for awhile (then gave up): What causes marijuana to give you the munchies? I wrote to the company that produces synthetic THC, called Marinol, which is a medication used by people with HIV/AIDS and certain cancers in order to stimulate the appetite. It must work on the same part of the brain.
ps – The marinol people didn’t write back. I guess they, like, spaced it out.
This is a thought experiment. The word ‘theoretically’ is used since
I dont actually propose the experiment. The question is about conciousness. Who is who. 'Who feels hunger?, the theoreticcal piece of brain from the donors hunger center, theoretically attached to the brain of another? Or is hunger percieved the the other brain. Where does conciousness really reside? Who feels hunger? Attach 2 brains. Do we now have one concious entity or 2?
Generally, it seems that stimulants of all kinds reduce sensations of hunger and depressants of all kinds increase the sensation of hunger. I have no specific information regarding why that maybe so, but I can offer a theory. If your brain is being fooled into thinking it has plenty of energy by a stimulant, it is going to turn off the sensation of hunger because it thinks it has plenty of energy. Similarly, if your brain functions are slowed by a depressant, your brain is more likely to think you are out of energy and therefore require food. Of course, it’s just a theory with absolutely no basis in fact.
See nearby thread: “Is there such a thing as a stupid question?”
First, we have to understand that there are two hunger centers: one that says “Hey, you’re hungry!” and another that says "Hey, you full! (also known as the satiety center). Ever notice how when you got the flu you’ll be really hungry, but as soon as that first fork of food hits your mouth you wanna ralph? That’s because both center are stimulated by the blod chemicals associated with the immune response (primarily Interleukins). Both centers are located slightly above the hypophysis on the underside of the brain and respond to blood levels: the hunger center looks for sugar, the satiety center looks for insulin. If you were to transfer the hunger center to another person then only that person would percieve hunger. However, because both centers are not only responsible for the recognition of a particular state (ie low blood sugar), but for the perception it would not be possible to separate the two. Hunger sensations are not forwarded to another area for the brain for processing into sensation, they are handled in situ. The best you could hope for would be to have some mechanism that could forward the sensations to some other place, but then the answer to your thought experiment would be obvious.
GM: “The question is about conciousness. …Attach 2 brains. Do we now have one concious entity or 2?”
Possibly both; those are not mutually exclusive choices. From a systems perspective, both answers are possible, depending on how you draw the boundaries of your observed system.
The nearest parallel (though still not a good one) might be one of those rare married couples who, through a combination of empathy, experience together, etc., seem to reach a new level of existence as “a team.” Each part of the system is conscious on its own; when together they exhibit behavior that becomes possible only when they are together, and different from the behavior of either subsystem taken singly.
Could a physically-linked pair of minds develop an ‘uberconsciousness?’ There’s no theoretical reason why not - and each component could still be conscious in its own way, too.
I don’t know that you need to postulate a second brain in order to ask the question “How many conscious entities are there within an individual”. In addition to the conscious/subconscious division, it may be possible that each hemisphere of our brain has its own “consciousness” as well as the “consciousness” of both hemispheres working together.