“The mind” most often refers to the contents of human consciousness, the sentient “I” of your inner dialog. Human consciousness is generally defined as having a sense of self-awareness, sentience, and the ability to feel and experience themselves and their environment. There has been a philosophical debate, “mind-body problem”, which seeks to define the nature of the relationship between the mental and the physical.Rene Descartes”, the 17th-century French philosopher, theory of Dualism suggests that the mind and body are distinctly different and exist independently from one another. Descartes believed in a system of double transduction. Descartes hypothesized “mind-body dualism” and suggested that the mind was not dependent on the body, but the body could not exist without the mind. He theorized that sensory information from the body is relayed to the mind by representations, but that this is not certain from the environment, because senses can be deceived.
Descartes also theorized that the brain serves as an interface between body and “mind” in the pineal gland, yielding salience between the body and “the mind”. Descartes thought that “the mind” contains mental properties such as feelings, and is the source of consciousness. For example, feeling anxious is not something that can be produced without being conscious.
Contemporary psychologists and much of the western world tend to consider the brain to be at the basis of “the mind”, and therefore of human consciousness. Drastically juxtaposing the Cartesian theory of Dualism, modern psychologists, generally, believe that the metaphysics of human consciousness, like thoughts, affect, and feelings, have neurobiological underpinnings within the brain. People often feel anxiety when in situations that they perceive as having high-stakes. Anxiety is thought to be an evolutionary adaptation for means of survival with heightened psychobiological mechanisms being the basis of the state. Modern psychologists believe that brain states can lead to thoughts, but also that we can change our brain states through our thoughts.
This is exemplified through meditation, bio-feedback, and cognitive behavioral therapy.The theory of the brain’s role in relation to the mind and psychology has diverged from the Cartesian theory of Dualism because of the advent of brain imaging and brain research. With the development of research tools like Electroencephalography (EEG) we are able to make visuals of spatial representations of the brain when experiencing something. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow.
Through these methodologies, we are better able to understand brain states, such as a someone experiencing feeling anxiety, through the neuronal networks.