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The SWS stimuli were drawn from a stimulus set developed by Rosen et al. (2011) and used in McGettigan et al. (2012) . Intelligible SWS and unintelligible SWS were identical to those previously used apart from being further noise-vocoded ( Shannon et al. , 1995) , a step we deliberately omitted to make them less noticeably speech-like. The only exception was the ‘target’ sounds, which were created by noise-vocoding a subset of 10 unintelligible SWS to change their timbre and make them distinctive from other stimuli. All SWS stimuli were derived from Bamford-Kowal-Bench sentences (e.g. ‘The clown had a funny face’; Bench et al. , 1979 ) and recorded by an adult male speaker of standard Southern British English in an anechoic chamber. Frequency and amplitude from the first two formant tracks of each sentence were tracked and modelled with a sine wave tone using a semi-automatic procedure in MATLAB (The Mathworks, Natick, MA). Tracks were reviewed and hand-edited using custom software to ensure accurate tracking ( Remez et al. , 2011 ; Rosen et al. , 2011 ). See Supplementary material for full details of the SWS preparation methods.

All training was conducted without mention of ‘voices’ or ‘speech’. Participants were told that they would be listening to a range of sounds in the scanner, and instructed to listen out for a target sound that would sound ‘different’ or ‘noisier’ than the others. We did not provide information about the potential vocal/speech nature of the stimuli, and did not perform a pre-scan task to assess speech perception abilities, in order to ensure that participants remained naïve regarding our key manipulation, so that spontaneous responses to the stimuli could be examined in the scanner. Participants were played an example target sound three times over Sennheiser HD25 headphones, and then played three more examples of target sounds along with five non-vocoded unintelligible SWS stimuli, in a random order. Participants indicated with a button-press when they heard a target sound, and the stimulus set was repeated until participants could consistently discriminate targets from non-targets (no participant required the sequence to be repeated more than three times).

Participants listened to the SWS sounds across two identical runs of 20 min, broken up into six ‘blocks’ that were marked with a visually presented text stimulus (Block 1, Block 2, etc) ( Fig. 1 ). Each run contained 45 intelligible SWS trials, 45 unintelligible SWS trials and 18 target sounds, presented quasi-randomly (one stimulus per trial). Target sounds and 19 silent trials were distributed such that they were presented regularly but unpredictably across the run, with no more than two trials from the same condition occurring sequentially. For each run they were instructed to listen closely for the target sounds and press a button each time one was heard.

This is a good objection. It fits a line of reasoning that is currently popular in cognitive science: not only is attention not required to form the self, there is no real self at all. In so far as the self exists, it is simply part of a story that we tell ourselves and others. As the neuroscientist Anil Seth puts it : ‘I predict (myself), therefore I am.’ We, biological and minded beings, construct the concept of a self because it is the best way of explaining to ourselves and others certain aspects of our behaviour. When you accidentally knock over something, you might say, for example: ‘I didn’t do that, it was an accident.’ In such cases, it is helpful to have the concept of ‘I’ to distinguish the unintended movements of your body from the intended movements of your body. ‘I’ did this, my body did that.

Once you start using this concept, you are not far from constructing a full-fledged self, with preferences and tendencies. But this doesn’t mean that there really is anything substantive that accounts for all of these happenings – it is enough that in each case there is an intention, a goal, and that you are able to identify and communicate which behaviours are connected to that goal, without there being a further source of these goals and behaviours. Perhaps ‘I didn’t do that, it was an accident’ is just shorthand for ‘There wasn’t an intention to do that, it was an accident.’

Following such considerations, the philosopher Daniel Dennett proposed that the self is simply a ‘centre of narrative gravity’ – just as the centre of gravity in a physical object is not a part of that object, but a useful concept we use to understand the relationship between that object and its environment, the centre of narrative gravity in us is not a part of our bodies, a soul inside of us, but a useful concept we use to make sense of the relationship between our bodies, complete with their own goals and intentions, and our environment. So, you, you , are a construct, albeit a useful one. Or so goes Dennett’s thinking on the self.

And it isn’t just Dennett. The idea that there is a substantive self is passé. When cognitive scientists aim to provide an empirical account of the self, it is simply an account of our sense of self – why it is that we think we have a self. What we don’t find is an account of a self with independent powers, responsible for directing attention and resolving conflicts of will.

There are many reasons for this. One is that many scientists think that the evidence counts in favour of our experience in general being epiphenomenal – something that does not influence our brain, but is influenced by it. In this view, when you experience making a tough decision, for instance, that decision was already made by your brain, and your experience is mere shadow of that decision. So for the very situations in which we might think the self is most active – in resolving difficult decisions – everything is in fact already achieved by the brain.

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04/16/2018, 06:19am

George Stephanopoulos, left, landed the first media interview with former FBI Director James Comey since he was fired in May 2017. | Ralph Alswang/ABC via AP

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WASHINGTON – Here are 12 takeaways from the former FBI Director James Comey interview with ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.

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for an event at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, part of the Chicago Humanities Festival.

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On President Donald Trump being morally unfit to be president:

“I don’t think he’s medically unfit to be president. I think he’s morally unfit to be president.

“A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they’re pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person’s not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds. And that’s not a policy statement. Again, I don’t care what your views are on guns or immigration or taxes.”

On how Comey cannot say for certain that the president of the United States is not compromised by the Russians:

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“It’s possible.”

On if Trump obstructing justice:

“I mean, it’s certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice. It would depend and– and I’m just a witness in this case, not the investigator or prosecutor, it would depend upon other things that reflected on his intent.”

Comey on his ego:

“I have to be careful not to fall in love with my own view of things. And so that battle with ego and my sense that memoirs are an exercise in ego convinced me I was never going to write a book.” On Chicagoan George Papadopoulos triggering the Russia probe:

On Chicagoan George Papadopoulos triggering the Russia probe:
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