Let me begin by quoting an illustration that I found on the internet while researching this theory. I found this on a blog arguing against the theory I am advocating here, and it is apparently taken from a book by David Eagleman called "Incognito."
As an example, I’ll mention what I’ll call the “radio theory” of brains. Imagine that you are a Kalahari Bushman and that you stumble upon a transistor radio in the sand. You might pick it up, twiddle the knobs, and suddenly, to your surprise, hear voices streaming out of this strange little box. If you’re curious and scientifically minded, you might try to understand what is going on. You might pry off the back cover to discover a little nest of wires. Now let’s say you begin a careful, scientific study of what causes the voices. You notice that each time you pull out the green wire, the voices stop. When you put the wire back on its contact, the voices begin again. The same goes for the red wire. Yanking out the black wire causes the voices to get garbled, and removing the yellow wire reduces the volume to a whisper. You step carefully through all the combinations, and you come to a clear conclusion: the voices depend entirely on the integrity of the circuitry. Change the circuitry and you damage the voices.
The point that the writer is making is that our minds and brains are separate in the same way that the radio broadcaster is separate from the radio itself. By tampering with the circuitry of the radio, one could silence, garble, or clarify the broadcaster's voice; but it would be wrong to conclude that the man speaking through the radio is himself merely a product of the radio. We know (unlike this hypothetical bushman) that the man speaking through the radio is a real man who exists in another place, and via electromagnetic waves can be heard speaking through this device. The bushman doesn't have the knowledge to even conceptualize such a thing, and would be more likely to assume that the voice is a product of the radio, rather than something that exists independently of the radio.
The "radio receiver" theory of the brain is one that is put forth by Dr. Bruce Greyson in his new book "After", about the phenomenon of near death experiences. I've been reading it this week on my Kindle. He argues that the phenomenon of near death experiences provides evidence that the mind exists independently of the brain, and provides case after case in which his patients reported seeing and hearing things after they were observed to be in cardiac arrest with no brain function, and yet before they were resuscitated.
One example that features prominently in his book is of a young woman early in his career who ended up in the ER after trying to commit suicide. She was in a comatose state in the ER, and Dr. Greyson went into an adjacent room to speak with her roommate who had called the ambulance. The next day, he visited the young woman who was now awake and began asking her questions. One thing she said which jarred him was that she saw him talking to her roommate the day before. This wouldn't have been possible, but he didn't challenge her about it. Instead he tried to ask clarifying questions to determine what she meant to say, and she insisted that she did see him in the other room talking to her roommate, and in fact he had a red stain on his tie. The doctor had in fact been eating spaghetti in the cafeteria when his pager went off alerting him to the new patient in the ER, and had accidently spilled sauce on his tie; in his hurried state he had buttoned up his jacket so as not to expose the stain when he went to the ER. At no point was his tie exposed to the comatose woman in the ER. Her roommate immediately went back to her dorm after talking with the psychiatrist without speaking to her roommate first (who was comatose anyway), and hadn't been back to visit her since she had come out of her coma.
Dr. Greyson's research on this began with that incident in the ER back in the 1970s, since he couldn't figure out how it would have been possible with his then materialist understanding of the mind. Since then he has compiled (with the help of his fellow researchers at the Univ. of Virginia) thousands of cases of reported near death experiences and has formed his theory of the mind and brain in view of this phenomena. For the skeptics, he addresses other theories about why people report having out-of-body experiences (such as drugs or oxygen deprivation), and gives documented cases that show why such theories don't fit the available data.