<   1 2 3 4 5  >

Consciousness Issues

November 30th, 2009

Consciousness is the executive control of the mind. It results from our perceptions of the environment. Every human subject or species has a peculiar individual consciousness (Merkwelt). Consciousness cannot exist in the absence of information - information is the matrix of consciousness. » This becomes especially obvious when our brain and vital functions are reversibly switched on and off via anesthesia or slowed down whilst sleeping.

Yet, we do not know in detail how information is transformed into consciousness. How does the processing system look like? Do we need to assume (1) a centralized process involving a single coordination center of consciousness in the brain, (2) a process where consciousness results from coordinated signal-to-noise ratios of various neuronal cell populations reporting to their specific consciousness centers (existence of multiple consciousness centers), or rather (3) a decentralized process where consciousness emerges directly from the coordinated signal-to-noise ratios of various neuronal cell populations activated upon incoming information. We still need to ask what the dimension and types of consciousness depend on: Is it time correlation of the signal-to-noise ratios of active neuronal cell populations (synchronicity), or is it the intensities of their activities (signal-to-noise ratio sizes)? Moreover, we cannot exclude the existence of multiple forms of consciousness - different interaction patterns of active neuronal populations may lead to variations in consciousness (type, scale). Similarly inter-personal variations in the same interaction patterns of active neuronal populations will exist such that consciousness about similar information is rather personalized.

Finally, what good is consciousness? Why do conscious beings have conscious experiences and thoughts? Well, it allows us to be prepared for situations by reflecting the past and by extrapolating future behavior. Consciousness is our rather crude prospective and retrospective perception system of 'time'.

Tags: perception, memories, brain