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Since , when the Second and Third Periodic Report recommended confined, there choose required no dreadful links. Our Process. We were unable to attend to our physical environment, or move voluntarily in it. When we wake up, we make a transition into a state, where we suddenly can perceive and act intentionally. If we wake up in a familiar environment, we can act almost automatically in it, but otherwise, we may start to explore our environment, by attending to it and interact with it intentionally.
Consciousness Transitions: Phylogenetic, Ontogenetic, and Physiological Aspects
However, in our wake conscious state, we may shift between several sub-states, corresponding to different levels of alertness or wakefulness. During sleep, our cognitive activity is mostly unconscious. We may wake up from this state spontaneously by some internal "clock" or other internal event , or as a result of a sounding alarm clock, or the whispering of our name, or a weak smell of smoke, or any other significant signal, that is below threshold for any insignificant sensory input. Obviously, there is a certain level of "awareness" also in the so-called unconscious state.
Even in our wake state, most of our cognitive activity may be unconscious. While it is important to distinguish between cognition and consciousness, which is often mixed up in the literature , both seem to linked to system and process complexity. The brain, like other biological systems, has presumably evolved to efficiently increase the probability of survival in a constantly changing environment.
This would imply, among other things, a rapid and appropriate response to external and internal events. We may assume that the neural system with its complex dynamics has evolved to cope with the complex dynamics of the environment, by constantly interacting with it. In the following, I attempt to relate the neurodynamics of the brain with our cognitive and conscious activity, and also set it in an evolutionary context.
Specifically, I will consider the dual aspects of consciousness, intention and attention, and its effective counterparts of the neural system as perception and action. Finally, I will speculate on these aspects as universal to all life, and on consciousness as a driving force in nature. Neural Dynamics Brain structures are characterized by their complexity in terms of organization and dynamics. This complexity appears at many different spatial and temporal scales, which in relative terms can be considered as micro, meso, and macro scales.
The corresponding dynamics may range from ion channel kinetics, to spike trains of single neurons, to the neurodynamics of cortical networks and areas. The high complexity of this neurodynamics is partly a result of the web of non-linear interrelations between levels and parts, including positive and negative feedback loops. Very little is still known about the functional significance of the neural dynamics at the various organizational levels, and even less about the relation between activities at these levels.
However, it is reasonable to assume that different dynamical states correlate with different functional or conscious states. Transitions within the brain dynamics at some level would correlate with transitions in the "consciousness dynamics", involving various cognitive levels and conscious states, e. In general, there is a spectrum of states, each one with its own characteristic neurodynamical oscillatory mode. Presumably, phase transitions at the mesoscopic level of neural systems, i.
- Just a very pretty girl from the country: Sylvia Salingers letters from France, 1912-1913.
- The Wearing of the Green: A History of St Patricks Day.
- Consciousness Transitions: Phylogenetic, Ontogenetic and Physiological Aspects;
- Consciousness Transitions.
The mesoscopic neurodynamics of cortical neural networks typically occurs at the spatial order of a few millimetres to centimetres, and temporally on the order of milliseconds to seconds. Mesoscopic brain dynamics with its transitions is partly depending on thresholds and the summed activity of a large number of microscopic elements molecules and cells interconnected with positive and negative feedback. Some of this activity is spontaneous and can be considered as noise which may have a functional significance, see e.
In addition, the mesoscopic dynamics is influenced and regulated by various hormones and neuromodulators, such as acetylcholine and serotonin, as well as by the state of arousal or motivation, relating to more macroscopic processes of the brain.
Epub Consciousness Transitions Phylogenetic Ontogenetic And Physiological Aspects
Hence, mesoscopic neurodynamics can be seen as resulting from the dynamic balance between opposing processes at several scales, from the influx and efflux of ions, inhibition and excitation etc. Clearly, the brain activity is constantly changing, due to neuronal information processing, internal fluctuations, neuromodulation, and sensory input.
An essential feature of the mesoscopic brain dynamics is spatio-temporal patterns of activity, appearing at the collective level of a very large number of neurons.
Waves of activity move across the surface of sensory cortices, with oscillations at various frequency bands Freeman, , In general, low frequencies correspond to low mental activity, drowsiness or sleep, whereas higher frequencies are associated with alertness and higher conscious activity. Simulated effect of anaesthetics, which may shift the mesoscopic neurodynamics from high frequency gamma oscillations to low frequency theta oscillations for three different concentration levels of potassium ion channel blocking, increasing from left to right.
The two upper time series show the activity of a single excitatory and inhibitory neuron, respectively, while the lower time series is the network mean. Adopted from Halnes et al, In particular, oscillations in the gamma frequency band, around 40 Hz, has been associated with visual attention, based on experiments on cats about two decades ago Eckhorn et al. It was this phenomenon that triggered a lot of studies on neural correlates of consciousness, as e. This experimental and theoretical research on neural oscillations has been complemented by computational models, which attempt to relate structure to dynamics and function.
I have dealt with these issues in more detail elsewhere, e. Consciousness Dynamics The complex neurodynamics at a mesoscopic level of the brain seem significant for cognitive functions and conscious activity. It has been related to perception, attention and associative memory, but also to volition and activity in the sensory motor areas of the brain. Even though many details are still unknown, there is an interplay between the neurodynamics of the sensory and motor pathways, which seem essential for the interaction with our environment.
We explore our world in a perception-action cycle Freeman, The development of our cognitive and conscious abilities depend on an appropriate interaction with the complex and changing environment, in which we are embedded. Our perceptions and actions develop and are refined to effectively deal with our external and internal world. However, prior to perception is attention, and prior to action is intention.
WHAT OUR CLIENTS ARE SAYING
Some believe that attention and intention are at the core of our experience of existence Popper et al. While attention has been shown to correlate with certain neural oscillations, intention has not been demonstrated to the same extent. In particular, the supplementary motor area SMA , but also the parietal cortex, show early signs of intentional motor activity Eccles, ; Libet ; Desmurget et al.
Attention could be extended, but also be focused to some specific part of our internal or external worlds. We can turn our attention to some specific memory, thought, or sensory experience, while neglecting or inhibiting the rest. Naturally, and perhaps more commonly, our attention is drawn to some object or event in our environment, something that is of special relevance or interest to us, for our survival or for our curiosity.
We may also intentionally turn our attention to some area of interest. Intention can be viewed as a precursor to volition and will, as an "urge" or "desire" to act in a certain direction, to attain a certain goal.
Voluntary movement, or more generally, behavior, is based on perception and past experience memory , which are required for prediction of internal and external interactions. Attention may provide information about the internal and external worlds, but intention guides our actions. We can attend to our intentions, but we can also intentionally guide our attention. While attention and intention would be most effective in the wake conscious state, they could also be present, to lesser degree, in "unconscious" states e.
They could be present at different levels of intensity; where we become conscious awake above a certain threshold. Attention and intention could be seen as complementary aspects of consciousness, with their effective neural counterparts of perception and action, respectively, when implemented through the interactions within sensory and motor hierarchies of the nervous system.
They correspond to an "inward" and an "outward" going activity of consciousness see Fig. Both of these aspects seem essential for exploring our external and internal world. In other words, we play the dual role of actor and observer in the drama of existence Joseph, , The relation between the "implicate" order of consciousness, as in the dual aspect of attention and intention, and the "explicate order" of exploration, as in the perception-action cycle. Consciousness and Life Attention and intention, as complementary aspects of consciousness are presumably not only part of the human experience, but could be much more universal.
For example, visual attention has been studied in insects, such as fruit-flies van Swinderen, and honey bees Srinavasan , and can be expected to be found also in other invertebrates. Indeed, these aspects of consciousness might be intimately linked to life at all levels, albeit not in the same sense as we use the terms for humans or other mammals.
Naturally, in organisms without a nervous system, attention and intention could never be implemented through any sensory or motor hierarchy of such a system, but would rather have to be implemented through other molecular or cellular structures. The more complex the cellular organization of an organism is the more this organism can be aware, or conscious, of the external and internal world.
In this sense, consciousness has evolved together with other properties of life. In his book, "Mind from Matter?