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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VI. Earth Life Emergence: Development of Body, Brain, Selves and Societies

4. Conscious Integrated Information Knowledge

Lagercrantz, Hugo and Jean-Pierre Changeux. On the Emergence of Consciousness. Lagercratnz, Hugo, et al, eds. The Newborn Brain: Neuroscience and Clinical Applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Lagercrantz is professor of pediatrics and neonatology at Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, and Changeux, an Institut Pasteur, Paris, neuroscientist. In this especial volume, these leading researchers, aided by the global workspace model of Bernard Baars and Stanislas Dehaene, can trace a nested, ascendant scale of sentience across a life span from its fetal phase before birth through younger years and onto adulthood. The quickening fetus is newly realized to be in a state as if asleep, but also with an REM dreaming mode (see Schwab, Karin, et al Chaos 19/015111, 2009). An early formative factor are episodic cerebral “waves” that produce millions of new neurons. See also by the authors “The Emergence of Human Consciousness: From Fetal to Neonatal Life” in Pediatric Research (65/3, 2009). But a profound extrapolation might then accrue from these studies. The process of human birth, in which the fetus takes an active role, is stated to be a similar transition as awakening from sleep. Might our imminent EarthKinder “nativity singularity” be seen and facilitated by an intentional attempt to individually and collectively awaken and come to a palliative vision and senses?

The First Awakening. Upon delivery, the newborn baby, who has taken an active part in the process, wakes up for the next few hours. The eyes are wide open with usually large pupils and it may cry. After a couple of hours it usually falls asleep again being awake the following days for only short periods of time, i.e., from 7% to 10% of the circadian cycle. The delivery from the mother’s womb thus would cause a first awakening of the infant from a “resting” or sleeping state in utero. (387)

Lombardi, Olimpia and Cristian Lopez. What Does “Information” Mean in Integrated Information Theory? Entropy. 201/12, 2018. As a current example of how this ITT model is gaining wide avail, University of Buenos Aires and University of Lausanne quantum physicists (search each) propose ways to finesse and include this vital instructional complement of aware knowing consciousness.

Integrated Information Theory (IIT) intends to provide a principled theoretical approach able to characterize consciousness both quantitatively and qualitatively. By starting off with the fundamental properties of experience itself, IIT develops a framework that relates those properties to the physical substratum of consciousness. One of the central features is the role that information plays. In this paper, we will conceptually analyze the notion of information underlying ITT. We argue that information should be understood in the light of a causal-manipulabilist view, such that information must be involved in causal links in order to be precisely defined. (Abstract edits)

Mangan, Bruce. Against Functionalism: Consciousness as an Information-Bearing Medium. Stuart Hameroff, et al, eds. Toward a Science of Consciousness II. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1998. To fully express the nature of conscious awareness, the information and knowledge content being processed and conveyed need to be included.

Marijuan, Pedro. Cajal and Consciousness. Pedro Marijuan, ed. Cajal and Consciousness. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2001. An introduction to a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of Texture of the Nervous System of Man and the Vertebrates by the Spanish neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal which established modern brain research. As Marijuan surveys the conference papers what is evident circa 1999 is a gradated evolutionary enhancement of cerebral structure and capacity with an attendant increase in self-awareness or consciousness. This proceeds by an iterative “complex adaptive system.”

Mashour, George, et al. Conscious Processing and the Global Neuronal Workspace Hypothesis. Neuron. 105/5, 2020. This is a latest update by American, Dutch, and French neuroscientists including Jean-Pierre Changeux and Stanislas Dehaene on this school of thought, actually, whence local brain areas such as evaluative systems, long-term memory, perceptual systems, motor actions, and attention gather together in a common place from which knowing, responsive awareness can then arise. The paper compares this approach with Integrated Information Theory (see herein) and other ideas. A well-funded program to study both main views Neuroscience Readies for a Showdown Over Consciousness Ideas by Philip Ball in Quanta (March 6, 2019). As one may consider, it will not be either/or but a meld with each group bringing vital features to join in synthesis. In any event, these insightful methods assume a conscious ecomsos, as Christoph Koch avers, which seems made and meant to ascend into our creative sentience.

We review the central tenets and neuroanatomical basis of the global neuronal workspace (GNW) hypothesis, which attempts to account for the main scientific observations regarding the elementary mechanisms of conscious processing in the human brain. The GNW hypothesis proposes that, in the conscious state, a non-linear network ignition associated with recurrent processing amplifies and sustains a neural representation, allowing the corresponding information to be globally accessed by local processors. We examine this hypothesis in light of recent data that contrast brain activity evoked by either conscious or non-conscious contents, as well as during conscious or non-conscious states, particularly general anesthesia. We also discuss the relationship between the intertwined concepts of conscious processing, attention, and working memory. (Abstract)

Mateos, D. M., et al. Consciousness as a Global Property of Brain Dynamic Activity. arXiv:1710.08384. The University of Toronto and University of Paris neuroscientist team of Mateos, Richard Wennberg, Ramon Guevara and Jose Perez Valazquez (search each) continue their insightful project to quantify and quality how our day and night sentience and somnolence can indeed be traced to neural attributes for this purpose.

We seek general principles of the structure of the cellular collective activity associated with conscious awareness. Analysing brain recordings in conscious and unconscious states, we followed initially the classic approach in physics when it comes to understanding collective behaviours of systems composed of a myriad of units: the assessment of the number of possible configurations (microstates) that the system can adopt, for which we use a global entropic measure associated with the number of connected brain regions. Having found maximal entropy in conscious states, we then inspected the microscopic nature of the configurations of connections using an adequate complexity measure, and found higher complexity in states characterised not only by conscious awareness but also by subconscious cognitive processing, such as sleep stages. Our observations indicate that conscious awareness is associated with maximal global (macroscopic) entropy while the microscopic view captures the high complexity in physiological unconscious states (sleep) where there is information processing. As such, our results support the global nature of conscious awareness, as advocated by several theories of cognition. (Abstract)

Mediano, Pedro, et al. Beyond Integrated Information. arXiv:1909.02297. Imperial College London, and University of Sussex theorists including Anil Seth provide a technical finesse of this popular IIT approach, which by its closer to truth facility is gaining increased usage such as this instance. Karl Friston’s (search) predictive brain is another example of a good idea which is catching on.

Most information dynamics and statistical causal analyses rely on the intuition that causal interactions are intrinsically pairwise, so that a 'causal arrow' can be drawn between them. However, this creates some problems with the concepts of 'dynamical complexity' or `integrated information.' To address this, we combine partial information decomposition and integrated information, and obtain what we call Integrated Information Decomposition, or ΦID. We show how our ΦID model can better analyse interdependencies in multivariate time series, and shed light on collective modes of information dynamics that have not been reported before. (Abstract excerpt)

Metzinger, Thomas, ed. Neural Correlates of Consciousness. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000. A copious survey of consciousness studies at the millennium. While emphasizing a neural basis, the emergence, both personally and collectively, of a knowing mindfulness can be quantified by its degree of represented knowledge content.

Monti, Martin, et al. Dynamic Change of Global and Local Information Processing in Propofol-Induced Loss and Recovery of Consciousness. PLoS Computational Biology. Online October, 2013. A team of ten UCLA, University of Cambridge, and University of Liege, neuroscientists achieve through the latest imaging instruments and mathematical analysis a novel entry of the onsets and occasions of wakeful awareness. The degrees of sentience or its absence are attributed to a relative closer or further distance under sedation between brain modules and areas which then affects their efficiency of information exchange. The model and findings are supported by the cerebral network models of Giulio Tononi, Danielle Bassett, Olaf Sporns and company, which are noted to equally apply everywhere in nature and society. However then might we imagine, through such international collaborations, coming into close enough accord to foster a social, worldwide, palliative awakening?

One of the most elusive aspects of the human brain is the neural fingerprint of the subjective feeling of consciousness. While a growing body of experimental evidence is starting to address this issue, to date we are still hard pressed to answer even basic questions concerning the nature of consciousness in humans as well as other species. In the present study we follow a recent theoretical construct according to which the crucial factor underlying consciousness is the modality with which information is exchanged across different parts of the brain. In particular, we represent the brain as a network of regions exchanging information (as is typically done in a comparatively young branch of mathematics referred to as graph theory), and assess how different levels of consciousness induced by anesthetic agent affect the quality of information exchange across regions of the network. Overall, our findings show that what makes the state of propofol-induced loss of consciousness different from all other conditions (namely, wakefulness, light sedation, and consciousness recovery) is the fact that all regions of the brain appear to be functionally further apart, reducing the efficiency with which information can be exchanged across different parts of the network. (Author Summary)

In particular, we focus on the change of global and local topological metrics of information processing across conditions, a technique that has been successfully employed to characterize and model dynamics within physical, biological and social systems, and that has been shown to capture specific aspects of brain organization in the maturing, healthy adult, and pathological brain. A particularly appealing aspect of this technique in the context of studies of consciousness is the parallel between the measures it offers, focused on characterizing how information is exchanged and propagated through a network, and theories of consciousness that stress the centrality of how information is treated and integrated within the brain. (2)

Neuman, Yair and Ophir Nave. Why the Brain Needs Language in Order to be Self-Conscious. New Ideas in Psychology. In Press Online, 2009. In a technical and deeply argued paper, Ben-Gurion University interdisciplinary researchers argue that our brain/mind interplay known as a “multilevel recursive-hierarchical system” gains cognitive sentience by virtue of the quality and “phase space trajectory” of its information content.

Nizato, Takayuki, et al. Finding Continuity and Discontinuity in Fish Schools via Integrated Information Theory. arXiv:1812.00718. University of Tsukuba and University of Tokyo neurobiologists first explain the generic ITT model whereby relative awareness occurs in tandem with knowledge content, and then show how it can well apply to collective creaturely behaviors such as marine pod assemblies.

O’Doherty, Fiona. A Contribution to Understanding Consciousness: Qualia as Phenotype. Biosemiotics. 6/2, 2013. A UPMC Beacon Hospital, Dublin, clinical psychologist brings a novel interdisciplinary vista to expand our contextual imaginations of how and why we humans gained an informed, meta-cognitive sentience. Again, linguistic aspects are implicated from the earliest onsets. Such sentient expressions are seen as internal to the organism, along with a behavioral component through social and environmental interactions.

In this model consciousness is a form of memory. We are essentially “living in the past” as our experience, the qualia, is always of past events. Consciousness represents the storage of past events for use in future situations and it is altered by external experience of the organism. Psychological frameworks of conditioning and learning theory are used to explain this model along with recent neuropsychological research on synaesthesia and phantom limb pain. Consciousness results from the gradual evolutionary development of the human information processing function. Language is hypothesised to have evolved at a pre-conscious stage of human development as a function of the need for ‘within-organism’ data storage. Communication with others may not have been the initial evolutionary advantage conferred by language. The later incidental use of language as a communication tool, which results in the reflecting back of one’s experience through others, is what has triggered a conscious experience. (Abstract)

Instead of searching for new types of data to explain consciousness, a useful focus can be to put existing knowledge into a new framework in an attempt to get a better understanding through stepping outside the prism and prison of single disciplinary research to gain that new perspective. Whereas it is not possible for this or any one paper to review all of the relevant literature from Psychology, Zoology, Physiology, Genetics, Philosophy and Computational models, this paper attempts to draw from all of these disciplines in understanding consciousness. From a combination of evolutionary principles, learning theory, behavioral theory and the process of conditioning it is proposed that a sufficient may be provided in which to explain human consciousness. (192)

A phenotype is any observable characteristic or train of an organism, either structural or behavioral, that develops as a result of interaction with the environment. It will be argued that the hard problem of qualia is a phenotype and that language is the precursor to consciousness that shapes it over time through conditioning. It will also be argued that consciousness is a phenomenon resulting from interactions between organisms rather than being located within an organism. (192)

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