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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

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)

Oizumi, Masafumi, et al. From the Phenomenology to the Mechanisms of Consciousness: Integrated Information Theory 3.0. PLoS Computational Biology. 10/5, 2014. With Larissa Albantakis, and Giulio Tononi, University of Wisconsin psychologists write a highly technical essay on parallel degrees of knowledge content and sentient awareness (Tononi 2008) that has become a prime explanatory approach in neuroscience. As a capsule, in a “solipsistic” way, one’s consciousness is self-generated, self-referential, and holistic. An implication, we add, would be a quickening cosmos that similarly comes to its own self-witness and cognizance.

Oizumi, Masafumi, et al. Unified Framework for Information Integration Based on Information Geometry. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 113/14817, 2016. Oizumi, and Shun-ichi Amari, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Japan, with Naotsugu Tsuchiya, Monash University, Australia provide a December 2016 example of how dedicated neural network dynamics, via the popular Integrated Information Theory (Tononi), can serve as an iconic exemplar for all manner of nonlinear complexity from physical to social phenomena. By a natural philosophy view, our worldwide science is lately quantifying a universe to human repetition of the one, same organizing system as distinguished by nodal and relational complements. If of a mind, here is a 21st century confirmation of the perennial wisdom quest. The next step, in translation, would be its actual identity as a cosmos to children genetic code.

Quantitative assessment of causal influences among elements in a complex system is a fundamental problem in many fields of science, including physics, economics, gene networks, social networks, ecosystems, and neuroscience. There have been many previous attempts to quantify causal influences between elements in stochastic systems. Information theory has played a pivotal role in these endeavors, leading to various measures, including predictive information, transfer entropy, and stochastic interaction. Drawn from consciousness studies involving measurement of integration of neural activity, the mathematical concept of integrated information is also useful as a framework for analyzing causal relationships in complex systems with multiple elements. Whereas the original motivation for integrated information is intended to elucidate the neural substrate of consciousness, it can in principle be applied to many research fields. (14817)

Osaka, Naoyuki, ed. Neural Basis of Consciousness. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing, 2003. Essays consider how to approach the study of the cerebral correlates of knowing sentience.

Many scientists studying consciousness consider that the evidence and theory currently have to be developed in a sustained way, and a firmer understanding of consciousness is now being accelerated by new evidence from cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology, neurophilsosopy, neuropsychology and “new neurophysics,” quantum brain dynamics. (Introduction, 1)

Overgaard, Morten. Consciousness Studies: The View from Psychology. British Journal of Psychology. 97/3, 2006. A book review essay of Adam Zeman, Maxim Stamenov and Vittorio Gallese, Jeffery Gray, and Susan Blackmore, which expands to a survey the history, definitions, and nascent admission of our evanescent sentience.

Pestana, Mark. Complexity Theory, Quantum Mechanics and Radically Free Self Determination. Journal of Mind and Behavior. 22/4, 2001. Self-similar patterns of neural activity are shown to possess quantum and nonlinear properties by which to substantiate an indeterminate ‘radically free will.’

It has been claimed that quantum mechanics, unlike classical mechanics, allows for free will. In this paper I articulate that claim and explain how a complex physical system possessing fractal-like self similarity could exhibit both self-consciousness and self determination. (365)

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