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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

Pickering, John. The Self is a Semiotic Process. Journal of Consciousness Studies. 6/4, 1999. On the symbolic, content-rich essence of sentience and personhood.

Revonsuo, Antti. Inner Presence: Consciousness as a Biological Phenomenon. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006. A psychology professor at the University of Turku, Finland, draws on the latest neuroscience to argue that embodied brains are intrinsically capable of generating mental awareness. This approach termed “biological realism” is facilitated by a first-person “world-simulation metaphor.”

Roth, Gerhard. The Evolution of Consciousness. Gerhard Roth and Mario Wullimann eds. Brain Evolution and Cognition. New York: Wiley; Heidelberg: Spektrum, 2001. A good summary which finds a modular basis for sentience grounded in an increasing informational content. At the human phase, everything changes due to language which raises the cognitive discourse to a collective social plane.

Seager, William. Theories of Consciousness. London: Routledge, 1999. A philosopher melds quantum physics and connectionism to affirm that mental awareness requires information, which leads to a “representational” model. Consciousness depends on content, which places it in an evolutionary scale of the emergence of knowing mind. These features are seen to revive a “panpsychic” view of the universe whence “all matter, or all nature, is itself psychical.”

Seth, Anil, et al. Theories and Measures of Consciousness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 10799/103, 2006. Along with co-authors Eugene Izhikevich, George Reeke, and Gerald Edelman, a report on ways to quantify the occasion of knowing sentience. Three domains are cited – dynamical complexity of neural systems, information integration, and causal density – each an aspect but even more is going on for which some guidelines are noted.

The notion of recursive complexity refers to the balance between differentiation and integration across different levels of description within a system. At the neural level, brains exhibit rich organization at multiple levels of description, ranging from molecular interactions within individual synapses, to the dynamics of cortical microcircuits, to reentrant interactions among functionally segregated brain regions. The phenomenal structure of consciousness also appears to be recursive; for example, the individual features of conscious scenes are themselves Gestalts and must therefore share organizational properties with the conscious scene as a whole. (10803)

Singer, Ming. Unbounded Consciousness. London: Free Association Books, 2001. A work in progress toward a synthesis of philosophy, psychology, quantum physics, and nonlinear systems which argues for a complementarity and superposition of qualia (felt awareness) and quanta (objective aspects) of the dynamically emergent self.

Tannenbaum, Arnold. Consciousness and the Self-Sensing Brain. American Journal of Psychology. 119/2, 2006. The University of Michigan psychologist expands his theory of a dynamical sentience which emerges via self-organizing complex adaptive systems from sensory experience.

This article builds on the argument in the literature that the brain senses itself and that a coherent sensing system within the brain, a sense of consciousness, is essential to the generation of consciousness and is a basis for the special richness of human subjective experience. (205)

Taylor, John. Mind and Consciousness: Towards a Final Answer? Physics of Life Reviews. 2/1, 2005. A survey of quantum, synchronization, dynamical systems, narrative gravity, global workspace and relational mind approaches, each of some value, then leads the proposal of an advanced neuroscience model of attention. The journal and article can be reached via Google.

Taylor, John, et al. Introduction to the Special Issue on "Brain and Consciousness.". Neural Networks. 20/9, 2007. A collation that includes Walter Freeman, Bernard Baars, Axel Cleeremans, and other notables in this regard. As a ten year update to a 1997 issue, a salient advance might be the inclusion of complex system dynamics that can serve to illume modular hierarchies for the ascent of knowing awareness. (See L. Andrew Coward, and Freeman for examples)

Toker, Daniel and Friedrich Sommer. Greater Than the Sum: Integrated Information in Large Brain Networks. arXiv:1708.02967. Akin to Engel and Malone’s writings about Wikipedia, UC Berkeley neuroscientists apply Giulio Tononi’s collegial theory (search) of a tandem relation between a neural complex coherence and its aware content further afield than human cerebration. Here is another example of a prime natural principle, such as symbiosis, major transitions, and more, which is finding increasing apply across many realms.

Recent work in information theory has produced a sound measure of integrated information based on time-series data, which quantifies how much more information a system carries than the sum of its parts. As a principled measure of global information in complex systems, integrated information holds the promise of transforming a number of scientific fields, particularly neuroscience. Unfortunately, the measurement of integrated information involves a combinatorial search problem, which has made it impossible to measure this quantity in large systems such as brains. Here, we present a solution to this problem, reducing the computation time for large systems from longer than the timespan of the universe to just several hours. After evaluating our solution, we demonstrate that brain connectomes are structured in ways that facilitate high integrated information and provide the first measurement of integrated information in a real nervous system: the brain of Caenorhabditis elegans. (Abstract)

Toker, Daniel and Friedrich Sommer. Information Integration in Large Brain Networks. PLoS Computational Biology. February, 2019. UC Berkeley neuroscientists proceed to tidy up some mathematical issues with this popular theoretic synthesis by Giulio Tononi and many colleagues that appears to quantify a parallel, tandem relation between an aware cerebral sentience and a sapient knowledge content.

An outstanding problem in neuroscience is to understand how information is integrated across the many modules of the brain. While classic information-theoretic measures have transformed our understanding of feedforward information processing in the brain’s sensory periphery, comparable measures for information flow in the massively recurrent networks of the rest of the brain have been lacking. To address this, recent work has produced a sound measure of network-wide “integrated information.” But, a computational hurdle has stymied attempts to measure large-scale information integration in real brains. Here, we show that spectral clustering, applied on the correlation matrix of time-series data, provides an approximate but robust solution. Finally, we use our solution to support of the hypothesis that information integration is maximized by networks with a high global efficiency, and that modular network structures promote the segregation of information. (Abstract excerpt)

Tolson, Jay. Is There Room for the Soul? U. S. News & World Report. October 23, 2006. Unusual for a weekly newsmagazine, the article is a well-researched and written overview of the major players and viewpoints of the emerging field of consciousness studies. Yes there is a place, depending on what a “soul,” along with a personal self, is imagined to be.

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