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Wednesday, March 20, 2019



I)According to Giulio Tononi (director of the sleep and consciousness research center, University of Wisconsin-Madison), consciousness is an intrinsic property of any cognitive network with specific findings in its architecture. A theory baptized by Tononi as Integrated Theory of Information: IIT, which stipulates that to be aware is to have an experience (dreams or anything). And, although a human being can have "blank mind" states usually achieved through meditation, this is also a conscious experience. Tononi and Christof Koch (Director of the Allen Institute: Brain Science), have established the essential characteristics of conscious experiences. They are: subjective (they exist only for the conscious entity), structured (their contents are related to each other: the blue book is on the table), specific (the book is not blue, it is red), unified (there is only one experience at a given time) and definitive (there are connections to the content of the experience). With these axioms, Tononi and Koch have deduced the properties that a physical system should have to get some degree of consciousness. The IIT does not describe consciousness within the canyons of information processing, but as the causal power of a system to differentiate the conscious experience in itself. For Koch, the conscience is a system of abilities that acting by itself in the past is capable of influencing its own future. The more power the system has over causes and effects, it will generate more awareness. For Tononi and Koch, it is not possible to relate the emergence of consciousness to systems in which information is hardly converted into inputs-outputs (zombie digital computers), which, although they can simulate acting as conscious computers, lack such property. According to Koch, in order to be aware, digital computers must have the correct hardware, adding that any system (organism, artifact), with the required network architecture, may have some awareness. John Searle (Philosopher of Mind and Consciousness, University of California, Berkeley), labels the IIT theory, as a form of panpsychism (belief that the mind and consciousness invade the entire cosmos). It is not that this theory is false, says Searle, but that it does not even reach the level of false, adding that consciousness comes in units and panpsychism is incapable of specifying them. Although Koch and Tononi believe that consciousness can be an attribute of many things, a significant amount of it only exists in particular kinds of things: in specific areas of human brains, with consciousness being an elementary property of living matter. Koch and Tononi have specified criteria to identify what kinds of things are aware, emphasizing that being the conscience a special network of information processing, there is a measure of integration of information: Φ, amount of irreducible cause-effect structure: that explains how the cognitive network as a whole can influence itself, depending on interconnectivity and feedback. If a larger network is divided into small networks that do not exercise causal power in others, it will have a low value, no matter how many processing nodes it has. For Koch, any system whose functional connectivity and architecture provides a value of Φ greater than zero have a minimum of conscious experience, including regulatory biochemical networks of living cells and electronic circuits with correct feedback architecture. Even simple matter has a minimum Φ (atoms can influence other atoms). However, systems that have enough Φ to "recognize" their existence like us, are rare. II) The other theory held by Stanislas Dehaene (Collège de France, Paris), argues that the behavior of consciousness is born when someone takes a piece of information from a global area of ​​work (Global Workspace: GW) contained within the brain, from where it broadcast to brain modules associated with specific tasks. 

Resultado de imagen para global workspace dehaene

The GW, provides a kind of bottleneck information, characterized by the fact that only when the first conscious notion slips away, another can take its place. With the help of brain imaging, Dehaene has studied these bottlenecks, networks of neurons in the cerebral cortex. For him, consciousness is created in the prefrontal cerebral cortex, by the workspace itself, characteristic of any procedural information system, capable of broadcasting information widely to other processing centers. Based on the above, Hakwan Lau (psychologist, University of California, Los Angeles), believes that GWT is mostly related to function and cognitive access, while IIT is primarily related to phenomenology. Faced with these 2 structured theories the Templeton World Charity Foundation, will finance the scientific checks of these 2 theories, having as coordinator to Dawit Potgieter. According to Koch, only the GWT and the IIT are quantitative and predictively verifiable. Potgieter who plans a structured collaboration of these 2 adversaries will make available to them a series of techniques to monitor brain functions: fMRI, electrocorticography and magnetoencephalography for 3 years, involving 10-12 laboratories. A recent study conducted by Dehaene analyzing with fMRI the brain activity in conscious volunteers or under general anesthesia, showed 2 different patterns: a) during unconsciousness brain activity persisted only in regions with direct anatomical connections, while during b) the conscious activity the complex long-distance interactions did not seem to be restricted by neural wiring. According to Koch, we will soon have smart machines that will model most of the human brain characteristics and be aware. It is concluded that the 2 previous theories were   born from the principle that the brain functions as a supercomputer with special characteristics (quantum  type?), whose purpose is to maintain a constant, instantaneous and permanent control of the totality of hundreds of thousands of bodily functions. And, as constant body control can also mean "prevent a bodily malfunction", we will remember the proposal of Antonio Damasio (neuroscientist, University of Southern California), who described consciousness as an emergent process (Book:Self comes to Mind,2010), responsible for maintaining and controlling the normality of absolutely all human body physiological systems, creating the evolutionary need to recognize our bodily self and any bad bodily function that could make our body useless. For this reason and according to the same Damasio the out of body experience is promoted by the need that the conciousness leave a body in crisis (imminence of death or others), in order to continue monitoring from the outside the good functioning of the body.

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