Contextual Emergence of Mental States From Neurodynamics

The emergence of mental states from neural states by partitioning the neural phase space is analyzed in terms of symbolic dynamics. Well-defined mental states provide contexts inducing a criterion of structural stability for the neurodynamics that can be implemented by particular partitions. This leads to distinguished subshifts of finite type that are either cyclic or irreducible. Cyclic shifts correspond to asymptotically stable fixed points or limit tori whereas irreducible shifts are obtained from generating partitions of mixing hyperbolic systems. These stability criteria are applied to the discussion of neural correlates of consiousness, to the definition of macroscopic neural states, and to aspects of the symbol grounding problem. In particular, it is shown that compatible mental descriptions, topologically equivalent to the neurodynamical description, emerge if the partition of the neural phase space is generating. If this is not the case, mental descriptions are incompatible or complementary. Consequences of this result for an integration or unification of cognitive science or psychology, respectively, will be indicated.
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