David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (7):111-125 (2007)
We explore the understanding of conscious states in terms of spatio-temporal dynamics through modelling a mobile agent. Conscious states are associated with an agent's spontaneous and deterministic fluctuation between attachment to and detachment from the surroundings. It is because of this fluctuating nature, we argue, that an agent can perceive structure in the world. Perception requires a conscious state in physical devices. This is a central concern of this paper, and we examine it by simulating a mobile agent equipped with an interconnected Fitz-Hugh-Nagumo (FHN) neuron network with delayed signal transmissions. The agent can move around a space by sensing the environment pattern through the input neurons and computing the motor outputs via the FHN network. The agent shows a variety of motion styles and a spontaneous selection of motion styles responding to the surroundings. Such a phenomenon is named embodied chaotic itinerancy (ECI), as an extension of chaotic itinerant dynamics, which is known to be a typical dynamic with a high degree of freedom. We take this selective mode of response to be significant, particularly those interacting with spatial pattern, as an inevitable property of conscious states.
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