Apical dendrite activity in cognition and consciousness

Consciousness and Cognition 15 (2):235-257 (2006)
Abstract
The ongoing steady nature of consciousness in everyday life implies that the underlying neural activity possesses a high level of stability. The prolonged cognitive events of sustained attention, imagery, and working memory also imply high stability of underlying neural activity. This paper proposes that stabilization of neural activity is produced by apical dendrite activity in pyramidal neurons within recurrent corticothalamic circuits, and proposes that the wave activities of apical dendrites that stabilize ongoing activity constitute the subjective impressions of an attended object and the entire sensory background. The cortical minicolumn, as the functional unit of the cortex, is separated into an axis consisting of layer 5 pyramidal neurons and a surrounding shell consisting of layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons. It is proposed that apical dendrites of the axis generate sensory impressions, and basal dendrites of the shell process the brief-lasting input–output identifications of objects that give rise to ideas
Keywords *Cognition  *Consciousness States  *Dendrites  *Imagery  *Short Term Memory  Attention  Hippocampus
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