David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (8):20-34 (2007)
Human brains exhibit complex dynamic behaviour measured by external recordings of electric (EEG) and magnetic fields (MEG). These data reveal synaptic field oscillations in neocortex at millisecond temporal and centimetre spatial scales. We suggest that the neural networks underlying behaviour and cognition may be viewed as embedded in these synaptic action fields, analogous to social networks embedded in a culture. These synaptic fields may facilitate the binding of disparate networks to produce a behaviour and consciousness that appears unified to external observers. EEG, MEG, anatomy, physiology, and complex physical systems are considered here to suggest fundamental physical and biological properties of human brains that may be required for human consciousness to occur. We do not claim that these tissue properties are necessarily causal; however, they appear to be strongly correlated with human consciousness. Emphasis is placed on the hierarchical structure of brains, non-local connections between distant cortical regions, and resonant interactions between networks. While several of these ideas are supported by both experimental data and mathematical theory, the mathematics is replaced by metaphor for this paper. One conjecture is that the schizophrenias and other diseases occur when neural networks fail to conform to global synaptic fields. Perhaps consciousness is a resonance phenomenon and only properly tuned brains can orchestrate the beautiful music of sentience.
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