Dendritic encoding: An alternative to temporal synaptic coding of conscious experience

Consciousness and Cognition 8 (4):447-454 (1999)
In this commentary, arguments are made for a dendritic code being preferable to a temporal synaptic code as a model of conscious experience. A temporal firing pattern is a product of an ongoing neural computation; hence, it is based on a neural algorithm and an algorithm may not provide the most suitable model for conscious experience. Reiteration of a temporal firing code as suggested in a preceding article (Helekar, 1999) does not necessarily improve the situation. The alternative model presented here is that certain synaptic activity patterns, possibly those possessing universal features as suggested by Helekar, can become encoded in the dendritic structure. Following dendritic encoding, quantum phenomena in those specific dendrite sets could illuminate the static image of that encoded synaptic activity. It is the activation of the static image that would be equivalent to conscious experience; thus, conscious awareness would not be directly affiliated with synaptic activity. This dendrite encoding model may go farther than other models to explain the gestalt nature of consciousness, insofar as quantum entanglement could produce an interconnectedness between specific sets of dendrites-an interconnectedness that need not be based on neural computation or neural connections
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