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The form of consciousness

Duggins, A.J.; (2009) The form of consciousness. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

A model of consciousness is proposed, in which the experience attributable to a single neuron is related to its instantaneous firing rate. In that the experience afforded by a sensory neuron can only be quantified within statistical limits from the incidence of spikes across multiple presentations of a stimulus, consciousness remains inaccessible to direct measurement on a single trial. In this way, the model disambiguates subjective experience from objective neural properties. The model adopts a quantum mechanical formalism, in which the state of the neuron is represented as a vector in A complex vector space, or as a projector from the space onto that vector. Extension of this formalism to more realistic neural systems merely requires the assimilation of the quantum mechanical principles applicable in this broader context. Initially, a mathematical expression for the smooth evolution of a single dimension of perceptual experience will be derived for the single neuron case. There follows a description of how the neural state itself might evolve in this process, utilising the quantum operations formalism of amplitude damping. This approach reveals how smooth evolution of conscious experience might arise from discrete spikes and discontinuous synaptic interaction between neurons. A tensor product formalism will be used to describe the combination of state spaces of individual neurons to form a composite neural space, in which a pure 'mental state' would represent unified conscious experience. The binding of elementary features in this non-local mental state would be reflected in specific patterns of correlated neural firing between remote brain regions. In contrast, the conventional neuron doctrine is classical and local realistic. Local realistic constraints, expressed as Bell Inequalities, limit potential correlations in firing between remote neurons, presenting an opportunity for the experimental test of the scheme in a neurophysiologic thought experiment.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:The form of consciousness
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience

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