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A Physiologically Based System Theory of Consciousness

By l andrew coward


A system which uses large numbers of devices to perform a complex functionality is forced to adopt a simple functional architecture by the needs to construct copies of, repair, and modify the system. A simple functional architecture means that functionality is partitioned into relatively equal sized components on many levels of detail down to device level, a mapping exists between the different levels, and exchange of information between components is minimized. In the instruction architecture functionality is partitioned on every level into instructions, which exchange unambiguous system information and therefore output system commands. The von Neumann architecture is a special case of the instruction architecture in which instructions are coded as unambiguous system information. In the recommendation (or pattern extraction) architecture functionality is partitioned on every level into repetition elements, which can freely exchange ambiguous information and therefore output only system action recommendations which must compete for control of system behavior. Partitioning is optimized to the best tradeoff between even partitioning and minimum cost of distributing data. Natural pressures deriving from the need to construct copies under DNA control, recover from errors, failures and damage, and add new functionality derived from random mutations has resulted in biological brains being constrained to adopt the recommendation architecture. The resultant hierarchy of functional separations can be the basis for understanding psychological phenomena in terms of physiology. A theory of consciousness is described based on the recommendation architecture model for biological brains. Consciousness is defined at a high level in terms of sensory independent image sequences including self images with the role of extending the search of records of individual experience for behavioral guidance in complex social situations. Functional components of this definition of consciousness are developed, and it is demonstrated that these components can be translated through subcomponents to descriptions in terms of known and postulated physiological mechanisms

Topics: Neuropsychology, Perceptual Cognitive Psychology, Physiological Psychology
Publisher: UPA
Year: 1999
OAI identifier:

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