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PS20167 Cognitive Neuroscience

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PS20167 Cognitive Neuroscience

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Course Code: PS20167
University: University Of Bath

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Country: United Kingdom

Question:
What conditions are necessary for consciousness?
Answer:

Consciousness can be defined as the state of the brain system or might be that of the brain-process from the perspective of the first person. It has mainly two important sub aspects that are the conscious function and the second one is the conscious experience (Tsuchiya et al., 2015). This assignment would mainly comprise of the important necessary conditions required for consciousness.
The formation of neural-networks is one of the most important aspects during the development and is extremely important for consciousness. Neuronal networks are the main physical structures for the different types of neuronal correlated of the consciousness called the NCC. Otherwise, consciousness can never be occurring because there would be then no physical infrastructure where consciousness like that of the subjective experiences like emotions, feelings and through related experiences and function could be supported. Researchers are of the opinion that for the development for the consciousness, living organisms, which are in reality complex organisms, should follow all the biological laws of organization as well as maintain their functioning (McIntosh, 2015). Extended dual aspect monism called the eDAM is seen to include different types of biological laws which needs to be maintained in order to ensure consciousness. Present day, researchers are also seen to support the Neural Darwinism theory called the he neuronal group selection theory in explaining the formation of the neural-network. Three important parts are there. It states that the anatomical connectivity in the brain occurs mainly through selective mechano-chemical events, occurring epigenetically during development. This process helps in developing structural diversity (Underhill, 2017). Once this is established anatomically, a secondary selective process is seen to develop a diverse secondary repertoire mainly through the procedure of differential amplification. This is mainly seen to arise from epigenetic modification mainly in the different types of strength in the synaptic connections between different neuronal groups during postnatal behaviors. Spatiotemporal continuity mainly in the response of the real world interaction can be successfully accomplished. This is through the reentrant signaling between the neuronal groups.
Wakefulness is another important aspect. Neuronal networks need to be in the wakeful state for the consciousness to occur. Researchers have found out that the neural source for the arousal system  is mainly depending on the ARAS which is the ascending reticular activating system present in the brain stem (Koch et al., 2016). This has to bring the neuronal networks of the thalamacortical region to a wakeful state which would them act as a baseline for the consciousness to occur. This states that the retina cannot be considered awake, as it had no projection from the ARAs. Studies have elaborated the importance of the origination of different signals that remain related to the different types of cortical arousal in the cholinergic cells of the brain stem reticular formation peribrachial nuclei. Another important aspect is the modification of signals that helps in modulating the arousal states such as sleeping and waking (king, 2016). It us seen that in the hypothalamus in the anterior region, the suprachiasmetic nucleus that acts as the biological lock  helps ins synchronizing the sleep-wake cycle with the day and night cycle and helps in playing important roles in the activation of the arousal and the sleep system. This is mainly done with melatonin.  The high level of this in night leads to sleep and low level in day leads to arousal (Tsuchiya et al., 2015).
Reentrant interactions among neural populations are another important point. Edelman has put forward a theory that mainly comprises of two important aspects. The first one is the continuing procedure of the recursive signaling in the neural networks and the second one is the selection procedure that occurs in the parallel. Moreover, reentry links are seen to bind and are seen to alter dynamically the activities of the distributed multiple brain areas for generation of the consciousness in the context of the dynamic core of the thalamocortical regions (Bartfiled et al., 2015). In this region, a group of neurons that were initially not present becomes available in the core at the next moment and the groups of the neuron that were initially present would be seen leaving the core. This network is seen to bind various stimulus that attribute location as well as features and help in entailing consciousness.
Attention signals is one of the most important aspect. Different authors had defined these in various ways. These definitions can be categorized into certain approaches. One of them is the function centered approach like filtering information for further processing, helping in the binding of the features helping in object representation and the awareness and even acting as a spotlight highlighting the targets and others (Park et al., 2016). Mechanism centered approaches  mainly include modification of neural signals, emerging from completion  for limited resources and many others the phenomenology centered approach stated attention to be the distinctive mode of consciousness , gatekeeper of consciousness and many others (Tononi et al., 2016). This is basically the neural signal that helps in the modification of the feed forward stimulus dependent main signal. Attention is mainly the result of the reentry as well as competitive interactions that helps in modulating the stimulus related feed forward signal. This signal could be in forward direction like as in bottom up where the source is thalamic reticular nucleus or can be in backward direction like top down where the source is frontal cortex. The attention could be at the peripheral target for the short transient duration or could be at foveal region for long sustained duration.
Integrated information (F) at or above threshold level also needs to be discussed. The first stage of this procedure is the segregation of the information like that of the data related to physical as well as conceptual attributes. These are then analyzed and are brought under processing for preciousness and specificity in different of the specialized neurons in the different related brain areas (Tegmark, 2015).   Another most important second stage is the processing stage that is the integration of the information in various types of neural network complexes and this results in unified consciousness. One thing that needs special information here is that it is indeed important for consciousness that the measure of the degree of integrated information in a complex or neural network must be higher than that of the critical threshold value.
Working memory is also important. One of the types of memory is the iconic or the sensory memory that mainly comprises of the visual image that the individual holds on to after briefly looking over the object. This mainly comprises of the visual areas that are extremely important for the essential retaining of the information that would be helping in the retainment of the information for the effective use of phenomenal consciousness as there remains no time for top down attention (Arasso et al., 2015). Short-term memory is mainly helpful in storing data that is needed for recalling  in the different subsequent seconds, minutes as well as hours. This memory is mainly seen to guide actions and is important for retaining information for accessing of the consciousness. Another is long-term memory that helps in the storing of salient information that can be recalled after years although this type of memory is useful but does not appear to be necessary for accessing consciousness.
Stimulus contrast at or above threshold is another important part. Researchers are of the opinion that stimulus need to be at or above the threshold level for conscious experiences. It would result in the subconscious level. Stimuli can be external as well as internal. It is to be noted that for effective detection and discrimination and even in recognition, the contrast of the external stimulus should be at or that above the threshold contrast. Internal stimuli is seen to be able to be endogenously generated such as in the thought processing, day dreaming, imagery, dreams as well as phospehenes and so on (Alschuler, 2016).
Neural-network proto-experiences is a new form of concept. Proto experiences can be explained as the precursors of the different types of subjective experiences. These can be defined as the first person conscious experiences that are mainly expressed like those that are not covert or unexpressed as the proto experiences (Giacino et al., 2014). This is mainly embedded in the neural network. A specific subjective experience needs to be first selected from the neural network proto experiences mainly by the procedure of matching procedures and then this type of selected subjective experience becomes specific expressed subjective experience. Neural-network-PEs are mainly the set of potential relevant Subjective experiences that are embedded as well as stored in the form of memory  that traces in the neural network by the procedure involving neural Darwinism
From the above discussion, it becomes clear that certain important conditions are extremely necessary for consciousness. These are the formation of neural-networks, reentrant interactions among neural populations, working memory. Others are to be also named like the   fronto-parietal and thalamic-reticular-nucleus attention signals that modulate consciousness, wakefulness, integrated information (F) at or above threshold level. Another is the stimulus contrast at or above threshold and neural-network proto-experiences that are superposed potential subjective experiences (SEs). Detailed explanation has been provided in the above assignment providing light on the topic.
References:
Alschuler, L. (2016). The psychopolitics of liberation: Political consciousness from a Jungian perspective. Springer.
Barttfeld, P., Uhrig, L., Sitt, J. D., Sigman, M., Jarraya, B., & Dehaene, S. (2015). Signature of consciousness in the dynamics of resting-state brain activity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(3), 887-892.
Giacino, J. T., Fins, J. J., Laureys, S., & Schiff, N. D. (2014). Disorders of consciousness after acquired brain injury: the state of the science. Nature Reviews Neurology, 10(2), 99.
King, D. K. (2016). Multiple jeopardy, multiple consciousness: The context of a Black feminist ideology. In Race, Gender and Class (pp. 36-57). Routledge.
Koch, C., Massimini, M., Boly, M., & Tononi, G. (2016). Neural correlates of consciousness: progress and problems. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 17(5), 307.
McIntosh, S. (2015). Integral consciousness and the future of evolution. Paragon House.
Park, H. D., Bernasconi, F., Bello-Ruiz, J., Pfeiffer, C., Salomon, R., & Blanke, O. (2016). Transient modulations of neural responses to heartbeats covary with bodily self-consciousness. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(32), 8453-8460.
Sarasso, S., Boly, M., Napolitani, M., Gosseries, O., Charland-Verville, V., Casarotto, S., … & Rex, S. (2015). Consciousness and complexity during unresponsiveness induced by propofol, xenon, and ketamine. Current Biology, 25(23), 3099-3105.
Tegmark, M. (2015). Consciousness as a state of matter. Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, 76, 238-270.
Tononi, G., Boly, M., Massimini, M., & Koch, C. (2016). Integrated information theory: from consciousness to its physical substrate. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 17(7), 450.
Tsuchiya, N., Wilke, M., Frässle, S., & Lamme, V. A. (2015). No-report paradigms: extracting the true neural correlates of consciousness. Trends in cognitive sciences, 19(12), 757-770.
Underhill, E. (2017). Mysticism: A study in nature and development of spiritual consciousness (Vol. 73)

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