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FQXi BLOGS
May 9, 2021

New Blog Entries
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Neural correlates, computational correlates, and the prospects of computational explanations of consciousness by Wanja Wiese
By JOE SCHINDLER • May. 7, 2021 @ 21:23 GMT

Neural correlates, computational correlates, and the prospects of computational explanations of consciousness by Wanja Wiese

Abstract:The neural correlates of consciousness – as standardly conceived – face some fundamental challenges. In particular, neural correlates of consciousness do not enable inferences about the presence of consciousness in controversial cases, such as invertebrates, isolated neural structures (potential “islands of awareness”), or artificial systems. Computational correlates of consciousness – specified by computational models – may provide a solution to this problem, because computational correlates can be present in systems lacking the (neural) structures required to instantiate a neural correlate of consciousness.

Still, it is doubtful whether computational correlates (that may be sufficient for consciousness in human beings) license the ascription of consciousness in controversial cases. In other words, one may wonder whether computational correlates should be regarded as sufficient or necessary conditions for consciousness (or neither).

I shall argue that research on computational correlates should aim for necessary conditions for consciousness. This has at least three advantages over sufficient conditions: (i) If a necessary condition for consciousness is not fulfilled in a controversial case, this provides evidence for the absence of consciousness in that case. (ii) Regarding computational correlates as merely necessary conditions allows one to maintain a distinction between simulating a conscious system and instantiating consciousness. (iii) Necessary conditions for consciousness may furnish unification in the science of consciousness.



Keywords: #mathematical #consciousness #science #neural #correlates
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Integrated Information, Embodied Intelligence, and (Philosophical) Zombies by Nihat Ay
By JOE SCHINDLER • May. 7, 2021 @ 21:19 GMT

Integrated Information, Embodied Intelligence, and (Philosophical) Zombies by Nihat Ay

Abstract: In the first part of my talk, I will review information-geometric work related to the notion of integrated information within consciousness research, as proposed by Giulio Tononi. I will then discuss the concept of information integration within the context of embodied intelligence. In particular, robustness of information processing, cheap control, and morphological computation seem to imply low information integration. Do we then have to become (philosophical) zombies if we exploit our embodiment constraints in the most intelligent way? I do not think that this is the case and believe that information integration, in an appropriate sense, does play a crucial role within phenomenal experience. One way out of this dilemma could be Thomas Metzinger’s proposal of various orders of embodiment. A core concept in this regard is the necessity of a predictive world model, in addition to the actual control. Predictive processes in terms of this model might then lead to high integrated information even in cases where the control outsources computation to the body and the environment. Some of the ideas I am going to talk about emerged from discussions with David Krakauer and are related to his concept of exbodied cognition.



Keywords: #mathematical #consciousness #science #integrated #information #intelligence
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How does the brain generate pain? by Markus Ploner
By JOE SCHINDLER • May. 7, 2021 @ 21:16 GMT

How does the brain generate pain? by Markus Ploner

Abstract: The lecture will provide a pain researcher’s, neuroscientist’s and neurologist’s perspective on how pain emerges from brain activity. Pain is a highly subjective experience which serves to protect the body. It signals threat and initiates learning processes and behavioral responses to limit and avoid harm. Pain is however not a simple mirror image of threat but can be influenced by a broad variety of contextual processes such as attention, expectations, memories and goals. Moreover, pain can also occur for longer periods of time without adequate threat. This type of pain does no longer protect the body but represents a disease in its own right termed chronic pain. Chronic pain affects about a fifth of the adult population and has devastating effects on quality of life. The lecture will discuss these peculiarities and types of pain and provide an up-to-date review of the underlying brain mechanisms. We will further discuss how these insights have shaped the current understanding of pain. Finally, we will discuss whether these insights can help to establish an objective brain-based measure of the subjective experience of pain which would have strong implications for the diagnosis and treatment of pain.



Keywords: #consciousness #neuroscience #pain #brain
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MENS: A categorical model for Emergence and Consciousness by Andrée Ehresmann
By JOE SCHINDLER • May. 7, 2021 @ 21:12 GMT

MENS: A categorical model for Emergence and Consciousness by Andrée Ehresmann

Abstract: How do mental processes up to consciousness arise from the functioning of the brain? That is the question raised in MENS, an application to neuro-cognitive systems of the categorical model MES [1]. It is constructed as a Hierarchical Evolutive System having for level 0 the Evolutive System Neur (= sheaf of 'neural categories'). Its higher level components, called cat(egory)-neurons, are constructed via successive complexification processes of Neur. A cat-neuron represents a 'mental object' modeled as the colimit of a neural pattern it may activate; it has multiple "physical realizabilities" due to Edelman's "degenerarcty of the neural code", which we model by the 'Multiplicity Principle'. This MP allows studying emergent properties in MENS and showing they support an "emergentist reductionism" (in the sense of Mario Bunge). MP also allows for the development of a Neurophenomenology (in the sense of Varela).

The dynamic of MENS is controlled by a network of 'co-regulators', each operating on its own landscape. Through successive complexificaions they develop a robust though flexible Memory, with a higher level, the Archetypal Core. This AC plays a main role for consciousness by allowing the formation of a "Global Workshop" in which a retrospection/prospection process can detect conscious events.

[1] Ehresmann & Vanbremeersch, Memory Evolutive Systems, Elsevier 2007



Keywords: #mathematical #consciousness #science #emergence #category #theory
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Neutral Monism and the Scientific Study of Consciousness by William Seager
By JOE SCHINDLER • May. 7, 2021 @ 21:06 GMT

Neutral Monism and the Scientific Study of Consciousness by William Seager

Abstract: A scientific theory of consciousness could be merely descriptive, nothing more than a kind of empirical, statistical phenomenology. We already have a lot of data which fit into this kind of modest theorizing. Better would be a theory which reveals the nature of consciousness. Here a famous gap looms between any such theory of consciousness and a theory of the conscious brain, neither of which are actually in our possession. The gap is so serious and so immense that it has led to remarkable responses, such as the illusionist view that consciousness does not exist. I think the gap suggests there are lurking assumptions about the nature of both consciousness and matter which are fundamentally at odds with one another. A ‘neutral monist’ view may be able to avoid these assumptions to find a place in nature for consciousness and scientific theorizing about it.



Keywords: #mathematical #consciousness #science #neutral #monism
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