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The elements of consciousness and their neurodynamical correlates

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The ‘hard problem’ is hard because of the special epistemological status of consciousness, which does not, however, preclude its scientific investigation. Data from phenomenologically trained observers can be combined with neurological investigations to establish the relation between experience and neurodynamics. Although experience cannot be reduced to physical phenomena, parallel phenomenological and neurological analyses allow the structure of experience to be related to the structure of the brain. Such an analysis suggests a theoretical entity, an elementary unit of experience, the protophenomenon, which corresponds to an activity site (such as a synapse) in the brain. The structure of experience is determined by connections (e.g. dendrites) between these activity sites; the connections correspond to temporal patterns among the elementary units of experience, which can be expressed mathematically. This theoretical framework illuminates several issues, including degrees of consciousness, nonbiological consciousness, sensory inversions, unity of consciousness and the unconscious mind.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Computer Science Department, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 37996, USA.

Publication date: May 1, 1996


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