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Synchronous Firing and Its Influence on the Brain's Electromagnetic Field

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Abstract:

The human brain consists of approximately 100 billion electrically active neurones that generate an endogenous electromagnetic (em) field, whose role in neuronal computing has not been fully examined. The source, magnitude and likely influence of the brain's endogenous em field are here considered. An estimate of the strength and magnitude of the brain's em field is gained from theoretical considerations, brain scanning and microelectrode data. An estimate of the likely influence of the brain's em field is gained from theoretical principles and considerations of the experimental effects of external em fields on neurone firing both in vitro and in vivo. Synchronous firing of distributed neurones phase-locks induced em field fluctuations to increase their magnitude and influence. Synchronous firing has previously been demonstrated to correlate with awareness and perception, indicating that perturbations to the brain's em field also correlate with awareness. The brain's em field represents an integrated electromagnetic field representation of distributed neuronal information and has dynamics that closely map to those expected for a correlate of consciousness. I propose that the brain's em information field is the physical substrate of conscious awareness - the cemi field - and make a number of predictions that follow from this proposal. Experimental evidence pertinent to these predictions is examined and shown to be entirely consistent with the cemi field theory. This theory provides solutions to many of the intractable problems of consciousness - such as the binding problem - and provides new insights into the role of consciousness, the meaning of free will and the nature of qualia. It thus places consciousness within a secure physical framework and provides a route towards constructing an artificial consciousness.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 5XH, UK. Email: j.mcfadden@surrey.ac.uk

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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