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Freeman's Nonlinear Brain Dynamics and Consciousness

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Freeman's Nonlinear Walter Freeman's theory of nonlinear neurodynamics has had a major impact on brain dynamics in modern cognitive neuroscience. Steven Bressler's theory of neurocognitive networks follows from Freeman's work, and his empirical evidence for the coordination of cortical areas by phase-coupled beta rhythms in large-scale cognitive brain networks supports Freeman's ideas on nonlinear brain dynamics. Bressler's work, taking Freeman's concepts into the realm of cognitive neurodynamics, also supports Scott Kelso's theory of metastability in coordination dynamics. The aims of the present paper are threefold: 1) to explore relevant concepts in Freeman's theoretical framework, 2) unify it and provide empirical support for it, and 3) explore its import for the study of consciousness. We take as our point of departure Bressler and Kelso's 2016 publication on cortical coordination dynamics and the Freeman-Kelso dialogue noted in the literature on this topic. In our view, Freeman's conceptual framework has great explanatory power. Its grounding in a dynamical systems approach to the study of brain function, and its incorporation of embodiment, make it relevant to the study of consciousness. Thus, with Freeman, we argue that the scientific understanding of consciousness must move beyond notions of computationalism and mental representations, to employ concepts of nonlinear brain dynamics and embodiment.
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Keywords: K-sets; beta oscillations; computationalism; consciousness; cortical coordination dynamics; cortical modelling;; neuro-cognitive networks; nonlinear dynamics; phenomenology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431, United States

Publication date: January 1, 2018

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