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Why Do Phase Transitions Matter in Minds?

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Subjective experience suggests that we continuously observe, perceive, and evaluate the environment as we make decisions and intentional actions. The percept of continuity of our cognition, however, is an illusion. In the past decades, ample experimental evidence has been accumulated indicating that cognition evolves through a sequence of discontinuities and transients, and there are discernable neural processes correlating with the cognitive sequences. These discontinuities are crucial in the intentional action-perception cycle, as they mark the cognitive 'aha' moment of deep understanding and conscious insight. Walter Freeman developed a hierarchical model to describe these physiological findings, culminating in the cinematic theory of cognition. Following the traditions of metastability, transient neurodynamics, and brain chaos, discontinuities are described as phase transitions in the cortical neuropil. This approach not only leads to deep theoretical insights of neural correlates of cognition and consciousness, but it also helps to form a conceptual framework to create artificially intelligent devices that are in harmony with humans and serve peaceful development of humanity.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Computer Science, College of Information and Computer Sciences, 140 Governors Drive, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, USA, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2018

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