CSNS image See Also: Book Notes, (me), Notes on Consciousness, LeDoux: Deep History, Dehaene: Consciousness and the Brain, Seth: Being You, Feinberg/Mallat: Ancient Origins of Consciousness, Haidt: Happiness Hypothesis, Barrett: 7.5 Brain Lessons, Sterling: Allostatis, Dehaene: How We Learn, Barrett: How Emotions Are Made, Bor: Ravenous Brain, Kahneman: Thinking, Fast and Slow, Cozolino: Neuroscience of Human Relationships, Gazzaniga: Human: What Makes us Unique, Pinker: Blank Slate, Haidt: The Righteous Mind, Info Viz & Perception, Hawkins: On Intelligence, Koch: The Quest for Consciousness, Koch: Consciousness: Confessions, Graziano: Social Brain

Image Credits
Version 3.1: 2023-02-04 +/- YON's simple mental model of consciousness; Version 2.0

Elements of Consciousness

image Brodmann.jpg

Here are the concepts that make a working model of consciousness for me:
1 ) Preconditions: Arousal and Vigilance,
2 ) Gray Matter, White Matter and the Thalamus,  
3 ) Brain Regions,  
4 ) Cortical Columns,  
5 ) Large Scale Brain Networks,  
6 ) Cortico-Thalamic Complex
7 ) Predictive Coding & Processing
8 ) Adaptive Resonance and Binding,  
9 ) Coalitions of Neurons,  
10) Simple Model of Consciousness,
11) Novelty and Global Ignition,  
12) Attention,  
13) Unitary Nature / Limited Capacity of Consciousness,  
14) Spatiotopic Activity Maps,  
A0) Various Appendices,  

What is consciousness?

Dictionary, Stanford, Wikipedia. Let's start with an expert's definition:

Christof Koch2012 - Four ad hoc definitions of consciousness
1) common sense - our inner mental life while awake.
2) behavioral - a checklist of actions or behaviors we use to certify consciousness, for example, the Glasgow Coma Scale.
3) neuronal - the functioning of the cortico-thalamic complex and the brain stem
4) philosophy - what it is like to feel something. (p.33)

Feinberg & Mallatt (2016) propose a nice simple definition of Phenomenal Consciousness (Sensory):
p. 111: "But to us, real consciousness is indicated by the (optic tectum) making a multisensory map of the world and then attending to the most important object in this map and then signalling behaviors"... based on the map.

Barrett's model of consciousness (experiencing Reality): '" Your experiences are not a window into reality. Rather, your brain is wired to model your world, driven by what is relevant for your body budget (allostasis), and then you experience that model as Reality..."

A popular definition is simply "subjective experience", for example What_Is_It_Like_to_Be_a_Bat? image Gray690.png This is popular for the hard problem enthusiasts. If you mke the deinition opaque, then you can't get insights.

For my Simple Model of Consciousness, I use the definition "the awareness of the results of cognitive processes.

Do we need to define consciousness?

We do not need to define it to explore the miracle that is the human brain.
We do not need to define consciousness to explore what the role of emotions is within our experience.

We need to define it if we want to:
- discuss whether a machine could be conscious, or
- discuss whether emotions are a necessary component of consciousness, or
- consider how much the vagus nerve participates in our feeling of consciousness. The Vagus nerve must dominate Interoception. But, we can study in detail the vagus nerve connections to the various networks and brain regions.

See Dehaene: What is Consciousness Good For?

Theories of Consciousness

An academic survey on theoretical foundations, common assumptions and the current state of consciousness science
Most Promising Theories: 1) ‘Predictive processing theory’, 2) ‘global neuronal workspace theory (GNWT)’, 3) ‘higher-order theories (HOT)’, 4) ‘local recurrency theory (LRT)’, 5) ‘integrated information theory (IIT)’

Grant pits major theories of consciousness against each other : Neurorepresentationalism, Active Inference, and IIT.

Neurorepresentationalism,(Pennartz) conscious experience is a multimodal, situational survey and explains its neural basis from brain systems constructing best-guess representations of sensations originating in our environment and body...
...conscious experience is characterized by five essential hallmarks: (i) multimodal richness, (ii) situatedness and immersion, (iii) unity and integration, (iv) dynamics and stability, and (v) intentionality. Consciousness is furthermore proposed to have a biological function, framed by the contrast between reflexes and habits (not requiring consciousness) versus goal-directed, planned behavior (requiring multimodal, situational survey).

Predictive Coding, aka Predictive Processing, is not really a theory of consciousness, but, it does explain a lot about how the brain works. The best summary of current Theories of Consciousness is behind a paywall, but, perhaps you library or alma mater can get it for you...

Templeton Accelerating Research on Consciousness initiative will be set of grant's to GWT & IIT researchers to collaborate on data and tests to prove or disprove the two theories side by side.

Other critical aspects of being human that are not really consciousness: Embodiment, Elephant, Personality / Myers Briggs, Self & Parts, Moral Foundations, Attitudes & Prejudice, Skills & Education, Social Anatomy, Vagus Nerve, Happiness Setpoint.

1. Preconditions: Arousal and Vigilance

Consciousness and life are truly miracles. There needs to be millions of things that are working correctly before we can even consider the "preconditions"...

Consciousness only happens when you are conscious. Arousal is the state of being awake as governed by the Reticular_Activating_System (RAS). Consciousness implies you can pay Attention to this or that. Vigilance is sustained concentration.

Arousal Network Atlas

Feeling of Life, p.54 "The brainstem houses at least forty distinct groups of neurons in cellular assemblies named the reticular formation or ascending reticular activating system. Each population uses its own neurotransmitter, such as glutamate, acetylcholine, serotonin, noradrenaline, GABA, histamine, adenosine, and orexin, which modulates, either directly or indirectly, the excitability of cortex and other forebrain structures. Collectively, they access and control signals relating to the internal milieu: breathing, thermal regulation, REM and non-REM sleep, sleep—wake transitions, eye muscles, and the musculo-skeletal frame. Brainstem neurons enable consciousness by suffusing cortex with a cocktail of neuromodulatory substances, setting the stage on which mental life plays out. But do not confuse them with the actors that perform the play. The brainstem doesn't provide the content of any one experience. Patients with spared brainstem function but widespread cortical dysfunction typically remain in a behaviorally unresponsive state, without signs of consciousness of self or their environment."

From Wikipedia Arousal:
"There are many different neural systems involved in what is collectively known as the arousal system. Five major systems originating in the brainstem, with connections extending throughout the cortex, are based on the brain's neurotransmitters,   acetylcholine, norepinephrine, dopamine, histamine, and serotonin."

image MR_HEAD_0630b.jpg

2. Gray Matter, White Matter and the Thalmus

The brain is composed of different tissue types. Three that are critical for understanding the conceptual framework here in. The neocortex is gray matter. The myelinated long axons are the white matter. The thalamus has a gazillion nuclei and tissue types.

Gray matter is the neocortex. It is a 2D manifold of six layers of neurons and supporting glial cells. It should be thought of as a large (30cm+/-) pancake that is folded in on itself. The big sections are called lobes, the second level of folding size is called a gyrus, as in the cingulate gyrus. The division between folds is called a gyrus, plural - gyri. The gray matter is organized into cortical columns, each about 0.5mm square. Each column has a long axon, which is a long branch of the nerve cell that transmits information to another set of neurons. Within the gray matter there are several types of neurons: pyramid, mirror, . . .

image dti2viz05.jpg White matter consists of the long efferent (output) axons that are myelinated. Myelin is a white fatty material that forms a sheath around the axon to protect signal integrity. The myelin and axons are too small for us to scan at this time. We can create images of the pathways of the axons using Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI).

Forest Metaphor for Neocortex:   Imagine the neocortex is forest of tall oak trees. The canopy is 6 layers deep and the tree trunk is an axon that runs out of this column to spread its news. The leaves and branches are sharing information with all of the trees in the neighborhood. And some news is carried in from afar. The axon leaving the tree trunk does not split in the roots right away. It travels to some other region of the forest, or perhaps into central intelligence - the thalamus. If the efferent (axon leaving) is heading to another region of the forest, then by this metaphor, the roots would spring out of the ground and the roots would send out dendrites that would eventually meet the other trees leaves and branches at synapses.

None of the recent books I have read discusses columns. Too fine grain? Nothing I've read disproves the Cortical Algorithm.
image AllenBrain.jpg To the right is an image from the Brain Explorer from the Allen Institute for Brain Science.

The green shape in the middle is the thalamus, which consists of many, many nuclei. The central thalamus has matching nuclei for each brain region.

image Brodmann.jpg

3. Brain Regions

The brain has hundreds of little special purpose processors. Different regions in the neocortex and nuclei of the thalamus and the basal ganglia and . . .

There are 4 different ways we know about brain regions. FACT - Functional, Architecture, Connectivity, Topography. We can say what the functional areas are from brain lesions and fMRI. Architecture, or Cytoarchitecture is the structure of the 6 layers and the types of neurons in a region. Connectivity is where the wires run from this region. Topography is where it is physically in the brain.

In 1861, Paul Broca identified a lesion on a specific brain region destroyed a person's ability to speak, but left all other brain functions intact. That area is now known as Broca's area. Soon, Wernicke''s_area was identified. There are countless fascinating (and tragic) stories of Prosopagnosia, Motion_blindness, Blindsight to name a few.
image fMRIviz05.jpg , fMRI Viz, (more)

In 1909, Korbinian_Brodmann published his maps of cortical areas based on Cytoarchitecture, the physiological differences in the cell structure of different regions of the neocortex. more.

The largest area the V1, the primary visual cortex. - different to parcellate brain regions. How many parcels are there? Mouse has 40 areas.
130-140, 150-200, 55 areas.

This looks good: Topographic organization of the cerebral cortex and brain cartography
* reformulation of the concept of brain regions based on increasing dissimilarity between
  neurobiological atoms along multi-dimensional features.
* Each individual parcellation represents a specific view on this organization.


Vagus Nerve We need to be safe for the Cortex to have any hope of influencing behavior.

image CorticalColumns2012.jpg

4. Cortical Columns

Each brain region has thousands of cortical columns and they are the prediction units of the brain

WikiPedia: Cortical Column
From: Numenta article

Vernon Mountcastle proposed that the neocortex is organized into many structurally similar cortical columns that perform the same computation at every region, and every level of the hierarchy. We have around 150,000 cortical columns in our brain. Cortical columns span from the top to bottom of the neocortex and are much larger.

Mini-columns are small groups of pyramidal neurons that exist within one layer of each cortical column. The input layer of each cortical column are arranged in mini-columns. In our simulations, there are typically 150-250 mini-columns per cortical column, with 16 cells per mini-column.

Very dense, very intensely detailed description of a cortical column: An Attempt at a Unified Theory of the Neocortical Microcircuit in Sensory Cortex side view of 5 cortical columns, aka, prediction units.

To the right is an image of five cortical columns processing rat whicskers is from Beyond the Cortical Column - Structural Organization Principles in Rat Vibrissal Cortex, by Marcel Oberlaender, Rajeev Narayanan, Robert Egger, Hanno Meyer, Lothar Baltruschat, Vincent Dercksen, Randy Bruno, Christian de Kock, and Bert Sakmann in Neuroinformatics 2012. Permission to Use. A very similar image of the same dataset is used in this paper Generation of dense statistical connectomes from sparse morphological data.

image Irimia2012x300.jpg

5. Large Scale Brain Networks

Long distance axons link different brain regions to form Large Scale Brain Networks.

Large Scale Brain Networks on Wikipedia.

Image to right is from the HCP Relationship Viewer. It is INTERACTIVE! ! !
megaTrawl Vix

Human Connectome Project is devoted to these networks.

Good paper: Network architecture of the long-distance pathways in the macaque brain (2010) by Dharmendra S. Modha and Raghavendra Singh. It shows the connections between 383 different brain regions. They use a Visualization technique called "bundling" that combines lines going in the same direction. Cheat Sheet

Andrei Irimia did a similar visualization for Humans. Not this is the dominant way to look at networks, IHMO.

Irimia 2012
Circular Rep/Human Cortical Networks
Andrei Irimia, Micah C. Chambers,
C. M. Torgerson, J D Van Horn
image dti_weds1.jpg

Beautiful imges from 2021

image CentralThalmus

6. Cortico-Thalamic Complex

The Cortico-Thalamic Complex is a network of connections between all brain regions that loops through the Thalamus.

From: The Thalamus as a Blackboard for Perception and Planning
[Thru extensive loops and connection to the cortex, the thalamus coordinates] "Bayesian inference in the brain, as entailed by the Free Energy Principle (Friston, 2003). In this article, we will use spatial cognition, planning of movements, and risk-reward trade-off decisions as three examples to illustrate the role of the thalamus as a central blackboard, central in terms of its physical location and role in information processing."

The figure to the right is from Touching a Nerve, p. 234
image Cortical-Thalamic animation

GEEK Art: CorticoThalamic Animation and Introduction to CT animaiton

Cortico-Thalamic Resonance on Wikipedia

HOMEWORK: Non-invasive mapping of connections between human thalamus and cortex using diffusion imaging. Behrens TE, Johansen-Berg H, Woolrich MW, Smith SM, Wheeler-Kingshott CA, Boulby PA, Barker GJ, Sillery EL, Sheehan K, Ciccarelli O, Thompson AJ, Brady JM, Matthews PM. PDF

image workspace.png

Dehaene articulates the Global Neuronal Workspace. The most concise description is in the introduction to Chapter 5: p.161

The proposal is simple: consciousness is brain-wide information sharing. The human brain has developed efficient long-distance networks, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, to select relevant information and disseminate it throughout the brain. Consciousness is an evolved device that allows us to attend to a piece of information and keep it active within this broadcasting system. Once the information is conscious, it can be flexibly routed to other areas according to our current goals. Thus we can name it, evaluate it, memorize it, or use it to plan the future. Computer simulations of neural networks show that the global neuronal workspace hypothesis generates precisely the signatures that we see in experimental brain recordings. It can also explain why vast amounts of knowledge remain inaccessible to our consciousness.

Churchland has a concise description of Global Workspace Theory.

YON's turn: The Global Workspace (GW) is a functional hub of connections between all brain regions using a network of long distance axons that loop through the Thalamus. The dynamic capacity for binding and propagation of signals within the system allows for coalitions of neurons to connect different brain regions to form conscious percepts. Multiple coalitions exist at a pre-conscious level and compete for dominance. The succession of winning neural coalitions forms our stream of consciousness.

image ModelAtRest.png

7. Predictive Coding & Processing

Predictive Coding is a theory of how the brain sends codes from one part of the brain to another part of the brain. In essence, it posits that we use mental models of the world to predict what we are going to see and hear and then our perceptual systems confirm what we believe or not. The Cortical Columns are the 'prediction units'.

Here is a Gentle Introduction to Predictive Coding presented as a 'lay service' at First Parish.

There are four 'predictive processing theories': predictive coding, hierarchical temporal memory (HTM), bayesian inference, and Adaptive Resonance Theory (ART).

Predictive Coding: a Theoretical and Experimental Review 2021 - Beren Millidge, Anil Seth, Christopher L Buckley - https://arxiv.org/abs/2107.12979

"There remains an intrinsic tension, however, between these two perspectives on precision in the literature. The first interprets precision as a bottom-up ‘objective’ measure of the intrinsic variance in the sensory data and then, deeper in the hierarchy, the intrinsic variance of activities at later processing stages. This contrasts strongly with views of precision as serving a general purpose adaptive modulatory function as in attention."

Good source with intro: github.com/BerenMillidge/Predictive_Coding_Papers

8. Adaptive Resonance and Binding

Loops within the CT complex synchronize. Fire together; wire together.

Using MEG, we can tell that two brain regions are synchronized. The image to right is from Kirschner 2012 Differential synchronization in default and task-specific networks of the human brain.

Baars 2013: Since “binding” and “broadcasting” involve adaptive resonance, the distinctive type of signaling in the C-T core, dGW suggests “binding resonance” to define the winner-take-all gestalt that becomes conscious and “broadcasting resonance” to propagate the winning gestalt to receiving networks.

Koch 10 Assumption (2004) 9) synchrony of action potentials discharge in the 30-60Hz range may help in forming nascent coalitions. Firing in the 4-12 Hz band may be part of snapshot processing.

Dehaene p.135 - "The bestiary of brain oscillations includes the alpha band (8 to 13 hertz), the beta band (13 to 30 hertz), and the gamma band (30 hertz and higher) [jch - hertz is per second. 8 hertz means a pulse every 1/8 second]"

Does resonance synchronize microstates? 100ms is 1/100th of a second.
Dynamic Global Workspace - . . "evidence for stable microstates in the EEG for both the rabbit and humans, exhibiting rapidly changing phase after ∼100–200 ms, the rate of theta oscillations (Freeman, 2007). Other laboratories, using quite different methods, have also reported momentarily stable, content-sensitive microstates. The current theory suggests that microstates represent binding and broadcasting equilibria involving dynamic coalitions of adaptively resonant populations of neurons. This view seems quite compatible with sophisticated theoretical work by Freeman and Kozma. Crick and Koch (2005) suggested the term "coalitions" for this general concept."
Koch's 10 predictions: 7) Perceptual awareness may be a series of snapshots with motion "painted on". Each snap lasts 20-200 milliseconds (ms) (it takes 250 ms to "see" something)

Wikipedia: Neural Oscillation, Neural Binding.

9. Coalitions of Neurons

A coalition of neurons firing together form one

The Quest for Consciousness: 3) Conscious precepts are the results of a single winning coalition of neurons

Hex Brain - Consciousness is made of Coalitions
which are Connected Columns Conspiring

What is Neurorepresentationalism (Pennartz)
Fig. 3. Functional organization of different levels of
representation in the construction of conscious experience.
image pigeon brain

The image is actually from a pigeon. I picked in in 2014
when there was less choice, but, I still like it,
even tho, it is not really a coalition, but the full connectome. Here is the paper.

Large-scale network organization in the avian forebrain: a connectivity matrix and theoretical analysis

10. Simple Model of Consciousness

Consciousness is the awareness of the results of cognitive processes.
Bullet Points:
* The content of Consciousness is the
dominant coalition.
* There are many coalitions constant competing.
* Predictive coding determines which coalitions are dominant
* Consciousness is distributed. A coalition connects the senses, for example, red only exists in V4
* Coalitions connect cortical columns.
* Cortical columns are pattern matchers to the models of they contain.
* Recently accessed models are easier to match. (Priming)
* Multimodal regions assemble the coalition of models.
* Prefrontal Cortex uses stick figure representations to evaluate options
* Emotions, Values and Motivations are processed in the PFC
* The Frontal Pole is a switch that only lets one train of thought thru consciousness


image ignition.png

11. Novelty and Global Ignition

The subconscious deals nicely with the routine. Novelty ignites the global workspace that hijacks the rider.

Dehaene uses the term Signatures of Consciousness, an upgrade from correlates of consciousness found in Christof Koch's The Quest for Consciousness. I would not say these are really signatures of consciousness, but rather signatures that new stimuli have entered consciousness - have made it into the Global Workspace. We retain whatever is conscious without the constant refresh of these signatures. Here are the . . .

p. 159 - "four reliable signatures of consciousness - physiological markers that index whether the participant experienced a conscious percept.
First, a conscious stimulus causes an intense neuronal activation that leads to a sudden ignition of parietal and prefrontal circuits.
Second, in the EEG, conscious access is accompanied by a slow wave called the P3 wave, which emerges as late as one-third of a second after the stimulus.
Third, conscious ignition also triggers a late and sudden burst of high-frequency oscillations.
Finally, many regions exchange bidirectional and synchronized messages over long distances in the cortex, thus forming a global brain web."

An avalanche is also used as a metaphor for ignition. The subliminal rumble of neural activity is almost identical to the supraliminal. Just a little bit strong stimulus triggers and avalanche that gets a new precept into the Global Workspace.

12. Attention

Dominant coalitions are fleeting . . .

Graziano's Attention Schema Theory in which the Attention Sceme is an internal mental model of own own attention, in that we are aware of being aware.

Random notes 2016-12-13

Attention is modulated by synchronized rhythyms of alternating positive and negative pulses.

Visual sensory system is like a omni theater. Phenomenal Consciousness integrates the visual sense, auditory sense, touch, smell, etc, etc, etc.

the four layer hierarchy is needed to provide integraopn at different levels to interlink the isomorphic representions.
Components of Human Behavior: Rider (focus/attention/will), Sensory Awareness - preconscious sensory monitoring, the subconsous elephant, Physical Being, ... personality?

Joint McGovern Symposium, MIT, 2016.11.08
`Serial-like' sampling of visual object during sustained attention, Huan Luo,
School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Peking University
'Serial-like' Sampling of Visual Object During Sustained Attention

Dominant coalitions are fleeting . . .

The Quest for Consciousness: 7) Perceptual awareness may be a series of snapshots with motion "painted on". Each snap lasts 20-200 milliseconds (ms) (it takes 250 ms to "see" something)

image SingleFileTraffic

13. Unitary Nature / Limited Capacity of Consciousness

Only one coalition is dominant at any one point, but, coalitions may cycle.

Patricia Churchland Global Workspace Theory:
3) consciousness has limited capacity. Only 1 conversation, no long division while spotting of eddies.
. . . "multitasking, we are probably shifting attention back and forth between two or possibly three tasks, each of which is familiar and which we can perform with minor vigilance"]

From Feinberg & Mallatt, Consciousness Demystified 2018,

p.110   Conscious unity at the higher level of the special features is directly linked to reciprocal neural interactions that bind coded sets of sensory information together into a unified image or affect (top of plate 10). However, down at the more basic levels, all physiological life processes are integrated and unified to achieve homeostasis, and the reflexes are genetically prewired to create linked programs that effect unified actions. In short, the unity and integration that result from the special features (box 6.3) stem from the unified systemic features of life and the reflexes at the lower levels. Again, we have derived a gap feature at the top of plate 10 ("unity") from the physical features lower down in the figure.

The Frontal Pole switches between trains of thought, only letting one thru consciousness at a time. See LeDoux

Viz Woman

14. Spatiotopic Activity Maps

Being awake means eyes open and vision flooding our awareness. We have 20-40 copies of what we are looking at with different bits of information, such as color, motion, object identification . . .

This chapter from the Webvision Book, Psychophysics of Vision, by Michael Kalloniatis and Charles Luuhas, is a great overview of the visual system.

Collin Ware has a wonderful simple description of the various parts of the visual cortex and how they can be exploited.

And Wikipedia:   Visual_space,   Visual_cortex

The the right is an image of the optic nerve, the Optic_chiasm, and, perhaps the LGN. This image is the RGBA dataset from the Visible Human project being rendered on a VP1000, aka VolumePro 1000.
image RetinotopicMaps.jpg To the right, is a set of images representing the Multiple Retinotopic Maps of the Visual Field in which different attributes are encoded. Follow the link. Here is a gif animation. At the bottom of the page are some musings about Spatiotopic v. Retinotopic v. Visuotopic.

In The Quest for Consciousness, Christof Koch uses the example of a red Ferrari zooming past to discuss the "binding problem". There are Multiple Retinotopic Maps of the Visual Field

I am not going to attempt to explain the visual cortex. Colin Ware has a wonderful simple description of the various parts of the visual cortex and how they can be exploited. And Wikipedia:   Visual_space,   Visual_cortex

Instead, I am proposing that we do not need to consider the binding problem for vision. If all of the retinotopic maps are connected via “labeled lines”, then the cortico-thalamic complex is presented with pixels that are naturally bound. The given pixel knows it is red; knows it is moving; knows it is a Ferrari. I know Dehaene has said that the binding problem may just disappear as we learn more. Anyway, without further ado, here are some pixels that help me understand the visual cortex's ability to see the red Ferrari zooming past.

Felleman, Daniel J.; Rakic, David C. (1991). "Distributed Hierarchical Processing in the Primate Cerebral Cortex". Cerebral Cortex 1 (1): 1–47. doi:10.1093/cercor/1.1.1-a. PMID 1822724. Jump up ^ Scannell, J.W.; Burns, GA; Hilgetag, CC; O'Neil, MA; Young, MP


Mindfulness Training and the default mode network.

Resting State, Default Mode Network

2014-10-12I just learned about the Default Mode Network in August 2014, but, I have been intensely interested in consciousness for 10 years, and it seems clearer and clearer that every percept (sense datum) and thought is a nontrivial network connecting several or dozens of brain regions: http://www.jch.com/jch/notes/Consciousness.html

I went to the Resting State and Brain Networks conference as a perk (for fun), altho I did do some brain visualization about 10 years ago, I do not work with any neuro applications now. As a way to reprocess my notes, I put them on the web: http://www.jch.com/jch/notes/RestingState2014/

I am about 95% sure Helen Mayberg was the one who said this: (http://www.psychiatry.emory.edu/faculty/mayberg_helen.html)

" Mindfulness Training increases connectivity within the DMN "

So, what exactly does that mean? I'm not sure anyone really knows, yet. I only read the abstracts of the 3 papers here. There are more that seem very close in topic. It takes me hours to read these, since I need to look up so much stuff and ruminate on it. Here is the order I would red them in:

1) Increased default mode network connectivity associated with meditation.


2) Impact of meditation training on the default mode network during a restful state.


3) Paper: Meditation experience is associated with differences in default mode network activity and connectivity

- http://m.pnas.org/content/108/50/20254.full

- coverage: http://m.psychologytoday.com/blog/look-around-and-look-within/201201/mind-wandering-and-mindfulness

This is blog is really fun, but, this guy is taking some facts and running with it. Nobody else refers to the DMN as the "inattention" network, and his history is missing at least one important development in 1995. http://www.mindfulnessmd.com/2014/07/08/neuroscience-of-mindfulness-default-mode-network-meditation-mindfulness/

WikiPedia - http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Default_mode_network

Helen Mayberg also talked about Deep Brain Stimulation for severely depressed patients, where an electrode implanted near the thalamus fires every 7 ms, and the depression lifts immediately. This struck me because "microstates" last about 10 milliseconds. They are the "atoms of thought" - the minimal time slice for a dominant coalition to hold the cortical thalamic complex.

Conscious percepts are unitary and internally consistent at any given moment. The brain has many anatomical hubs, but This suggests that a brain-based GW capacity cannot be limited to only one anatomical hub. Rather, it should be sought in a dynamic and coherent binding capacity – a functional hub – for neural signaling over multiple networks. A number of findings are consistent with the theory.

Christof Koch's 10 working assumptions (2004)

At the end of the book. It is hard to say which of the many assertions are actually the numbered assumptions, but who am I to quibble?

1A) Forward Projections are strong to the front of the cortex. Feedback modulates feed forward.
1)Nonconscious Homonunculus: We are not conscious of the highest levels of cognition.

2) Zombie Agents handle much of our actions. Anything we do unconsciously, things we train for. Things handled by the Dorsal pathways & "gist perception"
Consciousness handles the exceptions (See Hawkins) and it presents an executive summary to the planning stages.

3) Conscious precepts are the results of a single winning coalition of neurons with at least some prefrontal parts of the network

4) Explicit representation of some stimulus is a set of neurons. Lose those and you no longer perceive that stimulus.
The cortex is a large set of nodes. A "column" is the smallest useful node.

5) Net wave from V1 up hierarchy (See Van Essen) to the prefrontal cortex. Then it travels back down the hierarchy as feedback. Visual Consciousness probably starts at teh upper stages of the ventral pathway in the Inferior Temporal cortex. (Ventral congizes, Dorsal does)

6) Driving and modulatory loops: To understand coalitions we must understand the neural connections. Excitatory cells send driving or modulatory charges. From the back of the cortex to the front are mostly driving charges. Loops of driving charges are bad.

7) Perceptual awareness may be a series of snapshots with motion "painted on". Each snap lasts 20-200 milliseconds (ms) (it takes 250 ms to "see" something)

8A) Attention: There are two types of attention: a) bottom up saliency driven and b) top down and volitionally controlled. Bottom up would be a sensory net wave that breaks thru. For example, a ball flying at you.
There is also "gist perception" which allows us to go thru the world on auto pilot. As long as nothing salient happens, we are not really conscious of a lot of our daily activities. Like when we drive home and remember no details of the drive.
8B) Binding: Various attributes of a single object are identified by essential nodes. How these are tied together is the "binding problem". There are three types of binding: 1) lower level, V1 binds location and orientation; 2) trained binding, face, voice and hair mean Grandma; 3) novelty binding - requires top down attention

9) synchrony of action potentials discharge in the 30-60Hz range may help in forming nascent coalitions. Firing in the 4-12 Hz band may be part of snapshot processing.

10) Winning coalitions recruit from the cortex, thalamus, basal ganglia and other networks. In addition to the neurons that are explicitly part of the NCC is the penumbra which includes past associations, background and future plans. The penumbra provides meaning or the potential for meaning which might only happen if the NCC expands to those nodes.

image Chapter2elephant

Appendix 5. The Subconscious Elephant

Most of the processing in the brain supports consciousness, but, does not directly participate

Dehaene's Chapter 2 is a well written catalog of all of the subconscious processing. From the chapter intro: p. 47 -

Recent experiments in psychology and brain imaging have tracked the fate of unconscious pictures in the brain. We recognize and categorize masked images unconsciously and we even decipher and interpret unseen words. Subliminal pictures trigger motivations and rewards in us all without our awareness. Even complex operations linking perception to action can unfold covertly, demonstrating how frequently we rely on an unconscious "automatic pilot." Oblivious to this boiling hodgepodge of unconscious processes, we constantly overestimate the power of our consciousness in making decisions-but in truth, our capacity for conscious control is limited.

Dehaene's main avenue of investigation is monitoring brain activity of subliminal stimuli and gradually increasing it until it becomes conscious. See Novelty and Global Ignition.

Koch 10 Assumption (2004):
2) Zombie Agents handle much of our actions. Anything we do unconsciously, things we train for. Things handled by the Dorsal pathways & "gist perception"

Consciousness handles the exceptions (See Hawkins) and it presents an executive summary to the planning stages.

To understand my own personal consciousness, I find Haidt's The Elephant And The Rider Metaphor extremely useful.

Dehaene shared a great quote from Poincare:

The subliminal self is in no way inferior to the conscious self; it is not purely automatic; it is capable of discernment; it has tact, delicacy; it knows how to choose, to divine. What do I say? It knows better how to divine than the conscious self, since it succeeds where that has failed. In a word, is not the subliminal self superior to the conscious self?

Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow is about the fast automatic subconscious and the slow conscious thinking. Very useful for understanding one's self.

Once a coalition has won, it can stick around
The dominant coalition broadcasts its idea throughout out the brain and other regions can add new data if they have it.

Wikipedia - Attention: Bottom-up vs. top-down:
Researchers have described two different aspects of how the mind comes to attend to items present in the environment.

Consciousness and Attention: on sufficiency and necessity talks about when attention and consciousness are not the same thing.
(2010) Jeroen J. A. van Boxtel1, Naotsugu Tsuchiya and Christof Koch

17. Self - just throwing this in

I am who I am

Anil Seth writes in The Real Problem

There is the bodily self, which is the experience of being a body and of having a particular body. There is the perspectival self, which is the experience of perceiving the world from a particular first-person point of view. The volitional self involves experiences of intention and of agency — of urges to do this or that, and of being the causes of things that happen. At higher levels, we encounter narrative and social selves.

Richard Schwartz's Parts Therapy has the Self as an organizing principle. The self is totally calm and has ample untapped energy. The official name of Parts Therapy is IFS, Internal Family Systems, which makes sense from how the model got articulated.

Image Credits
Peter Doolittle: How your "working memory" makes sense of the world - TED.com
Koch's CalTech Lab glossary from 2007
Deviate Book talks about recurring thoughts as attracter states -- wikipedia.org/wiki/Attractor

2022-09-21 (jch)