See Also: Book Notes, (me), Notes on Consciousness, LeDoux: Deep History of Conscious Brains, Pennartz: Representational Power, Seth: Being You, Dehaene: Consciousness and the Brain, Haidt: Happiness Hypothesis, Barrett: 7.5 Brain Lessons, Barrett: How Emotions Are Made, Sterling: Allostatis, Human: Makes Us Unique, Consciousness: Confessions, Blank Slate, Neuroscience of Human Relationships, Thinking, Fast and Slow

image Ledoux2023_fig26_2.jpg

The Four Realms

The Four Realms of Existence, A New Theory of Being Human, by Joe LeDoux     WikiPedia     YON's Amazon Review

LeDoux's the 4 Realms articulates the most detailed, most researched, most up to date, and quite frankly the Best Model of Consciousness. The Realms are 1) biological, 2) neurobiological, 3) Cognitive and 4) Consciousness is the Fourth Realm.

Note!! This is not a summary. These are just a few notes I want to remember. If these interest you, I strongly encourage you to read the book. It has SO much more info, for example: habits vs. goal directed behavior, well explained in the book - not mentioned here.

New Key Ideas from 4 Realms:
1) LeDoux’s Mental Model of Consciousness
2) Mentalese: a narrative stream of bundles of abstract concepts that flows thru the brain.
3) Levels of Consciousness: creature (biological), anoetic (neurobiological, model-free), noetic (cognitive, model-based), and autonoetic (conscious, the ability to mentally model one's self in relation to time). Includes update to the Rider & Elephant

These build on the key ideas from his previous book, Deep History of .. Conscious Brains.

LeDoux calls his mental model of consciousness “multi-state hierarchical higher-order theory of consciousness”. That is a short description, not a name. I’m going to stick with LeDoux’s Mental Model of Consciousness. See below for thoughts about a proper name.

“I narrowly define cognition in terms of the capacity to construct models of the world and use these in thinking, planning, deciding, acting, and even feeling.” This reminds me of Feinberg & Mallatt (2016) "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 signaling behaviors"... based on the map.

The Gist of LeDoux’s Mental Model of Consciousness

The book builds and codes concepts and in the last chapter, Ledoux lays out his Mental Model of Consciousness. Here is a quote from the end of the book. It reads like dense code, but after reading thru the book, the code and the model make sense.

p.290 " For example, within-modality features of visual objects (the color and shape of an apple) are bound together in the visual cortex. Then multimodal binding involving convergence zones in the parietal and temporal lobes integrates the visual representations with representations from other modalities, such as audition. Episodic multimodal visual scenes are constructed in parietal and hippocampal circuits. The final construction of the multimodal Gestalt representation requires the assembly of schema in the sub-granular meso-cortex. These schema are then integrated into granular PFC working memory, providing the conceptual foundation for the pre-conscious mental model of the present moment.

The output of the pre-conscious model, I suggest, results in a conscious experience with multimodal content, much like Baddeley suggested for his hypothetical episodic buffer. Baddeley stopped short of explaining how the episodic buffer might enable complex conscious experience. I will pick up where he left off, focusing on how complex multimodal experiences are constructed as higher-order states.

My proposal, in brief, is that conscious experience is not a direct output of the pre-conscious mental model but is instead secondary to an abstract (that is, multimodal, or modality independent), pre-conscious, narrative code, a kind of mentalese, that the model generates."

In Figure 26.2 shows the two mental models and the mentalese flow: the Pre-conscious Mental Model (1) and the Conscious Mental Model (2)

The Pre-conscious Mental Model (1) maintains recurrent circuits with the lower-order input circuits that update and sustain the mental model (bottom right two-way arrows). It also produces an abstract, a-modal, mentalese narrative about the present moment. This stream gets distributed to the verbal functions, the action functions and to the Conscious Mental Model (2). It is the go-to mechanism for behavioral control in routine situations.

The Conscious Mental Model (2) can recall past experience, reason and deliberation.
p.290 "Figure 26.2 proposes that the output of the conscious mental model, much like the output of the pre-conscious mental model, is an abstract mentalese narrative (albeit a conscious one) that feeds distributaries flowing to motor circuits that control overt behavior and verbal expression. This implies that we have conscious agency, which you may know of as free will. The question of whether we actually make conscious choices is a matter of debate, with some arguing that our sense of choosing is illusory. But even with free will, we may sometimes wrongly attribute conscious control to our behaviors. This could happen when the conscious mental model notices responses that it did not control, and then generates a rationalization to explain the behavior (again the studies of split-brain patient Paul are relevant)."

Levels of Consciousness

LeDoux articulates three levels of mental state consciousness that coincide with the top 3 Realms: anoetic (neurobiological, model-free), noetic (cognitive, model-based), and autonoetic (self aware consciousness with narrative and the ability to mentally model one's self in relation to time). He also describes creature consciousness, which the biological realm.

One way LeDoux describes the levels is in relation to two process theories. The most well known two process approach is Thinking Fast & Slow, which describes System 1 and System 2. I personally like the Rider & Elephant metaphor. The basic idea is that we are on autopilot most of the time unless something unexpected comes up or we are on task. I think LeDoux should avoid trying to renumber systems and just use his superior terminology. Below, System 1 should read Anoetic. System2 should be labelled Noetic and System 3 should be labelled Autonoetic.

p.154 "Rethinking the Dual-Process Approach in Humans"

"I think we need a three-systems approach in which the various two-system processes are re-distributed. To do this, I build on the partition of behavioral control described earlier."

System 1: Non-Cognitive and Non-Conscious Behavioral Control (neurobiological realm)
    – reflexes
    – instincts
    – Pavlovian-conditioned responses – habits

System 2: Cognitive but Not Conscious Behavioral Control (cognitive realm)
    – non-conscious working memory
    – non-conscious deliberation
    – non-conscious inferential reasoning – non-conscious intuition

System 3: Cognitive and Conscious Behavioral Control (conscious realm)
    – conscious working memory
    – conscious deliberation
    – conscious inferential reasoning

From an energy point of view:

p.298 "But different kinds of conscious states also have different energy needs. The default condition for consciousness is low-energy tacit anoesis, which uses procedural meta-cognition to implicitly conceptualize lower-order states and maintain fringe experiences in the conscious mental model. Higher-energy noetic consciousness is called on when explicit factual or conceptual content is needed to explicitly categorize and conceptualize external or internal events, but also to verify anoetic feelings of rightness, or cope with feelings of wrongness. Super-high-energy autonoetic consciousnesses is engaged when, and only when, episodic memory is deployed to explicitly conceptualize your personal involvement in a situation, as in mental time travel.

Autonoesis, though energetically expensive, pays its way. It provides novel elements of mental modeling, enabling unparalleled degrees of flexible behavioral control and environmental mastery that go well beyond what can be done noetically or anoetically, or with non-conscious (including pre-conscious) cognitive control. Consistent with this idea are results from studies showing that areas involved in episodic memory, and hence possibly autonoesis, are implicated in the flexible control of behavior.”
"The conscious model is engaged only when distinct advantages justify its energy expenditure."

Noetic & Autonoetic are model based, Anoetic is not.

p.165 “The model-based versus model-free distinction is a much-embraced approach for understanding cognitive control of behavior, one that includes instrumental goal-directed learning, decision-making, and working memory in humans and other mammals. It provides a compelling framework for understanding the mind and brain. Part of its strength and appeal, I believe, is its implicit fusion of the Craik and Tolman mental-model traditions, which have separately shaped the emergence of what we know now of as cognitive science.

Some of my colleagues, such as Paul Cisek, Luiz Pessoa, and György Buzsaki, have argued that cognition is simply a psychological category we've invented and that we should reduce it to a less abstract construct, or to a set of such constructs, that are more naturally tied to behavioral and brain evolution. I largely agree. And that is why I narrowly define cognition in terms of the capacity to construct models of the world and use these in thinking, planning, deciding, acting, and even feeling. In the next chapter, I explore the evolutionary roots of cognition, so defined.”

p.286 "...several problem-solving functions of confabulations: sense-making to understand the present; self-making to maintain personal identity; and world-making to organize interactions with the outer world. One way to think about all this is that confabulations are called on when ordinary narrations are insufficient to sustain a Jamesian feeling of rightness."

The Anoetic Paradox

p.255 “The fundamental problem in understanding anoesis is the incompatibility of three ideas: that procedural memory is unconscious; that unconscious procedural memory is the basis of anoetic states; and that anoesis is a form of consciousness. I believe I can make these ideas mesh with one another.

Semantic and episodic memory are tightly constrained psychological conceptions. And each has its own set of neural circuits. But procedural memory is more of a grab-bag notion. It consists of diverse kinds of learning spread all over the brain, and that are connected only by the fact that they are not learned explicitly the way that semantic fact knowledge or episodic personal knowledge is. Marie Vandekerckhove and Jaak Panksepp related Tulving's anoesis to what William James variably referred to as the fringe, penumbra, or halo of the stream of consciousness. These vague, tacit states, James said, allow explicit, content-filled conscious states to feel "right."

James's fringe and its "feeling of rightness" has been adopted and adapted by some contemporary philosophers. Bruce Mangan, for example, says that rightness is the most important factor that controls conscious / nonconscious interactions. He extended fringe feelings to such present-day psychological research topics as gut feelings, metacognitive confidence judgments, tip-of-the-tongue experiences, and feeling-of-knowing. To Mangan's list, I would add Leon Festinger' cognitive dissonance, which results in a feeling of "wrongness” when inconsistent beliefs sit side by side in the mind, and Daniel Oppenheimer's notion of fluency, the vague subjective feeling of ease."


Mentalese: Abstract Concepts form a narrative stream of bundled chunks that flows thru the brain.

LeDoux paraphrases (Franklin & Greene) work on abstract concepts “because the circuitry they emphasize overlaps extensively with the circuitry” of LeDoux’s mental model (“multi-state hierarchical higher-order theory of consciousness”). Anyway, they offer a “neural account of the a-modal narrative output of the mental model and its role in integrated, complex conscious experiences.”

Abstract Concepts:
1) "are formed in areas overlapping the Default Mode Network (DMN), specifically “neocortical temporal and parietal lobe areas involved in semantic / conceptual and episodic memory; sub-granular (meso-cortical) PFC areas involved in memory and schema processing; and granular (frontal pole and dorsolateral) PFC areas involved in working memory and other aspects of higher cognition.”
2) are “representations using a Tolman-like cognitive map, rather than the sentence-like syntactic structures”
3) use “grid cells in the temporal and parietal lobe, and their interactions with sub-granular and granular PFC areas, allow abstract, a-modal (that is, modality independent) neural coding to contribute to conceptual maps and mental simulations.”
4) are “a-modal concepts as higher-order consequences of integration across modalities”

The Mentalese Narrative Stream and Its Distributaries

p.293 “The starting assumption in my mentalese theory is that a higher-order state is established in a pre-conscious, granular PFC, working-memory mental model (model 1 in Figure 26.2). The content of the mental model reflects its momentarily active lower-order input state or states (sensory, mnemonic, schematic, linguistic, goal value, homeostatic, and others). If the only thing occupying the pre-conscious mental model is a visual stimulus, or a memory, or linguistic mind-wandering (inner speech), then that is what determines the content of the narrative. If multiple distinct kinds of inputs are entering and being integrated by the mental model, as is often the case in real-life situations, then the content results in a narrative with correspondingly more complex content.

In-the-moment mental states require momentary neural activity consisting of short, coherent neural events that reflect what happens over the course of several hundred milliseconds. These are bundled together into event chunks by postdictive processing, as discussed previously. In other words, the pre-conscious content of the present-moment mental model (that is, the high-order state) is an event chunk.

One set of outputs of the pre-conscious mental model goes back to the lower-order input circuits, setting up recurrent activity that updates and sustains the mental model (bottom right two-way arrows). Key to my idea, though, is that the other output of the pre-conscious mental model is an abstract, a-modal, mentalese narrative about the present moment.”

p.294 "The abstract mentalese narrative can, in other words, be thought of as a mental stream with three broad distributaries, or sub-streams, that diverge from the pre-conscious mental model (model 1 in Figure 26.2).
- One is the distributary of verbal expression. It flows to cortical language circuits, making possible external linguistic communication about the contents of the narrative.
- The second is the distributary of action. It controls goal-directed behavior by way of connections with the basal ganglia and cortical motor circuits. And
- the third stream is the distributary of consciousness, the ground zero of explicit conscious experiences. Unlike the other two streams, the distributary of conscious-ness remains within the confines of PFC working memory, where it populates a second mental model, a conscious one, with explicit content in the form of a conscious higher-order state."

p.294 "In-the-moment mental states require momentary neural activity consisting of short, coherent neural events that reflect what happens over the course of several hundred milliseconds. These are bundled together into event chunks by postdictive processing, as discussed previ-ously. In other words, the pre-conscious content of the present-moment mental model (that is, the high-order state) is an event chunk_ One set of outputs of the pre-conscious mental model goes back to the lower-order input circuits, setting up recurrent activity that"

Cognitive Foraging

p. 181 "Thomas Hills has used the term cognitive foraging to refer to the ability to search flexibly through the mind for solutions to novel problems. If Hills is correct, cognitive foraging evolved by modifying the mechanisms of good old-fashioned foraging for food. The expression cognitive foraging is, in one sense, a metaphorical description of how we think. But in another sense, it captures the essence of how we use working memory and its executive functions in cognitively controlling goal-directed behavior.

Humans are, at least so far in the evolutionary landscape, the ultimate cognitive foragers. As when foraging for food, in mental foraging we have to balance exploitation of what exists now versus what might be found by further exploration by assessing the value (costs and benefits) of alternative opportunities based on internal goals and plans. Monkeys have a version of this capacity that allows them to mentally model and weigh current versus alternative goals, and apes add sophisticated conceptual abilities to that, but only humans can monitor the significance of multiple goals in parallel and switch among them. Humans inherited cognitive abilities from ape ancestors. But we have supercharged these capacities by adding language, symbolic thought, hierarchical reasoning, recursion, theory of mind, novel social skills, complex culture, art, music, religion, science, and medicine."

Granular & Sub-granular PreFrontal Cortex

Brodmann found the presence of a distinct granular layer IV, so called because the
stellate cells were not distinguished from the granule cells when Meynert first identified the layers.

p.189 “Granular PFC consists of several distinct areas that are located mostly on the lateral surface of the PFC, but two extend over to the medial side, where they abut meso-cortical areas that lack strong granulation. I will refer to the latter medial areas as sub-granular PFC areas. The key areas of granular and sub-granular PFC in humans are listed here and are depicted in the human brain in Figure 19.2."

Key Granular and Sub-Granular Areas of PFC of Humans

Granular (Neocortical) PFC
Anterior pre-motor cortex
Dorsolateral / ventrolateral
Frontal pole (lateral and medial)    
Lateral orbital
Sub-granular (Meso-cortical / Allocortical) PFC
Anterior cingulate
Medial orbital

*sub-granular insula is the only allocortical area in this list

Information is distributed around the brain, using predictive coding to synchronize the local Mental models. This is this coding is known as Mental ease.

Name That Theory of Consciousness:

LeDoux uses this name “multi-state hierarchical higher-order theory of consciousness”
That a good short description, but not a name
Model Based Consciousness, or just Model Consciousness
Double Model Consciousness

Figure 26.2 HOS should be labelled = Higher Order State.
On page 146 it says we cannot understand cognition independent of cognition. [ the first is consciousness? ]
Figure 19.2 uses VM in image and VMN in caption.
granular prefrontal cortex - cytoarchitecture. Max Bennett observes that the name comes from layer IV with granule cells

2024-03-07 MASSIVE UPDATE! Started 2023-11-06 YON <>