A Blueprint for the Hard Problem of Consciousness

Awareness of Location

Author(s): Paulo J. Negro

Pp: 49-59 (11)

DOI: 10.2174/9781681087665119010013

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Rodent studies of navigation across single- and two-dimensional environments show patterns of hippocampal pyramidal cell activation characterized by a “place field” in the format of a cone and a highest firing “place cell” neuron in its center. As the animal moves across the environment, the field of neuronal activation concomitantly changes in the hippocampus. The animal realizes knowledge about its location through the relationship between a central neuronal spike and the overall activation of a place field. Awareness of location is signaled by the matching of maps represented in the hippocampus with incoming perceptual information. This pattern supports the idea of subjective experiences as abstract information that transcends specific physical location. It supports a content-independent mechanism for the realization of information into “knowledge”. In two-dimensional mazes, neurons that become active at the crossroads also become tied to different routes, emerging as omnidirectional cells. Multiple episodes of common junctions can free neurons from their physical context. Emergent levels of omnidirectional assemblies have a relational origin and can become part of higher order representations. These results suggest the existence of mechanisms that abstract information from spatial and temporal perspectives. They also indicate that motor actions have a pivotal role in the generation of maps and, ultimately, that actions form the basis for the representation of the physical world and the transition of Shannon to non-Shannon “aboutness” information. Such results counter the IIT premise of awareness generation in systems that cannot be activated.

Keywords: Aboutness Problem, Abstract Maps, Action-Based Consciousness, Awareness of Location, Bottom-up Consciousness, Content-Free Qualia, Feelings of Knowing, Hippocampal Navigation Studies, Hippocampal Pyramidal Cells, Higher Order Representations, Hippocampal Theta Oscillation, IIT Inactive Systems, Omnidirectional Cells, Oscillatory Phase, Place Field, Place Cell, Realization of Meaning, Spike-Timing-Dependent Plasticity, Temporal Code, Thermodynamic Decoupling.

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