A Blueprint for the Hard Problem of Consciousness


Author(s): Paulo J. Negro

Pp: 69-75 (7)

DOI: 10.2174/9781681087665119010015

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Interoception consists of sensing one´s own physiologic conditions, including heartbeats, gastric filling, and bladder fullness. The experience emerges from neuronal activity at the insula. The brain represents primary interoception in the posterior insula and integrates it with emotional salience in a posterior to anterior insula activation pattern. The posterior to anterior instantiation of interoceptive information provides evidence that consciousness indeed represents the product of abstractions across the brain hierarchical levels. Different abstraction patterns refer to distinct levels of representation of tissue-specific and whole-body homeostatic states, from basic interoceptive experiences to a more abstract representation of wellbeing, integration of exteroception, emotional awareness, and cognitive processing. The brain successively realizes these qualitative differences along the axis that links the posterior to the anterior insula. Interoception and its derivative emotional states fit the concept of realized information in the context of potential states represented across system hierarchies. These studies and considerations validate the paradigm of embodied abstractions. Research in the field of interoception often supports a role for strange loops in the realization of information. Interoceptive awareness arises from the fusion of subject and body, where the body plays the role of a building block of the self it represents. This pattern is consistent with consciousness as action, and with Damasio’s views of consciousness as the product of a reaction of the organism to an object as the organism regulates itself to process this object.

Keywords: Anterior Cingulate Cortex, Awareness of Heart Beats, Bladder Fullness, Computational Hierarchy, Damasio, Embodied Abstractions, Emotional Awareness, Experience of Body Ownership, Feeling of Agency, Homeostatic Salience Integration, Interoception, Insula Hierarchical Organization, Insular Cortex, Insula Instantiation, Meta-Representations, Multisensory Integration, Primordial Strange Loop, Rubber Hand Illusion, Realization Across Levels of Abstraction, Sense of Self.

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