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> Cells as Units of Consciousness, "Consciousness in single cells"
BatineAcid
post Aug 14, 2006, 10:54 AM
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Last night while laying in bed, I had a strange thought that, maybe,,,, neurons are single units of consciousness that together form a general unifying conscious experience. I just found an article expanding on a similar idea.

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~regfjxe/aw.htm

This an idea that I've pondered upon before, in the micro and macro scale. Could the human collective unconscious actually be the sum of all human's consciousness, in a similar way that nerve cells each have their own defined consciousness, but come together for a single human experience?
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lucid_dream
post Aug 14, 2006, 09:56 PM
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cells may possess consciousness, in which case the brain is a society of conscious agents, but this viewpoint simply shifts the problems of consciousness from the brain to individual cells and thus is not very useful, regardless of possible validity. Also, consciousness is not discrete, though our sensory inputs are. For example, our visual perception of a scene does not consist of an array of colored points corresponding to photoreceptor activations, but rather is spatially continuous. Why should it be the case that our consciousness is continuous when the inputs to consciousness are discrete? Note that this is a very general phenomena, that what the brain receives as intermittent and discrete inputs or activations always gets perceived as continuous in nature, both spatially and temporally.
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Culture
post Aug 15, 2006, 01:01 AM
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QUOTE(BatineAcid @ Aug 14, 10:54 AM) *

Last night while laying in bed, I had a strange thought that, maybe,,,, neurons are single units of consciousness that together form a general unifying conscious experience. I just found an article expanding on a similar idea.

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~regfjxe/aw.htm

This an idea that I've pondered upon before, in the micro and macro scale. Could the human collective unconscious actually be the sum of all human's consciousness, in a similar way that nerve cells each have their own defined consciousness, but come together for a single human experience?



This notion is explored in a different way in Douglas Hofstadter's book,
Godel, Escher, Bach, An Eternal Golden Braid (1979).

More here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del,_Escher,_Bach

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Culture
post Aug 15, 2006, 01:36 AM
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QUOTE(lucid_dream @ Aug 14, 09:56 PM) *

cells may possess consciousness, in which case the brain is a society of conscious agents, but this viewpoint simply shifts the problems of consciousness from the brain to individual cells and thus is not very useful, regardless of possible validity.



Indeed. But I don't buy the validity of this notion anyway.

QUOTE(lucid_dream @ Aug 14, 09:56 PM) *

Also, consciousness is not discrete, though our sensory inputs are. For example, our visual perception of a scene does not consist of an array of colored points corresponding to photoreceptor activations, but rather is spatially continuous. Why should it be the case that our consciousness is continuous when the inputs to consciousness are discrete? Note that this is a very general phenomena, that what the brain receives as intermittent and discrete inputs or activations always gets perceived as continuous in nature, both spatially and temporally.


That's where Hofstadter brings in what he calls "tangled hierarchies".
Think of self-reference and (possibly infinite) recursion as this might
apply to thought and consciousness. This is how a clearly finite and
discrete physical infrastructure can produce a non-finite, non-linear
and apparently continuous superstructure.

Not sure such a brief summary does Hofstadter justice, but there it is.

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BatineAcid
post Aug 15, 2006, 09:58 AM
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QUOTE(lucid_dream @ Aug 15, 01:56 AM) *

cells may possess consciousness, in which case the brain is a society of conscious agents, but this viewpoint simply shifts the problems of consciousness from the brain to individual cells and thus is not very useful, regardless of possible validity.


Until all angles of the theories such as these have been explored, and all implications therein discussed, I think it would be a bit premature to mark them as not useful. If we are to tackle the problems of consciousness, I believe it is imperative to get off on the right foot. This is implying that maybe we've been off on the wrong one for a while now. This is not implying that is idea of cells as units of consciousness is the right idea, though.

QUOTE
Also, consciousness is not discrete, though our sensory inputs are. For example, our visual perception of a scene does not consist of an array of colored points corresponding to photoreceptor activations, but rather is spatially continuous. Why should it be the case that our consciousness is continuous when the inputs to consciousness are discrete? Note that this is a very general phenomena, that what the brain receives as intermittent and discrete inputs or activations always gets perceived as continuous in nature, both spatially and temporally.


I don't see how this is neccesarily relevant. By challenging whether or not consciousness is represented in a modular or singular fashion on a physical level, continuity in consciousness, in my opinion, is not challenged. Still the exact same photoreceptor cells catching the same frequencies of light, same olfactory receptors catching the same smells, etc.

Regardless, the brain, from my understanding, has ways of averaging and estimating perceptions, adapting to the environment for efficiency, it seems,,, filling in gaps of sensory input based on what has been perceived in the past.
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BatineAcid
post Aug 15, 2006, 09:59 AM
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QUOTE(Culture @ Aug 15, 05:01 AM) *

This notion is explored in a different way in Douglas Hofstadter's book,
Godel, Escher, Bach, An Eternal Golden Braid (1979).

More here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del,_Escher,_Bach


The book and the style in which it is written seem very interesting. Definitely worth a check. I work at a library, so I might have to go grab that right now. Thanks!
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lucid_dream
post Aug 15, 2006, 10:34 AM
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QUOTE(BatineAcid @ Aug 15, 10:58 AM) *
Regardless, the brain, from my understanding, has ways of averaging and estimating perceptions, adapting to the environment for efficiency, it seems,,, filling in gaps of sensory input based on what has been perceived in the past.


it is precisely the ubiquity of perceptual filling in, both spatially and temporally, that requires explanation, and there is no mechanism I am aware of that satisfactorily accounts for this phenomena (horizontal integration doesn't cut it in my book). At the very least, perceptual filling in proves that consciousness as we know it transcends the single cell level; otherwise, we should expect to be conscious of individual retinal ganglion cells firing and experience consciousness in a discrete fashion (i.e., seeing arrays of colored dots instead of a continuous visual scene).
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BatineAcid
post Aug 15, 2006, 11:02 AM
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QUOTE(lucid_dream @ Aug 15, 02:34 PM) *

it is precisely the ubiquity of perceptual filling in, both spatially and temporally, that requires explanation, and there is no mechanism I am aware of that satisfactorily accounts for this phenomena (horizontal integration doesn't cut it in my book). At the very least, perceptual filling in proves that consciousness as we know it transcends the single cell level;


I would have to agree with you that "perceptual filling in proves that consciousness as we know it transcends the single cell level" with emphasis on "as we know it." Our consciousness, as we know it, is a unified post-processed, conglomeration of ALL of our senses.

QUOTE

otherwise, we should expect to be conscious of individual retinal ganglion cells firing and experience consciousness in a discrete fashion (i.e., seeing arrays of colored dots instead of a continuous visual scene).


But the structure of the nervous system obviously is still applicable to this model. Maybe we ARE conscious of individual retinal cells firing. These individual cells must come together, though, for processing, "talking" to each other, filling in the gaps, resulting in a unified, processed, visual perspective. So then maybe, the filling in is accounted for by the rapid communication between these conscious cells, resulting in an average of sorts.
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Culture
post Aug 16, 2006, 11:47 PM
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QUOTE(lucid_dream @ Aug 15, 10:34 AM) *

QUOTE(BatineAcid @ Aug 15, 10:58 AM) *
Regardless, the brain, from my understanding, has ways of averaging and estimating perceptions, adapting to the environment for efficiency, it seems,,, filling in gaps of sensory input based on what has been perceived in the past.


it is precisely the ubiquity of perceptual filling in, both spatially and temporally, that requires explanation, and there is no mechanism I am aware of that satisfactorily accounts for this phenomena (horizontal integration doesn't cut it in my book). At the very least, perceptual filling in proves that consciousness as we know it transcends the single cell level; otherwise, we should expect to be conscious of individual retinal ganglion cells firing and experience consciousness in a discrete fashion (i.e., seeing arrays of colored dots instead of a continuous visual scene).




I think you're exactly right. The entire point is that neurons (and
axons and dendrites and whatnot) are finite and discrete, yet
consciousness is not. This is not a problem if you consider neurons
hardware and consciousness software, because you can get pretty
"infinite" and "continuous" behaviour from finite hardware.

Besides, if you merely move the consciousness to neuron level, you end
up with the problem that a neuron consists of finite, discrete cells,
and you're back to square one.
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Speotyto
post Oct 08, 2006, 12:06 PM
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I was interested to find a thread on this site sparked off by my website on single cell consciousness. What is disappointing is that the opening post completely misses the idea presented on my site, and as far as I can see nobody else in the discussion has had a look. So there seems to be a discussion generated in complete dissociation from the starting point. My idea would have nothing to do with Hofstader for instance. It is specific biophysics underpinned by some brute logic first aired by William James in 1890 but often forgotten.

But I am aware that the idea on the site is hard. As I commented in the introduction to the full exposition in book form, this is the hardest idea I have encountered in twenty years as a cell biologist and rather more years as a human being. As James pointed out, the only explanation for consciousness that is not logically self contradictory is that each neuron has its own consiousness, or in many cases more mundane sentience. and there is no single conscious observer or subject in a brain. Most people simply cannot take this but the arguments against it are purely emotional and intuitive. There are no scientific problems - as James illustrates. As one person on this list pointed out, it may seem that the same basic logical problems apply to a cell as to a brain (James's reservation) but in fact this does not have to be so with post 1980 physics.

If members are genuinely interested take a look at the site - which comes up on google under <single cell consciousness Edwards>. If you are really interested buy the book from Imprint: How Many People Are There in My Head? And in Hers? Sorry to SPAM but that's where the details are.

And I am not the only person to hold this theory. Professor Steve Sevush of Miami came to the same idea independently.

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Speotyto
post Oct 08, 2006, 12:07 PM
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Oh - and most of the points raised in the previous posts are covered in the hypothesis - how you get nity and not pixels etc etc.
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lucid_dream
post Oct 08, 2006, 12:17 PM
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thanks, I'll read it
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lucid_dream
post Apr 13, 2007, 12:42 AM
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I have a serious problem with your claim that "Firstly, we have no reason to think that the combined inputs to many cells have any function role in the brain, nor that they should have any useful computational role."

This is completely false. Read about connectionism and it's biological basis. It is well established that networks of neurons perform a computational role. Just look at the stages of visual processing in the early visual system.


You also state "a group of cells is made up of many fundamental units and finding a quantum mechanical explanation for these having a common access to a pool of information requires proposing things that are at best highly speculative and at worst totally unverifiable". Who said anything about consciousness requiring an explanation in terms of QM? A computational explanation seems much more promising than a QM one for consciousness. Add to the fact that computational explanations are possibly more fundamental than QM ones (consider 'It from bit' approaches in physics).


In addition, you provide no plausible binding mechanism. Say my current state of consciousness is that of neuron A in my brain. Say neuron A suddenly dies. What happens to my current state of consciousness? Does it switch to a different neuron? What determines what particular neuron my current state of conscousness is associated with?

Or consider this: same situation as above except instead of neuron A dying, it gets removed from my brain and kept alive in a dish. What happens to my current state of consciousness? Is it supposed to remain tied to the neuron-in-a-dish or is it associated with my brain?

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Kenneth Parker
post Dec 01, 2012, 09:40 AM
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Hello, let me introduce myself: I'm Kenneth Parker, living in Seattle, Washington. I'm both an avid Lucid Dreamer and a Troubleshooter (with a motto: "I look for trouble and shoot it").

As a troubleshooter, I went through what seemed like eons of training. And part of that was to "order myself", so that, finally, every cell of my body is, as if it were a "miniature Kenneth Parker" (which I nickname "Kenny from South Park").

For those who might "get jealous", this is one of the hardest paths possible to a human being. For one thing, my "multiple realities" (i.e. "cellular reality"), operate like from the old game show, "You are the Weakest Link". in fact, from my Eye Blink Universe perspective, it's like I have a "new" law of physics: Maximum responsibility, and minimum gain.

That said, all of you are on the right path. Everything I've experienced backs up what's in the two-volume book set by Jane Roberts, titled "The 'Unknown' Reality".

Thank you and best regards,

Kenneth Parker
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