Electromagnetic theories of consciousness
This theory was initially proposed by
Johnjoe McFadden, Susan Pockett and E. Roy John (For the recent account see Andrew and Alexander Fingelkurts).
The starting point for the theory is the fact that every time a
neuronfires to generate an action potentialit also generates a disturbance to the surrounding electromagnetic (EM) field. Information coded in neuron firing patterns is therefore reflected into the brain's EM field. Locating consciousness in the brain's EM field, rather than the neurons, has the advantage of neatly accounting for how information located in millions of neurons scattered throughout the brain can be unified into a single conscious experience (sometimes called the binding problem): the information is unified in the EM field. In this way EM field consciousness can be considered to be 'joined-up information'.
This theory accounts for several otherwise puzzling facts, such as the finding that attention and awareness tend to be correlated with the synchronous firing of multiple neurons rather than the firing of individual neurons. When neurons fire together their EM fields generate stronger EM field disturbances; so synchronous neuron firing will tend to have a larger impact on the brain's EM field (and thereby consciousness) than the firing of individual neurons.
The different EM field theories disagree as to the role of the proposed conscious EM field on brain function. In McFadden's cemi field theory, the brain's global EM field modifies the electric charges across neural membranes and thereby influences the probability that particular neurons will fire, providing a feed-back loop that drives
free will. However in the theories of Susan Pockett and E. Roy John, there is no causal link between the conscious EM field and our consciously willed actions.
If true, the theory has major implications for efforts to design consciousness into
Artificial intelligencemachines; current microprocessortechnology is designed to transmit information linearly along electrical channels, and more general electromagnetic effects are seen as a nuisance and damped out; if this theory is right, however, this is directly counterproductive to the process of creating an artificially-intelligent computer, which would instead have electromagnetic fields that synchronized its outputs.
The first experiments on physical implementation of the electromagnetic theory of consciousness are carried out by the Russian research group. Scientists claiming to have built McFadden-style EM field consciousness hardware. Researchers K. N. Shevchenko, N. V. Shevchenko, and B. V. Shulgin at the experimental physics department of Ural State Technical University – UPI created a model of neural network on neurons (EM (electromagnetic) neurons) with additional channels for information exchange via electromagnetic field and patented it (Patent RU 2309457 C1, Int. Cl. G06N 3/06, G06G 7/60. Neuron Network Model. Application 06.05.2006; Date of publication 27.10.2007; Bulletin 30).
Channels for interaction by electromagnetic field are implemented in an original construction of neural axons, resembling a chain of in-series radio-frequency pulse self oscillators with self-quenching circuits and radio-pulse envelope separators. The concept of EM neurons is nearly the same as that described in McFadden’s CEMI theory, but with one exception: the mechanism of EM field information exchange between neurons is different. These engineered neurons have much in common with their biological counterparts and correspond with typical neurological patterns of behavior.
The issue of spontaneous generation of consciousness in networks with this type of architecture remains open, however, as research is ongoing.
* [http://www.surrey.ac.uk/qe/cemi.htm J McFadden. The conscious electromagnetic field theory (cemi theory).]
* [http://unisci.com/stories/20022/0516026.htm Our Conscious Mind Could Be An Electromagnetic Field]
* [http://electricconsciousness.tripod.com/ Integrating consciousness via short-range electric interactions]
* [http://www.wired.com/news/technology/1,52674-0.html Consciousness Based on Wireless?]
* [http://www.hero.ac.uk/uk/research/archives/2002/our_minds_are_radios1587.cfm Our minds are radios]
* [http://www.mindcontrolforums.com/news/electromagnetic-field-theory-of-consciousness.htm Synchronous firing and its influence on the brain's electromagnetic field: evidence for an electromagnetic field theory of consciousness]
* [http://www.geocities.com/interelectromagnetic Consciousness issues addressed using the known transient electric fields of the brain.]
* [http://www.russia-ic.com/news/show/5758/ Another Step Towards Artificial Intelligence]
* [http://www.machineslikeus.com/cms/news/russians-claim-have-built-mcfadden-style-em-field-consciousness-hardware/ Russians claim to have built McFadden-style EM field consciousness hardware]
* [http://www.machineslikeus.com/cms/news/toward-machine-consciousness/ Toward machine consciousness]
* [http://aipanic.com/russians-closer-to-artificial-consciousness/ Russians Closer To Artificial Consciousness]
* [http://www.annalsofian.org/text.asp?2008/11/3/146/42933/ Global workspace model of consciousness and its electromagnetic correlates]
*Space-time theories of consciousness
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