Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 13, No 2 (2017)

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Quantum Fluctuation Fields and Conscious Experience: How Neurodynamics Transcends Classical and Quantum Mechanics

Alex Hankey


Subjective experience presents a conundrum to science. Those convinced of its reality recognise that it requires explanation, but that classical physics is unable to provide one. They often assume that, as a consequence, quantum mechanics must provide the basis for a theory. However, consciousness seems able to reduce quantum wave packets, a process that quantum wave functions cannot accomplish, ruling out that approach. Recent research suggests that fluctuations at critical instabilities provide a non-reductive, double aspect information theory, i.e. properties identified as necessary aspects of any theory of experience. Due to complexity, biological systems support critical instabilities. Complexity means that they obey principles like Edge of Chaos and Fractal Physiology, and that organisms are not mechanical systems. Critical instabilities are in turn supported by the principle of Self-Organised Criticality, well known to be exhibited by neuronal cortices. The neurodynamics underlying experience and consciousness encompasses critical instabilities on networks of neurons. Due to a famous theorem from material science, the spin-glass neural network isomorphism, such instabilities can have arbitrary complexity, and can model and control genetic networks, well known to function at the Edge of Chaos. Here we show how information on sensory pathways enters conscious experience by means of the process of Inhibition of Lateral Inhibition identified by Karl Pribram, and making possible holographic representation of sense information.

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