Consciousness and the brain
Consciousness is a reflection by the subject of reality, his activity, himself. It is generated not by nature, but by the person himself and the surrounding world, family, society.
At one time, GVF Hegel expressed ideas about three layers in his doctrine of the subjective spirit, which identified three stages in the development of the subjective spirit: anthropology, phenomenology and psychology. Today this approach is quite applicable to consciousness.
Introduction. The concept of consciousness
The question of consciousness in humans has arisen since ancient times, but understanding the problem and its formulation appeared relatively recently, for the first time it was clearly mentioned in the work of René Descartes. By tradition, I will start with R. Descartes, who was the first to suggest identifying the psyche and consciousness (thinking). Descartes did not use the term consciousness itself.
Descartes defines consciousness as “everything that happens in us consciously, since we understand it. Thus, not only understanding, wanting, imagining, but also feeling is the same as thinking. "
Consciousness is reflection included in various mental acts such as perception, thinking, doubt, belief, excitement, etc. Consciousness is the inner, unclouded gaze of the mind, from which practically nothing can be hidden. (by J. Locke).
Sigmund Freud believed that the definition of consciousness as a deliberate and purposeful mental activity should be expanded. The definition turns out to be equally applicable to the unconscious. Freud was perhaps the first to discern meaning and intention in the contents of the unconscious.
Consciousness is the ability to evaluate sensory information, respond to it with critical thoughts and actions, and retain traces of events in memory so that past prints or actions can be used in the future (A.R. Luria).
The unconscious, according to K. Jung, is the perfect source of our community and creativity. The collective unconscious is “an image of the world, the formation of which took eternity... It consists of a set of instincts and their correlates, archetypes. Just as each of us has instincts, he also has a store of archetypal images ”
At the unconscious level, experiences reveal mental processes: perception, representation, intention, recollection, etc., where they are inaccessible for introspection.
The central dogma of neurobiology. The main object of human neurobiology is the nervous system, which consists of two large parts:
a) the central nervous system (CNS), including the brain that controls it;
b) the peripheral nervous system, consisting of peripheral nerves, as well as two other subsystems - the autonomic nervous system (divided into sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions) and the diffuse (somatic) nervous system.
The brain is the most important organ of the central nervous system, which in turn consists of parts, i.e. areas or structures of the brain (Fig. A). The dogma is based on the assumption that all normal functions of a healthy brain and all their pathological disorders are explained on the basis of the properties of the main structural components of the brain. All brain activity is determined by events, actions that take place in certain parts of the brain.
Basic concepts of consciousness. The nervous system is a bodily organ and operates within the entire body. Individual functions of the nervous system are carried out by its subsystems, organized in accordance with their purpose. The principle of signal transmission (excitation/braking) and the structural hierarchical principle work.
The article does not reveal the cellular approach: neuron, dendrite, axon, synapse, signal, etc.
A working neuron is a charged capacitor. Positive ions (sodium ions - Na +) are concentrated on the outer layer of the cell membrane, and a negative charge arises on the inner layer. If a neuron begins (decides) to act, then sodium tubules open, ions penetrate inside and depolarization begins - the charges are neutralized. The depolarization signal runs along the axon to the synapse and further along the chain of connections. The neurons (cells) of the central nervous system do not divide or renew (there are more than 86 billion of them), but over time, some of them are destroyed and die.
I am addressing mathematicians who could take part in the creation of individual algorithms and models of the functioning of consciousness, and to information security specialists with a proposal to deal with the foundations of a new theory of security in general and information in particular. I expressed a reason to think about this in the article.
What is being studied in the mind
- Phenomenal experience of consciousness, i.e. direct experience of the picture of the surrounding world
- The processes of information processing, conscious and unconscious, are the area of cognitive correlates of consciousness. Stimulus - a word for 30 milliseconds is not visible to a person, but the brain perceives and processes. River - shore.
- Processes of neural correlates of consciousness.
The following laws are valid and effective for consciousness:
- Claparede's Law (Law of Awareness) We are aware only to the extent of our inability to adapt. The more something is used automatically, the more difficult it is to be aware of it.
- Law of displacement or shear . To be aware of something - more often than not - means to translate that something into the plane of language. Consciousness can change, decrease or increase, be lost with fainting. The concept of "field of consciousness" has appeared, figuratively - it is a searchlight, the beam of which illuminates the external or internal field. The movement of the ray across the field is expressed in the phenomena of attention. The field of attention or the field of consciousness can be wide, narrow, more or less stable, concentrated or scattered.
- The law of the content of the field of consciousness . Actually conscious is only that content of the field of consciousness, which is determined by the object of the action, is associated with the motivation and purpose of the action.
- The law of repression (into the subconscious) . It is desirable for us not to be aware of unpleasant things, and they are, as it were, pushed out of the field of consciousness into the area of subconsciousness, where they continue to exist, but are no longer realized. This is the subject of psychoanalysis (S. Freud).
What do we know about consciousness today? Consciousness is some mechanism in the brain that builds a consistent picture of the world, which allows us to control our behavior and at the same time allows us to explain it, build interpretations of what is happening, forecast the future in the surrounding world.
Consciousness is a product and result of the activity of systems, which include both the individual (personal experience) and society (social consciousness), and not just the brain (mind, intellect). The ability to be aware is not a function of any one part of the brain. Rather, it should be sought in the joint activity of individual brain systems, each of which makes its own special contribution to the work of the entire functional system as a whole. Human mental activity has a three-level structure, including consciousness, subconsciousness and superconsciousness, superconsciousness. Consciousness includes that which can be transmitted by speech to others. The subconscious mind protects consciousness from excessive work (examples of behavior stereotypes) and mental overload.
Superconsciousness is credited with creative intuition, which is not controlled by consciousness and will. For example, the superconsciousness protects nascent hypotheses from conservatism of consciousness, from excessive pressure from previously acquired experience. Children's games train the superconsciousness, have an intrinsic value, since the game is free from the achievement of utilitarian goals, disinterested and creative tasks are solved in it, knowledge, skills and abilities are acquired.
The main elements of a person's consciousness are his sensations, feelings and ideas. Scientists note that the basic processes of the psyche are the result of creative synthesis, which makes it possible for consciousness to discover such processes as apperception and perception. What is apperception? This is a process with which consciousness realizes its potential for self-organization, it opposes the principle of association, leading to the comprehension and arrangement of all psychological elements in the correct order.
The need for the emergence, formation of consciousness, social conditioning, is caused in a person by the need to explain the fact that things not only exist, but are also noted and cognized. " The main function of consciousness is cognition, the other function is adaptation. It is they who contribute to the success of the behavior.
Most often, among the systems of the brain that form consciousness, they call:
- the reticular formation of the brainstem that controls wakefulness levels;
- secondary zones of the posterior (afferent) areas of the cerebral cortex, which provide storage and registration of incoming sensory information;
- the most important medial zones of the frontal lobes involved in the formation of impulses and action programs, as well as playing a major role in the conscious regulation of purposeful behavior.
Neuroscientists are currently trying to understand the nature of human consciousness by studying claustrum, a tiny layer of gray matter deep in the brain.
An article by Francis Crick and Christoph Koch was published in 2005, suggesting that Claustrum may play a role in the workings of consciousness. Shortly before his death, Francis Crick also gave an interview to Ramachandran Vileyanur, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition: “Rama, I think the secret of consciousness lies in Claustrum, doesn't it? Why else is this tiny structure connected to so many brain structures.
Despite the use of the most sophisticated technologies, scientists cannot yet say how "gray cells" transform streams of scattered information from the organs of perception into a bright inner world.
Next, we would like to express our wish to the reader to carefully study Figures A and B, which represent the material basis and organization of the subject of further presentation.
Figure A - Central nervous system diagram. Brain
Figure B - Diagram of the autonomic nervous system. The ordinal numbers of the cranial nerves are denoted in Roman numerals
The most important property of such systems is the possibility of creating missing functional organs, a kind of neoplasms (an example for the human brain is the new cortex), which, in principle, cannot be reduced to one or another component of the original system. Consciousness should act as a "superposition" of functional organs.
Properties of consciousness
W. James identified four essential features of consciousness:
- each state of consciousness is part of a personal consciousness;
- in contrast to the identity of the objects perceived by us, his states are never absolutely identical, they are changeable;
- continuity of personal consciousness;
- selectivity, such as attention and deliberation.
One can list a number of characteristics of phenomenal consciousness or consciousness in general: quality, intentionality, subjectivity, privacy, lack of spatial extension, inexpressibility, simplicity, infallibility, direct acquaintance and inner nature. This is the working definition of consciousness.
1. Qualitativeness (quality) is how you experience your inner subjective experience. Usually these are sensory characteristics: color, tactile, taste, etc., as well as emotions.
2. The privacy of conscious experience means that you do not see the way I see you. Even if in the future a means is invented to see what another person observes in his brain, it will still be impossible to see his consciousness, because what he saw will be your own consciousness. The neurons in the brain can be seen surgically, but this will not work with consciousness, because it is absolute privacy.
3. The lack of spatial extension indicates that when I look at a white column, my head does not increase by the volume of this column. The mental white column has no physical parameters.
4. Inexpressibility leads to the concept of simplicity and indivisibility into other characteristics. Some concepts cannot be explained through simpler ones. For example, how do you explain what red means? No way.Explanation in terms of wavelength does not count, because if you start substituting it for the word "red", the meaning of the statements will change. Some concepts can be expressed through others, but at first approximation they all seem inexpressible.
5. Faultlessness means you cannot be wrong about being conscious. You may be delusional in judgments about things and phenomena, you may not know what is behind the mental image, but if you come across this image, it means that it exists, even if it is a hallucination.
6. Inaccessibility from outside to consciousness. Even knowing that someone is not in an unconscious state, this makes it impossible to study his consciousness.
7. Generalization and abstraction. Consciousness operates not with real objects and
phenomena of the surrounding world, but generalized and abstract concepts, devoid of some of the attributes of concrete objects of reality.
8. Integrity. Consciousness of a mentally healthy person, as a rule, has
integrity. Within this property, internal conflicts of values or interests are possible. In some types of mental illness, the integrity of consciousness is violated (schizophrenia - splitting of consciousness).
9. Constancy. Relative stability, immutability and continuity of consciousness, determined by memory. The constancy of consciousness is determined by the properties of the personality.
10. Dynamism. Changeability of consciousness and ability to continuous development,
caused by short-term and rapidly changing mental processes, which can be fixed in states and in new personality traits.
11. Distortion. Consciousness always reflects reality in a distorted form (part of the information is lost, and the other part is distorted by individual characteristics of perception and personality attitudes).
12. Individual character. The consciousness of each person is different from the consciousness of other people. This is due to a number of factors: genetic differences, upbringing conditions, life experience, social environment, etc.
13. The ability to reflect. Consciousness has the ability to self-observation and self-esteem, and can also imagine how other people evaluate it.
Some facts about consciousness, its properties give the researcher the observation of patients with brain defects and diseases, but this, of course, is not a systematic study and one should not expect great success here.
The presence of a level of information integration. Determined by time. The time it takes to measure information integration in a network of neurons increases “exponentially” relative to the number of nodes being considered — meaning that even with the best technology, computations can last longer than the life of the universe. A new idea of such calculations (Toker) provides a result in a couple of minutes.
Functions of consciousness
Consciousness is not just a higher personal education, it carries out three interrelated functions: the regulation of mental processes, the regulation of relations and the regulation of the subject's activity (S. L. Rubinstein).
Two main functions of consciousness are distinguished in the works of V.S. Rotenberg:
- Objectification and consolidation of knowledge about objective reality in speech and isolation from the environment of oneself as a subject of cognition of this reality. The formation of meanings is associated with this function of consciousness.
- Separating oneself from the environment as a subject - a person. This function of conscience provides an opportunity for self-perception and self-esteem. The formation of personal meaning is associated with it.
Also, the following can be attributed to the main functions of consciousness:
- reflective (mirror and memory principle);
- generative (creative or creative);
- regulatory and evaluative;
The hard problem of consciousness (coined by the philosopher David Chalmers, 1995) is the problem of explaining why we have qualia (mental states) or phenomenal experience, how sensations acquire characteristics such as color or taste; why the subject has certain states of consciousness, altered states.
In other words, it is a problem of finding answers to two questions: how does the brain generate consciousness? And why does consciousness exist, why does consciousness arise?
So far it has not been possible to obtain answers to these questions by well-known scientific methods.
The "easy" problems include the search for third-person answers to questions such as: what does consciousness do, what is its structure, how does it change over time? It is argued that now the structure and principles of the functioning of the brain are known, how the brain controls the behavior of organisms and the understanding of the behavior itself, but understanding of consciousness does not follow from this.
Theories and methods of studying consciousness
Some of the most significant and influential neurobiological theories include the following:
- integrated information theory;
- reentrant dynamic core theory;
- global workspace theory;
- global neuronal work-space theory;
- duplex vision theory;
- the theory of recurrent processing (English local recurrence theory);
- microconsciousness theory;
- thalamocortical binding theory;
- consciousness as the feeling of what happens.
- Leon Festinger's A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance and this is certainly not a complete list.
Cognitive system, cognitive structure (from Lat. Cogniti "cognition") is a system of cognition (of a person) that has developed in his mind as a result of the formation of his character, education, training, observation and thinking about the world around him.
On the basis of this system, goals are set and decisions are made about how to act in a given situation, trying to avoid cognitive dissonance. The cognitive system is based on the interaction of thinking, consciousness, memory and language; the bearer of such a system is the brain (of a person). The third feature of consciousness, James called continuity, from which follows the concept of a stream of consciousness.
The unity of consciousness and activity. The lines of "continuity" or "discontinuity" of states of consciousness are clearly marked in pathology. Thus, in the various types of stunning, stupor and coma, lining up in a continuous line, the continuity of consciousness is most clearly expressed. In forms like delirium, oneyroid - contiguity, and in forms like twilight states, especially in epilepsy - a closed world of discontinuity (Spivak D.L., 1989).
The study of consciousness presents significant difficulties, and its disorders have to be judged by indirect signs: facial expressions, complaints (some patients complain of unclear consciousness), reactions to external influences, assessment of orientation, attention, thinking and others.
Non-invasive methods of studying consciousness.
Electroencephalography is widely used to study the psychophysiological mechanisms of wakefulness and sleep. From the surface of the scalp, you can also record the evoked potentials of the brain, which arise in response to various sensory stimuli (light, sound and other stimulation).
Non-invasive brain scanning technologies exist, including new ones
- MRI options,
- magnetoencephalography (MEG - measurement of the magnetic fields generated by the electrical activity of the brain),
- diffusion tractography (analysis of bundles of nerve fibers in the brain) and
- the standard technique TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) of certain areas of the brain, which provides (according to the reaction of the brain in its various states to such an impact), an assessment of the brain's ability to integrate information.
Analytical introspection. For a long time, introspection has been the main method of studying consciousness as a systematic use of self-observation for scientific purposes. Descriptive methods based on observing their own behavior and self-reports of the subjects about their experiences are used to study various states of consciousness.
Linguistic methods are increasingly used to study consciousness, since the direct representation of consciousness is language in its speech form. The analysis of changes in the characteristics of speech (vocabulary, semiotics and grammar of the language) under certain mental states, changes in physiological processes in the central nervous system is widely used in psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics. At present, quantitative methods have been developed for measuring changes in speech in persons in normal and altered states of consciousness (Spivak D.L., 1986).
It has been established that a regular network of neurons exists in the brain, which resembles the excitation structure of neurons in the neocortex. The spatial resolution of non-invasive brain scans is constantly increasing at an incredible rate.
Methods for Modeling Brain Functioning
Modeling is performed using non-invasive and invasive (with animals) methods.
Several large-scale projects have been created on computer models of the brain, for example, the Cold Spring Harbor laboratory received 500 terabytes of information from brain scans of mice, and released the model for public access in June 2012.
The project allows users to study the brain similar to the study of the Earth's surface with Google Earth. You can move around inside the brain and look at individual neurons and their connections as you zoom in. You can identify a certain connection and follow it along the entire brain.
Another project HUMAN BRAIN: an attempt to simulate the work of the brain on a computer project worth a billion euros (2013). The project was severely criticized by scientists.
Nevertheless, the idea turned out to be too attractive - similar initiatives were launched in the US (BRAIN Initiative) and China. The Human Brain Project itself (HBP) continues to work, albeit in an adjusted form. And the ideologist of the project Markram himself did not suffer from the fact that he did not keep his promise made ten years ago, Ed Yong, one of the most influential American scientific journalists, notes in his "anniversary" column. Markram promised to create a 3D atlas of brain characteristics with 50 times better resolution than it is now.
The initiators of the BRAIN Initiative project formulated the task as follows: we want to get, first, a complete map of the calm brain, that is, every connection of each neuron; secondly, a complete map of the active brain, that is, to track in real time (on the monitor screen) how excitations arise, propagate and go out, how neurons form active subsystems. It is still far from the solution of this problem. Good article on this topic.
Hardware, breadboard modeling. Electron microscopic images show striking similarities between electronic microcircuits (zoom in) and the structures of a real brain. Neural networks are created not only software, but also hardware.
Figure B - fragments of multilayer structures on the left - electronic microcircuit; on the right is a network of neurons in the neocortex.
Figure D - fragments of multilayer structures - images of regular connections of neurons in the new cortex
When testing hypotheses, different states by levels and regions of the brain are achieved by taking various medications that change the release levels of important transmitters (special substances, for example, acetylcholine, glutamate, etc.). Under conditions of anesthesia, the informational integration of the brain seems to be completely disrupted.
Anthropic principle in the theory of consciousness
Within the framework of the principle, the questions are formulated: could the universe exist without the conscious beings inhabiting it, how important is consciousness for the universe as a whole? And other, questions, for example, were the laws of physics intentionally conceived in such a way as to ensure the existence of conscious life? Is our place in the universe - both in space and in time - any special? This list and other questions arise within the framework of a scientific hypothesis called the "anthropic principle".
About safety. Take a look at the planet Earth from the side. Inside the planet, fire and flames are raging (everyone knows about volcanoes), outside there are terrible cosmic radiation, dead cold, and between these "hammer and anvil", the elements of nature, there is a thin film of the atmosphere, at the bottom of which the biosphere is even thinner. It is developing, information has become a leading direction in the development of mankind. This film has existed for billions of years. What security laws protect, preserve it for such a long time, why and why?
It is clear that such security is not based on the administrative-legal principle (AMP), as it is implemented in people at the present time. Safety is ensured by strict adherence to written instructions, which are supposed to provide all the possibilities of undesirable situations. Violating the instructions will be punished.
The flaws of the APP-security concept are obvious: Chernobyl, Fukushima, submarines, bathyscaphes with people are dying, forest fires are already becoming commonplace, etc., financial and monetary organizations (banks) burst, and this is in the presence of security services, the presence of people responsible for security... Mountains of colored books have been written (for example, the "orange" book), the State Technical Commission has been created, replaced by FSTEC, so what?
The concept of "strong" artificial intelligence (AI). It assumes that "mind" arises through the implementation of a complex algorithm, which is consistently embodied by objects of the physical world. The nature of these objects does not matter. Objects of any nature can be used as the hardware part and they manipulate nerve signals, electric current flowing through wires, transmission belts, water pipes, etc. the algorithm is considered as something self-sufficient.
Here the mathematical world of Plato is involved, in which the algorithm can exist regardless of any physical implementation. "Mathematical concepts" live only in the minds. A kind of vicious circle arises: for the emergence of algorithms, minds are required, and minds arise only if there are algorithms.
The apparent predominance of matter over antimatter in the observable part of the Universe is called baryon asymmetry.
Quantum mechanics (the most fundamental theory of matter in existence) provides scientists with formulas that allow them to very accurately predict the results of empirical observations, but the picture of the world drawn by quantum mechanics is very difficult to comprehend. Since the problem of consciousness is no less mysterious, many researchers suggest a deep connection between the two mysteries.
Prerequisites for the development of the theory of Consciousness
Scientists of different specialties thought about the sources and causes of knowledge. The psychologist Hume, followed by the philosopher Kant and his followers (Schelling, Hegel, etc.) dug the problem deeply and thoroughly enough.
I. Kant did not ask the question of where the cognitive abilities come from, he stated the fact that they exist and investigated how they work. As a result, Kant came to the conclusion that there is a system of categories, concepts, logical rules and methods of inference (such as conclusions regarding causal relationships between events) that are used in the knowledge of nature.
According to Kant, this system of "pure reason" has an a priori character - it exists in our consciousness before any experience - and is the basis for scientific knowledge of nature. These provisions can be considered an initial premise and an opportunity. The concept of "pure reason" was subjected to the most severe criticism (A. Schopenhauer), but not on the essence of the means and methods of cognition.
Naturally, the approximation of a person's fixed thinking left its imprint: Kant asserts — and within the framework of this approximation it is quite logical (!) —That since "pure reason" is a priori, our reason in the cognitive process prescribes its laws to nature:... although at first it is sounds strange, but nonetheless.
Other prerequisites include established facts, patterns and laws. Let's list the main parts of the brain and the systems associated with them. Some of these systems are simulated in computers, based on the results, devices are being developed that are implanted in organisms and replace damaged natural organs.
These "brain prostheses", when they function successfully, indicate that science has correctly understood the purpose and functions of the simulated organ. This is a very important and promising area of activity for scientists.
For the development of a general theory of consciousness, it is very important to establish an organizational principle that would provide approaches to the phenomenon of Consciousness (with a capital letter) available for experimental verification.
Visual Information System
The optic nerve from the retina contains only 12 output channels, through each of which only a small amount of information about objects in the visual field passes through. This is not a high-resolution image, but just a collection of outlines and guidelines for objects that fall into the scene. In our minds, we imagine the world around us based on memories stored in the neocortex, which slowly interprets a series of images coming through parallel channels. Some cells send only the contours of objects (contrast), other extended areas of the same color, the third group of cells perceives and transmits only the background behind the object.
How wrong we get in life about our own visual system. Many people think that we see the whole world with our eyes. In fact, the brain receives very little from 12 channels, only clues, contours in space and time. If you increase the detail, i.e. volume of information, the cerebral cortex (or AI) simply cannot cope with its processing. It has long been clear to AI developers and creators that only the most visible details should be left for processing. Further, the hierarchical principle of processing works, making up the picture of the surrounding reality.
Usually, it seems to us that sight is a conscious function: if I see, then I am aware. In the case of "blind sight", the patient denies that he sees anything, however, if asked to guess what is in front of him, he guesses. The thing is that we have two visual pathways: one - "conscious" - leads to the occipital areas of the cerebral cortex, the other - shorter - to the upper cortex. If a boxer has only a conscious visual path working, he will hardly be able to dodge punches - he does not miss punches precisely because of this short, ancient path.
Visual perception is when you can say “what” and “where”, and visual perception is when you still have a mental picture. Approximately the same cognitive function of object recognition is performed, but in one case this recognition is conscious, and in the other it is not. "Blind vision" is visual perception without consciousness.
For a function in the brain to be conscious, the performance of a specific cognitive task must be accompanied by an internal subjective experience.
It is the presence of private experience that is the key component that allows you to say whether there is consciousness or not. This narrower concept is called phenomenal consciousness.
Sound information system. The situation is similar here. The example with the TV game "Guess the melody" is especially impressive. It turns out that often a very small set of notes is sufficient to guess the melody. Two or three sounding notes are enough to guess the whole piece.
The player's consciousness, referring to the previous recordings of melodies in the cortex, replenishes the notes in full, but the number of these notes is different for different players, depending on what was recorded and structured in the cortex. It is these approaches, based on understanding the ability of the human hearing aid to focus on one specific sound source, that have been used in the introduction of microphones into cellular telephones. Further, the auditory information processing scheme (p.114 Ray)
Figure 1 - Scheme of processing auditory information in the subcortex of the neocortex
Other sensory sources
Hundreds of megabits per second, including inputs from nerve cells in the skin, muscles, internal organs, and other areas, enter the upper spinal cord. These are tactile information, temperature, acidity levels, the movement of food through the digestive tract, and information about many other organs. This information is processed by the middle and spinal cord stem. The neurons in the first layer create a body map that reflects its current state. This map can be compared to the image on the screen of a radar operator when they track the movement of targets (aircraft, UAVs, missiles). The information is then passed on to a part of the brain called the thalamus.
Thalamus. The thalamus performs many functions, for example, through it all pre-processed sensory (tactile, visual, sound,..., possibly excluding olfactory) information is sent to specialized parts of the cerebral cortex. The thalamus maintains continuous contact with the new cortex. Its recognition modules send preliminary data to the thalamus and receive responses in the form of excitatory and inhibitory signals from the 6th level of each module. The modules themselves in the new crust are hundreds of millions.
Directed thinking without thalamic signals does not work. The key role of the thalamus is precisely in focusing attention, on the stored structured lists of the cortex, forcing us to think in a certain direction or follow a certain plan of action.
“Everyone knows what attention is. This is the concentration of the thought process, in a clear and vivid form, on one of several simultaneously existing objects or chains of thoughts. The key elements of this process are localization, concentration and awareness. The process is to remove some things so that you can think about others more effectively... "William James.
To conclude this description, we note that our working memory is capable of simultaneously holding four questions - two in each hemisphere of the brain. It is not completely clear whether the thalamus is in charge of the neocortex or vice versa, but both parts are needed for the body to function normally. Figure 2 shows a scheme for controlling the elements of the body, the upper level of which is realized by consciousness.
Figure 2 - Diagram of the informational system of regulation by the brain (consciousness) of body functions
It is generally accepted that the consciousness of living organisms is associated with the brain and, first of all, with the human brain. Noting the important role of human speech for the emergence and presence of consciousness, the choice of a person as an object and carrier of consciousness is quite predictable. Here it is important to understand and know that there is an organism (individual) with a brain, its structure, elements, connections of elements have been studied, the functions assigned to the brain by the body as a whole have been identified. It is clear how the brain functions, what it is guided by, determining the behavior of the organism, i.e. what are the indicators and criteria for the effectiveness of such functioning. The latter position is very closely related to the requirements of the species (organism), goals, tasks, resources, internal and external conditions, limitations, etc. By the way, this issue has not yet been resolved and the brain belongs to the organism or, on the contrary, the organism belongs to the brain.
Hippocampus. The hippocampus is distributed in both hemispheres, and looks like a horseshoe located in the medial temporal regions of the brain. Its main purpose is memorizing new events. His own memory is not hierarchical. The novelty of the events is determined by the new cortex and it decides that information about them needs to be presented to the hippocampus. For example, the new cortex fails to recognize a certain set of features (a new aircraft) or a famous portrait, a familiar situation has acquired new characteristics.
It is believed that the hippocampus remembers such situations by referring to the neocortex, and these memories are recorded in the neocortex as low-order images.
The capacity of the hippocampus is limited, hence the memories stored in it are not durable.Bilateral damage to the hippocampus excludes the memorization of new events, but previously memorized events are retained in it. Researchers have created an artificial hippocampus "prosthesis" of the brain subsystem. It was implanted in animals (2011) and experiments were carried out with them.
The conclusions note "... experiments have shown that neural implants are able to identify and manipulate the coding process in real time, restoring and even improving cognitive mnemonic processes." Especially
it is promising to create neural implants for people that could smooth out the first phase of damage during the development of Alzheimer's disease, since it is in this disease that the human hippocampus is damaged in the first place
Cerebellum. The cerebellum is a part of the old brain that at the dawn of mankind controlled almost all movements of hominids. It still contains half of all neurons in the brain, but its mass is about 10% of the mass of the entire brain. It's just that the neurons in it are small, and it itself is the size of a fist. The cerebellum is characterized by the repetition of structures that are formed by a combination of several neurons repeated billions of times. Its structure, like a new crust, is uniform. The cerebellum coordinates movement and regulates muscle contraction. Removal or damage to the cerebellum does not lead to paralysis, but it disrupts muscle coordination. The thread cannot be threaded through the needle. It has been established that Purkinje cells in the cerebellum control the sequence of movements, and each cell is sensitive to a specific sequence.
Description of brain function
We will consider the description of the functioning of the brain in accordance with the structure of consciousness against the background of the functioning of the organism as a whole. Usually the following are called structural elements of consciousness:
- mind (thinking),
- views (concepts),
The human mind is the ability (component of thinking) to connect and see in the unity processes, phenomena and facts and to generalize them. Another important component of thinking is reason, as the ability to build a logical course of judgment, the rigor of evidence and the correctness of conclusions. Reason - connects (synthesizes), reason - divides (analyzes).
The activity of consciousness is mainly analysis and synthesis (transformation) of reality.
The basic life processes and human life itself are described (encoded) in the DNA of cells. With the birth of a person, an information program is launched in his body, the work of which is designed for a certain time, called a person's life. Under normal conditions of life, a certain counter counts the time steps allotted for life, translating them into hours, days and years.
A functional computer model of the brain ( see here ).
Every moment of a person's life, the program decides what to do next, in the next moment. The main criterion that the decision must satisfy is the preservation of order, or entropy, or a mutation that is beneficial for the species (person), at a genetically specified level.
The maintenance of the indicators of the internal environment of the body at an almost constant level for the norm is carried out by the nerve center, which includes the brain. This is realized by controlling (regulation) the functioning of various organs and physiological systems, united into a single functional system - the organism. An enlarged illustration of this is shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3 - Scheme of the structure and functioning of body systems according to P.K.Anokhin
Within the framework of the Vernon Mountcastle hypothesis, the mechanism of the cerebral cortex is practically the same for all people. But the action of the neural ensembles of the cortex creates a unique consciousness in each person - “I”, which is different from all others.
This is how sensory stimuli arrive at the peripheral nerve endings, then their copies are transmitted to the brain (to the cortex). The brain uses them to create dynamic and constantly updated neural maps of the outside world, our place and orientation in it, as well as events taking place in it.At the level of sensations, the images that arise in almost all people are the same, they are easily identified by verbal description or by the same hardware-recorded reactions.
But, in addition to this, each image is associated with genetic information and with accumulated individual experience, which makes each of us unique and unique. Based on this integral experience, each of us constructs at the highest level of our perceptual experience our own very personal view from the inside.
Self-awareness . Self-awareness arises in the course of the development of consciousness of the personality, as it becomes an independently acting subject. Self-awareness is not so much a reflection of your I, as an awareness of your way of life, your relationship with the world and people.
When considering self-awareness, the following components are distinguished:
- Consciousness of their mental properties, as a result of self-observation.
- Consciousness "I" as an active principle, as a subject of activity.
- Consciousness of identity, which distinguishes sensations from one's own body, from sensations caused by external objects and phenomena.
- Consciousness of the ability for social and moral self-esteem.
Personality in its real being, in its self-consciousness is what a person, realizing himself as a subject, calls his “I”. I am a personality as a whole, in the unity of all aspects of being, reflected in self-consciousness. A real person who, reflecting in his self-consciousness, realizes himself as "I", as a subject of his activity, is a social being, included in social relations, performing certain social functions.
Self-awareness is a dynamic system of a person's ideas about himself, his awareness of his physical, intellectual and other qualities, self-esteem of qualities, as well as subjective perception of external factors affecting a given personality (LM Mitina).
Self-consciousness is always the consciousness of oneself as a conscious subject, a person, a real individual, and not at all the consciousness of one's own consciousness (II Chesnokova).
Most psychologists view self-awareness as a unity of three sides -
self-knowledge, emotional-value attitude towards oneself and self-regulation.
The sides of the inner structure of self-awareness are knowledge and attitude.
Knowledge about oneself is presented in the form of ideas and concepts about oneself. A person's knowledge of himself, as a real subject of various types of activity, is diverse in its composition and in the form of reflection. It can be reflected both at the immediate-sensory level and at the abstract-logical level.
Attitude towards oneself is expressed in the characteristics of the emotional sphere: emotions, feelings, towards one's own "I". As a result of reflection, a concept of oneself or a generalized stable “I-image” (I-concept) is formed.
- Activity. Consciousness is associated with activity, with active interaction with the outside world.
- Selective. Consciousness is directed not at the whole world as a whole, but only at certain of its objects (most often associated with some unfulfilled needs).
Levels and types of the state of consciousness
V.M. Bekhterev identified 6 levels (forms) of consciousness:
- Body awareness;
- Consciousness of the surrounding space;
- Time Consciousness;
- Consciousness of your personality;
- Consciousness of your consciousness;
- Consciousness of one's existence.
In the study of consciousness for orientation, there are:
- orientation in the external environment, i.e. place, time and people around (allopsychic orientation);
- orientation in relation to oneself - both in terms of the "body scheme" (somatopsychic orientation) and in terms of mental life (autopsychic orientation).
Yu.B. Gippenreiter offers the following level structure of consciousness:
A) Lack of consciousness, continuity of its functioning.
B) The subconscious includes unconscious mechanisms of conscious actions. Consists of three subclasses:
• Unconscious automatisms, possibly realized in the past;
• Phenomena of unconscious installation;
• Unconscious accompaniment of conscious actions (involuntary movements, facial expressions).
C) Preconsciousness is defined as unconscious stimuli of conscious actions (dreams, mistakes, reservations), neurotic symptoms.
E) Superconsciousness is a process of prolonged and intense work of consciousness, as a result of which a certain integral result appears in the form of new relationships, feelings, actions that were not previously realized (creativity, intuition, catharsis).
Types of states of consciousness
There are the following types of states of consciousness:
- Clear consciousness;
- Unclear consciousness, in which the patient, although reasonably, but belatedly answers questions, is not sufficiently oriented in the environment;
- Stupor - numbness; when exiting this state, the questions are not answered meaningfully;
- Sopor - dullness; the patient reacts to the environment, however, the reaction is episodic, far from adequate in nature, the patient cannot coherently explain what has happened or is happening to him;
- Unconsciousness - coma (depression of consciousness, often with muscle relaxation).
Impairment of consciousness may depend on various pathological processes in the central nervous system, including those associated with a disorder of cerebral circulation, which more often occurs in older persons with dynamic circulatory disorders as a result of vasospasm, but may be associated with persistent anatomical disorders in the form of hemorrhage or ischemia brain. At the same time, in some cases, consciousness can be preserved, but speech disorders are expressed. A soporous state can develop with infectious brain lesions, including meningitis.
Impairments of consciousness, including coma, occur more often with significant shifts in the homeostasis system, which leads to severe damage to internal organs.
Usually, in all cases of such endogenous poisoning, there are some breathing disorders (breathing Cheyne-Stokes, Kussmaul, etc.).
Altered states of consciousness
There are many mind-altering substances. - from common drugs like caffeine and alcohol, the most common drug, to powerful hallucinogens like LSD.
Disconnected consciousness - zero time spent on complete disconnection. Partial
turning off various groups of neurons (taking drugs propofol, xenon, ketamine)
All known approaches, often called theories, do not go beyond the proposed particular hypotheses on particular issues, even the claims to fundamentality do not look very solid, since they turn out to be very limited.
Another path - meditation - is the basis for a large number of therapeutic techniques, such as imaginative psychotherapy, analytical psychology, autogenous training and other spiritual practices that contribute to changing states of consciousness.
The changed states include:
- affect - a violent reaction to a phenomenon, a short-term emotion, for example, fear,
- exaltation - increased excitability, unusual vivacity,
- ecstasy is the highest degree of delight, a surge of creative urges, inspiration.
- euphoria - a state of contentment, extreme high spirits,
- catharsis - enlightenment, spiritual ennoblement of the senses, purification,
- hypnosis, a hypnotic state under the influence of hypnosis.
Typically, hypnosis is accompanied by the following characteristics:
- opens access to information contained in the unconscious;
- the person goes into a trance;
- his attraction becomes impossible to control;
- his imagination plays with very bright colors;
- he is sleepy;
- he feels relaxed;
- archaic instincts begin to appear;
- absorption appears.
Absorption is the ability of a person to be in special states of consciousness, be it drug intoxication, meditation or hypnosis. In everyday situations, the manifestation of absorption is nothing more than an increase in the degree of fantasy.
The above provisions and facts, set out with varying degrees of detail, serve to familiarize the reader with the problems of human science, to guide those who want to try their hand at developing this direction.The achievements are enormous, but discoveries are not only made by specialists in narrow fields. The junction of sciences is a huge source of ideas and creativity.
It is shown in which directions these sciences are moving (I did not even mention here the grandiose successfully completed project "Human Genome"), to what extent modeling of the functional systems of the human body is developing. The economic success of "Genome" (every dollar spent on it returned $ 140 to the US economy) and inspired the American leadership to sponsor another "card", this time - the neural activity of the brain.
The properties, functions, levels, theories and methods of studying consciousness are listed and named. Their characteristics are given.
The similarity of material structures at the nanotechnological level or the external similarity of structures of neurobiological and electronic devices is shown.
The global approach to the phenomenon of life in the cosmological aspect is slightly affected by a hint.
As V.V. Mayakovsky: "If the stars are lit, then someone needs it." If Life and Mind appeared in space, what could they be capable of? Perhaps the space itself will eventually be controlled by them.