Human development XI: the structure of the cerebral cortex. Are there really modules in the brain?

Quality of Life Research Center, Teglgårdstraede 4-8, DK-1452 Copenhagen K, Denmark.
The Scientific World Journal (Impact Factor: 1.22). 02/2007; 7:1922-9. DOI: 10.1100/tsw.2007.256
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The structure of human consciousness is thought to be closely connected to the structure of cerebral cortex. One of the most appreciated concepts in this regard is the Szanthagothei model of a modular building of neo-cortex. The modules are believed to organize brain activity pretty much like a computer. We looked at examples in the literature and argue that there is no significant evidence that supports Szanthagothei's model. We discuss the use of the limited genetic information, the corticocortical afferents termination and the columns in primary sensory cortex as arguments for the existence of the cortex-module. Further, we discuss the results of experiments with Luminization Microscopy (LM) colouration of myalinized fibres, in which vertical bundles of afferent/efferent fibres that could support the cortex module are identified. We conclude that sensory maps seem not to be an expression for simple specific connectivity, but rather to be functional defined. We also conclude that evidence for the existence of the postulated module or column does not exist in the discussed material. This opens up for an important discussion of the brain as functionally directed by biological information (information-directed self-organisation), and for consciousness being closely linked to the structure of the universe at large. Consciousness is thus not a local phenomena limited to the brain, but a much more global phenomena connected to the wholeness of the world.

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    ABSTRACT: The human brain is probably the most complicated single structure in the biological universe. The cerebral cortex that is traditionally connected with consciousness is extremely complex. The brain contains approximately 1,000,000 km of nerve fibers, indicating its enormous complexity and which makes it difficult for scientists to reveal the function of the brain. In this paper, we propose a new model for brain functions, i.e., information-guided self-organization of neural patterns, where information is provided from the abstract wholeness of the biophysical system of an organism (often called the true self, or the "soul"). We present a number of arguments in favor of this model that provide self-conscious control over the thought process or cognition. Our arguments arise from analyzing experimental data from different research fields: histology, anatomy, electroencephalography (EEG), cerebral blood flow, neuropsychology, evolutionary studies, and mathematics. We criticize the popular network theories as the consequence of a simplistic, mechanical interpretation of reality (philosophical materialism) applied to the brain. We demonstrate how viewing brain functions as information-guided self-organization of neural patterns can explain the structure of conscious mentation; we seem to have a dual hierarchical representation in the cerebral cortex: one for sensation-perception and one for will-action. The model explains many of our unique mental abilities to think, memorize, associate, discriminate, and make abstractions. The presented model of the conscious brain also seems to be able to explain the function of the simpler brains, such as those of insects and hydra.
    The Scientific World Journal 01/2008; 8:621-42. · 1.22 Impact Factor

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