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The Electromagnetic Field Theory of Consciousness A Testable Hypothesis about the Characteristics of Conscious as Opposed to Non-conscious Fields


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The electromagnetic field theory of consciousness proposes that conscious experiences are identical with certain electromagnetic patterns generated by the brain. While the theory has always acknowledged that not all of the electromagnetic patterns generated by brain activity are conscious, until now it has not been able to specify what might distinguish conscious patterns from non-conscious patterns. Here a hypothesis is proposed about the 3D shape of electromagnetic fields that are conscious, as opposed to those that are not conscious. Seven predictions arising from this hypothesis are described. Existing empirical evidence shows that four of these predictions have already been successfully tested. Requirements for experimental testing of the other three are discussed.
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Susan Pockett
The Electromagnetic Field
Theory of Consciousness
A Testable Hypothesis about
the Characteristics of Conscious
as Opposed to Non-conscious Fields
Abstract: The electromagnetic field theory of consciousness proposes
that conscious experiences are identical with certain electromagnetic
patterns generated by the brain. While the theory has always acknow-
ledged that not all of the electromagnetic patterns generated by brain
activity are conscious, until now it has not been able to specify what
might distinguish conscious patterns from non-conscious patterns.
Here a hypothesis is proposed about the 3D shape of electromagnetic
fields that are conscious, as opposed to those that are not conscious.
Seven predictions arising from this hypothesis are described. Existing
empirical evidence shows that four of these predictions have already
been successfully tested. Requirements for experimental testing of the
other three are discussed.
1. Introduction
The definition of consciousness is famously difficult. Not only is it
true that, as Searle (1993) says, ‘Like most words, “consciousness”
does not admit of a definition in terms of genus and differentia or nec-
essary and sufficient conditions’, but also ‘consciousness’ is even
worse than most words in that the phenomenon it describes is so
Journal of Consciousness Studies,19, No. 11–12, 2012, pp. 191–223
Susan Pockett, Department of Psychology, University of Auckland, Private Bag
92019, Auckland, New Zealand. Email:
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private that it is impossible to know for sure whether it even exists in
any entity other than oneself. Nonetheless, as Searle goes on:
It is important to say exactly what we are talking about, because the phe-
nomenon of consciousness that we are interested in needs to be distin-
guished from certain other phenomena such as attention, knowledge
and self-consciousness. By ‘consciousness’, I simply mean those sub-
jective states of sentience or awareness that begin when one wakes up in
the morning from a dreamless sleep and continue throughout the day
until one goes to sleep at night or falls into a coma, or dies, or otherwise
becomes, as one would say, ‘unconscious’. (Ibid.)
I will take this as a working definition for the purposes of this essay, in
hopes that a better definition may eventually be possible as a result of
the experiments proposed here.
The problem about developing a better definition of consciousness
is that in order to define something, you have to know what it is. While
we can each experience from moment to moment the contents of our
own consciousness, we do not yet know what consciousness in gen-
eral — as opposed, for example, to matter in general — is. There are
presently a large number of theories about what consciousness is.
There are dualist or semi-dualist theories, which say that at least some
aspect of consciousness is not physical. There are quantum mechani-
cal theories, which say that consciousness is physical, but just as onto-
logically mysterious or hard to understand in everyday terms as
everything else about quantum mechanics. Finally, there are at the
moment three main non-quantum theories which are distinctive
enough to drive a particular experimental programme.
(1) The psychoneural identity theory was originally proposed by the
philosophers Place (1956), Feigel (1958), and Smart (1959), and
rebranded some decades later as ‘the astonishing hypothesis’
(Crick, 1994). This idea is summarized as follows: ‘The Aston-
ishing Hypothesis is that “You”, your joys and your sorrows,
your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal iden-
tity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast
assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis
Carroll’s Alice might have phrased it: “You’re nothing but a pack
of neurons”’ (Crick, 1994, p. 3). It isnever specified by thishypo-
thesis exactly what makes the behaviour of some neurons conscious
and others not, but the unspoken consensus at present seems to be
that particular patterns of action potential firing may be the key.
Thus the experimental paradigm dictated by this theory tends to
involve the recording of single units, which are an extracellular
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measure of the firing of individual neurons. While neurophysio-
logists as a group usually prefer not to think about consciousness at
all, the scientific tribe who are most comfortable with the psycho-
neural identity theory do tend to be neurophysiologists.
(2) The second major idea about the nature of consciousness that
presently drives a particular experimental approach is function-
alism. Both the provenance and the defining assertion of func-
tionalism are succinctly expressed by Tononi and Edelman
(1998): ‘Consciousness, as William James pointed out, is not a
thing, but a process or stream that is changing on a time scale of
fractions of seconds (James 1890).’Since the mantra of function-
alists is ‘consciousness is a process, not a thing’, this group of
workers are not very interested in the specific neural correlates of
consciousness, preferring to study the abstract processes that
underpin mental functions. Generalization is always dangerous,
but the main scientific group who take this approach tend to be
psychologists. Artificial intelligence (AI) aficionados and to a
certain extent connectionists also appreciate the possibility
promised by functionalism of producing consciousness by repli-
cating functions using hardware instead of wetware.
(3) The third major idea about the nature of consciousness that has
the potential to drive a distinct experimental paradigm is the elec-
tromagnetic (EM) field theory of consciousness (Pockett, 1999;
2000; 2002; 2007; 2011). This theory proposes that conscious
experiences are identical with certain spatial EM patterns gener-
ated by neural activity in the brains of conscious subjects. While
the EM field theory is an identity theory, it differs radically from
the psychoneural identity theory in that (like functionalism) it
predicts the possibility of producing consciousness without neu-
rons. According to the EM field theory, putatively conscious EM
fields could in principle be generated using hardware instead of
wetware. There are major differences between the EM field the-
ory and either functionalism or connectionism with regard to the
methodology for generating such non-biological consciousness:
while the approach of the EM field theorist would be to measure
the 3D shape of the putatively conscious fields produced by the
brain and reproduce these fields artificially, the approach of
connectionists and present-day AI workers would be to model
the functions performed by the brain and hope that any model or
instantiation which reproduces the function will reproduce what-
ever conscious experience goes with the function. However,
there is no intrinsic incompatibility or argument between EM
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field theorists and functionalists. The EM field theory essentially
provides a means of reifying functionalism, by removing the rea-
son for the latter’s prohibition of ‘things’ as the basis of con-
scious experiences. Electromagnetic fields are like things, but
unlike material things they can and do change on a time scale of
fractions of seconds. The current experimental programme that
best fits the EM field theory of consciousness involves recording
scalp or intracranial EEG (although most scientists who use
those techniques at present either don’t know about the EM field
theory of consciousness or actively repudiate it). The hypothesis
put forward in the main body of this paper points the way to a dis-
tinctly new experimental paradigm, which promises to reveal the
3D shape of conscious EM fields.
Three useful objections to the EM field theory of consciousness
As with any novel theory, a number of objections to the EM field the-
ory of consciousness have been raised. Six of the most common ones
were answered in the original statement of the theory (Pockett, 2000).
However, over the last eleven years three more objections have arisen
which are not answered by Pockett (2000). There is no doubt that
objections to a theory can be extremely useful: the answer to the sec-
ond of these objections has recently allowed an answer to the third,
and the answer to the third is here expanded into the hypothesis out-
lined in the present paper. To take them one by one, the three objec-
tions and their answers are as follows.
Objection 1
The first objection is that it is not intuitively obvious why — or in
more extreme versions of the objection ‘remotely plausible’ that —
any particular spatial electromagnetic pattern should be identical with
a particular conscious experience. What can it be, the objector asks,
about possessing this specific spatial pattern that gives an EMfield the
characteristic features of conscious experiences: qualia, subjectivity,
privileged access, whatever?
Answer to Objection 1
Aside from the privileged access part, which is easy (see Objection 2),
this question is exactly analogous to asking a physicist to explain what
it is about the arrangement of mass/energy into a particular spatial pat-
tern of atoms and molecules that gives it the characteristic features of
matter. This is a question that is unlikely to be asked. If it were, the
physicist’s response would probably be bemused incomprehension.
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The issue here is that to those of us who were educated in the ‘de-
veloped’ world in the latter half of the twentieth century, it seems com-
pletely unremarkable that matter should be composed of molecules,
atoms, electrons, protons, and an ever-expanding zoo of smaller parti-
cles, and that different forms of matter should exist as a result of dif-
ferent arrangements of these entities. It does not seem necessary to ask
why this should be so — we simply accept that this is the way matter
is. But if these ideas seem in any way inherently or intuitively plausi-
ble to us (as opposed to plausible because they have been experimen-
tally proven over the course of several centuries) it is only because we
are so familiar with them. Were we living in, say, China during the
fourteenth century, we would almost certainly greet the same ideas
with undisguised scepticism and a polite request that it should be
explained to us why any sane person should even entertain the thought
that an obviously solid rock is actually composed of tiny, invisible bits
of buzzing energy. (Where on earth does THAT idea come from? we
might have asked — to which our fourteenth century atomist might
have responded with a long peroration about the philosophical origins
of atomist ideas in both ancient Greece and ancient India1— but that’s
beside the point.)
The point is that intuition can be trained. When it comes to mind,
which has traditionally been set in opposition to matter, most of us are
not — yet, perhaps — used to the idea that consciousness is composed
of spatial electromagnetic patterns. So that idea does not — yet, per-
haps — seem ‘remotely plausible’. But should that idea eventually be
shown to withstand experimental scrutiny as robustly as the idea of
atoms did, we will no doubt again stop asking why things should be so
and accept that this is just the way consciousness is. That time may yet
be some way off: my estimate is that we are presently at about the
same stage with regard to proving the existence of conscious EM
fields as Newton, Boyle, Huygens, Leeuwenhoek, and Halley were
with regard to proving the existence of material atoms in the latter half
of the seventeenth century. (But on the question of where this not-
yet-intuitive idea about consciousness came from, yes, what could be
seen as a field theory of consciousness was also put forward in both
ancient India and ancient Greece — Pockett, 2000.)
Objection 2
The second major objection to the EM field theory of consciousness
that was not answered by Pockett (2000) pertains to one of the
[1] Leucippus and Democritis taught atomism in Greece around 450 BC. Kanada wrote the
explicitly atomistic Vaisesika Sutras in India around 200 BC. See Pockett (2000).
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features of the idea that was originally touted as a major point in its
favour. Electromagnetic fields are well documented to be capable of
causing neurons to fire. This, it was suggested at some length in Chap-
ter 7 of Pockett (2000), provided a potential physical mechanism by
which consciousness could cause behaviour. But the objection to that
idea was not long in coming — and this time the objector was the
author of the original theory herself (Pockett, 2002).
The objection hinges on the fact that the sorts of EM patterns pro-
posed by the theory as being conscious are extremely local. They fall
off with distance according to not merely an inverse square law, but an
inverse cube law (Pockett, 2011). This means that they exist at all only
within a few millimetres of the neurons that generate them. Such
extreme ‘localizedness’ is reflected in the name of the individual EM
waveforms that make up each putatively conscious pattern — local
field potentials, aka LFPs. It means that these patterns (i) cannot be
shared with other conscious entities (which explains the privileged
access part of Objection 1); and more importantly (ii) are not even
accessible to the neurons within the same nervous system that directly
cause behaviour. The neurons that most directly cause behaviour are
motor neurons in the spinal cord. These are largely driven by neurons
in the primary motor cortex, which in turn are driven by neurons in the
premotor and supplementary motor areas of the cortex, with a good
deal of interplay from subcortical structures. Simple physics dictates
that the putatively conscious EM patterns generated by most other
areas of brain (with the possible exception of primary somatosensory
cortex, although there the orientation of the pattern poses a problem)
are too far away to be accessible to any of these neurons. So Objection
2 is that putatively conscious EM field patterns cannot directly cause
the firing of motor neurons. They cannot be the direct cause of
For a while, this objection seemed fatal to the theory. If, as we all
intuitively believe, voluntary behaviour is directly caused by con-
sciousness; and if behaviour cannot be directly caused by the EM pat-
terns this theory talks about; then consciousness cannot be the EM
patterns this theory talks about.
Answer to Objection 2
The answer to this objection lies in the assumption that voluntary
behaviour is directly caused by consciousness. It seems that in this
respect intuition has let us down again. Consciousness does not
directly cause voluntary behaviour (Pockett, 2004; 2011; Pockett et
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al., 2006; 2009). Observations leading to this conclusion include the
(1) The conscious experience of willing or causing a movement is
neither necessary nor sufficient for the performance of voluntary
actions. Wegner (2002) discusses a wide variety of circum-
stances in which subjects either perform apparently volitional
actions without consciously willing them (conscious will is not
necessary), consciously will volitional actions that they do not
objectively perform (conscious will is not sufficient), or feel
after the event that they have willed actions which were actually
forced or even made by the experimenter (conscious will can be
wrongly inferred, even when it logically cannot have existed).
(2) The subjective experience of agency or ownership of an action is
dissociable from objective agency. Lesions in the right parietal
cortex can produce syndromes in which the patient perceives
their hand to be under the control of someone else (Leiguardia et
al., 1993; Bundick and Spinella, 2000) or their limbs as not
belonging to them at all (Critchley, 1953; Nightingale, 1982;
Daprati et al., 2000).
(3) Libet’s famous experiments (Libet et al., 1982; 1983) show that
the brain activity coupled to a spontaneous action (i.e. the readi-
ness potential or RP) starts of the order of 350 ms before the sub-
ject reports having consciously willed the action. For many years
this highly repeatable and methodologically robust result was
taken to mean that voluntary acts are initiated pre-consciously.
Recently Pockett and Purdy (2010) showed that when the same
action is made not spontaneously but as the result of a specific
decision, the RP preceding the action shortens so that the RP
starts at about the same time as the reported willing of the action
— which on the face of it restores the possibility that conscious-
ness does directly cause actions. But by the time this experiment
hit the presses, experiments by others had shown that the time at
which the subject reports having willed an action is affected both
by events that take place after the action (Lau et al., 2007) and by
manipulation of feedback to the subject about the time at which
the action occurs (Banks and Isham, 2009). For example, if the
subject is led to believe that their individual actions happen pro-
gressively later than they actually did, the time at which these
acts were willed is also reported as being progressively later.
This latter group of experiments and others described in Section
5.1 strongly suggest that the initiation of voluntary actions is not
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consciously experienced at all. The subject simply infers after
the event that they must have initiated their movement shortly
before they made it.
The conclusion forced by this confluence of evidence is that voluntary
actions are not initiated by consciousness. We infer that our conscious
thoughts directly cause our actions, but they actually don’t. Returning
to Objection 2, if consciousness does not cause behaviour, there is no
need to postulate that putatively conscious fields cause behaviour.
The conclusion that consciousness does not initiate or directly cause
behaviour relieves putatively conscious EM fields of any requirement
to cause the firing of behaviour-initiating neurons. Fortuitously, it also
allows development of an answer to Objection 3.
Objection 3
The third objection is that the EM field theory of consciousness as it
stands consists of little more than a bare statement of the idea that con-
sciousness is some kind of electromagnetic pattern generated by
brains. The idea has not been developed or elaborated enough even to
specify what distinguishes conscious EM fields from unconscious EM
fields, let alone what distinguishes the fields of cognitive thoughts
from those of the various sensory modalities like hearing, touch, or
vision, what makes one modality of sensory experience different from
another, or what separates the plethora of different experiences within
one sensory modality. Without at least an attempt at such specifica-
tion, the EM field theory fails to rise above the vagueness that
characterizes both psychoneural identity theory and functionalism.
Answer to Objection 3
The answer to Objection 2 now provides a lever with which to prise
open the question of what distinguishes the brain-generated EM fields
that do underpin conscious experiences from those that don’t. The
answer to Objection 2 tells us that brain activity underpinning the ini-
tiation of movements is not associated with conscious experiences. It
is clear apriorithat spatial patterns of local field potentials are criti-
cally dependent on neuroanatomy, specifically cytoarchitectonics. So
all we need do is ask what is different about the cytoarchitectonics of
areas that subserve the initiation of movements. Surprisingly, the
answer is clear-cut and stunningly simple. Unlike almost all other
areas of the neocortex, motor areas lack a layer 4. The next section
explains how this creates a particular 3D pattern of LFPs, which may
now be postulated to be necessary (though clearly not sufficient) for
conscious experience.
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2. Generation of Local Field Potentials
and Effect of Missing Layer 4
In order to appreciate the hypothesis proposed in this paper, it is nec-
essary first to understand the mechanism by which the fields referred
to by the EM field theory of consciousness are generated by the brain.
Importantly, these fields are different from the hypothetical ‘figure
currents’ whose existence was proposed by Köhler (1920; 1929;
1938; 1940) and experimentally disproved by Lashley (Lashley and
Semmes, 1951) and Sperry (Sperry et al., 1955) sixty years ago.
Rather, the electromagnetic patterns of the modern EM field theory of
consciousness are nothing more exotic than spatial patterns of local
field potentials (LFPs).
LFPs are easily measured extracellular electrical events that are
generated by the synchronous activity of a large number of chemical
synapses on cortical pyramidal neurons. The main factor permitting
LFP generation is the spatial alignment of pyramidal cell apical den-
drites. In the neocortex of mammalian brains, the cell body of each
pyramidal cell is located in one of six histologically distinguishable
layers which stack on top of one another from the inside of the cortex
(layer 6) to the outside (layer 1). The long apical dendrite of each
pyramidal cell extends radially in a more or less straight line from the
cell body towards the surface of the brain, in most cases ending in a
tuft in layer 1, just below the pia mater. In layer 1, both cortico-cortical
axons from other regions of the cortex and thalamo-cortical axons
from M-type cells in thalamus (Jones, 2007; Rubio-Garrido et al.,
2009) make excitatory chemical synapses on the pyramidal cell apical
dendrites. Figure 1 shows diagrammatically how the activation of
such synapses produces LFPs.
In step 1, vesicles of chemical neurotransmitter are released from
the presynaptic axon terminal into the synaptic cleft and bind to recep-
tors on the apical dendrite of the pyramidal cell. In step 2,ion channels
open and positive ions flow into the dendrite. The influx of positive
ions leaves a transient negativity in the extracellular fluid outside the
dendrite. If enough synapses on enough neighbouring dendrites fire
synchronously, this transient extracellular negativity achieves an
amplitude of anything up to tens of mV, and is called a population epsp
(Figure 2). In neocortical layer 1, where the synapses in question are
located, the population epsp is negative-going (upper part of step 2
Figure 1; Figure 2). However, the associated intracellular positivity in
the dendrite essentially has to go somewhere, so to complete the circuit,
positive ions more or less simultaneously flow out of the pyramidal cell
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in the region of the pyramidal cell body, producing a positive-going
population epsp at that level (lower part of step 2 Figure 1; Figure 2). If
the associated intracellular epsps are large enough to trigger action
potentials at the initial segment of enough pyramidal cell axons, a rel-
atively small and brief population spike appears in the middle of the
population epsps (Figure 2).
Figure 1. Diagrammatic representation of the generation of LFPs (local
field potentials).
Figure 2. LFPs in neocortex.
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This general mechanism of LFP production was worked out for
hippocampal LFPs about 40 years ago (e.g. Bliss and Lømo, 1973)
and is well enough accepted to have entered various neuroscience
textbooks (e.g. Bindman and Lippold, 1981; Kandel et al., 1991).
Figures 1 and 2 illustrate two important facts about LFPs:
(1) LFPs are largely synaptic potentials, generated by the action of
excitatory chemical synapses. Action potentials have little effect
on the shape of LFPs. This latter fact has been noted since the
earliest studies (Bremer, 1938; 1949; Eccles, 1951) and may well
be explained (Bédard et al., 2004) by the strong low-pass filter-
ing properties of cortical tissue, which are probably due to signif-
icantly non-homogeneous extracellular resistance (see Section
(2) LFPs always come in pairs: one negative-going transient around
the synapses and one positive-going transient outside another
region of the cell. These positive-negative pairs are conveniently
modelled as dipoles (right hand side of Figure 2).
The EM field theory of consciousness proposes that conscious fields
are distinguished from different conscious fields on the one hand —
and from completely non-conscious fields on the other — by the
three-dimensional patterns in which these dipoles are arranged.
One anatomical fact which is especially important in the context of the
hypothesis presented here is that in neocortical layer 4 there are virtu-
ally no pyramidal cell bodies. Layer 4 consists mainly of stellate cells,
which receive input from C-type cells in the thalamus (Jones, 2007).
Figure 3. Sensory input to layer 4 does not generate measurable LFPs.
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Since the dendrites of stellate cells are not spatially aligned but extend
from the cell body in all directions, the dipole charges generated by
synaptic activity on stellate dendrites tend to cancel each other out.
Therefore, activity in layer 4 is very likely (although thisquestion has
not yet been investigated experimentally) not to generate any
measurable LFPs (see Figure 3).
3. The Hypothesis:
A Spatial Feature Diagnostic of Conscious EM Fields
The hypothesis proposed here is that one necessary (albeit clearly not
sufficient) characteristic of conscious as opposed to non-conscious
EM fields or patterns of charge is a spatial structure something like
that shown in Figure 3. The essence of the proposal is that in the radial
direction (perpendicular to the surface of the cortex) conscious fields
will have a surface layer of negative charge above two deeper layers
of positive charge, separated by a distinct neutral layer. A 3D model of
such fields is shown in Figure 4.
According to this hypothesis, the main distinguishing feature of con-
scious fields is the neutral layer in the middle of the field pattern (Fig-
ure 4 and Figure 5A). Many brain-generated EM fields that are not
conscious will be similar, except that they will lack the neutral layer
(Figure 5B).
Figure 4. 3D model of conscious field. Grey layer in middle of column 1 is
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At this point, two secondary hypotheses can also be foreshadowed
regarding the characteristics distinguishing (a) different modalities of
conscious experience and (b) different experiences within any given
(a) On the axis radial or perpendicular to the surface of the cortex,
the putatively conscious patterns are most affected by the laminal
locations of contributing pyramidal cell bodies, as described in
Section 2. In humans, the overall thickness of the cerebral cortex
varies between 1mm and 4.5 mm and thereare large regional dif-
ferences in the relative thickness of each of the six cytoarchitec-
tonic layers (Campbell, 1905; Brodman, 1909; Fischl and Dale,
2000). In line with the well accepted association of various cyto-
architectonically defined areas with particular sensory and cog-
nitive functions (Campbell, 1905; Brodman, 1909) it is likely
that variations in the radial structure of LFP patterns will distin-
guish different kinds or modalities of conscious experience.
(b) On the axes tangential to the surface of the cortex, some con-
sciousness-related EM patterns exist with spatial frequencies in
the 1–3 mm range (Pockett et al., 2007). This spatial frequency
suggests that the patterns are underpinned by variations in the
activity of neighbouring cortical columns (Mountcastle, 1957;
1997; Hubel and Wiesel, 1963; Abeles and Goldstein, 1970;
Swindale, 1990; Horton and Adams, 2005; Innocenti and
Vercelli, 2010). It is likely that differences in these tangential
Figure 5. Hypothesized distribution of electric charge in brain-generated
fields that are (A) conscious and (B) non-conscious (one example from
many possibilities). Roman numerals to left indicate cortical layers.
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patterns — i.e. differences in the degrees of positivity/negativity
between columns 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 in Figure 4 — will distinguish
different individual experiences within a given modality.
These two secondary hypotheses will not be developed further in the
present paper, which will concentrate on the main hypothesis.
4. Predictions of the Main Hypothesis
The main hypothesis proposed here gives rise to a number of testable
(1) Any area of brain that can generate EM fields with the hypothe-
sized structure might or might not produce conscious experi-
ences. Any area of brain that cannot generate EM fields with the
hypothesized structure will not produce conscious experiences.
(2) Conscious sensory experiences will not be generated during the
first, feedforward pass of peripheral activity through the primary
sensory cortex. Recurrent or feedback activity to the primary
sensory cortex from other regions of cortex will be required.
(3) One manifestation of this requirement for feedback activity will
be a correlation of consciousness with the firing of action poten-
tials by particular cells in regions downstream from the primary
sensory areas.
(4) Another manifestation of the requirement for feedback activity
will be synchronization during the feedback of activity in these
downstream areas and activity in the primary sensory cortex.
(5) Imposition of external EM fields which may or may not vary tem-
porally, but spatially are unpatterned, will have no effect on con-
scious experiences. In the terminology of physics, there will be
no coupling between biological and external fields. The biologi-
cally generated spatial pattern defining the conscious experience
will simply ride on top of the spatially homogeneous external
field, like a boat on an ocean.
(6) Imposition of external EM fields that are spatially patterned (in
such a way that they do couple with the biologically generated
fields) will affect consciousness. Specifically, imposition of an
external field that is inversely patterned — one positive surface
layer and two deeper negative layers, each with a strength per-
fectly matched to that of the biologically generated inverse pat-
tern — will cancel the biological field and thereby obliterate the
relevant conscious experience.
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(7) Prevention of the occurrence of LFPs in the relevant areas with-
out disruption of the underlying synaptic activity will prevent the
relevant conscious experiences.
Existing neurophysiological evidence relating to these predictions
and proposals for testing of predictions that are not currently sup-
ported by any existing evidence are given in Section 5.
5. Exisiting Evidence and Proposed Tests
5.1 Any area of brain that can generate EM fields with the hypo-
thesized structure might or might not produce conscious exper-
iences. Any area of brain that can not generate EM fields with the
hypothesized structure will not produce conscious experiences
Evidence relating to this prediction can be studied in two parts.
5.1.1 Any area of brain that can generated EM fields with the
hypothesized structure might or might not produce conscious
At this stage, the idea that any area of brain gives rise to the hypothe-
sized EM pattern is yet to be tested. The fact that LFPs are negative-
going around excitatory synapses and positive-going around the cor-
responding cell bodies has been experimentally validated for
hippocampal pyramidal cells (e.g. Bliss and Lømo, 1973), and dia-
grams depicting a similar situation as occuring in 6-layered neocortex
certainly appear in neuroscience texts (e.g. Bindman and Lippold,
1981; Kandel et al., 1991). But the hypothesis here suggests that EM
fields with the structure shown in Figures 3, 4, and 5 might appear
only in the brains of conscious subjects. It is certainly possible to mea-
sure LFPs in waking animals (e.g. Bliss and Gardner-Medwin, 1973;
Wiest and Nicolelis, 2003; Dejean et al., 2007; Eliades and Wang,
2008; Roš et al., 2009; Rolston et al., 2009) and chronic intracortical
recording is standard even in humans (e.g. Pockett and Holmes,
2009). But to date, no such measurements have been done in a way
that is specifically motivated by the present hypothesis. Thus, to my
knowledge there are presently no reports on the simultaneous mea-
surement of peripherally-induced LFPs at a series of depths in the
6-layered neocortex of waking mammals. While technically challeng-
ing, it should be relatively straightforward in principle to make such
recordings and thereby see whether the hypothesized EM pattern does
appear in the brains of waking mammals, and whether it degrades or
disappears when the subject is anaesthetized or otherwise loses
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consciousness. Microelectrodes would have to be positioned in corti-
cal layers 1, 2/3, 4, and 5/6; probably in small animal subjects initially,
so that dye spots could be deposited after recording to confirm elec-
trode location. The pick-up range of an electrode is reported to depend
on its size (Bindman and Lippold, 1981), so in order on the one hand
to avoid missing the neutral layer (by contaminating records taken in
putatively neutral layer 4 with pick-up from the adjacent putatively
negative layers 3 and 5), and on the other hand to record LFPs at all
(see Section 5.4.1), it would be necessary to use microelectrodes of a
size commensurate with a pick-up range of the order of 50–100 µm.
This requirement could be fulfilled by the positioning of multitrodes
consisting of 10–12 glass microelectrodes, each of whose shafts was
bent so that the tips were in the same axis, with tips spaced ~200 µm
apart, each tip with a diameter of ~5 µm and an impedance of
0.5–3 MW. Alternatively a multicontact metal electrode with similar
characteristics could be used.
5.1.2 Any area of brain that cannot generate EM fields with the
hypothesized structure will not produce conscious experiences
Of course, it is not a logical requirement of this hypothesis that the
postulated EM pattern will fail to appear in unconscious subjects. The
pattern in question is proposed to be necessary but not sufficient for
consciousness, so if it did appear in unconscious brains one could
always argue that consciousness depends on some additional, yet-
unrecognized factor that is not present in unconscious brains. How-
ever, the claim that the proposed structure is necessary for conscious-
ness does make the very strong prediction that brain areas which
cannot generate this spatial EM pattern will not be able to produce
consciousness. In order to produce the EM field structure hypothe-
sized here as being conscious, essentially a 6-layered architectonic
structure is necessary. So the second half of Prediction 1 boils down to
a prediction that areas which do not have 6-layered architectonicswill
not have the capacity to generate consciousness experiences. Is this
supported by available evidence?
Most areas of the neocortex do exhibit the necessary 6-layered
structure. According to Fatterpekar et al. (2002), only Brodman Areas
4, 6, 8, part of 11, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, and 33 were classified by von
Economo (1925; 1927) as ‘agranular’, which means they do not have
a layer 4. These agranular areas are all concerned with motor function
(Porter and Lemon, 1993; Shipp, 2005). Outside the neocortex, the
putatively more ancient allocortex — i.e. hippocampus and one region
of what is loosely termed the olfactory cortex (Mesulam and Mufson,
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1982) — has only 3 layers. The cerebellum is highly structured, but
does not have pyramidal cells like those in the cortex at all (Eccles et
al., 1967). Subcortical structures such as the thalamus, basal ganglia,
and amygdala do not show any layering comparable with that of the
cortex. So basically, the present hypothesis predicts that most areas of
the neocortex might or might not be capable of producing conscious
experiences. The only areas in the brain that are predicted to be defi-
nitely incapable of producing conscious experiences are BA4, BA6,
and BA8 (the primary motor and premotor cortices), several medial
areas also concerned with motor function, the cerebellum, the hippo-
campus, one part of the general area including the olfactory cortex,
and all subcortical structures.
These are very specific predictions. Are they supported by the
available evidence? With regard to the primary motor and premotor
cortex, the answer is clearly yes. When Desmurget et al. (2009)
directly stimulated the cortex of awake patients undergoing brain sur-
gery, stimulation of parietal regions elicited subjective reports of a
conscious intention or desire to move the relevant part of the body,
which escalated with stronger stimuli to a belief that a movement had
actually been made, even though no electromyographic activity was
detectable. However, stimulation of the region incorporating BA4,
BA6, and BA8 elicited no reports of any conscious experience and in
fact firm denials that any bodily movement had taken place, even
when the stimuli were so strong that movement of the relevant body
part was clearly observed by the experimenters. Parietal regions are
thought to generate conscious intentions to move at some time in the
near future, while the premotor cortex and its associated subcortical
structures are thought to underpin movement initiation (Pockett,
2006). Hence, the physiological results reported by Desmurget et al.
(2009) are reinforced by a wide range of psychological results show-
ing that people are not consciously aware of the initiation of their own
voluntary movements (Wegner, 2002; Pockett, 2004; Aarts et al.,
2005; Pockett et al., 2006; Lau et al., 2007; Banks and Isham, 2009;
Kühn and Brass, 2009, Rigoni et al., 2010). So the prediction of the
present hypothesis that precentral motor areas should not generate con-
scious experiences appears to be well supported by available evidence.
The present hypothesis also predicts that a number of other brain
areas will be incapable of generating conscious experiences. These
areas include the cerebellum, hippocampus, olfactory cortex, and all
subcortical structures. To take these in turn, the cerebellum is widely
understood to underpin unconscious control of movements (e.g.
Jeannerod, 2006). The hippocampus certainly has something to do
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with the laying down of potentially conscious long-term declarative
memories, but it is not the site where such memories are stored
(Scoville and Milner, 1957; Stefanacci et al., 2000; Corkin, 2002).
The idea that the hippocampus may represent a cognitive map
(O’Keefe and Nadel, 1978) suggests that it may subserve some form
of spatial consciousness, but initial formulations of this cognitive map
theory have recently been repudiated (Hardt and Nadel, 2009); so at
this stage there is no evidence suggesting that the hippocampus gener-
ates conscious experiences. With regard to olfaction, it is not yet clear
exactly where conscious olfactory sensations (or indeed any con-
scious sensations) are generated, but Mesulam and Mufson (1982)
show that many parts of the general region labelled olfactory cortex
do have 6-layered architectonics. The neural correlates of emotion
have in the past been studied primarily in the context of the neuro-
transmitters involved and their effects on various subcortical struc-
tures (Panksepp, 1998; Nestler and Malenka, 2004). However, 6-
layered cortex does participate in the networks that incorporate these
subcortical structures and there is evidence for the involvement of
frontal and temporal grey matter in the primary emotional sensation of
cocaine-induced euphoria, for example (Hitri et al., 1994; Bartzokis
et al., 2004; Dong et al., 2005).
So to summarize, the available evidence fails to disprove the cur-
rent hypothesis with regard to any of the brain areas predicted to be
unable to generate conscious experiences.
5.2 Conscious sensory experiences will not be generated during
the first, feedforward pass of peripheral activity through the
primary sensory cortex. Recurrent or feedback activity to the
primary sensory cortex from other regions of the cortex will be
This prediction arises because feedforward thalamic input from the
peripheral sense organs initially reaches the cortex by way of the stell-
ate cells of layer 4 (e.g. Salami et al., 2003), which generate only very
small LFPs because there is no anatomical alignment of multiple
stellate cell dendrites (see Figure 3). As explained above, LFPs of any
significant size are generated only by the activity of feedback circuits,
which synapse largely in layer 1 and generate LFP dipoles extending
between layer 1 and layers 2/3 or 5/6 in the neocortex.
So does existing evidence suggest that feedback or recurrent activ-
ity is necessary for consciousness? At least with regard to the visual
system, the answer is now a definitive ‘yes’. After some initial
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controversy about whether or not V1 activity is a neural correlate of
visual consciousness at all (Crick and Koch, 1995a,b; Pollen, 1995),
evidence has steadily accumulated that consciousness does not corre-
late with the first, feedforward passage of activity through V1, but
does correlate with feedback to V1/V2 from ‘higher’ visual areas,
100–200 ms after the external visual stimulus (Lamme et al., 1998;
Lee et al., 1998; Pollen, 1999; 2003; 2008; Lamme and Roelfsema,
2000; Pascual-Leone and Walsh, 2001; Supèr et al., 2001; Juan and
Walsh, 2003; Ro et al., 2003; Juan et al., 2004; Lamme, 2004;
Silvanto et al., 2005; Fahrenfort et al., 2007; Koivisto et al., 2010;
Thielscher et al., 2010). Most of this evidence comes from experi-
ments in which various areas of the brain are temporarily inactivated
using TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) at various times after
an external stimulus. For example, Boyer et al. (2005) show that
blindsight can be induced by brief inactivation of V1 at 100 ms post-
stimulus, and Silvanto et al. (2005) report that consciousness of
motion can be ablated by TMS delivered to any of (i) V1 at 40–60 ms,
(ii) V5/MT at 60–80 ms, or (iii) V1 at 80–100 ms post-stimulus.
5.3 One manifestation of this requirement for feedback activity
will be a correlation of consciousness with the firing of action
potentials by particular cells in regions downstream of the
primary sensory areas
Figure 2 shows that the firing of action potentials by the pyramidal
cells that directly generate our putatively conscious EM fields has lit-
tle effect on those fields. Population spikes may sculpt LFP patterns
somewhat, but the firing of individual cells in these regions does not
have much to do with the patterns we are interested in. However, in
order to generate the feedback activity that produces the LFP patterns
of interest, neurons must certainly fire in regions where the feedback
originates. Some of the feedback in question will come from M-type
cells in the thalamus, but much of it will arise in various far-flung
regions of the cortex. So Prediction 3 boils down to the suggestion that
recording the firing of individual cortical cells will not necessarily
show correlations between consciousness and firing in regions where
consciousness arises. Rather, it will show correlations between con-
sciousness and regions where the feedback necessary to generate a
hypothetically conscious LFP pattern arises.
This prediction is perhaps supported by a number of reports that
conscious events correlate best with the firing of individual neurons in
regions well outside the primary and secondary sensory areas. For
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example, various specific visual percepts have been correlated with
the firing of single cells in the medial and inferior temporal cortices
and around the superior temporal sulcus (Logothetis and Schall, 1989;
Leopold and Logothetis, 1996; Scheinberg and Logothetis, 1997;
Krieman et al., 2000; Quian Quiroga et al., 2005). The most convinc-
ing of these experiments concerns binocular rivalry, a paradigm in
which the information presented to each eye of the subject is different
enough so that it cannot be fused into one binocular image but is seen
as two competing images alternately, one percept replacing the other
spontaneously every few seconds. Logothetis and colleagues
arranged for this situation to occur in waking monkeys and correlated
the firing of single cells in various regions of brain with which of the
two figures the monkey reported seeing. In areas V1/2, V4, and V5,
between 60% and 80% of cells depending on the area continued to
respond to their preferred stimulus regardless of whether it was per-
ceived or not. However, in areas IT (inferior temporal cortex) and STS
(upper and lower banks of the superior temporal sulcus) about 90% of
cells reliably predicted the perceptual state of the animal, by firing
only when their preferred stimulus was perceived. Because the exact
moment at which the percept switched was not accessible, these
experiments did not distinguish between early and late firing in V1/2.
In the context of the present hypothesis, the results could be inter-
preted as indicating that most of the firing in early visual areas sub-
serves early feedforward transmission (which does not correlate with
perception), while firing in IT and STS initiates the feedback that is
necessary for perception.
5.4 Another manifestation of the requirement for feedback activity
will be a transient synchronization during the feedback of activity
in these downstream areas and activity in the primary sensory
Coherence or synchrony has been observed as a necessary (though not
sufficient) correlate of consciousness for many years now, but so far
this observation has not been transparently explained in terms of its
being a necessary part of any specific theory of consciousness. The
present hypothesis is that certain LFP patterns are identical with con-
sciousness. There are at least two distinct ways in which synchrony is
important in the generation of LFPs.
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5.4.1 Synchronous firing of many synapses required for
production of LFPs
First, the synchronous firing of many cortico-cortical or thalamo-
cortical axons is necessary to produce measurable LFPs at all. Electro-
physiological potentials are measured as the voltage drop across a
particular resistance. With intracellular recording, the relevant resis-
tance is that of the cell membrane. With extracellular recording, it is
the resistance of the extracellular fluid, which in most locations is
very low compared with the resistance of the cell membrane. By
Ohm’s Law, a given current flow will produce a smaller voltage across
a smaller resistance, so the amplitude of an extracellular epsp is much
smaller than that of an intracellular epsp: extracellular epsps due to
activation of a single pyramidal cell are (probably) unmeasurably
small. In order to produce a measurable LFP, many individual extra-
cellular epsps have to occur close to each other in both space and time.
In fact the extracellular resistance in the neocortex is probably not uni-
form, but acts to impose a low-pass filter on the electromagnetic prod-
ucts of neural activity (Bédard et al., 2004). This means that the
relatively low-frequency fluctuations of epsps are measurable at much
greater distances from their sites of generation than is the case for the
faster action potentials, which allows spatial summation of epsps over
a relatively wide area.
The upshot of all this is that synchronous feedback onto the apical
dendrites of a number of adjacent pyramidal cells results in more sum-
mation and thus larger LFPs. The hypothesis presented in the present
paper predicts that a certain minimum amplitude of LFPs is necessary
for conscious experience. This prediction is supported by the fact that
perception during binocular rivalry is clearly correlated with more
intense spatiotemporal electromagnetic patterns (Tononi et al., 1998).
Thus synchronous feedback onto many adjacent pyramidal dendrites
is a necessary correlate of consciousness according to our hypothesis.
5.4.2 Long-range synchrony as an indicator of feedback activity
A second way in which synchrony is important for the generation of
LFPs is that synchronous neural activity between far-flung regions of
the cortex serves an indicator of the presence of active feedback.
Some difficulty arises with regard to the best method of measuring
feedback-related synchrony. As pointed out above, single-cell tech-
nologies certainly pick up action potentials in the regions where feed-
back originates, but it is far from clear that the cells receiving the
feedback — the cells of interest to the present hypothesis — will nec-
essarily fire as a result of feedback to them. Reverberatory activity has
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to stop sometime, and perhaps the appearance in ‘early’sensory areas
of [conscious] feedback-generated LFP patterns is the normal end-
point of sensory input. On this reasoning it is possible that single cell
recording techniques are better suited to the measurement of feedfor-
ward-related synchrony (Roelfsema et al., 1997; Singer et al., 1997)
than they are to the measurement of feedback-related synchrony.
However, EEG-based phase synchrony measurements (which
examine the accumulated signature of multiple LFPs rather than that
of action potentials per se) do come with their own set of pitfalls. A
major one is related to the inevitable use of a recording reference that
is itself active to some varying degree (Fein et al., 1988; Pockett et al.,
2009). Such problems can easily lead to erroneous conclusions: for
example, one widely cited early report that long-distance synchrony
correlated with face perception (Rodriguez et al., 1999) was later
shown to be repeatable only if recordings were made against a nose
reference contaminated with microsaccades (Trujillo et al., 2005).
However, pace such difficulties, long-distance phase synchrony does
seem to be necessary (Lutz et al., 2002; Melloni et al., 2007; Gaillard
et al., 2009; Tallon-Baudry, 2009), albeit not sufficient (Pockett and
Holmes, 2009; Luo et al., 2009), for conscious perception.
In summary, Prediction 4 of the current hypothesis does appear to
be supported by what relatively little evidence is available.
5.5 Imposition of external EM fields that may or may not vary
temporally, but spatially are unpatterned, will have no effect on
conscious experiences
Life in the twenty-first century involves constant exposure to external
electromagnetic fields. Microwave ovens, wireless LAN networks,
radio and TV broadcasts, cell phones, and a host of other sources
bathe us continuously in EM oscillations in the GHz and MHz ranges.
In a frequency range more relevant to the oscillations generated by
brains, not only high voltage electricity transmission lines but also
such common appliances as hair-dryers routinely supply respectable
levels of 50 or 60 Hz electromagnetism. MRI machines generate enor-
mous magnetic fields, and apart from the occasional visual scintilla-
tion caused by stimulation of the visual cortex in MRI magnets, none
of it has any effect on consciousness.
This is entirely as predicted by the EM field theory of conscious-
ness. According to this theory, the defining feature of fields that are
conscious is not the frequency with which they wax and wane, but
their 3D spatial pattern. All of the aforementioned environmental EM
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fields are spatially unpatterned. One result of their spatial homogene-
ity is that these environmental fields have no effect on the spatial EM
patterns involved in the present theory. In the terminology of physics,
there is no coupling between external and biological fields. The bio-
logically generated spatial pattern defining the conscious experience
simply rides on top of the spatially homogeneous external field, like a
boat on an ocean.
Another, perhaps less fortunate, result of the spatial homogeneity of
common EM fields is that so far there has been no technology-driven
incentive to develop signal processing techniques that would allow
the mathematical description and manipulation of spatial EM patterns.
Development of such techniques will be essential to the advancement
of the EM field theory of consciousness.
5.6 Imposition of external EM fields that are spatially patterned,
in such a way that they do couple with the biologically generated
fields, will affect consciousness
One specific example of this prediction is that imposition of an
inversely patterned external field — one surface positive layer and
two deeper negative layers, each with a strength perfectly tuned to that
of the biologically generated pattern — will cancel the relevant bio-
logical field and thereby obliterate the relevant conscious experience.
This prediction is certainly testable in principle, but at present not
enough is known either about the precise patterns underlying any
given conscious experience or practical means of generating such pat-
terns using hardware to make it testable in practice.
5.7 Prevention of the occurrence of LFPs in the relevant areas
without disruption of the underlying synaptic activity will prevent
the relevant conscious experiences
However, Prediction 7 — that disruption of the LFPs underpinning a
putatively conscious EM field pattern should disrupt the conscious
experience in question — certainly is testable. If the means by which
the LFPs were disrupted simply involved preventing the synaptic
activity that generated the LFPs, the experiment would fail to distin-
guish between the neural identity hypothesis and the electromagnetic
field hypothesis. In order to test the electromagnetic field hypothesis,
it would be necessary to disrupt LFPs without disrupting the underly-
ing synaptic activity. The most straightforward way of achieving this
would be to voltage clamp the LFPs.
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A schematic showing the principle of how a two-electrode voltage
clamp might be used to clamp a negative-going population epsp in
layer 1 of the neocortex is shown in Figure 6. The recording amplifier
measures the difference between electrical events at the recording
electrode and a virtual earth — the result is shown as the negative-
going population epsp (with its associated population spike). The
feedback amplifier then makes a real-time comparison between this
waveform and a command voltage, which in the present case is set to
the virtual earth. Finally current is fed to the current passing electrode
in such a way that the population epsp is neutralized as it occurs. In
practice, the whole sequence of events would probably be best accom-
plished using a single microelectrode which alternates between mea-
suring and passing current — the discontinuous single electrode
voltage clamp technique popularized by Finkel and Redman (1984). It
would obviously be impossible to achieve much of a space clamp in
such an experiment — only the region immediately around the current
passing electrode would be clamped — but this could actually be an
advantage rather than a limitation because it would allow precise dis-
section of the region of most importance in the extracellular electric
field pattern. Optimally at least two independent clamps would be
applied, to control the extracellular voltages in limited regions of both
Figure 6. Schematic showing principles involved in voltage clamping LFPs.
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layer 2/3 and layer 5/6; but according to the present hypothesis,
clamping even one of these areas should disrupt the overall pattern
enough to disrupt the conscious experience.
At present it is far from clear exactly where in the brain the neural
correlates of any given sensory experience are to be found, but the evi-
dence cited in Section 5.2 suggests that the primary sensory area
related to the sensation evoked by any given external stimulus would
be a good place to start. Since most of the ion channels linked to neu-
rotransmitter receptors are not voltage sensitive, controlling the exter-
nal voltage in this region should produce relatively little effect on the
synaptic action that normally generates the LFPs being controlled —
in other words, the synapses should largely continue to work nor-
mally. Whether or not this expectation was fulfilled could in any case
be measured directly, by measuring the current that has to be passed in
order to clamp the extracellular voltage.
Experimental support for the prediction that disruption of con-
scious experiences can be achieved by disrupting LFP patterns with-
out affecting the underlying synaptic activity that produces those
patterns would provide (a) confirmatory evidence for the present
hypothesis, (b) strong support for the wider EM field theory of con-
sciousness, and (c) a potentially useful clinical method of controlling
unwanted conscious experiences like chronic pain. This latter out-
come would provide ethical justification for performing the voltage
clamping experiment in human subjects, who could report verbally
(rather than via pre-trained behavioural actions) on the presence or
absence of particular conscious experiences. However, preliminary
results from animal experiments would probably be necessary to
establish both the technical details and the viability of the test as a
6. Discussion
The hypothesis outlined here has four important features.
First, as a hypothesis it sits squarely within a larger theory, the elec-
tromagnetic field theory of consciousness.
The only theories of the nature of consciousness that compete for
the same intellectual ground as the electromagnetic field theory are (a)
psychoneural identity theory, (b) functionalism, and (c) various theo-
ries that invoke quantum mechanical formalisms. With regard to (a)
and (b), it is difficult to find any very specific statement of the modern
version of the psychoneural identity theory, but its name implies the
basic tenet that psyche is identical with neurons — or neural activity,
or some types of neural activity. Probably the most succinct published
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statement of the idea is Crick’s famous paraphrase of Alice in Won-
derland: ‘You’re nothing but a pack of neurons’ — or, slightly more
precisely ‘[You are] no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of
nerve cells and their associated molecules’(Crick, 1994). Already the
insertion of the phrase ‘the behavior of’ into this latter definition
seems to make The Astonishing Hypothesis (and, inasmuch as the two
can be equated, psychoneural identity theory) uncomfortably similar
to the dogma of functionalism, which says ‘consciousness is a pro-
cess, not a thing’. The electromagnetic field theory of consciousness
blurs this apparent distinction even further, by proposing that con-
sciousness is not a brain process per se, but an electromagnetic prod-
uct of a subset of brain processes — thereby reifying or providing a
physical basis for functionalism’s abstract ‘process’, while at the same
time removing the intuitive difficulties associated with equating func-
tioning neurons per se with consciousness, as psychoneural identity
theory apparently does. With regard to (c), the relationship between
the electromagnetic field theory and quantum mechanical or quantum
field theories of consciousness is presently moot. Several advantages
enjoyed by EM field theory, which QM theories are presently hard
pressed to match, are enumerated below.
The second important feature of the present hypothesis is that it
draws together and provides a coherent explanation for a variety of
empirical observations that otherwise appear unconnected. These
observations include (i) the long-recognized regional variations in
cytoarchitectonics; (ii) the fact that consciousness takes time to
develop; (iii) the fact that recurrent activity is necessary for con-
sciousness; (iv) the importance to consciousness of various kinds of
synchrony; (v) the fact that spatially unpatterned external EM fields
do not affect consciousness; and last but not least, (vi) the recently
recognized inability of humans to perceive the initiation of their own
voluntary actions.
A third feature of the present hypothesis is that it provides a trans-
parent predictor of the circumstances under which consciousness is
possible. Basically, the present hypothesis predicts that nervous sys-
tems (or parts of nervous systems) that do not exhibit 6-layered
cytoarchitectonics will not be capable of generating consciousness.
This provides a basis for answering in principle the vexed question of
whether or not any given animal species is consciousness-capable.
The fourth and arguably most important feature of the present
hypothesis is that it is directly testable. Experimental requirements for
performing the critical tests are outlined in Sections 5.1.2, 5.6, and
5.7. In particular the prediction of the hypothesis that is tested by the
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experiment proposed in Section 5.7 — that alteration of the field and
only the field which goes with a particular conscious experience will
alter the experience — converts the main hypothesis described in this
paper from a merely correlative to a completely mechanistic con-
struct. If this prediction is supported by the proposed experiment, the
simplest explanation will be that the field is the conscious experience.
Of course, if the experiment in Section 5.7 did produce the pre-
dicted result, it would remain logically possible that the EM field was
only a correlate of something else, something completely unknown —
perhaps a dualist phenomenon, inaccessible to science and ultimately
unknowable. But science basically works by means of Occam’s razor
— the simplest explanation is generally accepted, at least for the time
being, as the right one. The argument that something more compli-
cated is the real truth could be made about absolutely anything that is
presently accepted as scientific fact. Perhaps things are not as they
seem. Perhaps there is a completely different explanation, about
which we don’t have a clue. Well yes, perhaps. But it is also possible
that the desire to follow this logically impeccable but scientifically
untenable line of reasoning may be at least a partial explanation for
why philosophers have been hammering away at the mind–body
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... McFadden (2020) and Pockett (2012Pockett ( , 2017 independently proposed an electromagnetic (EM) field theory of consciousness that relies on the formation of local field potentials (LFPs). Their ideas are attractive because they can be objectively evaluated by using the circuits in the pain and attention centers as models. ...
... As in the hippocampus, the pyramidal neurons in both the centers for pain and attention have a very long apical dendrite that branches extensively in laminae I-II (Fig. 6A). The branches intermingle with the dendritic terminals of adjacent pyramidal neurons to form a large field of postsynaptic terminals that are distant from their cell bodies in lamina V (Linden et al 2010;Pockett 2012Pockett , 2017Buzsá ki et al. 2016). ...
... Based on the ideas of McFadden (2020) and Pockett (2012Pockett ( , 2017, I propose the following: high-frequency input from the thalamus and cortex causes the release of Glu from the presynaptic terminals in laminae I-II and the generation of EPSPs in the centers for pain and attention. The influx of Na+ into the very large number of postsynaptic terminals leaves a transient negative charge in the external fluid around the synapses. ...
Full-text available
Studies of consciousness are hindered by the complexity of the brain, but it is possible to study the consciousness of a sensation, namely pain. Three systems are necessary to experience pain: the somatosensory system conveys information about an injury to the thalamus where an awareness of the injury but not the painfulness emerges. The thalamus distributes the information to the affective system, which modulates the intensity of the pain, and to the cognitive system that imparts attention to the pain. Imaging of patients in pain and those experiencing placebo and hypnosis-induced analgesia shows that two essential cortical circuits for pain and attention are located within the anterior cingulate cortex. The circuits are activated when a high-frequency input results in the development of a long-term potentiation (LTP) at synapses on the apical dendrites of pyramidal neurons. The LTP acts via α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, and an anterior cingulate cortex–specific type-1 adenylate cyclase is necessary for both the LTP and the pain. The apical dendrites form an extensive network such that the input from serious injuries results in the emergence of a local field potential. Using mouse models, I propose experiments designed to test the hypothesis that the local field potential is necessary and sufficient for the consciousness of pain.
... In order to highlight the main obstacles of classical EM field theories, the analysis will be confined to the most prominent representatives of this branch and their basic premises (Pockett, 2000(Pockett, , 2002(Pockett, , 2012John, 2001John, , 2002McFadden, 2002aMcFadden, ,b, 2013McFadden, , 2020Fingelkurts et al., 2009Fingelkurts et al., , 2010Fingelkurts et al., , 2013. For a more extensive discussion, see Jones (2013). ...
... While all representatives share the assumption that the brain's EM field is the substrate of consciousness, the various approaches differ significantly in their conceptual underpinnings. One of the theories holds the view that "conscious experiences are identical with certain spatial EM patterns generated by neural activity" (Pockett, 2012). According to other theories, consciousness is thought of as an "emergent property of sufficiently organized energy" (John, 2002), understood as the "inner experience of information. . . ...
... Ultimately, independent of the position, all these approaches consider consciousness as a cosmic latecomer and face the demarcation problem which consists in the challenge of presenting a convincing model that explains what exactly distinguishes EM field patterns which are accompanied by conscious experiences from those patterns or configurations to which phenomenal zero-states are to be assigned. In this regard, the proponents of classical EM field theories are aware of the need for a threshold criterion, emphasizing that conscious experiences are limited to "certain spatial EM patterns" (Pockett, 2012) or "sufficiently organized energy" (John, 2002), or pointing out that the "minimal characteristic of an em field to qualify as conscious must surely be that is possesses sufficient complexity" (McFadden, 2020). However, it remains largely open what counts as sufficiently complex to exceed the threshold of consciousness. ...
Full-text available
The goal of this work is to compile the basic components for the construction of an electromagnetic field theory of consciousness that meets the standards of a fundamental theory. An essential cornerstone of the conceptual framework is the vacuum state of quantum electrodynamics which, contrary to the classical notion of the vacuum, can be viewed as a vibrant ocean of energy, termed zero-point field (ZPF). Being the fundamental substrate mediating the electromagnetic force, the ubiquitous ZPF constitutes the ultimate bedrock of all electromagnetic phenomena. In particular, resonant interaction with the ZPF is critical for understanding rapidly forming, long-range coherent activity patterns that are characteristic of brain dynamics. Assuming that the entire phenomenal color palette is rooted in the vibrational spectrum of the ZPF and that each normal mode of the ZPF is associated with an elementary shade of consciousness, it stands to reason that conscious states are caused by the coupling of the brain to a particular set of normal modes selectively filtered from the full frequency spectrum of the ZPF. From this perspective, the brain is postulated to function as a resonant oscillator that couples to a specific range of ZPF modes, using these modes as a keyboard for the composition of an enormous variety of phenomenal states. Theoretical considerations suggest that the brain-ZPF interface is controlled by altering the concentrations of neurotransmitters, placing the detailed study of the neurotransmitter-ZPF interaction at the center of future research activities.
... This returned 336 hits. From these I identified nine EMF-ToCs (John, 2002;McFadden, 2020;Pockett, 2002Pockett, , 2012Fingelkurts et al., 2013;Barrett, 2014;Zhakenovich et al., 2016;Hales, 2017;Hunt and Schooler, 2019;Keppler, 2021) that are discussed here. This is not intended to be an exhaustive review of the EM-ToC literature but an examination of how well they, as a group, fare against recentlyestablished criteria for evaluation of ToCs. ...
... This is not intended to be an exhaustive review of the EM-ToC literature but an examination of how well they, as a group, fare against recentlyestablished criteria for evaluation of ToCs. A key dividing line within EMF-ToCs is those that predict that conscious brain EM fields influence behavior (John, 2002;McFadden, 2020;Fingelkurts et al., 2013;Barrett, 2014;Zhakenovich et al., 2016;Hales, 2017;Hunt and Schooler, 2019;Keppler, 2021) which I term type 1 or EMF 1 -ToCs , and those, such as Pockett's theory (Pockett, 2011(Pockett, , 2012, which predict that conscious brain EM fields do not influence behavior, which I term type 0 or EMF 0 -ToCs. A third category are those EMF-ToCs that are agnostic on the question of whether consciousness influences behavior, which I term EMF-ToC x theories. ...
Full-text available
Conventional theories of consciousness (ToCs) that assume that the substrate of consciousness is the brain's neuronal matter fail to account for fundamental features of consciousness, such as the binding problem. Field ToC's propose that the substrate of consciousness is the brain's best accounted by some kind of field in the brain. Electromagnetic (EM) ToCs propose that the conscious field is the brain's well-known EM field. EM-ToCs were first proposed only around 20 years ago primarily to account for the experimental discovery that synchronous neuronal firing was the strongest neural correlate of consciousness (NCC). Although EM-ToCs are gaining increasing support, they remain controversial and are often ignored by neurobiologists and philosophers and passed over in most published reviews of consciousness. In this review I examine EM-ToCs against established criteria for distinguishing between ToCs and demonstrate that they outperform all conventional ToCs and provide novel insights into the nature of consciousness as well as a feasible route toward building artificial consciousnesses.
... Las neuronas generan patrones en el campo electromagnético, que a su vez modulan el disparo de neuronas particulares. Una proposición consciente en el sentido de que el campo o su descarga a las neuronas están generando conciencia, pero los procesos de diálogo (crosstalk) interneuronal del cerebro son impulsados por interacciones electromagnéticas deterministas [ 127 ]. ...
El efecto Doppler podría aplicarse a la conectividad neuronal direccional que implica un cambio en la frecuencia ν±Δν de la onda que se mueve en relación con la fuente de la onda, actuando sobre el distanciamiento del circuito neuronal. El orbital 1s del átomo de hidrógeno permite que el espín del electrón suba y baje para emitir a 18 cm del radical hidroxilo y 21 cm de hidrógeno atómico, que combinados forman agua. Esta línea espectral más fuerte del hidrógeno, presente en la Edad Oscura y detectada por radioastronomía desde las galaxias primordiales. Es también emitida por el agua de todos los tejidos, médicamente aplicada para estudios cerebrales, por resonancia magnética (MRI). Por lo tanto, una imagen oscilante del efecto Doppler de la dinámica de distanciamiento-acortamiento permite la conectividad neuronal por sus frecuencias de espectro de emisión. Por lo tanto, el ensayo de coherencia a escalas nanométricas o termodinámica de distanciamiento, equivalente a la fuerza de plasticidad del movimiento neuronal para la conectividad eléctrica. Por lo tanto, su medida de interpretación era equivalente al diálogo (crosstalk) entre neuronas y su elucidación se convirtió en un análogo a una sincronización a un nivel quántico. Las enzimas transmembrana generan la entalpía, acoplada al metabolismo de la glucosa y del clúster de agua (H2O)n=3.4. Los productos CO2 y agua como vapor se exhalan en la boca como entropía. Este modelo integrador permite una perspectiva conjunta de múltiples capas de la realidad, condicionada por la dimensión de la escala. Así, la métrica de la mecánica cuántica podría mostrar los marcos locales para la superposición del espacio y la simultaneidad. La relación termodinámica del cerebro entre las entradas de glucosa y el proceso de entalpía de la energía metabólica (calor), acoplado homeostáticamente a 36,6 ℃ a la ruptura de puente de H del clúster de agua, que en el flujo de líquido cefalorraquídeo (LCR) en los microtúbulos podría circular en estado líquido como dímeros (H2O~OH2) para disipar la entropía como vapor en la cavidad oral. Las capas múltiples a escala neuronal manifiestan el espín en función de la antena para la señalización de la dinámica de conectividad del axón, las dendritas, los microtúbulos y la tunelización. El espacio mielinizado es un sistema termodinámico cerrado, que eventualmente tiende al equilibrio entre entalpía y entropía, en el que la energía no puede producir trabajo. En un axón mielinizado, los Nodos de Ranvier permiten “saltar” de un nodo a otro, operando tramos no mielinizados como canales termodinámicamente abiertos. La termodinámica cuántica permite una secuencia repetitiva de los canales iónicos en el nivel nano de cerrado a abierto, cerrado a abierto, cerrar… Por lo tanto, se conserva un valor máximo de entalpía y la entropía se disipa fuera del sistema, manteniendo el nivel de potencial de acción en estado estacionario. Por lo tanto, los canales de iones podrían volver a suplir las concentraciones de Na+/K+ para la recuperación de una entalpía con una entropía disipativa fuera del sistema. Por lo tanto, una cinética de asociación multiplicativa mediante la sincronización de la emisión de fotones permite una señalización común para la coherencia funcional multineuronal. Este refuerzo es necesario para operar con un ruido casi nulo, para evitar la asincronía caótica. El efecto involucra una escala nanométrica de espacio y tiempo porque está mediado por fotones que se mueven en una fase líquida: 2.25109m/s (0.75 c). Por lo tanto, permitir crosstalk entre neuronas a una velocidad muy alta, integrando el tiempo operativo de los sistemas sincronizando la actividad de los receptores acoplados a la función activadora de la proteína G en las vías insulina/glutamatérgica y catecolaminérgica. El nanoespacio mantiene una alta tasa de colisiones moleculares, maximizando la afinidad a valores de saturación por encima de una concentración baja de hormonas, etc. Los cambios estructurales de las enzimas transmembrana acopladas al metabolismo de la glucosa y la ruptura del puente de H del clúster de agua acoplada podrían alcanzar una entalpía alta y la entropía residual en el sistema. Por lo tanto, las estructuras separadas en el nanoespacio podrían integrar más eficientemente su función, maximizando la conectividad entre las neuronas y los microtúbulos, para un flujo de entrada de sustrato y salida de productos de un sistema abierto operativo. Por lo tanto, el efecto de la insulina a nivel de tirosina quinasa estaría afectando simultáneamente todo el citoesqueleto neuronal del sistema de microtúbulos y el ciclo celular. La termodinámica inanimada del principio de reversibilidad microscópica por la estructura y función necesario para la vida, adaptando al nivel de la membrana un orden cinético vectorial superador de la reversibilidad. A nivel fisiológico celular NA-AC y la autofosforilación del receptor de insulina tirosina quinasa (IRTK) regulan la capacidad de respuesta a las hormonas de concentraciones iónicas, en función de los metabolitos quelantes. Así, un decrecimiento del Mg2+ produce AC desactivado al liberar ATP4- libre y activar IRTK, lo cual, permite una integración de la respuesta hormonal de ambas enzimas mediante controles iónicos. Este efecto podría reemplazar el control de feedback metabólico por carga de energía. En consecuencia, la respuesta hormonal máxima de ambas enzimas, para una concentración alta de Mg2+ y baja de ATP4- libre, permite una correlación con los efectos conocidos de la baja ingesta calórica, que aumenta el nivel de iones libres y podría elevar la esperanza de vida promedio.
... Neurons generate patterns in the electromagnetic field, which in turn modulate the firing of particular neurons. A conscious proposition in the sense that the field or its download to neurons is generating conscious, but the processes of the brain interneuronal crosstalk are driven by deterministic electromagnetic interactions [ 127 ]. ...
The Doppler shift could be applied to directional neuronal connectivity involving change in frequency ν±Δν of wave that is moving relative to the wave source, acting over neuronal circuit distancing. The 1s orbital of the hydrogen atom allows the electron spin-flip up and down to emit radio emission at 18cm from hydroxyl radical and 21cm atomic hydrogen, which combined form water. This strongest spectral line of the hydrogen, present in the Dark Ages and by radio astronomy detected from primordial galaxies, is emitted by the water of all tissues, medically applied for brain studies, by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Hence, a Doppler Effect imaging of the distancing dynamics allows neuronal connectivity by their emission spectrum frequencies. Hence, the assay of nano scales coherence or distancing thermodynamics, equivalent to the plasticity strength of neuronal movement for electric connectivity. Therefore its interpreting measure an equivalent of crosstalk between neurons and its elucidation became an analog to a translation of this unknown process. The transmembrane enzymes generate the enthalpy, coupled to the metabolism of glucose and water cluster. The products CO2 and water as vapor are exhaled at the mouth as entropy. This integrative model allows a joint perspective of multiple layers of the reality, conditioned by scale dimension. Thus, the metrics of the quantum mechanics realm could show the locals frames for superposition of space and simultaneity. The brain thermodynamics relationship between inputs of glucose and the enthalpy process of metabolic energy (heat), coupled homeostatically at 36.6℃ to water cluster H-bond breakdown, which in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow in microtubules could circulate in a liquid state as dimers (H2O~OH2) to dissipate entropy as vapor in the oral cavity. The multi-layers at neuron scale manifest spin in antenna role to signal connectivity for axon, dendrites, microtubules and tunneling. Myelinated space is a thermodynamic closed system, which eventually tends to equilibrium between enthalpy and entropy in which free energy cannot produce work. At a myelinated axon the Nodes of Ranvier “jumps” from node to node operate the unmyelinated stretches as a nano open space-time system. Quantic thermodynamic allows a repetitive sequence at the nano level of close to open, close to open, close … Hence, a maximal value of enthalpy is conserved and entropy became dissipated outside the system, maintaining the action potential level in steady state. Hence, the ions channels could refill the Na+/K+ concentrations for an enthalpy increase of potential hilling up for the recovery of higher enthalpy with dissipative entropy out of the system. Thus, a kinetic of multiplicative association by synchronizing photon emission allows a common signaling for multi-neuronal functional coherence. This reinforcement is required for operating a near null noise, to avoid chaotic asynchrony. The effect involves nano scale of space and time because is mediated by photons moving in a liquid phase: 2.25109m/s (0.75 c). Hence, allowing crosstalk between neurons at a very high velocity, integrating the operative time of systems synchronizing the activity of G-protein-linked receptors in the insulin/glutamatergic and catecholaminergic pathways. The nano space maintains a high rate of molecular collisions, maximizing affinity at saturation values by low concentration of hormones, etc. The structural changes of the transmembrane enzymes coupled to the metabolism of glucose and coupled water cluster H-bond breakdown could reach a high enthalpy to low entropy into the system. Thus, separated structures in nano space could integrate more efficiently their function, maximizing connectivity between neurons and microtubules, for an operative open system inflow of substrate and outflow of products. Hence, the effect of insulin at the tyrosine kinase level would be simultaneously affecting all over the neuronal cytoskeleton of microtubules system and the cell cycle. Thus, overcome the catalytic inanimate thermodynamics for converging from a microscopic reversibility principle to a life itself, adapting at the membrane level a kinetic vectorial order overcoming reversibility. At the cell physiological level NA-AC and insulin receptor tyrosine kinase (IRTK) auto-phosphorylation regulate responsiveness to hormones of ionic concentrations vs chelating metabolites. Thus, a decreased Mg2+produces deactivated AC by releasing free ATP4- and activate IRTK. Thus, allows an integration of the hormonal response of both enzymes by ionic controls. This effect could supersede the metabolic feedback control by energy charge. Accordingly, maximum hormonal response of both enzymes, to high Mg2+ and low free ATP4-, allows a correlation with the known effects of low caloric intake increasing the level of free ions could elevate the average life expectancy.
... This concept of mind is very different than that which has been proposed by reductionist theories of consciousness, such as the electromagnetic field theory of consciousness and the conscious electromagnetic information (CEMI) field theory of consciousness. For example, the electromagnetic field theory of consciousness proposed by Susan Pockett posits that mental processes are a manifestation of neurologically-induced magnetic fields and that the distinction between conscious and unconscious neurological processes is determined by the 3-dimensional shape of a cortically-induced electromagnetic field [63]. Similarly, the CEMI field theory of consciousness proposed by Johnjoe McFadden posits that mental processes are a manifestation of neurologically-induced magnetic fields, but in CEMI field theory, the distinction between conscious and unconscious processes is determined by the interference patterns of electromagnetic waves: constructive interference increases the amplitude of some waves, thereby making them conscious, whereas destructive interference reduces the amplitude of other waves, thereby preventing them from rising to the level of consciousness [64,65]. ...
... The electromagnetic theory of consciousness claims that the electromagnetic field generated by the brain is the actual carrier of conscious experience (Pockett, 2012;McFadden, 2020). Different minds have distinct, characteristic wave forms with recognizable frequencies and intensities in the electromagnetic field of the brain. ...
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A predictive model applicable in both neurophysiological and decision-making studies is proposed, bridging the gap between psychological/behavioral and neurophysiological studies. Supposing the electromagnetic waves (brainwaves) are carriers of decision-making, and electromagnetic waves with the same frequency, individual amplitude and constant phase triggered by conditions interfere with each other and the resultant intensity determines the probability of the decision. Accordingly, brainwave-interference decision-making model is built mathematically and empirically test with neurophysiological and behavioral data. Event-related potential data confirmed the stability of the phase differences in a given decision context. Behavioral data analysis shows that phase stability exists across categorization-decision, two-stage gambling, and prisoner’s dilemma decisions. Irrational decisions occurring in those experiments are actually rational as their phases could be quantitatively derived from the phases of the riskiest and safest choices. Model fitting result reveals that the root-mean-square deviations between the fitted and actual phases of irrational decisions are less than 10°, and the mean absolute percentage errors of the fitted probabilities are less than 0.06. The proposed model is similar in mathematical form compared with the quantum modeling approach, but endowed with physiological/psychological connection and predictive ability, and promising in the integration of neurophysiological and behavioral research to explore the origin of the decision.
... One possibility that arises within GRT and some other field theories of consciousness is that consciousness resides primarily within the various electromagnetic fields generated by matter ( John, 2001;Jones, 2013;McFadden, 2002aMcFadden, , 2002bMcFadden, , 2013Pockett, 2000Pockett, , 2012. In animals, and particularly mammals with complex brains, such fields are the most pronounced and most complex, resulting in a concomitantly rich consciousness. ...
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Tools and tests for measuring the presence and complexity of consciousness are becoming available, but there is no established theoretical approach for what these tools are measuring. This article examines several categories of tests for making reasonable inferences about the presence and complexity of consciousness (defined as the capacity for phenomenal/subjective experience) and also suggests ways in which different theories of consciousness may be empirically distinguished. We label the various ways to measure consciousness the measurable correlates of consciousness (MCC) and include three subcategories in our taxonomy: (a) neural correlates of consciousness, (b) behavioral correlates of consciousness, and (c) creative correlates of consciousness. Finally, we reflect on how broader philosophical views about the nature of consciousness, such as materialism and panpsychism, may also be informed by the scientific process.
The Global Consciousness Project (GCP) operates under the hypothesis that events that elicit widespread emotion or draw the simultaneous attention of a large number of people could affect the output of hardware-generated random numbers. The hypothesis thus suggests that the mind, in some sense, can interact with matter at a distance, a controversial suggestion because such a mechanism could challenge some current understandings. Testing the validity of the hypothesis thus carries substantial merit as negative results would reinforce already established scientific perceptions, whereas positive results would point in the direction of a needed update. In this paper, it is hypothesized that events inflicting a strong emotional response should also trigger the need for information. As such, global internet search trends should correlate with the GCP data, allowing for the hypothesis to be objectively tested. In practice, Google Trends search data is used to construct several search indexes that are correlated with GCP data aggregates using time series statistics. It is found that the GCP data significantly correlates with the indexes and can be used to improve the statistical model's in-sample fit. Furthermore, it is found that out-of-sample forecasts can be made more accurate if the GCP data is used. The results thus point toward the validity of the GCP data hypothesis and that the data produced by the GCP can be put to practical use by, for example, forecasters.
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We present a comprehensive concept for the fabric of reality and the creation of life through the generation and integration of information, modelled through toroidal processing of wave energy. We submit that human consciousness cannot be understood in a reductionist context, but that it is rather an expression of a cosmic modality or a universal consciousness. We therefore introduce a mental attribute of the entire cosmos that for our world, requires a wave-like holonomic description, implying non-material physicalism in a cosmopsychism context. It is postulated that the generation of life in the cosmos requires a symmetry breaking from a 4 th spatial dimension (5-D spacetime) involving a Sub-Quantum domain, that contains information conceptualized as a pro-active ontological essence. Thereby, a multi-layered fractal reality is conceived integrated by a universal toroidal/möbius-ring type of connection. This is described at the level of a sub-Planckian scale, and is instrumental in past/future transactional information processing and pilot-wave guiding. In this framework, the Zero-point Energy Field is seen as a transition zone from the Sub-Quantum domain to our quantum world. In concert they provide an all-pervading superfluid quantum field that enables soliton (electron-phonon quasi-particle)-mediated interaction with non-neural brain compartments, in which hydro-ionic (hydronium ions and Ca2+-ions) are instrumental. In this process, freely moving protons form wave-antennas in the water matrices of the brain that can receive active life-information as the building blocks for conscious moments. Toroidal geometry is also involved in the functional organisation of wave-coherence and interference in brain, to assure a personal memory. In addition, we postulate a global memory workspace, associated with, but not reducible to the brain. This field-sensitive holographic workspace, that exhibits an event horizon information projection, is seen to be involved in predictive coding and quality control of awareness and can be conceived as personal double. The imprinting of life conditions in inanimate (pre-biotic) structures in biological evolution is conceived as a toroidal processing of energy-consciousness providing a non-dual recursive creation of reality. The unfolding of pre-mordial information into the future is described in geometric terms and defined in a "Beyond Fibonacci" type of spiral mathematics that also includes an extra 4 th spatial dimension. Recent studies of others indeed have shown that the creation of life can be conceived as a symmetry breaking of condensed bosons from a 5-D informational phase-space, supposedly through formation of magnetic monopoles in a Hicks setting, again using an essential toric information code. The monopoles, produced in this process, interact with DNA/RNA on the basis of the molecular entities of life such as H2O, carbon and nitrogen-bases, and this supports recent work on the role of oscillatory DNA wave resonance in cellular communication, being crucial for problem solving of life cells for survival in their environment. Boson-mediated symmetry breaking, modelled by toroidal spinor geometry was also described in a bifurcative self-interaction model that assumes supervenience of mental on physical states. It is finally concluded that scale invariant information, being expressed on the holographic event horizons of each individual cosmic entity, provides a unified connective principle that reveals an intrinsic mental aspect of the cosmos.
Conference Paper
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE. The laminar patterns displayed by MR microscopy (MRM) form one basis for the classification of the cytoarchitectonic areas (Brodmann areas). It is plausible that in the future MRM may depict Brodmann areas directly, and not only by inference from gross anatomic location. Our purpose was to depict the laminar cytoarchitecture of excised, formalin-fixed specimens of human cerebral cortex by use of 9.4-T MR and to correlate MR images with histologic stains of the same sections. METHODS: Formalin-fixed samples of human sensory isocortex (calcarine, Heschl's, and somatosensory cortices), motor isocortex (hand motor area of M1), polar isocortex (frontal pole), allocortex (hippocampal formation), and transitional periallocortex (retrosplenial cortex) were studied by MRM at, 9.4 T with intermediate-weighted pulse sequences for a total overnight acquisition time of 14 hours 17 minutes for each specimen. The same samples were then histologically analyzed to confirm the MR identification of the cortical layers. Curves representing the change in MR signal intensity across the cortex were generated to display the signal intensity profiles for each type of cortex. RESULTS: High-field-strength MR imaging at a spatial resolution of 78 X 78 X 500 mum resolves the horizontal lamination of isocortex, allocortex, and periallocortex and displays specific intracortical structures such as the external band of Baillarger. The signal intensity profiles demonstrate the greatest hypointensity at the sites of maximum myelin concentration and maximum cell density and show gradations of signal intensity inversely proportional to varying cell density. CONCLUSION: MRM at 9.4 T depicts important aspects of the cytoarchitecture of normal formalin-fixed human cortex.
The modular organization of nervous systems is a widely documented principle of design for both vertebrate and invertebrate brains of which the columnar organization of the neocortex is an example. The classical cytoarchitectural areas of the neocortex are composed of smaller units, local neural circuits repeated iteratively within each area. Modules may vary in cell type and number, in internal and external connectivity, and in mode of neuronal processing between different large entities; within any single large entity they have a basic similarity of internal design and operation. Modules are most commonly grouped into entities by sets of dominating external connections. This unifying factor is most obvious for the heterotypical sensory and motor areas of the neocortex. Columnar defining factors in homotypical areas are generated, in part, within the cortex itself. The set of all modules composing such an entity may be fractionated into different modular subsets by different extrinsic connections. Linkages between them and subsets in other large entities form distributed systems. The neighborhood relations between connected subsets of modules in different entities result in nested distributed systems that serve distributed functions. A cortical area defined in classical cytoarchitectural terms may belong to more than one and sometimes to several distributed systems. Columns in cytoarchitectural areas located at some distance from one another, but with some common properties, may be linked by long-range, intracortical connections.
The ease with which highly developed brains can generate representations of a virtually unlimited diversity of perceptual objects indicates that they have developed very efficient mechanisms to analyse and represent relations among incoming signals. Here, we propose that two complementary strategies are applied to cope with these combinatorial problems. First, elementary relations are represented by the tuned responses of individual neurons that acquire their specific response properties (feature selectivity) through appropriate convergence of input connections in hierarchically structured feed-forward architectures. Second, complex relations that cannot be represented economically by the responses of individual neurons are represented by assemblies of cells that are generated by dynamic association of individual, featureselective cells. The signature identifying the responses of an assembly as components of a coherent code is thought to be the synchronicity of the respective discharges. The compatibility of this hypothesis is examined in the context of recent data on the dynamics of synchronization phenomena, the dependence of synchronization on central states and the relations between the synchronization behaviour of neurons and perception.