Saturday, July 14, 2007

The origin of non-locality in consciousness

This week, I am going to travel to Salzburg, Austria to attend the Quantum Mind conference.

Here's the abstract of my presentation.

The origin of non-locality in consciousness

Ken Mogi

Sony Computer Science Laboratories & Tokyo Institute of Technology

Quantum mechanics, being an inseparable element of reality, naturally enters into the consideration of every phenomenon that occurs in the physical universe. As far as consciousness is an integral part of the reality as we understand it, quantum mechanics needs to be ultimately involved either directly or indirectly in its origin. In particular, the apparent non-locality and integrity in the phenomenology of consciousness and its physical correlates is suggestive of a quantum involvement.
Here I examine the nature of non-locality in the physical correlates of consciousness and its relation to quantum mechanics. The concept of the neural correlates of consciousness (Crick and Koch 2003), when pursued beyond the currently prevalent role as a practical framework in which to analyze neuropsychological data, logically necessitates a non-trivial emergence through the mutual relation between physical entities and events that constitute cognitive processes in the brain (Mach's principle in perception, Mogi 1999). Since from this standpoint the spatio-temporal histories sustaining the cognitive processes, including, but not necessarily restricted to, the action potentials of the neurons are the essential correlates of consciousness, non-locality becomes a logical necessity in the ingredients of consciousness.
Non-locality has been known to be an essential property of quantum mechanics since its early period (e.g., Einstein, Podolsky, & Rosen 1935). However, the combination of high temperature and large number of degrees of freedom involved in brain activities are usually regarded as definitely precluding any possible quantum effects. However, there exists possible routes of quantum involvement in macroscopic and "warm" phenomena such as brain processes. The key is in the fact that macroscopic objects, although ostensively obeying equations of Newtonian dynamics, rely on quantum effects for the very stability that makes them classic objects in the beginning.
Analysis of an information processing system usually starts from the assumption that its essence can be captured by following those parameters explicitly covarying with the information the system supposedly handles. Quantum mechanical effects hardly enter the picture when only explicitly varying parameters are considered. On the other hand, the implicitly sustaining structures that do not covary with the processed information can contribute to the phenomenal aspects of information, such as qualia and self-awareness.
The ubiquitous role of metacognition, the origin of subjective time, and the way spatio-temporally distributed activities are "compressed" into percepts in conscious experience, are discussed in the context of the implicit and explicit in cortical information processing.


Einstein, A., Podolsky, B., and Rosen, N. (1935) Can quantum-mechanical description of physical reality be considered complete? Phys. Rev. 47 777-780.
Mogi, K. (1999) Response Selectivity, Neuron Doctrine, and Mach's Principle. in Riegler, A. & Peschl, M. (eds.) Understanding Representation in the Cognitive Sciences. New York: Plenum Press. 127-134.
Crick, F. and Koch, C. (2003) A framework for consciousness. Nat. Neurosci., 6, 119-126.
Taya, F. and Mogi, K. (2004) The variant and invariant in perception. Forma, 19, pp.25-37.


Blogger Thoughts said...

But what do you mean by the term "consciousness"? There ois a good description at Time and conscious experience. The section on Relativity, simultaneity, measurement and observation might also be of interest.

10:22 AM  

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