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October 2021

A physiologically based approach to consciousness

Journal/Book: New Idea Psychol. 1999; 17: the Boulevard Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford Ox5 1GB, England. Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd. 271-290.

Abstract: The nature of a scientific theory of consciousness is defined by comparison with scientific theories in the physical sciences. The differences between physical, algorithmic and functional complexity are highlighted, and the architecture of a functionally complex electronic system created to relate system operations to device operations is compared with a scientific theory. It is argued that there are two qualitatively different types of functional architecture: (a) electronic systems have the instruction architecture based on exchange of unambiguous information between functional components, and (b) biological brains have been constrained by natural selection pressures into the recommendation architecture based on exchange of ambiguous information. The mechanisms by which a recommendation architecture could heuristically define its own functionality are described, and compared with memory in biological brains. Dream sleep is interpreted as the mechanism for minimizing information exchange between functional components in a heuristically defined functional system. The functional role of consciousness of self is discussed, and the route by which the experience of that function described at the psychological level can be related to physiology through a functional architecture is outlined.

Note: Article Coward LA, POB 470, Elmendorf,TX 79112 USA

Keyword(s): consciousness; cognitive architecture; memory; dream sleep; physiology; complex systems; SYSTEMS

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