Neural Darwinism and Consciousness
Topics:Theory of Consciousness
Keywords:Dynamic core; Edelman; Neural Darwinism; Thalamocortical system; Complexity; Degeneracy; Reentry
Deposited by:Dr Anil Seth
Date of Issue:2005
Journal/Publication Title:Consciousness and Cognition
Abstract:Neural Darwinism (ND) is a large scale selectionist theory of brain development and function that has been hypothesized to relate to consciousness. According to ND, consciousness is entailed by reentrant interactions among neuronal populations in the thalamocortical system (the â€˜dynamic coreâ€™). These interactions, which permit high-order discriminations among possible core states, confer selective advantages on organisms possessing them by linking current perceptual events to a past history of value-dependent learning. Here, we assess the consistency of ND with 16 widely recognized properties of consciousness, both physiological (for example, consciousness is associated with widespread, relatively fast, low amplitude interactions in the thalamocortical system), and phenomenal (for example, consciousness involves the existence of a private flow of events available only to the experiencing subject). While no theory accounts fully for all of these properties at present, we find that ND and its recent extensions fare well.