Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tononi's conscious mind

An article on Giulio Tononi's work on the brain basis of consciousness has just been published in Science & Consciousness Review. Henri Montandon reviews some of the recent publications by Tononi. Excerpt from the article:

"Tononi’s writings are noteworthy for his grounding in phenomenology, and his lucid style of presentation. He has noticed three aspects of conscious experience:

  1. given any definition of “conscious state”, the brain produces an infinity of them;
  2. each conscious state is prime, rather in the sense of a prime number; it cannot be deconvoluted into lesser states. Tononi terms this characteristic the “integration” of a state;
  3. conscious experience unfolds in well defined intervals, about 100 to 200 milliseconds to develop a fully formed sensory experience, about 2 to 3 seconds for a single conscious moment.
It is these three observations which Tononi seeks to understand in his information integration theory of consciousness. He discusses two hypotheses:
  1. consciousness corresponds to the capacity of a system to integrate information
  2. the quality of consciousness is determined by the informational elements of a complex, which are specified by the values of effective information among them."

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