On the character of consciousness

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Annila , A J 2016 , ' On the character of consciousness ' , Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience , vol. 10 , 27 . https://doi.org/10.3389/fnsys.2016.00027

Title: On the character of consciousness
Author: Annila, Arto Jaakko
Contributor organization: Department of Physics
Biochemistry and Biotechnology
Date: 2016
Language: eng
Number of pages: 15
Belongs to series: Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience
ISSN: 1662-5137
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fnsys.2016.00027
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/163075
Abstract: The human brain is a particularly demanding system to infer its nature from observations. Thus, there is on one hand plenty of room for theorizing and on the other hand a pressing need for a rigorous theory. We apply statistical mechanics of open systems to describe the brain as a hierarchical system in consuming free energy in least time. This holistic tenet accounts for cellular metabolism, neuronal signaling, cognitive processes all together, or any other process by a formal equation of motion that extends down to the ultimate precision of one quantum of action. According to this general thermodynamic theory cognitive processes are no different by their operational and organizational principle from other natural processes. Cognition too will emerge and evolve along path-dependent and non-determinate trajectories by consuming free energy in least time to attain thermodynamic balance within the nervous system itself and with its surrounding systems. Specifically, consciousness can be ascribed to a natural process that integrates various neural networks for coherent consumption of free energy, i.e., for meaningful deeds. The whole hierarchy of integrated systems can be formally summed up to thermodynamic entropy. The holistic tenet provides insight to the character of consciousness also by acknowledging awareness in other systems at other levels of nature's hierarchy.
Subject: 114 Physical sciences
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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