Scientific Understanding of Consciousness
Consciousness as an Emergent Property of Thalamocortical Activity

Perception, Memory, Consciousness

Perception, memory, and consciousness are closely intertwined.  The basis for consciousness is "the self" comprised of the entire ensemble of neurons and their synaptic connections laid out by genetics and continually modified via neuronal plasticity through a lifetime of experience and interactions with the environment.  The neuronal network is, in general, never completely idle but in a quiescent state with neurons firing at about five spikes per second, and with neural signals circulating throughout the network in a reentrant fashion, always functioning recursively via the synaptic connectivity pattern to represent the ever-changing thoughts of perception.

Firing rate of a neuron is an ever-changing dynamic value that depends upon the momentary participation of the neuron in a neuronal assembly.

I conceptualize the self as the molecularly-engraved synaptic network representing a person’s genetic endowment combined with the rich assortment of synaptic efficacies inscribed by worldly experience.

Neuronal activity in a subset of the network synapses comprises a perception or a reenacted memory. This instantaneous neural activity involving a mental image of perception, together with the sense-of-self neural activity, comprises the dynamic core of consciousness, Our experience of consciousness is an emergent property of the neural activity of the dynamic core.

A perception involves the activation of a widespread but sparse neural subnetwork within the self.  The network activity involved in perception results in average neural firing rates of about a hundred spikes per second in a widely distributed, sparse pattern of activity, significantly different from the quiescent rate of about five spikes per second., which will continue to exist for most neurons and synapses in the network

Neural stimulation from the senses finds its way via highly-used neural pathways into a pattern of millions of synaptically connected neurons similar to the patterns activated in similar prior perceptions.  This perceptual pattern stimulates and activates the pattern of similar neural memories.  The neural activity of the pattern of a perception (mental image) with the memory comprises the dynamic core of consciousness.  The neural activity of the dynamic core results in the emergent property of consciousness, which is discussed in a consciousness diagram.

A memory is the reactivation (or reconstruction) of a perception.  Of course no memory is an exact reenactment of the original perception, which entailed a pattern of millions of neurons widely extensive but sparse in the cortex and supporting subcortical structures, which would have been modified, and probably extensively modified, by subsequent similar perceptions and memory reenactments.

Consciousness is an emergent property of the convolution of a perception with memory.


Research Study — Dendritic Spines GABAergic Inhibition Shapes Neuronal Activity  - highly focal inhibitory action is mediated by a subset of GABAergic synapses that directly target spine heads. GABAergic inhibition participates in localized control of dendritic electrical and biochemical signaling.


    Link to — Human-type consciousness

    Link to — Consciousness Subject Outline

    Further discussion — Covington Theory of Consciousness