Brain Influences Itself with Its Own Electric Field
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Dec29-10, 07:38 PM
Liveo, Aperion, Pythagorean,
From this link:
How is information coded in neural activity?
It is likely that mental information is stored not in single cells but in populations of cells and patterns of their activity. However, it is currently not clear how to know which neurons belong to a particular group; worse still, current technologies (like sticking fine electrodes directly into the brain) are not well suited to measuring several thousand neurons at once. Nor is it simple to monitor the connections of even one neuron: A typical neuron in the cortex receives input from some 10,000 other neurons.
Although traveling bursts of voltage can carry signals across the brain quickly, those electrical spikes may not be the only—or even the main—way that information is carried in nervous systems.
*Forward-looking studies are examining other possible information couriers: glial cells (poorly understood brain cells that are 10 times as common as neurons), other kinds of signaling mechanisms between cells (such as newly discovered gases and peptides), and the biochemical cascades that take place inside cells.
What is consciousness?
The mechanisms underlying consciousness could reside at any of a variety of physical levels:
molecular, cellular, circuit, pathway,
or some organizational level not yet described
. The mechanisms might also be a product of interactions between these levels. One compelling but still speculative notion is that the massive feedback circuitry of the brain is essential to the production of consciousness
In the near term, scientists are working to identify the areas of the brain that correlate with consciousness. Then comes the next step: understanding why they correlate.
This is the so-called hard problem of neuroscience
, and it lies at the outer limit of what material explanations will say about the experience of being human.