According to the theory, all we need to solve the difficult problem of consciousness is to change our assumptions about it. When we realize that consciousness is a relatively physical phenomenon, the mystery of consciousness disappears by itself.
How does 3 pounds of brain tissue create thoughts, feelings, mental images and a detailed inner world?
The brain’s ability to create consciousness has baffled humans for thousands of years. The secret of consciousness lies in the fact that each of us has a subjectivity, with the ability to feel, feel and think. Unlike being under anesthesia or in a deep, dreamless sleep, while awake we don’t live “in the dark” – we experience the world and ourselves. However, it remains a mystery how the brain creates a conscious experience and which part of the brain is responsible for this.
According to Dr. Nir Lahav, a physicist from Bar-Ilan University in Israel: “This is quite a mystery because it seems that our conscious experience cannot come from the brain, and in fact cannot come from a physical process.” Strange as it may sound, conscious experience in our brains cannot be found or traced back to neural activity.
dr. Zakaria Nehme, a philosopher from the University of Memphis, says: “Look at it this way, when I feel happy, my brain will create a distinct pattern of complex neural activity. This neural pattern will be completely associated with my conscious sense of happiness, but it is not my actual feeling. It’s just a neural pattern that represents My happiness. Therefore, a scientist who looks into my mind and sees this pattern must ask me what I feel, because the pattern is not the feeling itself, but only a representation of it.” For this reason, we cannot diminish the conscious experience of what we feel, feel and think in any brain activity. We can only find correlations for these experiences.
After more than 100 years of neuroscience, we have very strong evidence that the brain is responsible for shaping our conscious faculties. So how can these conscious experiences exist nowhere in the brain (or in the body) and not be reduced to a complex neural activity?
This puzzle is known as the difficult consciousness problem. It is such a difficult problem that until two decades ago only philosophers talked about it. Even today, although we have made tremendous strides in our understanding of the neuroscientific basis of consciousness, there is still a satisfactory theory explaining what consciousness is and how to solve this difficult problem.
in the magazine boundaries in psychologydr. Lahaf and Dr. Nehme recently published a new theory of physics that claims to solve the difficult problem of consciousness in a purely physical way. According to researchers, the mystery of consciousness fades away on its own if we change our assumption about consciousness and assume it is a relative phenomenon. In the article, the authors develop a conceptual and mathematical framework for understanding consciousness from a relativistic point of view. According to Dr. Lahav, the paper’s lead author, “must examine consciousness using the same mathematical tools that physicists use with other known relativistic phenomena.”
Consider another relativistic phenomenon, constant velocity, to understand how relativity solves the difficult problem. First, let’s choose two monitors, Alice and Bob. Bob is sitting on a train traveling at a constant speed and Alice is watching him from the platform. There is no absolute physical answer to the question “What is Bob’s speed?” The answer depends on the observer’s frame of reference. From Bob’s frame of reference, he will measure that he is standing still and that Alice, along with the rest of the world, is moving backwards. But from Alice’s frame of reference, Bob is the one who moves and she stands still. They have opposite dimensions, but both are correct, just from different frames of reference.
We find the same situation in the state of consciousness because consciousness is, according to the theory, a relative phenomenon. Now Alice and Bob are in different cognitive frames of reference. Bob will measure that he has conscious experience, but Alice only has brain activity without any sign of actual conscious experience. On the other hand, Alice will measure that she has consciousness and Bob has only nervous activity without any evidence of his conscious experience.
As in the case of speed, although there are opposing measurements, both are correct, but from different cognitive frames of reference. Because of this, from the relative point of view, there is no problem that we measure different properties from different frames of reference. The fact that we cannot find the actual conscious experience while measuring brain activity is because we are measuring from the wrong cognitive frame of reference.
According to the new theory, the brain doesn’t create our conscious experience, at least not through calculations. The reason we have conscious experience is because of the physical measurement process. In short, different physical measurements in different frames of reference show different physical properties in these frames of reference, even though these frames measure the same phenomenon.
For example, suppose Bob measures Alice’s brain in the lab while she is feeling happy. Although they observe different features, they are actually measuring the same phenomenon from different points of view. Because the types of measures differ, different types of characteristics have appeared in cognitive frames of reference.
In order for Bob to observe brain activity in the lab, he must use measurements from his senses, such as his eyes. This type of sensory measurement shows the substrate that causes brain activity – neurons. So, in his cognitive frame, Alice has only neural activity representing her consciousness, but no sign of her actual conscious experience itself.
However, Alice uses different types of measurements to measure her neural activity as happiness. She doesn’t use senses, she measures her neural representations directly through the interaction between one part of her brain and other parts. It measures its neural representations according to its relationships with other neural representations.
This is a very different measurement from our sensory system, and as a result, this type of direct measurement exhibits a different kind of physical property. We call this quality conscious experience. As a result, Alice measures her neural activity as a conscious experience from her cognitive frame of reference.
Using the mathematical tools that describe relativistic phenomena in physics, the theory shows that if the dynamics of Bob’s neural activity could be changed to the same dynamics as Alice’s neural activity, both would be in the same cognitive frame of reference. and exactly the same conscious experience as the other.
Now want Dr. Lahaf and Dr. Nehme continues to investigate the minimum number of accurate measurements a cognitive system needs to create consciousness. The implications of such a theory are enormous. It can be applied to determine which animal was the first animal in the evolutionary process to have consciousness, which patients with disturbances of consciousness are conscious, when a fetus or child begins to become conscious, and which artificial intelligence systems the current low (if only ) degree of consciousness.
Reference: “A Relativistic Theory of Consciousness” by Nir Lahav and Zakaria A. Grace, Available May 12, 2022. boundaries in psychology.