Final.Thoughts.Consciousness.Intelligence - Final Thoughts...

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Final Thoughts on Consciousness and Intelligence D. O’Malley, 2006 First, I welcome further discourse on consciousness, language, intelligence, AI or any other areas of neuroscience that have tweaked your interests. Sorry we could not cover all of this. I am interested in your thoughts on how to determine the point on the phylogenetic tree where consciousness first appears. My final consciousness slides (slide set is now posted; under Course Documents) lay out some considerations of consciousness that, to me, seem quite central to our understanding both the nature and the functional role of conscious experience. One is that consciousness (or its underlying neural mechanisms) creates an ongoing temporal record of virtually every salient event and stimulus occurring within our sensory range. I believe that animals share this temporal record (albeit not a linguistic record). The key functions for this record would seem to be two-fold: to provide the data necessary for extracting higher order associations occurring throughout the day and to enable the making of optimal (or at least better) decisions. By storing a temporal record of ongoing events it seems that this would enable making associations of things that are separated in time—in effect enabling “coincidence detection” of things that were separated in time but coincident in some other manner. Such associations would naturally be important in decision making. Incidentally, daily creation of this record uses up huge numbers of synapses and I suspect that sleep is required for consolidating good synapses and rebooting unnecessary synapses (rebooting would be converting them from active synapses back to silent synapses; wonder if LTD occurs during sleep?). I believe that consciousness is a mammalian or higher-vertebrate invention that depends importantly on the local circuit properties of neocortex as well as the wider connectivity patterns of cerebral cortex; this in conjunction with thalamocortical circuits and the brainstem transmitter systems (see p. 678 in textbook). This seems more plausible to me than the alternative, which is that consciousness penetrates very deep into
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This note was uploaded on 04/21/2008 for the course BIO 101 taught by Professor Pott-santone during the Spring '08 term at Northeastern.

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Final.Thoughts.Consciousness.Intelligence - Final Thoughts...

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