On the possibility of universal neural coding of subjective experience

Consciousness and Cognition 8 (4):423-446 (1999)
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Various neurophysiological experiments have revealed remarkable correlations between cortical neuronal activity and subjective experiences. However, the mere presence of neuronal electrical activity does not appear to be sufficient to produce these experiences. It has been suggested that the explanation for the neural basis of consciousness might lie in understanding the reason that some types of neuronal activity possess subjective correlates and others do not. Here I propose and develop the idea that this difference may be caused by the existence of an elementary nonarbitrary linkage between temporal or spatiotemporal patterns of neuronal activity and their subjective attributes. I also show how cortical neural circuits capable of generating experience-coding patterns could emerge during evolution and brain development, due to the presence of spontaneous stochastic neuronal activity and activity-dependent synaptic plasticity. This hypothesis leads to several testable predictions, principal among which is the idea that the neural correlates of consciousness are essentially innate and universal.



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