Explainning the consciousness processes by new physical theories

Ken Seto kenseto at erinet.com
Sun Sep 17 02:09:19 EST 1995

Joseph Strout <jstrout at ucsd.edu> wrote:

>> Penrose speculated that the process is quantum mechanical and as such
>> it is not computable. Francis Crick theorized that the process is
>> electrophysiological. Both failed to provide the details how these
>> processes are carried out.

>That's funny, I thought we had this pretty well figured out.  Changes in 
>the membrane potential in one cell causes an influx of calcium through 
>voltage-sensitive channels.  These bind to proteins in the synapse, 
>resulting in the release of vescicles which contain neurotransmitter 
>(e.g., glutamate).  This diffuses across the synaptic cleft and binds to 
>proteins in the postsynaptic cell, causing them to open channels, 
>admitting ions which change the postsynaptic cell's membrane potential.  
>(Of course, there are many other means of communication, but this is 
>probably most typical.)  At which point are we lacking enough detail for 
>you?  [Actually, you could get quite a bit more detail by looking up 
>"synaptic transmission" in any good neuroscience textbook.]

All these processes you described are at the molecular level. The
processes that  I was describing are at the most fundamental
level--like what initiate the processes at the molecular level in the
first place? It is true that I am not familar with the processes at
the molecular level but I didn't think that I need to to explain the
effect of my theory on the initiation of the consciousness process.

>Then is your theory not falsified by the easily measurable and quite 
>reliable delays which occur at all levels of cognitive processing?  
>Simple reaction-time studies controlled for muscle response time, for 
>example.  Or better yet, the activity (measured by EEG or fMRI) in 
>various areas of cortex evokes by a stimulus -- measured in hundreds of 
>milliseconds after the stimulus.  Much slower, in fact, than the speed of 
Again, I should clarify that the processes that I was describing refer
to those that are carry out at the most fundamental level and that
these processes initiate  the processes at the molecular level.

>|    Joseph J. Strout           Department of Neuroscience, UCSD   |
>|    jstrout at ucsd.edu           http://sdcc3.ucsd.edu/~jstrout/    |

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