electromagnetic/brain waves

Zamanlf zamanlf at aol.com
Sat Mar 16 10:16:25 EST 1996

For your information, here is my response to an offhand analysis of the
abstract of my paper given in ai philosophy newsgroup:

	I would like to reply to your appraisal of my forthcoming paper,
Consciousness, Causality and the Faraday law, to be presented in April at
the Tucson II conference: Toward A Science of Consciousness 1996:

          (1) The internally-generated magnetic (MEG) fields of  the
nervous system ultimately may or may not prove to be a significant factor
in consciousness, but the idea cannot rationally be rejected outright
based on facile arguments about the supposed interference of external
magnetic fields. The nervous system’s internally-generated electric (EEG)
fields, through the extracellular ionic currents they produce in the
cortex and elsewhere, are known be important in nervous system dynamics.
Would you suggest, however, that this actually cannot be true, because if
it were, external electrostatic fields--those of thunderclouds for
example--would interfere with the nervous system’s conscious and mental
processes? And what would you use as evidence for such a thesis? Would you
count as confirmatory evidence the fact that you do not go crazy,
hallucinate, or get distorted perceptions of reality when thunderclouds
are overhead? That obviously is nonsense, and the same is true for the
corresponding argument concerning the nervous system’s magnetic fields.
          The internally-generated magnetic fields of the nervous system
are undoubtedly minutely-detailed in their space-time architecture
(obviously they become more diffuse outside the cortex and skull). The
significance of these fields for nervous system dynamics simply cannot be
decided on the basis of ill-formed arguments (or experiments) concerning
the absence of gross external interference effects. The field architecture
on which consciousness depends, and through which external interference
may be consciously demonstrated, may be so minutely detailed as to
preclude any realistic attempt to externally impress consciously perceived
fields upon the brain (famous last words--where there is a will, there
often is a way).

          (2) If you truly want to refute the idea about a possible
connection between consciousness and the MEG field, you first need to
learn about the principles of electromagnetics and neurophysiology on
which the idea is actually based. It is obvious from your comments that
you know very little about the subject. In point of fact, the proposed
connection does not contradict any of the well-known facts about the
cellular organization and biochemical basis of nervous system dynamics. In
point of fact, it also explains important aspects of the statistical
dynamics of large-scale neuronal assemblies, notably those aspects
discovered by Marcel Verzeano and others in several decades of research
(1953-1981), that to this date have remained unexplained by anyone. It
thus represents a pioneering effort in the endeavour to define nervous
system dynamics in terms of a wide range of well-documented experimental
data. The paper to be presented at the Tucson II conference, which
discusses the electromagnetic and neurophysiological bases of  the
proposed connection between consciousness and the MEG field, is a serious
work and deserves to be treated as such.

          (3) Your intial reaction is understandable, however; the
proposed connection between consciousness and the MEG, from the
perspective of conventional theory in electromagnetics and
electrophysiology, indeed appears to be a crazy (irrational) idea. But
then so have many of the ideas that later proved to be foundation stones
in the development of modern physical theory (Young’s wave theory of
light, Faraday’s field theory of electromagnetism, etc). Reality sometimes
is crazy (not comprehensible in terms of rational thought), as modern
quantum physics has clearly demonstrated. Perhaps the seemingly crazy idea
of a relationship between consciousness and the nervous system’s magnetic
(MEG) fields ultimately will prove to be yet another foundation stone in
modern physical theory--achieving that status by placing consciousness and
the mind squarely within the framework of classical and quantum physics,
and thereby completely overthrowing the Cartesian mind-matter dualism.

Fred Zaman

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