electromagnetic/brain waves

Zamanlf zamanlf at aol.com
Fri Mar 22 12:06:24 EST 1996

Dear Mariela,

	Thank you for your stimulating comments on my thinking about
electromagnetics and brain waves. I do believe, however, that you fail to
understand the basic issue concerning whether or not electromagnetic
theory can provide a general theoretical approach to brain wave dynamics
and consciousness.

	The first proponents--of any general theoretical approach that
ultimately is validated--often misstep in the initial development of
theory. Classical mechanics is one of the best examples of this. The
precursor of Newtonian mechanics, which was the theory of impetus first
proposed early in the 14th century, was incorrect in the specific concept
of inertia that was advocated. Newton later separated the chaff from the
wheat concerning this idea, however, and came up with his “System of the
World,” which he probably would have been unable to do if a theory of
impetus--however flawed it was--had not been available to him. Later
still, Einstein completely overthrew the concept of inertia altogether,
replacing it with a nonEuclidian concept of  spacetime, which he also
would have been unable to do if Newtonian mechanics had not been

	The fact that missteps were made in the first applications of the
concepts of electromagnetics to biology in previous centuries, by Galvani,
Mesmer and others, thus in no way proves that the concepts are
fundamentally irrelevant and can never be reconsidered in the light of new
evidence. That is what I am in fact doing, showing that in the light of
new neurophysiological evidence concerning nervous system statistical
dynamics, the cortex magnetic field can now be understood to represent a
macroscopic “order parameter” of cortex statistical dynamics. It allows
one to view the flow of multiunit spike activity (axonal discharge) into,
through, and out of the cortex in electrodynamic terms. The proposed
theory or model of  brain waves does not in any way represent a return to
Galvanian or Mesmerian Metaphysics, any more than Einstein’s theory of
Browian motion or quantum mechanics in the 20th century represents a
return to Early Greek Atomism. It represents a novel application of
electromagnetic theory to a problem in neurophysiology--the statisical
dynamics of the flow of multineuronal spike activity through the nervous
system--that has remained unsolved for many decades.

	In addition, if the magnetic field indeed is a high-level order
parameter of nervous system statistical dynamics, then it also may be
directly related to consciousness, which also appears to be some sort of
high-level order parameter of nervous system operation. That is what the
paper Consciousness, Causality and the Faraday Law also proposes.
Consciousness may be a physical phenomenon that, when properly understood,
can be explained in physical terms. The connection between consciousness
and the magnetic field is a legitimate proposal that can be investigated
scientifically, one that would directly relate consciousness to the
physiological processes known to produce, perception, thought,
sensorimotor control, etc. Maybe there is a flaw in this. Maybe it is
another misstep in the application of electromagnetic principles to
biology,  but even so--similar to impetus theory--it could still represent
a first step that, when later modified in the light of more complete
evidence, will lead to a valid science of consciousness.

	None of this is intended to “reduce” consciousness to a “kinetized
physics” of  the motion of neurobiological “particles,” however. Physical
theory in the 20th century has moved far away from a strictly Newtonian
viewpoint of the universe. There may be aspects of consciousness that
somehow can separate themselves from the underlying neurophysiological
substrate, thereby making consciousness appear irreconcilable with a
material universe. Nevertheless, there may be concepts of 
electromagnetics, quantum theory, etc. developed in the future that will
permit the apparently “nonphysical” aspects of consciousness and physical
matter to be understood as different but complementary sides of the same
coin. The future of the science of consciousness is wide open to those
with the vision to see it, and the objectivity to pursue it.

Fred Zaman

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