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Target Article 102

 

 

SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCES OF SPACE AND TIME: SELF, SENSATION, AND PHENOMENAL TIME

by Ram Lakhan Pandey Vimal

21 December 2007, posted 12 January 2008

 

[0]

ABSTRACT

 

The investigation of subjective experiences (SEs) of space and time is at the core of consciousness research.  The term ‘space’ includes the subject and objects.  The SE of subject, I-ness, is defined as ‘Self’.  The SEs of objects, subject’s external body, and subject’s internal states such as feelings, thoughts, and so on can be investigated using the PE-SE framework.  The SE of time is defined as phenomenal time (which includes past, present and future) and the SE of space as phenomenal space. The three non-experiential materialistic models: The quantum-dissipation model of (Pessa & Vitiello, 2003) can connect the discrete neural signals to classical electromagnetic field to quantum field theory and chaos theory to explain memory. The soliton-catalytic model of (Davia, 2006) hypothesizes that all living processes including micro- and macro-processes can be explained by catalysis process. The ‘sensation from evolution of action’ model of (Humphrey, 2000) proposes that SEs are internalized during evolution. All these models can address to some extent the function of structures, such as perception.  They cannot address explanatory gap. The complementary experiential PE-SE framework of (Vimal, 2007a, 2007b) addresses this psycho-physical gap and elucidate the SEs of space and time.

 

 

[1] 

Introduction

 

In subjective experiences (SEs) of space and time, space includes the subject and objects.  The SE of subject, I-ness, is called ‘Self’; this is partly elaborated in (Bruzzo & Vimal, 2007).  The SEs of objects, subject’s external body, and subject’s internal states such as feelings, thoughts, and so on can be investigated using the PE-SE framework (Vimal, 2007a, 2007b).[1]  We can have SEs or first person experiences (1Es) of time, external space (subject and objects), and internal entities (emotions and thoughts).  The SE of time is called phenomenal time (which includes past, present and future) and the SE of space phenomenal space. We need time to bind all spatially disparate information. This time duration can be called ‘duration of present or NOW’, in which spatial-entanglement is involved.  Phenomenal time is elaborated in (Vimal & Davia, 2008).

 

[1a]

In this mini review article, my goal is (i) to compare the three non-experiential materialistic models: (quantum-dissipation model of (Pessa & Vitiello, 2003), soliton-catalytic model of (Davia, 2006), and ‘sensation from evolution of action’ model of (Humphrey, 2000), and (ii) to elaborate the need for the complementary experiential PE-SE framework of (Vimal, 2007a, 2007b) for elucidating the SEs of space and time.

 

 

[2]

Quantum-dissipation (DNSEMFQFT) model vs. soliton-catalytic model

 

The model that connects the discrete neural signals (DNS) to classical electromagnetic field (EMF) using quantum field theory (QFT)[2] and chaos theory, such as DNSEMFQFT model for memory (Del Guidice, Doglia, Milani, & Vitiello, 1988; Pessa & Vitiello, 1999, 2003; Vitiello, 1995; Vitiello, 2001; Vitiello, 2002), is useful in the investigation of Self  and phenomenal time (concisely described later).

 

[2a]

In this model, “Water and other biochemical molecules entering brain activity are, indeed, all characterized by a specific electric dipole which strongly constrains their chemical and physical behavior” (Pessa & Vitiello, 2003).  The electric dipole field can be considered as the fundamental units of the brain rather than neurons (Stuart, Takahashi, & Umezawa, 1978). However, in our view, both are related via neuronal-firing and other electrochemical activities of neurons and astroglia.  In other words, classical electromagnetic field (EMF) arises from the electrochemical activity of discrete neural signals (DNS). The coupling between the classical electrochemical level and the quantum dynamical level (QFT) is analogous to the coupling between classical acoustic waves and phonons in crystals. Intrinsic features of the dissipative quantum model are (1) brain processes are intrinsically and inextricably dependent on the quantum noise[3] in the fluctuating random force in the brain-environment coupling, (2) the chaotic behavior of the trajectories in the space of memory states. In the dissipative model, the ‘brain (ground) state’ may be represented as the superposition of the full set of memory states; therefore, previously recorded/‘printed’ information is not destroyed during current recording. In the non-dissipative model the number of freedom is missing and consecutive information ‘printing’ produces ‘overprinting’ (Pessa & Vitiello, 2003).

 

[2b]

Dipole-rotation- and time-reversal symmetry breaking is equivalent to the recording of information in memory in (Pessa & Vitiello, 2003) model; this meaning of symmetry is different from the shape-symmetry in terms of uniform diameter and structure of microtubules for generating soliton/traveling-wave (Davia, 2006). 

 

[2c]

Dissipative system for avoiding overprinting of new information for new memory in terms of superposition in (Pessa & Vitiello, 2003) model is different from the traveling wave being non-dissipative for robust recording in microtubules (Davia, 2006). 

 

[2d]

According to the email correspondence with Davia on December 3, 2007, “The hypothesis is that the soliton ‘induces’ a coherent state in the microtubule and that any catalytic events are due to this change of phase. Furthermore, solitons are non-dissipative in non-dissipative media. However, the brain is considered an excitable medium. Traveling waves in these media are inevitably dissipative. In the soliton-catalytic model (Davia, 2006), energy is dissipated via structure (fixed points that do not change under transformation).”

 

[2e]

Thus the soliton-catalytic model of (Davia, 2006) does not contradict the quantum-dissipative DNSEMFQFT model of (Pessa & Vitiello, 2003), rather they are equivalent to each other.

 

 

[3]

Sensation from evolution of action (Humphrey’s framework) vs. soliton-catalytic model

 

We need to distinguish perception from sensation.  According to (Humphrey, 1992; Humphrey, 2000), (i) when we see a red rose, we perceive the external presence of a rose of red color (perception) and we also have subjective experience of redness (sensation); (ii) sensation helps keeping perception honest: ‘Sensation lends a here-ness and a now-ness and a me-ness to the experience of the world, of which pure perception in the absence of sensation is bereft’; (iii) sensory quality is largely internal, covert and private; it appeared only after natural selection shaped it; (iv) “In the past my ancestors evolved to feel red this way because feeling it this way gave them a real biological advantage”; (v) ‘self-representations arise through action, and that the “feeling self” may actually be created by those very sensory activities that make up its experience.’; and (vi) the quality of sensations (or SEs), though private today, has been shaped by natural selection in the past as a result of evolution: the primitive activity of sensing slowly became privatized from the overt public behavior and transformed into internal mental activity. The soliton-catalytic model of (Davia, 2006) may be consistent with idea that sensation is the result of internalization of action via evolution and natural selection using the traveling wave. For example, when red light fell on the skin of primitive amoeba-like animal (floating in the ancient sea), it detected it and made a characteristic wriggle of activity (it wriggled ‘redly’) (Humphrey, 2000). This wriggle can be considered as due to traveling wave of soliton-catalytic model, which when got internalized during evolution might have led to SE redness in humans.  However, the explanatory gap remains in Humphrey’s framework unless the PE-SE framework is invoked in the process of privatization.

 

 

[4]

PE-SE framework

 

The above models can be called ‘non-experiential materialistic’ model because SEs are assumed to be the emergent property of network or field, and hence has explanatory gap. Perception may be explained to some extent by DNSEMFQFT model and soliton-catalytic model; Humphrey’s model can address how sensation evolved from action. However, to address the explanatory gap, we need PE-SE framework (Vimal, 2007a, 2007b), which is a complementary to all non-experiential materialistic models because it allows experiential entities such as SEs of subject, objects, time, and so on into ‘non-experiential materialistic’ models.

 

 

[5]  

Self

 

Temporal-entanglement is needed for the continuity of Self (Bruzzo & Vimal, 2007). Self is invariant with time as Self is preserved until death, although it is interrupted during sleep, anesthesia, and when subject is unconscious.  The invariance of the dynamics of Self requires assigning a conserved entity over time. This time-invariant entity could be long-range spatiotemporal correlations, which is like collective modes, such as Nambu-Goldstone (NG) boson modes in quantum field theory, that are wave-like and generated dynamically (Pessa & Vitiello, 2003). In soliton-model of (Davia, 2006), the emergent of Self may also include extra-neural interaction of the soliton/traveling-wave (energy) carrying self-related information with self-related structures (Northoff & Bermpohl, 2004; Northoff et al., 2006). In PE-SE framework, Self is the SE of subject or I-ness.

 

 

[6]  

Phenomenal time

 

Once the of electrical-dipole-rotational-symmetry and time-reversal symmetry are broken by recording new information (represented by a coherent condensation of the NG bosons), (a) ‘NOW you know’ occurs, (b) ‘arrow of time’, a partition in time evolution, and the distinction between the past and the future are introduced in brain dynamics, and (c) one moves forward in time (Pessa & Vitiello, 2003).

 

[6a]

The spatial invariance of the phenomenal time requires assigning a conserved entity over space. This space-invariant entity could be long-range spatial correlations, which is wave-like collective modes, such as QFT-NG boson modes. They can be generated dynamically, which can explain memory (past) (Pessa & Vitiello, 2003). They can propagate over whole brain spatiotemporally. They are the carriers of the order in terms of long-range (a) spatial correction for the present phenomenal time, (b) temporal correlation for past phenomenal time, and (c) spatiotemporal correlations to maintain continuity of Self until disintegration during death. The past in terms of memory could also be recoded in microtubule-network (Woolf, 2004; Woolf, 1998; Woolf & Hameroff, 2001; Woolf, Zinnerman, & Johnson, 1999). In soliton-model of (Davia, 2006), the emergent of the phenomenal time may also include extra-neural interaction of the soliton/traveling-wave (generated during neuronal-firing) carrying time-related information with motion or flicker related structures, such as motion area V5, for CFF.

 

 

[7]

Phenomenal space

 

Space can be addressed by its following aspects: (i) Physical space: Compton wavelength of the electron is about 2.43x10-12 meter; proton’s diameter[4] is 1.6 to 1.7×10-125m. (ii) Perceptual rate for space (phenomenal space): this is cutoff frequency and is measured in cycles per degree (cpd) using grating and psychophysical method. It is about 60 cpd (Campbell & Green, 1965). Photoreceptor array in the human visual system can resolve in the order of ~150 cpd (Curcio et al, 1990; Miller et al., 1996; Roorda and Williams, 1999).[5] Hyper- or Vernier-acuity[6] is about 10 arc seconds; see also (Waugh & Levi, 1995; Waugh, Levi, & Carney, 1993).

 

 

[8]

Integration of reductive and non-reductive views

 

In reductive views, all phenomena can be reduced to the characteristics of elementary particles. However, before the introduction of PE-SE framework, elementary particles are considered as non-experiential material entities. That is why explanatory gap appeared. In PE-SE framework, all elementary particles such as electrons are considered to have all kinds of SEs in superimposed form. Therefore, all phenomena including mental entities can be reduced to physics because of the elemental-PEs. Since SEs are also consistent with non-reductive views, both reductive and no-reductive views can be integrated.

 

[8a]

According to (van Leeuwen, 2007), “When the visual system is stimulated, within a few hundreds of milliseconds all these neurons become engaged in a pattern of activity. I shall refer to the mechanisms that give rise to this pattern as the inner loop. […]  External factors contribute on a huge variety of time scales: evolution, development, socialization, learning, task and both indirect … and instantaneous … perception/action contingencies. Let us call the totality of all these interactions the outer loop.”  Both inner and outer loops resonate for the emergence of SEs.

 

 

[9]

Integration of implicit (state-approach) and explicit (dynamic-approach) views

 

According to (Jordan & McBride, 2007) “In the implicit-assumption camp are those who conceptualize consciousness via terms such as states and representations (in what follows we will simply refer to this as the state approach). This way of conceptualizing consciousness entails implicit assumptions about the stability of consciousness because it focuses on conscious phenomena (e.g., memories, intentions, qualia and thoughts) that persist long enough to be considered individual conscious events entailing both content (i.e., the phenomenal ‘feel’ of a memory, intention or thought — see Bailey’s contribution) and causal efficacy (i.e., the ability of memories, intentions and thoughts to make things happen in one’s cognitive architecture). […]

      In contrast to the implicit-assumption camp, those in the explicit assumption camp approach the issue of conscious stability directly. That is, their research focuses on the temporal dynamics by which conscious phenomena such as memories, intentions and thoughts come to be stable. […]

      Given that state and dynamics theorists disagree as to where to look for consciousness, it is not clear to what extent the two can be integrated. […] One might, for example, utilize the notion of ontological relativity mentioned in Atmanspacher’s contribution [(Atmanspacher, 2007)]. According to this framework, one makes ontological assumptions about phenomena at a lower level of scale (i.e., one assumes the phenomena at that level truly exist as described by science), so that one can use the entities at that level to make epistemological statements (i.e., statements based on observation) about phenomena at a higher level. For example, one might make ontological assumptions about chemistry in order to make epistemological statements about biology.

A similar distinction is played out in Anderson’s contribution [(Anderson, 2007)] which distinguishes between realist approaches that make claims about what is metaphysically real and antirealist approaches that make claims that are relativized to a particular epistemic perspective. […]

      To be sure, there are many other possible combinations of varieties of realism and beliefs about science and reality. The point here is not to advocate one, but to simply make the case that the differences between state and dynamics theorists are not necessarily problematic. One can, for example, make ontological assumptions about the dynamics approach (i.e., believe that consciousness ultimately is a temporally-grounded multi-scale phenomenon) while simultaneously being epistemic about the state approach (i.e., statements about what consciousness is are restricted, when speaking scientifically, to epistemologically accessible phenomena that can be measured). Being aware of one’s ontological assumptions in this manner might help to stave off arguments about a science of consciousness that emerge from one’s simultaneous belief in various forms of realism. If this approach were to take hold, an integrated science of consciousness might ultimately come to be in which participants achieve an increased awareness of how their scientific assumptions play out in the varieties of realism.”

 

[9a]

Thus, the integration of various views is possible and needed to reveal the truth.

 

 

[10]

Conclusion

 

The three non-experiential materialistic models: (quantum-dissipation model of (Pessa & Vitiello, 2003), soliton-catalytic model of (Davia, 2006), and ‘sensation from evolution of action’ model of (Humphrey, 2000) can address to some extent the function of structures, such as perception.  They cannot address explanatory gap. The complementary experiential PE-SE framework of (Vimal, 2007a, 2007b) addresses this psycho-physical gap and elucidate the SEs of space and time. Various views can now be integrated.

 

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REFERENCES

 

Anderson, D. L. (2007). Consciousness and Realism. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 14(1-2).

 

Atmanspacher, H. (2007). Contextual Emergence from Physics to Cognitive Neuroscience. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 14(1-2), 18–36.

 

Bruzzo, A., & Vimal, R. L. P. (2007). Self: An adaptive pressure arising from self-organization, chaotic dynamics, and neural Darwinism. Submitted to Journal of Integrative Neuroscience (JIN) on September 25, 2007 and accepted for publication in December 2007: http://www.geocities.com/rlpvimal/Self-Bruzzo-Vimal-Short.pdf. Longer version is at http://www.geocities.com/rlpvimal/Self-Bruzzo-Vimal-Long.pdf.

 

Campbell, F. W., & Green, D. G. (1965). Optical and retinal factors affecting visual resolution. J Physiol, 181(3), 576-593.

 

Davia, C. J. (2006). Life, Catalysis and Excitable Media: A Dynamic Systems Approach to Metabolism and Cognition. In J. Tuszynski (Ed.), The Emerging Physics of Consciousness. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer-Verlag.

 

Del Guidice, E., Doglia, S., Milani, M., & Vitiello, G. (1988). Coherence of electromagnetic radiation in biological systems. Cell Biophys, 13(3), 221-224.

 

Humphrey, N. (1992). A History of the Mind. London: Chatto & Windus.

 

Humphrey, N. (2000). The privatization of sensation. In L. Huber & C. Heyes (Eds.), The Evolution of Cognition (pp. 241-252). Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.

 

Jordan, J. S., & McBride, D. M. (2007). Concepts of Consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 14(1-2), viii–xii.

Northoff, G., & Bermpohl, F. (2004). Cortical midline structures and the self. Trends Cogn Sci, 8(3), 102-107.

 

Northoff, G., Heinzel, A., de Greck, M., Bermpohl, F., Dobrowolny, H., & Panksepp, J. (2006). Self-referential processing in our brain--a meta-analysis of imaging studies on the self. Neuroimage, 31(1), 440-457.

 

Pessa, E., & Vitiello, G. (1999). Quantum dissipation and neural net dynamics. Bioelectrochem Bioenerg, 48(2), 339-342.

 

Pessa, E., & Vitiello, G. (2003). Quantum noise, entanglement and chaos in the quantum field theory of mind/brain states. Mind and Matter, 1, 59-79.

 

Stuart, C. I. J., Takahashi, Y., & Umezawa, H. (1978). On the stability and non-local properties of memory. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 71, 605–618.

 

van Leeuwen, C. (2007). What Needs To Emerge To Make You Conscious? Journal of Consciousness Studies, 14(1–2), 115–136.

 

Vimal, R. L. P. (2007a, July 16-20). Proto-experiences and Subjective Experiences. Paper presented at the Quantum Mind 2007, The University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria. Consciousness Research Abstracts: a service from the Journal of consciousness Studies; pages 110-111 (abstract number 111); see also <http://www.sbg.ac.at/brain2007/ > : P31 (July 17): <http://www.geocities.com/vri98/PE-SE-QMind-2007-Vimal.pdf>.  For longer version of the article that contains comments of some colleagues, see http://www.geocities.com/rlpvimal/PE-SE-Vimal-Long.pdf.

 

Vimal, R. L. P. (2007b). Proto-experiences and Subjective Experiences. Available: http://www.geocities.com/rlpvimal/PE-SE-Vimal-Short.pdf; submitted to 'Mind and Matter' for review on 10 October 2007. See also http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/MindBrain/message/10910.

 

Vimal, R. L. P., & Davia, C. J. (2008). How Long is a Piece of Time? - Phenomenal Time and Quantum Coherence - Toward a Solution. Quantum Biosystems, (In the process of addressing reviewers' comments: "Can be published after major revision"); available at http://www.geocities.com/rlpvimal/Vimal-and-Davia-Phenomenal-Time.pdf.

 

Vitiello, G. (1995). Dissipation and memory capacity in the quantum brain model. International Journal of Modern Physics, B9, 973–989.

 

Vitiello, G. (2001). My double unveiled: The dissipative quantum model of the brain. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

 

Vitiello, G. (2002). Dissipative quantum brain dynamics. In K. Yasue & M. Jibu & T. Della (Eds.), No Matter, Never Mind, (pp. 43-61). Amsterdam: Senta, Benjamins.

 

Waugh, S. J., & Levi, D. M. (1995). Spatial alignment across gaps: contributions of orientation and spatial scale. J Opt Soc Am A Opt Image Sci Vis, 12(10), 2305-2317.

 

Waugh, S. J., Levi, D. M., & Carney, T. (1993). Orientation, masking, and vernier acuity for line targets. Vision Res, 33(12), 1619-1638.

 

Woolf, N. (2004). Microtubules in Consciousness and Cognition: Could Transport of Receptors and mRNA be Involved? Journal of Consciousness Studies, 11(12).

 

Woolf, N. J. (1998). A structural basis for memory storage in mammals. Prog Neurobiol, 55(1), 59-77.

 

Woolf, N. J., & Hameroff, S. R. (2001). A quantum approach to visual consciousness. TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences, 5(11), 472-478.

 

Woolf, N. J., Zinnerman, M. D., & Johnson, G. V. (1999). Hippocampal microtubule-associated protein-2 alterations with contextual memory. Brain Res, 821(1), 241-249.

 

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This paper has been published :

 

Vimal, R. L. P. (2007). Subjective experiences of space and time: Self, Sensation, and Phenomenal time. Vision Research Institute: Memo No. 101. Available: http://www.geocities.com/rlpvimal/Vimal-SE-space-and-time.pdf and http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/MindBrain/message/11199 .

 

Ram Lakhan Pandey Vimal

 

Vision Research Institute, 428 Great Road, Suite 11, Acton, MA 01720 USA; Dristi Anusandhana Sansthana, A-60 Umed Park, Sola Road, Ahmedabad-61, Gujrat, India; Dristi Anusandhana Sansthana, c/o NiceTech Computer Education Institute, Pendra, Bilaspur, C.G. 495119, India; and Dristi Anusandhana Sansthana, Sai Niwas, East of Hanuman Mandir, Betiahata, Gorakhpur, U.P. 273001, India

 

Corresponding address:

Ram Lakhan Pandey Vimal, Ph.D.
Professor (Research)
Vision Research Institute,
428 Great Road, Suite 11, Acton, MA 01720, USA
Ph: +1 978 263 5028; eFAX: +1 440 388 7907
     Emails:<rlpvimal@yahoo.co.in>,<rvimal@mclean.harvard.edu>
URLs: <http://www.geocities.com/rlpvimal/>; <http://www.geocities.com/vri98/>, <http://www.geocities.com/das00m/>

 



[1] The proto-experience (PE) and subjective experience (SE) or PE-SE framework postulates that all types of SEs (quality of sensations) are superimposed in elementary entities such as fermions and bosons. These elementary entities are therefore non-specific to a specific SE and behave as non-experiential material entities. This misleads us that there is the explanatory gap. However, if this type of superposition is correct, then co-evolution and co-development can result neural-nets where SEs can emerge. Thus, the PE-SE framework is complementary to all reductive models. Further details are given in http://www.geocities.com/rlpvimal/PE-SE-Vimal-Long.pdf.

        In the Hameroff’s post http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/jcs-online/message/5635, it appears that one of the main arguments for ‘dendritic web’ being responsible for consciousness hinges on the hypothesis that the axonal-dendritic neuro-computational feedback networks of the brain fails to explain the correlation of consciousness with gamma synchrony. However, it is not clear that the gamma synchrony is the only neural correlates of consciousness (NCC) or even is a NCC!  ‘Consciousness’ is a confusing term because it has different meaning to different people.

        For subjective experience (SE), essential ingredients are wakefulness, attention (for access awareness), re-entry, (working) memory, and proto-experiences (Vimal, 2007). In my view, there are 4 channels for information transfer: (i) Classical axonal-dendritic networks, (ii) Quantum dendritic webs with gap junction, (iii) Astro-glia-neuron interaction, (iv) Extra-cellular electromagnetic field (such as generated by spikes).  Their contributions to SE are not clear and are debatable. My view is that (i)-(iii) might be involved in specific and (iv) in non-specific information transfer. Assigning (1) to autopilot or non-conscious processing and (2) to pilot or consciousness is debatable. It may depend on how one defines the terms 'consciousness', 'unconscious' and 'non-conscious'.

 

 

[2] QFT is quantum field theory of electromagnetic field induced during neuronal firing and signal transmission in neurons. Therefore, although there is no evidence of Orch OR in a neuron, quantum mechanics can still be applied via QFT.

 

[3] Noise (i) may prevent capture by collapse into some unwanted state (attractor), (b)may provide protection against unwanted perturbations (including thermalization) and contributes to the stability of the memory state, and (c) may lead to the emergence of novel entity.

[4]  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton .

[5] See http://webvision.med.utah.edu/KallSpatial.html

[6] “The degree to which a pair of fine lines can be aligned to each other. A normal observer will demonstrate an accuracy of 10 arc seconds and a repeatability of 5 arc seconds.” < http://www.photonics.com/directory/dictionary/lookup.asp?url=lookup&entrynum=5559&letter=v>.