The ‘Physical’, Functional ‘Mind’.

Between Brain and Transfinity

Reciprocal Transactional Information Transfer


Just what is the evidence for a physical, functional mind? Invisible entities require indirect but consistent evidence of their physical existence, unless we conclude it has no independent existence and, like colors, depends on a visible substrate brain. Unlike in colors, brain substrates require to be living and introspectibly accessible by the beholder to give testimony of its existence as the embodiment of the conscious state. No brain, no mind. But what are the distinctive functional properties of the conscious state of self and others? A thermostat can be aware of subtle changes in ambient temperature and be programmed to respond in precise ways without itself being aware of its own identity and that of others. This is probably the situation of most subhuman species and intelligent robots. What is our conscious relation to self and others? We need to be able to represent others first perceptually as sense-phenomenal objects or events and then, with the assistance of memory, conceptually as thoughts or beliefs of their physical existence in their absence. These correspond to first order and second order representations respectively. The phenomenal awareness of the thermostat, as electronically reported, lacked the subjective dimension that has ‘feel’, or that it is like something to experience, as linguistically reported (or not) during consciousness. When the perceptual reality becomes familiar and presents no threats to the species biopsychosocial (BPS) integrity or equilibrium we develop reflex responses to their subsequent presence and need only to become aware of their physical or memory presence, not necessarily conscious. When the perceptual or conceptual presence is unfamiliar, we need to find meanings absent from the first and second order representations. We need to access the brain consumer faculties, especially the language faculty, to elaborate alternatives of responses (if any) in the form of third order symbolic or sentential representations based on our native language as the basis on which to apply rational logic principles on the one hand and ethical/moral learned standards on the other hand. We briefly discuss the neuro-anatomical substrates of emotions and how they may influence the decision-making process we posit to be enacted at the cortical attractor phase space of pre-motor area. Finally we speculate on the possible neuronal networks involved in reciprocal transactional information transfer between brain and transfinity as an explanation of possible sources of righteous guidance and inspiration for those historical prophets who under adversity, in the absence of organized religions, were able to perform altruistic acts contrary to nature and self interest in observance of universal laws of ethics and moral behavior.


Most objective and dedicated neuroscientists, philosophers, engineers, mathematicians, theologians or psychiatrists will agree that either the human mind is embodied in the brain or somehow depends on it for its existential functionality. Yet, as Ramon y Cajal early on experienced, a biopsy of any deep or superficial brain tissue would immediately reveal the incompleteness and insufficiency of the redundant, ubiquitous neuronal sameness, that which to the naïve investigator seems necessary and sufficient at first sight. The most elementary understanding of the ‘mind’ requires an interdisciplinary approach and a neutral open mind to accept the immanent and the transcendental, the perceptual sensory facts and the conceptual inferences, the invisible micro and the cosmological macro, the intuitions and revelations, the physical and metaphysical. This we call a physical grasp of a functional mind.
To begin understanding the mind you need first to understand how is the human brain organized, structurally and functionally. Like in most advanced subhuman species the brain responds in a stereotypical way to internal (body proper) and external environmental threshold stimulation that posit a potential threat to the biological integrity of the organism. The stereotypical reflex response to sensory stimulation involves the activation of genetically inherited, neuron-coded archetypes which adaptively avoid or repel the offending stimulant at unconscious levels with the prominent participation of the brain’s amygdaloidal body. It is presumed that, as part of the protective scanning process inherited, we also acquire by learning the ability to code for, and store in memory, equivalent neuronal network archetypes by associating the stimulus with the particular environmental context previously registered in memory as dangerous, thus adding a new subconscious dimension to the processing. The hippocampus complex plays a significant role in providing the memory of the context in which the object/event sensed was considered dangerous. This is usually termed the subconsciously-activated acquired/learned memetic component to distinguish it from the unconsciously-activated inherited/genetic component. The latter represents a first order account/representation which may be modified (complemented/supplemented) by memories and stored as second order representations now available (hippocampus complex) for further conscious, third order representation-processing if needed.
Sense-phenomenal accounts (or their non-phenomenal equivalents) in the form of original memory experiences can be further modified depending on the neuro-hormonal activation induced at any relevant stage of the modification. This adds an additional emotional layer which will play a significant influence also at later stages in the decision-making process. It is fair to assume that first order genetic, hard wired archetype representations are unconsciously recalled to preserve the biological integrity of the species and existed long before the thalamo-cyngulate gyrus was able to elaborate emotions in response to neuro-humoral system co-participation. It is important to remember that the unconscious amygdaloid avoidance response to a sensory object/event can be elicited long before such object/event was possibly witnessed by the subject and consequently this first order representation lacks emotions associated with pleasurable mental well being or social acceptance. This does not imply that previous Lysenko-type environmental coding may get incorporated into the genetic code for further propagation. How? Quare.
However, as the newborn sensory system develops, especially the amygdaloid-cyngulate gyrus projections, a second order representation becomes possible. Now a context analysis becomes another protective layer differentiation between the lion behind the zoo bars as distinguished from one freely roaming in a jungle setting. Now body postures, facial expressions, sounds and sightings add a new dimension to the protective reflex activity operating at subconscious levels of integration. As the neocortex development continues past toddler age, a new, most important layer of protection, beyond the subconscious second order representation, becomes available as soon as an introspective self analysis is able to discover that ‘I’ am the subject experiencing that jungle sight, hearing that roaring sound. If the experience is familiar and safe, according to genetic and memetic data base comparisons, there is no need for further processing; as when driving through my rough neighborhood while texting a message! If unfamiliar, e.g., lions escaped the zoo and roam the neighborhood streets, the amygdaloid first and hippocampus second order representations are necessary to activate the avoidance reflex and fight/flight response but not sufficient to guarantee the psychic and social equilibrium beyond the biological safeguards. Emotions run high because it’s me in fear. The sense phenomenal pathways are all activated, including both the thalamic alert reticular activating system (RAS) and the thalamic gates connection to the matured cyngulate gyrus where emotional feelings are stored and ready to be mobilized by the central hypothalamus and peripheral (sympathetic/parasympathetic) autonomic system as part of a coordinated Cannon response that includes hormonal activation, e.g., suprarenal. Any adaptive response to an unfamiliar novelty can be the result of immanent unconscious or subconscious reflex activity, as discussed, but it would be incomplete until we analyze the contextual meaning of that novel object, event or thought, we need to access whatever consumer neuronal networks are available in the brain (or elsewhere?), e.g., the language faculty and the third order representations therein available. Can its rational analysis efficaciously interfere and influence preceding and subsequent reflex activity? Can emotions trump the rational activity? The answer to both questions is yes and it depends on the individual and his existential circumstances, all because of that uniquely human species attribute we call conscious free will.

Both these levels of protective, automatic processing can be interfered with by a self-conscious will to act against self interest as will be discussed below for altruistic behaviors. The next level of sensory input processing deals with the search for meaning of unfamiliar/novel objects/events experiences in anticipation of an adequate adaptive response. This brings into play the role language, free will, cognition and emotions have in the decision-making process and the associated brain geographies most likely participating. That is to say, stereotyped reflex behaviors, inherited or learned, are hardwired and normally not subject to volitional control by the subject, except as noted. The acquired elements constitute the conditioned movement patterns that arise in learning processes. The conscious processes will eventually identify the probabilities of adaptive success of action targets and goals preceding volitional behaviors subsequently executed by the patterned generation and mobilization of neuromuscular activity in cortical premotor-neuron pools.
We need to stay focused on what we mean when we say we are ‘conscious’, it means only that we are in a state of mind where introspectively we can differentiate between the novel object/event being experienced at that instant and ourselves as the subject or observer, i.e., a self conscious state. Only then can we begin the search for ‘what’ that experience means to ME, my health, my mental well being or my social relationship with others, for what we have reserved the term biopsychosocial equilibrium or BPS equilibrium for short. For reasons that we have analyzed and detailed elsewhere, we have singled out this precise moment as a very probable instant where thought and language are co-generated to participate in the elaboration of a dynamic (editable) mindscape where perceptual and conceptual aspects are integrated as the unit basis for a probable final rational response. The final stage in the decision-making process is related to ‘how’ we feel emotionally with that choice as compared to competing adaptive solutions. Which one can ‘I’ freely consent to and be happy with the short and long term consequences?

Interestingly, one can see the rational mind, in its axiologic quest for universal principles, as being continuously challenged by existential, neuro-humoral-assisted, individualized emotional demands for human biopsychosocial survival in a real space-time world of impending dangers and species competition. Yet, survival of the human species ultimately requires one common source of righteousness encompassing the virtues of Lux, Veritas et Vitae. One may properly ask, what is the ideal combination of these competing imperatives. What is more important in shaping the proper human personality, the inherited or the learned, is there a third alternative? Should BPS circumstances or theological revelations guide our existential behavior? After all, we cannot deny that emotional memories, when integrated into cognition, will chisel out much of the configuration of our personal universal values. Yet history has recorded the lives of prophets living before the existence of organized religions that have withstood the embattled stresses of existence, have ignored negative emotional influences when making decisions and instead opted for the free conscious choice of universal values as found -or not- in secular codes of ethics and theological scripts of moral behavior. What or where was their source of guidance and inspiration? How did it happened, and why? Ultimately, is it all about our individualized existential survival or the idealized collective survival of the species? Is that the equivalent of a living BPS equilibrium or the idealized goal, respectively?

One may conveniently conceptualize life, physicalist’s style, as a reflective reflex experience. Reflex because the Sherrington elements adequately explain most of our lifetime experiences, not very different from other advanced subhuman species. The elements range, from the bottoms up, internal, external and propio-receptors, afferent interneurons, thalamic relay and alert stations and a sensory cortex. From the topside down we complete the arc by processing the sensory input and transferring the results to premotor cortex to control the motor cortex neuron pool in the selection of the adaptive efferent motor neurons to activate the smooth or skeletal musculature or gland into an effector response. As noted, this reflex control involves genetic and memory neuronal archetype activation.
In the absence of significant neuro-humoral, body proper or external environmental sensory inputs the brain depends on memory recalls to sustain at least a state of subconscious awareness, if not consciousness, before it lapses into sleep. This should not be construed as an incapacity for continued memory storage, e.g., recall of REM dreams. The brain also spends considerable energy processing working memories into more permanent forms for retrieval access, comparing them to previous records and modifying the details of the appropriate sensory modality when needed.

This level does not include either the volitional conscious behavior or the brain’s language faculty participation. They are originated and sustained instead by both pre-programmed hard wired reflexes (controlled along the neuraxis spinal cord, brainstem, etc.) of genetic origin and learned and stored conditioned reflexes.

However, according to the dynamic BPS model, conscious free will can significantly influence and efficiently suppress these types of reflex behaviors in response to exigent circumstances inspired by self BPS equilibrium preservation or contrariwise, even against self interest in altruistic situations. We can demonstrate how athletes can learn to modify their previous hard wired neuromuscular patterns of movement by consciously willing the new modification results. This claim obviously brings yet another dimension of species preservation that escapes the certainty grasp of scientific methodology and metaphysical logic apprehension. It is precisely the self-evident activity of being able to consciously control nature’s genetically imposed reflex behavior patterns at will that forces a metaphysical logic complementation to the measured results from scientific methodology. Because of the well known limitations in the sensory and computational resolution capacity of the human brain a hybrid conceptual approach is imposed to integrate the physical ontological with the metaphysical epistemological, the perceptual with the conceptual, i.e., an epistemontological BPS model. Of course we also have the choice of a self-imposed view of existential reality by limiting ourself to exclusively consider the measurable, falsifiable aspects of reality. But we can also consciously choose to remove the physical blinders and gamble on the open-ended probability calculus predictions offered by quantum theory instead of the assumed certainty of the perceptually obvious and ignoring everything else relevant but outside the direct or instrument-aided observation threshold. This approach requires a flexible, multidisciplinary attitude. A willingness to occasionally serve time inside that frustrating cyclic prison of speculations going nowhere, or going to positive or negative infinities, etc. Dark matter baryons, God’s particles, brainßàtransfinity reciprocal, transactional information transfer, intelligent design, etc. are but a few examples of theoretical platitudes. But before we fly we need to crawl and then walk through the quick sand of unfamiliar disciplines to learn about the physical brain and the metaphysical mind and how they are related to the living and the self conscious state. Before we navigate from the unconscious and subconscious manifolds briefly outlined above, we need to get more familiar with the physical brain substrate where the seemingly metaphysical mind is embodied in terms of higher order neural network representations. Is this enough? We think not until we develop and incorporate the probability of reciprocal transactional information transfer between human neocortex and transfinity in an effort to better understand the source of righteousness and the intelligent design that theologians and prophets have sketched in human recorded history.

Our wakeful life in a familiar environment is characterized by and large by learned responses to known objects or events that require our immediate or delayed attention and disposition. With the exception of olfaction, most other sensory information input arriving from receptors have a synaptic relay station at the thalamus before proceeding to the sensory alerted cortex as noted above. Once being subjected to a comparison analysis with memory sensory data, if novel, it gets stored for future use while the search for meaning continues before a response is executed. In very general terms, information input into memory reservoirs is controlled by NMDA synaptic receptors which, upon depolarization and long term potentiation, substitute receptor channel Mg++ for Ca++ that now flows and finds its way into the synaptic cytosol. Its presence triggers the genetic expression of required synaptic proteins. If sensory input is recognized as safe and familiar, reflex connections to cortical premotor area will subconsciously unleash the appropriate learned effector responses retrieved from memory storage.
The search for an adaptive response starts at the previously reticular activated primary sensory cortex and travels to hippocampus and cingular cortex. From first person reports and measurements the most retrievable memories are usually experiences associated with both high-emotional content and duration, especially if the memory has been reinforced by previous deliberate or accidental recalls. Measurements include EEG, MEG, fMRI, ERP (Event–Related-Potentials) and local electrode recordings of thalamo-cortical reciprocal synchronization of information exchanges. This exchange between thalamic intralaminar nuclei and superficial pyramidal cell dendrites generating the elusive beta waves is most interesting in that it provides fidelity of information transfer from thalamic relays across all cortex layers. What is more significant to us is the association of the object or event with meaningful cognitive inferences within the context of the subject’s BPS circumstance which makes it more accessible for retrieval.

Sometimes, for didactic purposes, one can simplify complexity for the purpose of orientation. One may conceptualize a living brain as operating at two different wakeful cognitive states: awareness and self-conscioussness. As noted earlier, awareness depends on genetic/memory sensory input and stereotyped, involuntary motor output forming a reflex loop of varying degrees of involuntary motor sophistication and operating at non-conscious levels of activity as they may be generated from the the wakeful or sleep states. The self-conscious subject, on the other hand, can go beyond the genetic and memory repertoire of resources and consciously improvise new solutions for similar or novel contingencies of the perceptual or conceptual variety arising from internal or external environment stimuli. Another additional exclusive feature of the self-conscious state is that it can amplify weak stimulations and select which of several sensory/abstract events to concentrate on and in what sequence. Only the self-conscious state can willfully rehearse and parade previous relevant scenarios stored in cortical attractor phase spaces for comparison, modification or actual adoption as the final choice response. Memory recalls and sensory hyper-stimulation initiate, reinforce and sustain the awakened state, self conscious or not.
Emotions, per se, do not have an independent existence absent the subject that experiences them. As noted, emotion qualia are generated and sustained by neuro-humoral mechanisms and exert unsuspected influence on our ‘rational’ analysis and conclusions during the decision-making process. The higher the emotional valence content of the stored memory the easier can it be retrieved into active conscious participation. Another neuro-anatomical region very poorly investigated is the *neocortical, frontal lobe ‘working memory’ area 46 linking to the contiguous Broca Area during the elaboration of the ’silent speech’ that accompanies thought. It is worth noting that arcuate fibers connect the area 46 with the parieto-temporal angulat gyrus (Wernickes area 39) where audio-visual language input is being transmitted to Broca’s area.
At what stage do emotional contents enter into an ongoing decision-making process? We may never be able to answer that question to satisfy our curiosity about its lack of significant negative influence in subjects that had previously lived under stress, illness and other circumstances that naturally breed contempt and ill feelings, we are referring to those few historical prophets living before the advent of the organized religions to guide and shape their own behaviors and others. Based on neuro-anatomical-physiology data we are inclined to suspect that there may exist separate but dynamically interactive perceptual phenomenal and conceptual epistemological processes guided by the language faculty.
We have already visited the subconscious stage during the second-order context analysis where ongoing sensory inputs (body language, sounds, etc.) are played out in the context of emotional memories. We saw how, e.g., primary and secondary occipital audiovisual cortices exchange information with the temporal hippocampus formation via the inferior longitudinal fasciculus as this crosses the entorhinal cortex on its route to the central autonomic center, the hypothalamus, where involuntary reflex motor responses are coordinated. The confusion comes when we register delayed information transfer (motor?) into neo cortical representations that bypass the thalamic relay stations, as when the amygdala projects into frontal cortex and insula. The hippocampus also projects along fornix to hippo-thalamic mamillary bodies before it then returns to anterior thalamus to control input synchronization into cingulate gyrus. The medial dorsal thalamic (MD) relay nucleus represents another important transitory gate to the prefrontal neocortex involved in the thalamo-cortical synchronization that possibly plays a role in the conscious playback rehearsal of probable pre-existing scenarios as coded for alternative responses in cortical attractor phase space. They play a role in dynamically modifying/updating and integrating these reservoirs of information as to their content of relevant emotional or cognitive content as it cascades into the decision-making process.
We speculate these pathways are more concerned with the decision-making process and, if associated with the beta wave of the EEG, it may well provide one of several still missing links connecting the brain with transfinity, whatever that may turn out to be?

Limbic System diagram
When we speak of the axiology of behavior we are exclusively referring to the universally accepted values in the self-conscious state, not the immanent affective pain/pleasure considerations that always guide subhuman species social behavior and often control the human individual actor. We do not inherit the qualia associated with our social behavior, we inherit the archetype first order representation whose phenotype quale expression is triggered and conditioned by the specific, ongoing neuro-humoral and biopsychosocial circumstances of the subject. Until someone is able to describe the ‘God gene’ we will assume that the secular-ethical and theological-moral values as such are, by and large, the result of learned behavioral standards and not the inherited non-conscious biological urge for food and sex satisfaction, the psychic feeling of well being and self-esteem, social acceptance and recognition. This distinction is critical because it suggests that, just like the practice and rehearsal of stereotyped reflex behavior and the concomitant recall of the associated positive emotional valence qualia forms good BPS habits, the same results can be argued for the formation of conditioned, ethically and morally-inspired reflex behaviors and neuro-chemically mediated good addictions! Again, since environmentally-acquired influences plays such an important role in such character formation, how did it happen to some special, selected few people living under so many adverse conditions at a time in history when such organized positive guidance and influences were absent. Was it a revelation reaching their brains? Originating where? Self generated or originating in transfinity?
During the elaboration of an attractor alternative subsequent to first and second order scrutiny of novel input stimuli arriving consciousness for further assessment as to its meaning to the subject’s economy, the focusing is in the language parsing and selection of conceptual content best explaining the meaning of the novelty at hand. The perceptual second order representations may be modified but only in later stages when the final selection of this alternative may be considered. This is the stage of co-generation of thought and silent inner language content. We believe that the sequencing of all sensory inputs and their integration into one unit has already occurred and the focus now is on the cognitive epistemological aspects.
As previously noted, personal, family, neighborhood and cultural influences will provide the personality background against which the new situation will play out for comparison and judgment purposes before qualia considerations enter the picture. The subjects acquired cognitive ability to properly structure the language representations of the new situation, i.e., language of thought (LOT) symbolic or sentential representations of predicates of subject ‘I’, for comparison with an accepted ethical or moral standard, when available, will determine the righteousness of the decision outcome. And so will the neuro- muscular control of behavior expected to follow during its implementation. There may be pre-existing attractor solutions containing one or more such elements (e.g., conditioned responses, neuro-humoral and physical ability to implement response, emotional qualia, etc.) of the new situation awaiting a response. The most important considerations are usually not based on the axiological righteousness of the selection but on plain biological survival and reproductive priorities such as the preprogrammed neuromuscular, neurohumoral considerations that effectively brings the expected movement to the intended target goal during execution. This means that the cortical premotor attractor probability has to match the postural convenience and efficiency of movement as controlled by basal ganglia and cerebellum respectively. Adequate muscle tone and autonomic neuro-chemical control of involuntary muscles and glands are assumed even though decisions are made during the wakeful state when self consciousness is regained and postural gross and fine control of movements is accessible and ready to be willed into action by targets and goals that impose the appropriate muscle tone balance between agonists and antagonist effectors. Once a given response plan is willed the details of what follows in the execution is already compiled.
In other words, preceding the righteousness and correctness of behaviors in the decision-making process for selecting and initiating behavioral patterns out of the repertoire of cortical attractor probabilities, there are biological imperatives that control the selection, not to mention the psycho-social well being pressures likely to be generated during the selection. At the same time the language faculty is dynamically adjusting its inner language content to ‘rationalize’ and eventually report on the decision.
The generation of silent inner language at the beginning of the third order representation has two aspects. The motor aspect is based on the production of those sounds characterizing the chosen language framework being used (alphabet, syllables, phrases) during content generation. Somehow meanings result from the combination of sounds, language structure (positioning of subject, its predicates and syntax) and the corresponding conditioning behavior pre-programmed.
Summary and Conclusions.

In general, it has been difficult for investigators to accept that, e.g., driving on a dangerous, but familiar, curvy road in the mountains while listening to a Brahms Symphony and talking to your wife on the cell phone requires only a self conscious effort in the cell phone. Of course a sudden unfamiliar rabbit crossing in front of the car or an unexpected dissonant note from the French horn may cause you to brake before going airborne beyond the cliff. This distinction between subconscious awareness and self consciousness is now accepted after distinguishing between so called creature consciousness and mental-state consciousness. The former is the garden variety wakeful state intransitive variant (from sleep, coma or anesthesia) and the latter supposes the general intransitive state before targeting a particular transitive mental state.
Eventually investigators will need to address the issue of whether first order representations format is analog or has a fine-grained content. What is more important is the indexical content of the ongoing unfamiliar situation (i.e., the ‘what’ and ‘where’ registered in primary sensory cortex and further refined by temporal cortex) and its immediate meaning to the subject. Causality and intentionality considerations preempt any other concern. This is followed by the response guiding system initiated at the parietal lobe and culminating at premotor cortex.

The next distinction was between subconscious awareness of representations of, e.g., sensory phenomena or of beliefs/thoughts thereof like when driving and talking on the cell phone? At a higher order level this distinction is related to the distinction between the third order sense-phenomenal consciousness, on the one hand -which is a property of states that it is like something to be in, that have a particular qualia distinctive ‘feel’ (See Nagel 1974)- and, on the other hand, metaphysical logic abstractions thereof based on universal ethical and moral values acquired by learning or revelation(?). A sort of special but undefined access consciousness being influenced by extrasensory sources of righteousness? (See Block 1995). Why rule out conscious access to non-phenomenal mental states of thoughts and judgments. We don’t even know if phenomenal states as such, not our feelings and thought attributions, can be subject to reductive explanations in functional and/or other representational forms. What is important is the rational, language-based representations, impact such representations will have in the decision-making process, notwithstanding the continuous influence of negative valence emotional pressures.
One of the most fascinating developments in neuroscience comes from studies on prosthetic devices interfacing with brain tissue. Can a hand-held monitor (visual, auditive, tactile, etc.) send transduced signals to an electrode interfacing with the sensory cortex transform, e.g., the visual sensation of an object or event being monitored, into the same phenomenal conscious attributions being monitored? The ongoing interpretation has it that eventually those monitored experiences acquire three-dimensional distal intentional contents, an alleged representation of the monitored positions and movements of same objects in space time, as if those patterns themselves become imbued with spatial content. The subjects report that it feels like the monitored object is moving., as if the subjects’first-order intentional perceptual contents have not quite become that different and that they all acquire a dimension of seeming or subjectivity. Quite a feat for the subject’s theory of mind! We posit that, if the camera electrodes are placed on a different primary sensory area the results reported will reflect more on that location and will not be so dependent on the afferent information input from the camera monitor. But those experiments have not being performed yet.
Dr. Angell O. de la Sierra, Esq. In Deltona, Florida Spring, 2012.

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