A parsimonious partial model of “access-consciousness” is developed based on simple foundation assumptions:
a. Proto-phenomenal manifestation is a natural low order-of-scale phenomenon, locally and temporally bounded and brought about by physical interaction,
b. The role of brains includes the embedding, recognition and enactment of spatiotemporal patterns characterizing such manifestation.
The model postulates that the pattern representation aspect of “access-consciousness” function involves in-time universal approximation:
There are distinct advantages to iconic representation. It is implementable as a locally self-organizing and error pruning computational scheme, is generally information conserving and is compatible with distributed processing using distributed information. Accordingly, neural (computational) pattern processing may involve an isomorphic, invertible, embedding transform. Cohesive and contextual spatiotemporal relations may be extracted and embedded in a slowly conducting plastic medium, reduced (by directed interference) to morphing configurations of information depleted, near isotropic, activity. An inverse enacting (or biasing) operation would facilitate computational recognition – reconstitution of iconic world model components matching projection patterns upon an agent’s sensory perimeter.
Through functionally coupled bi-directional computational processing, synchronous in the relevant temporal order of scale, and characterized by coherent activity, encoding would literally constitute recognition.
Corollaries of the proposed isomorphic transformation, assuming phenomenal expression on both “ends”, would entail
a. Encoding involves spatiotemporal smearing and
b. The dynamic maintenance of a virtual focal point, a formation which could underpin the expression of an ‘I’ primitive of an agent-as-subject.
Bound experiences are structurally constrained (to pattern factors) and temporally extended (effectively continuous), as microphysical proto-phenomenality “coalesces” relationally, filtered and coherently situated by the postulated transformation.
Mutually compatible hypotheses to consider would be:
a. Expression of proto-phenomenality as a feature of neural machinery that is distinct from computational function, manifests in active lines and combines in conformity with patterned spatiotemporal structures.
b. Proto-phenomenality of sensory origin is coupled with modulated complementary agent-as-subject proto-phenomenality, arising in active lines, generating “cognitive phenomenology”.
Quantum theories of consciousness may be attributing more cognitive functions to arrangements on the sub-microscopic scale than may be necessary or plausible. Manifestation of proto-phenomenality is the main natural mystery.
With better understanding of reflexive properties the combination, binding and boundary problems may become scientifically tractable without recourse to fundamental physics. Representation in brains might be limited by neural computing resolution, but fine-grained sensory information is not necessarily discarded. Local processing in proximity to the sensory “perimeter” may serve to fill-in patterning, e.g. as could be associated with sensory “textures”. Correspondingly, dismissal of the possibility that some proto-phenomenality partaking in subjective experience arises in sensory apparatus might be misleading. Common objections (temporal delays, dreaming consciousness, after-images etc. can be countered).
This resonant (rather than generative) model is consistent with Dynamic Core ideas and with Integrated Information Theory, assuming a relaxed definition of information and seeing integration as but half of the story, needing functions to effect embedding and realization (i.e. differentiation).