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The notion of the dynamic hybrid (event and information) trajectory that I refer to as The Per-sonality is central to the entire process that differentiates what constitutes a corporeal human being from all other forms of life that are equipped with a brain. While it may be easy enough to assert that such a trajectory exists, what is more difficult is proving that The Personality hy-brid trajectory exists. In fact, it may ultimately be impossible -– given our present technological capacity to perceive such a thing –- to prove the physical existence of The Personality trajec-tory by way of specifically identifying it and separating it out from the overall system that inc-ludes it and the process that it enables as a result of its inclusion. Still, that process can be ex-amined, and there may be ways of inferring its existence if we examine this process from a perspective that allows for its (The Personality'’s) existence. Of course, this can'’t be offered as definitive proof, but it might go a long way toward promoting the plausibility that such a dy-namic process does exist, and possibly even allow us to further identify relatable aspects of The Personality and how these aspects might provide their own level of inferred verification that this process does, in fact, exist, regardless of the specifics concerning how the process it-self is accomplished.
The first part of this examination focuses on the creation of consciousness as a brain process, with a look at one theory concerning how this event happens. I’'ve chosen this theory due to the fact that it is fairly indicative of a strict materialist concept where the brain itself manufac-tures the consciousness stream as definite bursts of information events. My affinity with this overall concept is due primarily with its obvious alignment with other established tenets con-cerning the nature of physical reality involving the event unit as a basis within any develop-ment arrangement –- specifically Planck'’s Constant, in this case.
Professor Susan Greenfield (Oxford University) has proposed that the mind may arise from the activity of brain cells at the level where the cells are connected together (the synapses). Rather than arising from a single isolated region of the brain, she suggests that consciousness arises diffusely from the brain-cell connections. The reasoning, Greenfield argues, is that there is no single complete function that takes place in one region of the brain. As mentioned above, it is known, for example, that vision is divided up into many separate components that are connected together to give rise to the conscious experience of seeing, such as color, motion, and form pro-cessing, and the function of vision can preoccupy over 30 brain regions. So brain re-gions are smaller parts of a wider brain stage and not units that work alone. Thus we know that conscious experience arises from the actions of many different parts of the brain. However, when we break each area of the brain down into its smaller constituents, we see that each area is a complex circuit that is ultimately reduced down to the con-nections between the cells, or synapses, or in other words, to the individual wires of the circuits themselves across which electrical signals are passed. This signaling is de-pendent on a series of different biological products, or proteins, which are themselves products of genes. Therefore, Professor Greenfield has proposed that the neuronal cor-relate, and in effect, the physical substrate of the "mind" is a process that occurs at the level of the brain connections, or synapses, which are not only highly dynamic, but which also reflect experience through their strength and extension of connections. According to this theory, consciousness, or our sense of self-awareness, is thought to arise from the interaction of assemblies of neurons involving up to tens of millions of neurons all connected together. It is proposed that at any one time, there may be many neuronal assemblies present; however, the largest assembly will dominate and deter-mine that moment of consciousness. The degree to which cells are recruited, and hence the degree of consciousness, will be determined by a variety of factors, such as the strength of the input coming into the brain - for example, from the eyes and the fingers, as well as preexisting connec-tions and the degree of competition, as shown by the smaller assemblies starting to form. (excerpt - WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DIE: Sam Parina MD, PhD - 2006, Hay House)
So, it's the word competition that catches my eye here. Is Parina suggesting that Greenfield's theory rests upon the idea that these sub-assemblies actually compete for primary influence within the corporeal brain's function as the generator of human consciousness? Maybe, if I read on, his interpretation of Greenfield's theory will reveal his choice of "competition" as an operative description to be a quick slip, and not integral to this specific theory concerning the brain's actual configuration of conscious awareness per specific instant within a defined chain of causation.
So, let's imagine that we're standing on the street holding something in one hand. An assembly of brain cells related to "touch" is active, so we're aware of what we're holding. Then, suddenly, we see something that interests us - for example, an accident. We then stop feeling what we're holding and just experience what we're seeing. At that time, the activity of the assembly of brain cells related to touch would be overtaken by the new assembly of cells, which would have become active in relation to what we have seen. The activity of these cells is in turn determined by the activity of various proteins, which may change in response to other signals, including events taking place in our body, such as hormone changes, immune changes, or changes in the levels of neuro-transmitters. So in the same scenario, if we had the flu and were feeling very ill, certain chemicals and hormones would be released by our body and immune cells that would also interact with the brain cell networks, so we would feel "unwell" while seeing an in-teresting event. It has thus been suggested that the subtlest influences either from outside or inside the body modulate consciousness at the level of cell synapse in the brain, and hence, lead to differences in consciousness, and that there’'s always a competitive process going on between different assemblies of cells.
Okay, so it does seem to be Dr. Parnia's interpretation that this process is the result of cell as-semblies winning and losing within a competitive environment, with external impetus launch-ing a literal scramble for assembly dominion within a theater of many such assemblies poised at the ready for their chance to take the helm. As this excerpt is taken from a traditionally pub-lished work of nonfiction, I'm going to assume that Prof. Greenfield's theory has been accu-rately described by Dr. Parnia, including his own use of that theory as the basis of the specific vignette he offers as further clarification of how Greenfield's theory translates to real world moments. I generally find that rephrased presentations (if allowed by the theory's original au-thor, of course) give me a slightly better view of the theory itself, so I'm going to use Dr. Parn-ia's interpretation of Prof. Greenfield's consciousness theory in this examination.
Especially since it's probably not absolutely critical that I deal with every minute aspect of that theory here. In fact, my issue with it focuses on not what's been stated here, but what's been neglected. In that sense, the minute specifics of Prof. Greenfield's theory are not even ger-mane to this examination at all, and Dr. Parnia's broad overview will serve nicely to set up the premise.