Overview[ edit ] Relationship to the "hard problem of consciousness"[ edit ] David Chalmers has argued that any attempt to explain consciousness in purely physical terms i. Rather than try to start from physical principles and arrive at consciousness, IIT "starts with consciousness" accepts the existence of consciousness as certain and reasons about the properties that a postulated physical substrate would have to have in order to account for it. Specifically, IIT moves from phenomenology to mechanism by attempting to identify the essential properties of conscious experience dubbed "axioms" and, from there, the essential properties of conscious physical systems dubbed "postulates". Axioms: essential properties of experience[ edit ] Axioms and postulates of integrated information theory.
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In other words, how or what causes, maintains and houses sentience? Or, as biologist T. Wisconsin neuroscientist Giulio Tononi. Read an early version here — or read it in full and in place below the fold. And its rife with controversy. What is Consciousness Anyway?
Why are we conscious at all? And what is sentience, anyway? These link single measurable perceptions to specific processes and mechanisms in the brain. For instance, we now know what in the brain is responsible for the experience of seeing red or hearing a door slam. But why and where does the experience of seeing read or hearing a loud slam come from, subjectively?
The thing is, there is still no formal agreement for what sentience is, much less what anatomical mechanisms might express and maintain it. We have a detailed and very successful framework for matter and for energy but not for the mind-body problem. As Marcello Massimini glibly points out, once humans figure out what processes and structures give rise to sentience, and maybe only then, we can re-engineer parts or all of it in the machines we create.
This begins to explain the present excitement around an evolving framework for studying and measuring consciousness called the Integrated Information Theory. Tononi Phi Created by Univ. Of Wisconsin psychiatrist and neuroscientist Giulio Tononi in , IIT is an evolving system and calculus for studying and quantifying consciousness. A unique blend of phenomenology and information theory, it is strikingly Cartesian in how it approaches the problem.
It then builds an understanding of what consciousness must require neurologically from there. The IIT that emerges from that work is a detailed, complex system that describes how consciousness behaves and is organized.
Phi is based on the number and quality of interconnections a given entity has between bits of information. The resulting number — the Phi score — corresponds directly to how conscious it is. And as critics point out and Tononi himself concedes, PHI and its correlates are exceedingly difficult to calculate.
In , Adenauer Casali and colleagues completed a study that showed it was possible to use the IIT framework within an EEG paradigm for measuring consciousness in some patients.
Also, IIT constructs seem to fit well with recent neurological insights and discoveries. IIT tenets easily comprehend findings regarding why the cerebral cortex and thalamus are more critical to consciousness than the more neutron-rich cerebellum.
The cerebral cortex, fMRI data reveals, contains elaborate interconnections and connections with the thalamus. The field of consciousness research is contentious, though. Human intellect just is not capable of investigating any relation between physical and phenomenal structures.
Time will tell whether this account is anywhere near the mark.
Integrated information theory
Integrated Information Theory