Conscience: a new theory inspired by thermodynamics tries to explain what it is

What does consciousness depend on and how does it originate? This is one of the most fascinating questions but also one of the most inexplicable of all science, also because studying consciousness itself often poses problems related to the sector from which to start in order to lay the foundations for a study. Now new research, published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, tries to answer this question by referring to what can be considered a new theory inspired by thermodynamics.

If in the past it has been hypothesized that consciousness may derive from a highly coordinated activity among neurons, the researchers behind this study believe instead that the key to awareness is a flow and a reflux of energy: when neurons connect to each other for processing information, the patterns of these activities tune in like ocean waves. According to the authors of the study, this would be a process intrinsically related to that of thermodynamic principles.

The latter would be the basis of the same neural connections and therefore of consciousness. Furthermore, interruptions of this process of energy ebb and flow would lead to the interruption of communication between the neural networks and would give rise to the most common neurological and disturbances that we know, such as epilepsy, autism, and schizophrenia.

It is a study that combines classical physics (basically the laws of thermodynamics) with all that is known today about neural activity: it follows a general picture in which changes in free energy help to temporarily synchronize the activity in neuronal networks.

The study was produced by researcher Jose L. Perez Velazquez affiliated with the Ronin Institute of Montclair who worked together with colleagues Diego M. Mateos and Ramon Guevara Erra.

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