[extropy-chat] "10 Questions for György Buzsáki "

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Tue Jan 23 20:37:32 UTC 2007


interesting interview e.g.:

6. Your discussion of the brain's first rhythm could make one feel 
that we are close to understanding when meaningful cognition begins. 
Does your knowledge of EEG patterns and their underpinnings influence 
your thinking about beginning-of-life, end-of-life, or even animal 
rights debates?

I believe that cognition begins once the 1/f features of cortical 
rhythms emerge because this dynamics represents global (i.e., 
distributed) computation and only structures with these features 
appear to generate conscious experience. The ontogenetic appearance 
of 1/f dynamics coincides with the emergence of long-range 
cortico-cortical projections. In the newborn human the 1/f global 
feature of the EEG is already present. On the other hand, in preterm 
babies, depending on the gestation age, long seconds of neuronal 
silence alternate with short, spatially localized oscillatory bursts 
(known as "delta brush"), like in sharks and lizards. These localized 
intermittent cortical patterns in the premature brain, and similar 
ones in the strictly locally organized adult cerebellum, cannot give 
rise to conscious awareness, no matter the size. From this 
perspective, the structure-function relations between the small world 
network-like features of the cerebral cortex and the resultant global 
rhythms appear as necessary conditions for awareness. Earlier 
developmental stages without these properties simply do not have the 
necessary ingredients of the product we call cognition.  

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