Searching for a mathematical model of consciousness

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Image: Vit Studio/Shutterstock

What is consciousness? In a sense, this is one of the greatest mysteries in the universe.

Science has produced an outstandingly accurate description of the outer world, but it has told us very little, if anything, about our internal consciousness.

This summer, I had the privilege of interning at the Qualia Research Institute (QRI), a San Francisco–based research nonprofit that is dedicated to discovering the science of consciousness (qualia are subjective experiences). Its approach rests on two core philosophical assumptions: The first is “qualia formalism,” which claims that our subjective experience has a mathematical structure. The second is “valence realism,” the view that we can objectively measure the so-called valence of conscious experience—that is, how pleasant an experience feels.

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In the images below, the amount of consonance in a brain is represented by the thickness of the blue arrows connecting two brain harmonics, and the level of dissonance is symbolized by the thickness of the red arrows. A harmonic has a greater weight or amplitude if the black circle next to it is larger. The diagram on the left has greater consonance, hence the corresponding brain feels more pleasure. The diagram on the right has a lot of dissonance, and therefore the corresponding brain experiences more pain.

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CDNS and corresponding emotional valence for two different brain states. Image: Andrés Gómez Emilsson

Read full, original post: Why We Need to Study Consciousness

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