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Qualia: the geometry of integrated information.

Balduzzi D, Tononi G - PLoS Comput. Biol. (2009)

Bottom Line: Both active and inactive elements specify a quale, but elements that are inactivated do not.In principle, different aspects of experience may be classified as different shapes in Q, and the similarity between experiences reduces to similarities between shapes.Finally, specific qualities, such as the "redness" of red, while generated by a local mechanism, cannot be reduced to it, but require considering the entire quale.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA.

ABSTRACT
According to the integrated information theory, the quantity of consciousness is the amount of integrated information generated by a complex of elements, and the quality of experience is specified by the informational relationships it generates. This paper outlines a framework for characterizing the informational relationships generated by such systems. Qualia space (Q) is a space having an axis for each possible state (activity pattern) of a complex. Within Q, each submechanism specifies a point corresponding to a repertoire of system states. Arrows between repertoires in Q define informational relationships. Together, these arrows specify a quale -- a shape that completely and univocally characterizes the quality of a conscious experience. Phi -- the height of this shape -- is the quantity of consciousness associated with the experience. Entanglement measures how irreducible informational relationships are to their component relationships, specifying concepts and modes. Several corollaries follow from these premises. The quale is determined by both the mechanism and state of the system. Thus, two different systems having identical activity patterns may generate different qualia. Conversely, the same quale may be generated by two systems that differ in both activity and connectivity. Both active and inactive elements specify a quale, but elements that are inactivated do not. Also, the activation of an element affects experience by changing the shape of the quale. The subdivision of experience into modalities and submodalities corresponds to subshapes in Q. In principle, different aspects of experience may be classified as different shapes in Q, and the similarity between experiences reduces to similarities between shapes. Finally, specific qualities, such as the "redness" of red, while generated by a local mechanism, cannot be reduced to it, but require considering the entire quale. Ultimately, the present framework may offer a principled way for translating qualitative properties of experience into mathematics.

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When an element becomes active, it changes the shape of the                                quale.(A): the quale generated by the system in Fig. 3, when                                x1 = 1000. (B): If                                element n3 becomes active, changing the firing pattern to                                    x1 = 1010, the quale                                changes shape. The firing of an additional element changes almost                                all of the actual repertoires (see insets).
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pcbi-1000462-g011: When an element becomes active, it changes the shape of the quale.(A): the quale generated by the system in Fig. 3, when x1 = 1000. (B): If element n3 becomes active, changing the firing pattern to x1 = 1010, the quale changes shape. The firing of an additional element changes almost all of the actual repertoires (see insets).

Mentions: In neurophysiology, one often searches for neurons that fire for particular inputs. It is often assumed that, when such neurons fire, they “broadcast” the relevant information to a large public of other neurons [23]. However, it is hard to see how the firing of a neuron may convey the meaning of those inputs, when all it can do is fire or not. A similar problem obtains for the neuron receiving its output. Each of them may receive up to 10,000 input lines, some firing, some not. How is a target neuron going to know that one of its input spikes means “red” or a particular shape? According to the IIT, what matters is that, within a complex, the firing of a neuron that was previously off changes the shape of the entire quale, which is what carries the meaning. As a simple example, consider the complex in Fig. 11 (same as in Fig. 3). Assume, for instance, that element n1 stands for a neuron selective for a “square” shape, which is currently firing due to the presence of a gray square in the visual field (Fig. 11A). Now assume that the square turns red and another neuron (n3), which was silent, becomes active (Fig. 11B); integrated information is 2 bits for both activity patterns. Clearly, the activation of element n3 changes the shape of the quale, since it modifies almost all of the actual repertoires (insets). From the extrinsic perspective of a neurophysiologist, if the n3 neuron became active every time a subject reports seeing red, it is natural to label the activation of the “red” neuron n3 as the neural correlate of consciousness for red [24]. From the intrinsic perspective of the complex, however, the meaning of “red” can only be realized by a change in the shape of the quale triggered by the firing of the red neuron. As shall be further discussed below, the NCC for red cannot be captured by the firing of a particular set of neurons, or even of larger circuits, but only by a particular shape in Q.


Qualia: the geometry of integrated information.

Balduzzi D, Tononi G - PLoS Comput. Biol. (2009)

When an element becomes active, it changes the shape of the                                quale.(A): the quale generated by the system in Fig. 3, when                                x1 = 1000. (B): If                                element n3 becomes active, changing the firing pattern to                                    x1 = 1010, the quale                                changes shape. The firing of an additional element changes almost                                all of the actual repertoires (see insets).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2713405&req=5

pcbi-1000462-g011: When an element becomes active, it changes the shape of the quale.(A): the quale generated by the system in Fig. 3, when x1 = 1000. (B): If element n3 becomes active, changing the firing pattern to x1 = 1010, the quale changes shape. The firing of an additional element changes almost all of the actual repertoires (see insets).
Mentions: In neurophysiology, one often searches for neurons that fire for particular inputs. It is often assumed that, when such neurons fire, they “broadcast” the relevant information to a large public of other neurons [23]. However, it is hard to see how the firing of a neuron may convey the meaning of those inputs, when all it can do is fire or not. A similar problem obtains for the neuron receiving its output. Each of them may receive up to 10,000 input lines, some firing, some not. How is a target neuron going to know that one of its input spikes means “red” or a particular shape? According to the IIT, what matters is that, within a complex, the firing of a neuron that was previously off changes the shape of the entire quale, which is what carries the meaning. As a simple example, consider the complex in Fig. 11 (same as in Fig. 3). Assume, for instance, that element n1 stands for a neuron selective for a “square” shape, which is currently firing due to the presence of a gray square in the visual field (Fig. 11A). Now assume that the square turns red and another neuron (n3), which was silent, becomes active (Fig. 11B); integrated information is 2 bits for both activity patterns. Clearly, the activation of element n3 changes the shape of the quale, since it modifies almost all of the actual repertoires (insets). From the extrinsic perspective of a neurophysiologist, if the n3 neuron became active every time a subject reports seeing red, it is natural to label the activation of the “red” neuron n3 as the neural correlate of consciousness for red [24]. From the intrinsic perspective of the complex, however, the meaning of “red” can only be realized by a change in the shape of the quale triggered by the firing of the red neuron. As shall be further discussed below, the NCC for red cannot be captured by the firing of a particular set of neurons, or even of larger circuits, but only by a particular shape in Q.

Bottom Line: Both active and inactive elements specify a quale, but elements that are inactivated do not.In principle, different aspects of experience may be classified as different shapes in Q, and the similarity between experiences reduces to similarities between shapes.Finally, specific qualities, such as the "redness" of red, while generated by a local mechanism, cannot be reduced to it, but require considering the entire quale.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA.

ABSTRACT
According to the integrated information theory, the quantity of consciousness is the amount of integrated information generated by a complex of elements, and the quality of experience is specified by the informational relationships it generates. This paper outlines a framework for characterizing the informational relationships generated by such systems. Qualia space (Q) is a space having an axis for each possible state (activity pattern) of a complex. Within Q, each submechanism specifies a point corresponding to a repertoire of system states. Arrows between repertoires in Q define informational relationships. Together, these arrows specify a quale -- a shape that completely and univocally characterizes the quality of a conscious experience. Phi -- the height of this shape -- is the quantity of consciousness associated with the experience. Entanglement measures how irreducible informational relationships are to their component relationships, specifying concepts and modes. Several corollaries follow from these premises. The quale is determined by both the mechanism and state of the system. Thus, two different systems having identical activity patterns may generate different qualia. Conversely, the same quale may be generated by two systems that differ in both activity and connectivity. Both active and inactive elements specify a quale, but elements that are inactivated do not. Also, the activation of an element affects experience by changing the shape of the quale. The subdivision of experience into modalities and submodalities corresponds to subshapes in Q. In principle, different aspects of experience may be classified as different shapes in Q, and the similarity between experiences reduces to similarities between shapes. Finally, specific qualities, such as the "redness" of red, while generated by a local mechanism, cannot be reduced to it, but require considering the entire quale. Ultimately, the present framework may offer a principled way for translating qualitative properties of experience into mathematics.

Show MeSH