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Consciousness

Updated: Sep 3, 2019

Understanding Consciousness is one of the challenges facing humans. Pursuit of this understanding likely will provide insights that benefit the development of new technology-enabled capabilities.


Consciousness is the self-awareness of existence. A “minimalist” view of Consciousness, that follows, is one intended to provide a base on which to build a more extensive understanding of Consciousness.


The self-awareness that is part of Consciousness is a result of the information elements stored in groupings of interconnected interoperating neurons in the body. This information includes facts and logic patterns (e.g., multiplication tables).


All things, including humans, are composed of subatomic particles that combine into larger forms of matter/energy. Humans interact with the particles of things in our vicinity (e.g., the air that surrounds us) and even at longer distances (telecommunications, quantum interactions, etc.).


Information (data and logic) in the body is stored and processed by various highly-interconnected receptors and neurons, a variety of dopants such as neurotransmitters, along with the extracellular matrix (that provides structural and biochemical support of surrounding cells and contains DNA and RNA). Electrochemical processes occur among these elements, the reactions influencing emotions. The physiological effects triggered by recalling a memory (increased blood pressure, faster breathing, etc.) trigger emotional effects (anger, fear, anxiety, excitement) which in turn reinforce the memory itself.


All known cellular life and some viruses contain DNA. Every neuron, the extracellular matrix and most cells contain DNA.


The main role of DNA in the cell is the long-term storage of information. This information includes a blueprint that contains the instructions to construct other components of the cell, such as proteins and RNA molecules.


DNA contains the genetic instructions for the development and function of living things. DNA contains the instructions needed for an organism to develop, survive and reproduce. To carry out these functions, DNA sequences are converted into messages used to produce proteins, the complex molecules that do most of the work in our bodies.


Facts and logic are made up of,


· first, the epigenetic “built in operating system” of all humans that includes autonomic functioning (e.g., breathing, heartbeat) before birth and,


· second, the facts and logic learned as a human matures.


This information is acquired, stored in and communicated among receptors and neurons which act as very small biologic information processing, storage and networked communication devices. These facts and logic comprise the information humans use for autonomic activity, thinking and self-awareness.


A person feels mental emotions (including “moods”) and physical sensations (pain, temperature, etc.). Feelings and physical sensations are controlled by neurotransmitters including endogenous opioids which can be manipulated by health practices (sleep, exercise, diet), medications, and mental control (attitudes, meditation, autosuggestion, biofeedback). The state of Consciousness, therefore, is affected by these neurotransmitters and other endogenous elements.


General good feelings (enjoyment, joy, interest, excitement) are a result of high levels of dopamine andserotonin while general bad feelings (anxiety, rage, shame) are a result of low levels of dopamine and/orserotonin. Interest and excitement are added by higher levels of noradrenaline (aka norepinephrine).


Awareness of an individual’s surrounding environment is achieved by the human body’s reception of photons of light in visible wavelengths (sight); of air pressure (hearing); contact pressure (touch); the relative activity level of molecules acting on the skin (temperature sensation); airborne molecules of a chemical compound bind to specific sites on olfactory receptors located in the nasal cavity (smell); and chemical reactions to a substance in the mouth (taste).


If a tree falls in a forest, it indeed does not make a sound if no eardrum, nervous system and brain is present to turn the waves of atmospheric pressure into a neural stimulation that can be interpreted as sound.


Receptor and neuron processed information and feelings are how a person knows who they are and their situation within their environment.


Based on limited experience with feral children, it appears that an individual must have some exposure to human behavior between birth and 4 or 5 years or they can never behave as human beings (including the Consciousness of a human) regardless of the extent of training. In other words, a limited time period after birth exists for humans to be programmed with non-autonomic learned human behavior.


These mental and physical feelings plus the other information stored and processed in the body comprise an individual’s Consciousness.


What else specifically is needed to describe Consciousness?


In addition to this minimalist physical description of Consciousness, some add a “spiritual” element to Consciousness. Scientifically verifiable evidence of this spiritual element generally is accepted not to be available so far.


An example of an incident of Consciousness is listening to music. The waves of air pressure generated by the instrument or device “playing” the music are received by the eardrums and translated into neural signals.


These signals communicated via neurotransmitters and are compared to others stored in neurons to identify the song, determine that it is one that is appealing to the listener based on comparisons to neural stored information about the song and/or similar songs. These neural signals in turn activate other neurotransmitters that recall specific experiences as well as produce particular emotional (enjoyment, sadness, etc.) and sometimes physical feelings (muscle relaxation, etc.).


The musical experience influences, and is influenced by, other factors (e.g., lighting, temperature, companions) external and internal to the person (and their correlated neurotransmitter activity) combining with those factors to establish an overall state of Consciousness at a particular point in time for the person.


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