CARTESIAN THEATRE

I enjoyed reading the arguments in the paper by Dolega and Dewhurst in JCS Vol. 22 No. 9-10, 2015, but it surprises me that any discussion of Cartesian Theatres and Bayesian frameworks can take place without mentioning any structures in the brain. The futility of this approach can be illustrated by the ‘connectogram’ figure on page 377 of Nature 15 October 2015 which is so complex and so inaccessible to detailed investigation that resolution seems highly unlikely.

There are other approaches, however. To illustrate this in cogent fashion I consulted my old pal, Will of Avon, to see if he could help me with a blank verse approach. He did his best, and although the results leave much to be desired, I hope they make my point clearly.

Consciousness is a song,

An orchestrated waveform played out

On prefrontal-thalamic chords.

It begins in the womb

With the melody of mum’s voice

And becomes augmented during life

By a wider choir of soloists.

The hippocampus and amygdala tune in

To HPA and DLPFC

Accompanied by pathways

Between VTA and accumbens

Where dopamine holds sway.

 

The chorus soon swells

With visual and audio strains

From cortical processors

And cerebellar procedures.

Transposons aid genes

To lay down protein scenes

Which design the memory

Of cellular and network life.

The song never stops while awake

But can become tenuous at night

As mediators change their shift

For maintenance and repair.

 

Feelings and beliefs arise

To combine in the central song

With clashing chords

And harmonies unresolved

Until the clouds disperse

And conscious decisions emerge.

The cortical connectome unravels facts

As far as they can be known

But the central core is final arbiter

Because it has honed the tunes

Which play throughout our life

And make us what we are.

 

Regards,

 

David Friend

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