Chapter 5

Theorem IV: A Quale is a Special Kind of Signaling Pattern

From the previous chapters, it can be concluded that qualia are non-material, completely neural-process associated, physical phenomena. But, what is the exact nature of these phenomena? At present, there are several theories about what qualia are and how they occur [1-9]. However, none seems to be accepted unanimously as conclusive, and none seems to answer the hard problem of qualia or the hard problem of consciousness [2,10-16], the problem of why there are qualia and consciousness at all, and satisfactorily bridge the explanatory gap of how non-material qualia can arise from material neural processes [12-21]. This theory finds that the answers to these questions exist in the qualia’s physical properties, which have been discussed in detail in the previous chapter, and these physical properties will be used to find the answers as follows:

5.1. The nature of a quale and Theorem IV

As qualia are completely neural-process associated, physical phenomena, they must occur with neural processes, but how do qualia occur with neural processes? There are two mutually exclusives possibilities of how qualia occur with neural processes:

Possibility 1. A quale occurs separately from its neural process, like separate entities commonly illustrated in general pictures that depict qualia, such as a visual quale of a house (A), an auditory quale of a song (B), and an olfactory quale of a rose in Figure 5.1 below. Thus, its functions and effects are separate from those of its neural process, yet it somehow functions in complete association with its neural process.

Figure 5.1 Qualia occur as separate entities

Possibility 2. A quale occurs intrinsically in its neural process, like various information that occurs intrinsically in the signaling of the sign language in Figure 5.2 below. Thus, its functions and effects are naturally inherent in its neural process’s functions and effects, and it naturally functions in complete association with its neural process.

Figure 5.2 Information occurs as an intrinsic entity

Now, as noted above and like the case of mental process’s nature in Chapter 2, the means to identify which possibility is correct is to examine the physical properties of the entity that occurs in each possibility. This is because the entity that is a quale must have all the physical properties of qualia, as discussed in the previous chapter. They are listed here again for ease of reference:

Physical properties of qualia (PQ)

PQ1. Defining physical properties

PQ1.1. Their nature is mental phenomena.

PQ1.2. Their characteristics are consciously experienceable.

PQ2. Additional physical properties

PQ2.1. Their activities are fast, dynamic, and information-intensive.

PQ2.2. Their occurrences and existence are with their specific neural processes and are

consistent.

PQ2.3. Their places of occurrences are selectively and specifically limited to some specific neural processes.

PQ2.4. Their capacities are limited and identical to those of their specific neural processes.

PQ2.5. Their details are identical to those of their specific neural processes.

PQ2.6. Their structures are definite and determined by their specific neural processes.

PQ2.7. Their changes are with their specific neural processes.

PQ2.8. Their interactions are via their specific neural processes.

Next, let’s examine the two possibilities one by one to see which possibility has an entity that has all the properties of qualia.

   5.1.1. Possibility 1: A quale functionally occurs separately from its neural process.

Suppose a quale is an entity, Q, that functionally occurs separately from its neural process (see Figure 5.3).

Figure 5.3 Q is an entity that occurs separately from its neural process

PQ1.1. As discussed in PQ1.1 in the previous chapter, Q must be non-material because it is a mental phenomenon. But what is the exact nature of this non-material Q? Identifiable phenomena that occur in the neural circuit separately from the neural process and that are non-material are numerical (not physical, which is material) changes in neural metabolic activities (e.g., heat generation, oxygen consumption, and intracellular biochemical reactions), in regional blood circulatory activities, and in physical components (e.g. changes in mass, energy, and entropy) of the neural circuit. But these numerical changes can only be increasing or decreasing in value in all kinds of neural circuits; thus, they do not possess enough variations to function variedly to be various types of qualia – vision, sound, taste, thought, emotion, etc. – in various types of neural circuits. Also, these numerical changes are not directly readable by the consciousness neural process (property PQ1.2, which Q must have and will be discussed in detail next). So, none of them can be Q. Thus, Q must be a novel entity, which requires a whole new hypothesis to explain its nature.

PQ1.2. Q’s characteristics must be consciously experienceable. As summarized at the end of section PQ1.2 in the previous chapter, this means that Q must

  1. be readable by the consciousness neural process and able to induce the conscious experience and the conscious awareness of itself in the consciousness neural process,
  2. be information about something that is not itself,
  3. not react with anything other than the consciousness neural process, and
  4. have a unique kind of signaling pattern.

1. Q must be readable by the consciousness neural process and must be able to induce conscious awareness and a conscious experience of itself in the consciousness neural process. But if Q occurs separately from its neural process, how can Q be readable by the consciousness neural process and how can it induce conscious awareness and a conscious experience of itself in the consciousness neural process? A new hypothesis is needed to account for this property.

This is a very important point, so let’s examine it in more details. Consider Neural Process V (Figure 5.4), which is a neural process that functions to produce a visual perception of a house with a visual perception quale “Q” occurring separately from the neural process.

Figure 5.4 A quale occurs as a separate entity Q

    The consciousness neural process that connects with Neural Process V, after it reads the signaling pattern of Neural Process V, will interpret and register the signaling pattern as a visual perception of a house without a quale occurring because Q occurs separately from Neural Process V, with separate functions and effects from those of Neural Process V.

For the consciousness neural process to have conscious awareness and a conscious experience of Q, it must read signals from Q, process them, and then create the conscious awareness and conscious experience of Q in itself. (This is necessary because, from Theorem I, a certain mental process cannot occur alone by itself but must occur, exist, and function with a certain neural process. Thus, the mental process of conscious awareness and conscious experience of Q cannot occur alone by itself but must occur, exist, and function with the consciousness neural process that have conscious awareness and conscious experience of Q.) However, if Q is an entity that occurs separately from its neural process, its signals cannot be E/EC signals, and a new type of signals that is not E/EC must be postulated for it. But, signal-wise, a neural process does not have an apparatus to read anything except E/EC signals of other neural processes, so a new mechanism for the consciousness neural process to read the signals that are not E/EC signals and that are separated from the neural process is needed.

2. Q must be information about something that is not itself. But if Q occurs separately from its neural process, how and where can it get information of something (that is not itself) so that it can be the information in the mind about that thing? For example, if Q is a visual of a house or an auditory quale of a song, how and where can it get information of the house or the song so that it can be information about the house or the song in the mind? If it receives the information from its neural process, how can its neural process do that? All neural processes, including Neural process V (which is Q’s neural process) in Figure 5.4, do not have an apparatus to send information to anything other than to other neural processes via their signaling patterns. Thus, a new hypothesis is needed to explain this.

3. Q must not react with anything other than the consciousness neural process. But if Q occurs separately from its neural process, what prevents it from reacting with something other than the consciousness neural process? A new hypothesis is needed to account for why it reacts with only the consciousness neural process.

4. Q must have a unique signaling pattern. Q can have a unique signaling pattern by its nature, but, if Q occurs separately from its neural process, its signaling pattern cannot be E/EC (electrical/electrochemical) signaling pattern, as discussed above. The problem will be what is the nature of Q’s signaling pattern? A new hypothesis is needed for this.

So, for a quale that occurs separately from its neural process, there are many important problems that need several new hypotheses to explain how its characteristics can be consciously experienceable.

PQ2.1. Q must have fast, dynamic, and information-intensive activities. Q can be fast and dynamic by its nature, but how can it be information-intensive? To be information-intensive, it must receive information from something. But, if Q occurs separately from its neural process, how can it get information from the neural process (see the discussion in PQ1.2 above), or, if it does not get information from the neural process, how and where can it get information that can be as intensive as that of the neural process?

PQ2.2. Q’s occurrence and existence must be with its specific neural processes and is consistent. The problem is how does Q occur? If it is produced by its neural process, how does its neural process produce it? A neural process does not have an apparatus to produce anything that has fast, dynamic, and information–intensive activities, except its signaling pattern and signaling state (which are intrinsic parts of the neural process and thus cannot be Q of this possibility).

In the case that Q is not produced by its neural process, what is the thing that produces Q? If there is that thing, other questions will follow, such as where does that thing come from, what produces that thing, what are the characteristics of that thing, how can that thing produce Q, and how can that thing produce Q in association with Q’s neural process consistently?

Or if Q occurs spontaneously out of nothing by itself, questions will also follow, such as how can it occur out of nothing, why does it have to occur only when its neural process starts functioning and exist only when its neural process exists, and how can it do so consistently?

PQ2.3. Q’s place of occurrence must be selectively and specifically limited to some specific neural process. But, if Q and other qualia can occur separately from their neural processes, why must they occur in only some neural processes but not in some neural processes? For example, why must Q occur in only the final perception neural processes, the thinking neural processes, and the emotion neural processes but not in the neural processes in the basal ganglia, brainstem, and cerebellum – what limits Q to occur in only some neural processes? And why must qualia of a certain type occur in only some specific neural processes – why cannot they occur randomly in other neural processes? For example, why must visual qualia occur in only visual perception neural processes, why must auditory qualia occur in only auditory perception neural processes, why must emotion qualia occur in only emotion neural processes, and so on – why do color qualia not occur sometimes with visual perception neural processes in the occipital lobe, sometimes with auditory neural processes in the temporal lobe, and sometimes with emotional neural processes in the amygdala? What are the mechanisms that create and keep the selectivity and specificity in places of occurrences of Q?

PQ2.4. Q’s capacities must be limited and identical to those of their specific neural processes. For example, if Q is a visual quale, Q’s visual field extent and color spectrum must be limited and identical to those of the visual perception neural process. But, if Q occurs separately from its neural process, its capacities need not be limited and identical to those of its neural process. Or if its capacities somehow match with its neural process’s capacities so perfectly that they seem to be limited and identical to them, how can it do that or what is the mechanism that keeps its capacities limited and identical to those of its neural process all the time?

PQ2.5. Q’s details, or information, must be identical to those of their specific neural processes. For example, if Q is a visual quale, Q’s visual details (color, brightness, and velocity information of each and every minute portion of Q) must be identical to those of the visual perception neural process. But, if Q occurs separately from its neural process, its information need not be identical to that of its neural process. Or if its information somehow matches with its neural process’s information so perfectly that they seem to be identical, where and how does Q get the information that can be identical to that of its neural process all the time?

PQ2.6. Q’s structure must be definite (i.e., the number and types of basic components and the spectral characteristics of Q must be definite – invariable among billions of peoples, everywhere and all the time) and determined by its specific neural process. But if Q occurs separately from its neural process, why must its structure be definite? For example, why cannot a visual quale have different numbers and types of basic components and different spectral characteristics among billions of different people, who are at different places and in different time (in the past, at present, and in the future)? What is the mechanism that keeps Q’s structure invariant among billions of people everywhere and all the time? Also, if Q occurs separately from its neural process, why must Q’s structure be determined by its specific neural process? Why cannot it be independent of its neural process? What is the mechanism that keeps Q’s structure dependent on its neural process?

PQ2.7. Q’s changes must be with its neural process. For example, if Q is a visual quale of a movie, then Q must change identically with the visual perception neural process. But if Q occurs separately from its neural process, it need not change with its neural process. Or if its changes somehow match with those of its neural process so perfectly that it seems to invariably and simultaneously change with its neural process, how can it do that or what is the mechanism that keeps its changes matching (vs matched) with those of its neural process simultaneously all the time?

PQ2.8. Q’s interactions must be via its specific neural process. But if Q can occur separately from its neural process, why cannot it interact with other qualia directly? Why does its interaction have to occur via its neural process?

It is evident that Possibility 1 – a quale functionally occurs separately from its neural process as an additional entity – has several critical questions of how such an entity can have all the required physical properties of qualia, and several additional hypotheses are needed to support this possibility.

  5.1.2. Possibility 2: A quale functionally occurs intrinsically in its neural process.

If this is the case, then a quale must be some intrinsically occurring entity in the neural process. This entity must be a non-material entity that is readable by the consciousness neural process and that can induce conscious awareness and a conscious experience of itself in the consciousness neural process (like Possibility 1, it must fulfill the property that a quale must be consciously experienceable – because, in reality, conscious awareness and a conscious experience of the quale do occur). Now, the only intrinsically occurring, non-material entity in a neural process that the consciousness neural process can read is the signaling pattern, which is the information, of that neural process. However, the consciousness neural process receives a lot of signaling patterns from various kinds of neural processes because it is an extensive network that has extensive connections* .But when it processes the signals from these neural processes, it does not create conscious awareness and experiences of these signals for all of them.

(*From current evidence, the potential consciousness neural network is the Default Mode Network or Resting State Network [22-28] , which is the extensive neural network of background consciousness and consciousness while resting; and the network of Global Workspace theory proposed by Baars [29-33] or the network of Global Neuronal Workspace hypothesis of Dehaene [34-38], which is the extensive neural network of access consciousness or consciousness of episodic stimuli that gain access into consciousness; or some form of combination of these extensive networks, such as the neural network in the extended theory of global workspace of consciousness proposed by Song [39].)

Thus, not all of these signaling patterns can induce conscious awareness and conscious experiences of themselves in the consciousness neural process – only some of them can. Those that can must be different from those that cannot – they must be in some special forms that can induce conscious awareness and conscious experiences of themselves in the consciousness neural process. This theory will assign the term “special signaling patterns” to these special forms of signaling patterns that can induce conscious awareness and conscious experiences of themselves in the consciousness neural process.

Definition. A special signaling pattern (SSP) is the neural process’s signaling pattern that can induce conscious awareness and a conscious experience of itself in the consciousness neural process.

In details, this means that a special signaling pattern (SSP) is the neural process’s signaling pattern that can induce conscious awareness and a conscious experience of itself in the consciousness neural process with the three important characteristics (as stated previously in section 3.1) occurring:

  1. The awareness of the SSP occurs, that is, the SPP’s existence is registered into the information and the processing systems.
  2. The awareness and experiences of what the SSP is like occurs, which means that the SSP manifests what it is like so that the awareness and experiences of what the SSP is like occurs.
  3. The information of the SSP can be shared to various parts of the brain that include the cognition part, the symbolizing part, and the storage part. Thus, the brain can intentionally think about, analyze, compare, etc. the SSP; it can directly represent the SSP with symbols – written signs, sounds, gestures, etc.; and it can intentionally memorize and recall the SSP, at least with some details and for some time.

Now, because a special signaling pattern (SSP) is non-material, is an intrinsically occurring entity in the neural process, is readable by the consciousness neural process, and can induce conscious awareness and a conscious experience of itself in the consciousness neural process, it can be the entity that a quale is. This theory asserts this as Theorem IV:

Theorem IV: A quale is a special signaling pattern (SSP).

This is the specific form of Theorem IV. But, because a special signaling pattern is just a special kind of signaling pattern – a signaling pattern in some special form – a quale is simply a special kind of signaling pattern. Thus, the basic form of Theorem IV can be stated as:

Theorem IV: A quale is a special kind of signaling pattern.

And because a signaling pattern of a neural process is the information of that neural process, a quale is a special kind of information of a neural process – the kind of information that, when the consciousness neural process reads, the consciousness neural process interprets as something with a manifestation of what it is like and can use to create conscious awareness an experience of that thing, that is, of the quale. A quale is thus just a non-material, informational part of the whole signaling process of that neural process. (It should be noted that this is similar to a mental process, which is the information-processing process of a neural process and is also a non-material, informational part of the whole signaling process of that neural process.)

Now, let’s examine how a special signaling pattern can be a quale. First, consider Neural Process V (Figure 5.5A) that functions to produce a visual perception of a house with some signaling pattern that is not a special signaling pattern (SSP). The consciousness neural process that connects with Neural Process V, after it reads this signaling pattern, will interpret and register the signaling pattern as a visual perception of a house without a quale of the visual perception of the house and without conscious awareness and a conscious experience of the visual perception the house occurring because the signaling pattern is not an SSP (so it is not interpreted to be a quale and cannot induce conscious awareness and a conscious experience in the consciousness neural process).

Figure 5.5 A signaling pattern and a quale

Next, consider Neural Process V’ (Figure 5.5B), which is another neural process that functions to produce a visual perception of the same house but with a signaling pattern that is an SSP. The consciousness neural process that connects with Neural Process V’, after it reads this signaling pattern, will interpret and register the signaling pattern as a visual perception of a house and a quale of the visual perception of the house (Quale Q) and will create conscious awareness and a conscious experience of the quale (because the signaling pattern is an SSP, so it can induce conscious awareness and a conscious experience of itself in the consciousness neural process).

In summary, this is how a quale occurs intrinsically in the neural process with no additional entity occurring: by a neural process producing an SSP, which is the quale. And this is how conscious awareness and a conscious experience of a quale, with the awareness and experience of what the quale is like occurring, occur: by the consciousness neural process reading the SSP, processing it, and then, with its specialized ability, creating the conscious awareness and the conscious experience of the SSP – of the quale.

But how can a signaling pattern be something that manifests what it is like and induce the consciousness neural process to create conscious awareness and a conscious experience of itself? To answer this question, let’s consider the effects of the information of neural processes as follows:

Figure 5.6 Effects of information of neural processes

In Figure 5.6A, a neural process has information of the blood level of sodium (Na), and it sends this information via its signaling pattern to other neural processes, such as the autonomic neural processes, and the regulation of the blood level of sodium occurs. As there is no conscious awareness and a conscious experience of this information occurring, it means that this information cannot induce the occurrence of conscious awareness and a conscious experience of itself in any of the neural processes that receive the information. This is either because those neural processes do not have the ability to create the conscious awareness and conscious experiences or because this information does not include the information that can induce the occurrences of conscious awareness and a conscious experience. If the consciousness neural process also receives this information, it definitely means that this information does not include the information that can induce the occurrence of conscious awareness and a conscious experience of the information in the consciousness neural process. Therefore, conscious awareness and a conscious experience do not and cannot occur in this case.

Now, the neural process in Figure 5.6B has the information of the visual perception of the house together with the information of the visual perception quale of the house. When it sends the whole information to the consciousness neural process via its signaling pattern, which in this case is a special signaling pattern (SSP), the consciousness neural process will have the information of both the visual perception of the house and the visual perception quale of the house. After processing this whole information, the consciousness neural process will interpret the SSP as a visual perception quale of the house with a manifestation of what it is like (because, in the neural language, the SSP means a quale, which has a manifestation of what it is like) and will create, with its specialized ability, conscious awareness and a conscious experience of the visual perception quale of the house, with the manifestation of what it is like. The neural process in Figure 5.6 B may send this kind of SSP to other neural processes apart from the consciousness neural process too, but, because those neural processes do not have the specialized ability to produce conscious awareness and a conscious experience when receiving an SSP, conscious awareness and a conscious experience do not and cannot occur in those neural processes.

In this universe, it is just that some signaling patterns can have the information of qualia – the information that, in the neural language, means something with a manifestation of what it is like and can induce conscious awareness and experience of itself in the consciousness neural process – and that some neural process (i.e., the consciousness neural process), after reading these signaling patterns and processing their information, with its specialized ability, can create the conscious awareness and conscious experiences of the qualia. These are all possible because of their fundamental nature. It is a brute fact. If we consider the matter in general, this is actually not very surprising or improbable. There have been countless kinds of neural processes with various kinds of signaling patterns and signaling states since the nervous system occurred in this world about 700 million years ago. It is quite possible that some of them evolved the capability to exhibit additional phenomena (like qualia, conscious awareness, and conscious experiences) that more primitive neural processes with more primitive signaling patterns and signaling states could not. There even is a possibility that some other kinds of mental phenomena that we do not know of yet and that may be even more fascinating than qualia, conscious awareness, and conscious experience already exist or will occur in other kinds of signaling patterns and signaling states of present or future neural processes.

(It remains to investigate what kinds of signaling pattern can be qualia or can have phenomenal manifestations and what their characteristics are. Current interesting theories are that qualia are information cycled through a hierarchy of networks in a resonant state [4] or result from the attractor activity in networks of pyramidal cells in the cerebral cortex [7] or reentrant synchronous intracortical activity [40-43].)

Now, if qualia are the SSPs of their neural processes, the SSPs must have all the physical properties of qualia; otherwise, qualia cannot be the SSPs. Do the SSPs have all the physical properties of qualia? This can be verified as follows:

PQ1.1. Because SSPs are signaling patterns, they are information and thus non-material. Because they are signaling patterns of neural processes, they occur in the functioning brain. Therefore, they are non-material phenomena in the functioning brain – as required.

PQ1.2. SSPs’ characteristics must be phenomenal. As summarized at the end of section PQ1.2 in the previous chapter, this means that an SSP must

  1. be readable by the consciousness neural process and able to induce the conscious experience and the conscious awareness of itself in the consciousness neural process,
  2. be information about something that is not itself,
  3. not react with anything other than the consciousness neural process, and
  4. have a unique kind of signaling pattern.

Now, let’s verify the required properties one by one:

1. Because, by definition, an SSP is a signaling pattern that can induce the conscious awareness and the conscious experience of itself in the consciousness neural process, an SSP is readable by the consciousness neural process and is able to induce the conscious awareness and the conscious experience of itself in the consciousness – as required.

2. Because, by its nature, the SSP of a neural process is information about a certain thing in the environment (such as light, sound, or smell), in the body (such as proprioception, equilibrium, or pain from internal organs), or in the mind (such as emotion, thought, or memory), it is information about something. And because that “something” is never the SSP itself, it is information about something that is not itself – as required. For example, the SSP of the quale red (Figure 5.7) is information about the 700-nm light that it is representing but is not information about the SSP itself.

Qualia - special signaling pattern

Figure 5.7 Information of a special signaling pattern

    3. Because the SSP that is sent to the consciousness neural process cannot be sent to other neural processes or react to other things again, the SSP cannot and does not react with anything other than the consciousness neural process – as required.

4. Because different kinds of neural processes that create different kinds of SSPs (for vision, sound, thought, emotion, etc.) are in different brain areas (occipital cortex, temporal cortex, frontal cortex, amygdala, etc.) and have different cytoarchitecture, myeloarchitecture, different connections, different receptors and neuro-transmitters and neurotransmitter receptors, and different functions [44-63], each of these different kinds of neural processes creates its kind of signaling pattern that is characteristically unique and basically different from other kinds of signaling patterns. Thus, different kinds of SSPs that are created from these different kinds of neural processes have unique kinds of signaling patterns – as required. While differences in major patterns of SSPs create different kinds of qualia with major differences in manifestation characteristics (vision, sound, thought, emotion, etc.), differences in minor patterns create different details in the same kind of qualia (different images of visual qualia, different sounds of auditory qualia, different emotions of emotion qualia, etc.). With the estimated 100 to 1,000 trillion synaptic connections in the brain [64-66] and with various kinds of encoded signals, such as population, rate, temporal, and mixed encoded signals, passing through these multitude synapses [67-78], even a portion of the whole neural circuits of the brain can create virtually infinite numbers of different SSPs that can represent virtually anything in the world and result in virtually infinite qualia that we experience in our lives. Therefore, SSPs have the capacity to represent all the things that we experience in our mind in various unique forms.

Therefore, with all the required properties satisfied, SSPs have phenomenal characteristics – as required.

PQ2.1. Because the activities of any signaling patterns of neural processes are fast, dynamic, and information-intensive by their nature, the activities of SSPs are fast, dynamic, and information-intensive – as required.

PQ2.2. Because SSPs consistently occur and exist with their neural processes whenever their neural processes function (because their neural processes will produce their SSPs whenever they function) and because SSPs consistently disappear whenever their neural processes stop functioning (because their neural processes will not produce their SSPs when  they do  not  function),  SSPs’ occurrences  and  existence  are  with  their  specific neural processes and are consistent – as required.

PQ2.3. Because SSPs can occur in only the neural processes that can produce SSPs, they do not and cannot occur randomly in the brain but occur and have to occur selectively in only the neural processes that can produce SSPs. This explains the selectivity in places of occurrences – as required. And because each specific neural process produces only its specific SSP, each specific SSP occurs with its specific neural process only. For example, a color-perception neural process produces a specific SSP that is the color-perception quale, and no other neural processes produce this specific SSP, so this specific SSP, the color-perception quale, occurs with the color-perception neural process only. This explains specificity in places of occurrences – as required.

PQ2.4. Because neural processes have limited ranges of information, such as limited color spectrum ranges and sound spectrum ranges, that they can encode in their signaling patterns, the SSPs’ capacities, or ranges of information, are limited – as required. And because the ranges of information of neural processes are naturally the ranges of information of signaling patterns of those neural processes (because information of neural processes is the signaling patterns of the neural processes), the SSPs’ capacities or ranges of information are identical to those of their specific neural processes – as required.

PQ2.5. Because all the details of information encoded in the signaling patterns of neural processes are naturally determined by their specific neural processes and are naturally identical to those of their specific neural processes, all the details of information in the SSPs are determined by their specific neural processes and are identical to those of their specific neural processes – as required.

PQ2.6. Because the number and types of basic component SSPs of any kind of qualia (such as the number of basic component SSPs of a visual quale is 6, and the types of basic component SSPs of a visual quale are always color, brightness, acuity, shape, dimension, and velocity) are determined by the number and types of basic component neural processes of that kind of qualia and because the number and types of such neural processes are fixed and definite (such as the number of basic component neural processes of vision is 6 and the types are color, brightness, shape, acuity, dimension, and velocity, see Figure 5.8) for any kind of animals, the number and types of basic component SSPs of any kind of qualia are fixed and definite.

Figure 5.8 Basic component neural processes for visual perception (approximate sites)

   Also, because the spectral characteristics of SSPs of any kind of qualia are determined by the neural processes of that kind of qualia (such as the spectral characteristics of SSPs of the color quale are determined by the color perception neural process that produces the SSPs) and because the function of those neural processes are definite (not different among people), the spectral characteristics of SSPs of any kind of qualia are definite (not different among people).

Therefore, because the number and types of basic component SSPs and the spectral characteristics of SSPs of any kind of qualia are definite, the structure of SSPs for any kind of qualia are definite (not different among people) and determined by their neural processes – as required.

PQ2.7. Because signaling patterns are intrinsic parts of the signal-processing processes, which are the neural processes, it is inevitable that SSPs change with their specific neural processes – as required.

PQ2.8. Because SSPs are signaling patterns of neural processes and because interactions of neural processes’ signaling patterns occur via their neural process’s synapses, the SSPs’ interactions are via their specific neural processes – as required.

Therefore, the SPPs have all the physical properties of qualia. Consequently, because what qualia can function to do or to be depends on their physical properties and because the SPPs have all the physical properties of qualia, the SSPs can function to do or to be as qualia can. The SSPs thus naturally have all the functional properties of qualia, such as  being ineffable, intrinsic, and private [15,18,21,79-81], being irreducible [81], being directly or immediately apprehensible in consciousness [18], being irrevocable, having output flexibility, enduring in short-term memory [82], having transparent phenomenal states, involving temporal aspect, and having enormous multi-variability and combinatorial capacities [83]. For example, if a quale of a certain neural process is a representation of something, then the SSP of that neural process is certainly a representation of that thing too because the SSP has the same neural process’s information as the quale does. Also, like any quale, any signaling pattern is private and subjective – experienceable by only the subject who is having that signaling pattern – because a certain signaling pattern occurs in only the subject who is having it. And, like all qualia, all signaling patterns are ineffable because there are no sensory apparatus and no neural circuits that are built to get information about what signaling patterns themselves are. (All neural circuits are built to get the information that the signaling patterns contain, which is information about something else, such as visual information of the 700-nm light, auditory information of the musical note C, or emotional information of anger. No neural circuits are built to get information about what the signaling patterns themselves physically are.) Therefore, with no information about the signaling patterns themselves, all the signaling patterns are ineffable. (Please see related discussion about this matter in PQ1.2 above and PQ1.2 (C) in the previous chapter.)

In summary, an SSP has all the properties that qualia have while a novel entity that functionally occurs separately from the neural process (Possibility 1) needs several hypotheses to explain how it can have them. The most important difficulty about this hypothesized entity, which is not an E/EC signaling pattern, is: how can the consciousness neural process read this entity’s signals so that it can process them and create the conscious awareness and the conscious experience of this entity, which is the must for all qualia? All neural processes have evolved to read, operate, and send information via only electrical/electrochemical signals, after all. That is the remarkable fact of neural processing. Therefore, this theory asserts that a quale is a special kind of signaling pattern.

“If we look around and consciously experience the visual qualia occurring right in front of us now,withthe fact that the consciousness can experience the visual qualia and that the only things theconsciousness neural processis capable of reading aresignaling patterns of neural processes, it isinescapable to conclude that weare, in fact, experiencing the signaling patterns of neural processes!”

A quale is thus neither a new physical entity nor a novel non-physical entity but is just an under-recognized part of the well-recognized physical entity – it is the signaling pattern of a neural processthe inherent, informational part of a physical process. This answers the hard problem of qualia and bridges the explanatory gap of how non-material qualia arise from material neural processes. Correctly considering, nothing arises from material neural processes to be qualia – qualia are inherent and always there in their neural processes: they are the signaling patterns or the information of their neural processes.

5.2. The nature of conscious awareness and conscious experience

Next, let’s examine the nature of conscious awareness and conscious experience. When the consciousness neural process reads the signaling pattern of a neural process that has a quale, it processes the information and then, with its specialized ability, creates conscious awareness and a conscious experience of the quale. But what is the nature of the conscious awareness and the conscious experience? Are they separate entities from the consciousness neural process or intrinsic entities in the consciousness neural process?

We can investigate this matter similarly to what we did in the investigation of the nature of a quale in section 5.1. Let’s investigate conscious awareness first.  Suppose the conscious awareness is an entity that functionally occurs separately and additionally to the consciousness neural process as in Figure 5.9A.  If this is the case, we will run into similar problems that Possibility 1 in section 5.1. encounters, for examples:

Figure 5.9 The nature of conscious awareness

#1. What is the nature of this conscious awareness? From observation, it seems to be non-material, but other than that what is the exact nature of this non-material entity?

#2. How can it occur? Questions regarding its occurrence are similar to those of a quale’s occurrence in Possibility 1. For instance: If it occurs from the consciousness neural process, how does the consciousness neural process produce it? A neural process does not have an apparatus to produce anything that can contain signals or information, except its signaling pattern or signaling state. But if it does not occur from the consciousness neural process, what is the entity that produces it and what is the nature of this entity? And if the conscious awareness occurs out of nothing by itself, how can it do that and how can it know when and where to appear and when to disappear?

#3. How can this functionally separate conscious awareness get the information of Quale Q from the consciousness neural process or how can the consciousness neural process transfer the information of Quale Q to it so that it can be conscious awareness of Quale Q? A neural process does not have an apparatus to transfer information to anything, except to other neural processes, via its signaling pattern.

#4. How can the consciousness neural process read the signals from this separate conscious awareness so that it can be aware of this conscious awareness? If conscious awareness is an entity that occurs separately from the neural process, its signals cannot be E/EC signals and must be something else. What is the nature of these signals, and how can the consciousness neural process read signals that are not E/EC signals and that are functionally separate from it? A neural process does not have an apparatus to read anything that is signal or information, except E/EC signaling patterns of other neural processes.

It is evident that the possibility that conscious awareness is an entity that functionally occurs separately and additionally to the consciousness neural process has several critical questions that at present have no answers, and several additional hypotheses are needed to support this possibility. This is also true for the case that a conscious experience is an entity that functionally occurs separately and additionally to the consciousness neural process.

But if the conscious awareness of Quale Q occurs intrinsically in the consciousness neural process as in Figure 5.9B, what is its nature? The nature of the conscious awareness can be found from its physical properties as follows:

  1. Because it must be the information of the conscious awareness of Quale Q, it must be a signaling state or a signaling pattern in the consciousness neural process that is reading Quale Q (because information in the nervous system is in the form of a signaling state or a signaling pattern).
  2. Because the consciousness neural process can be consciously aware of the conscious awareness of Quale Q, the conscious awareness of Quale Q itself must be a quale. This means that the signaling pattern of the conscious awareness of Quale Q must be an SSP.
  3. Because there occurs conscious awareness of the conscious awareness of Quale Q and because there occurs conscious awareness of the conscious awareness of the conscious awareness of Quale Q and so on, this means that the conscious awareness of Quale Q must be in the state of sending its signals back to itself for the reentrant awareness to occur repeatedly, i.e., the conscious awareness of Quale Q must be in the form of a reentrant signaling state.

Definition. A reentrant signaling state is a signaling state that has its signals sent back to itself.

Now, the only thing in the consciousness neural process that can have these three properties is the reentrant signaling state of the consciousness neural process. This signaling state occurs after the consciousness neural process reads the signals from Quale Q, processes the signals, creates an SSP that represents primary conscious awareness of Quale Q, loops these signals back to itself to create the secondary conscious awareness of the primary conscious awareness, then loops the signals of the secondary conscious awareness back to itself to create tertiary conscious awareness and so on until the final conscious awareness that represents the unified conscious awareness of “Quale Q and conscious awareness of Quale Q” results. The final reentrant signaling state thus is the information of the unified conscious awareness of Quale Q and conscious awareness of Quale Q.

Thus, it is logical to conclude that conscious awareness is just a reentrant signaling state of the consciousness neural process. The nature of a conscious experience can be found in the same way to also be another kind of reentrant signaling state of the consciousness neural process. Both of these reentrant signaling states differ from other reentrant signaling states that may occur in other neural processes [42,84] in that they are in some specific forms that have the information that makes them be conscious awareness and conscious experiences. Reentrant signaling states in other neural processes do not have this kind of information and thus cannot be conscious awareness and conscious experiences. Basically, however, both conscious awareness and conscious experiences are just special kinds of signaling states. Thus, while a quale is a special kind of information because it is a special kind of signaling pattern, conscious awareness and conscious experiences are also special kinds of information because they are special kinds of signaling states.

Let’s pause and recheck what we have found out up to this point about the nature of the mind, mental processes, qualia, conscious awareness, and conscious experiences. From Theorem II and this theorem (Theorem IV), it has been found that

  1. The mind is the composite of all information-processing processesof the brain.
  2. Mental processes are information-processing processes of their neural processes.
  3. Qualiaare a special kind of information (or a special kind of signaling patterns) of their neural processes.
  1. Conscious awarenessand conscious experiences are special kinds of information (or special kinds of signaling states) of the consciousness neural process.

All of them – the mind, the mental processes, the qualia, and the conscious awareness and the conscious experiences – are informational entities, not the conventional physical entities or mechanical entities, like mass, energy, or forces. They thus belong in the functional, informational category, not the physical, mechanical category that mass, energy, and forces belong. That is why they are intangible and so different from the conventional physical entities yet so inherently connected with their mechanical counterparts.

5.3. Products of neural process evolution

As qualia occur selectively in some neural processes, not scatteredly in the whole nervous system, and as this is consistently true in billions of humans nowadays and in the past, qualia are certainly not randomly occurring phenomena. As all neural processes in the more primitive parts of the brain, such as the brainstem, cerebellum, and basal ganglia, do not have qualia while some neural processes in the latest-evolved parts of the brain, such as some parts of the neocortex, have qualia, qualia are evidently products of the nervous system evolution. As there are physical differences between the more primitive neural processes that do not have qualia and the more evolved neural processes that have qualia, some physical differences between the two categories of neural processes are likely to be the determining factors for the qualia to occur. It is very likely that some specific physical characteristics have evolved in neural processes and resulted in specific kinds of neural processes that can generate SSPs, or qualia. Qualia are thus an evolved function, not an incidentally occurring phenomena.

Similarly, because the consciousness neural process consists of several groups of neural processes in the latest evolved part of the cerebrum only, not of groups of neural processes scattered haphazardly in the nervous system, the consciousness neural process is a product of the evolution of neural processes. It is very likely that some specific physical characteristics have evolved in a group of neural processes in the newly evolved part of the brain and resulted in the consciousness neural process, which a specific kind of neural process that can generate re-entrant signaling states that are conscious awareness and conscious experience. Consciousness (conscious awareness and conscious experiences), which occurs with the consciousness neural process, is thus an evolved function, not an incidentally occurring phenomenon.

5.4. Effects of qualia

Do qualia have any effects or are they just inert mental phenomena, without any effects whatsoever? There are two ways to find this answer. They both lead to the same answer.

1. Consider Neural Process V (Figure 5.10A) that functions to produce a visual perception of a house without a quale occurring. Compare it with Neural Process V’ (Figure 5.10B) that functions to produce a visual perception of the same house but with a quale of the visual perception of the house, Quale Q, occurring. Like the previous discussion about the neural processes in Figure 5.5A and Figure 5.5B, there certainly are differences between the signaling pattern of Neural Process V and that of Neural Process V’ because Neural Process V does not have the special signaling pattern while Neural Process V’ does. Therefore, physical effects of both neural processes on the consciousness neural processes and other neural processes must be different too, at least from the processing of different signals. Thus, a neural process that has a quale has different physical effects from a neural process that does the same function but does not have a quale. So, a quale must have some physical effects.

Figure 5.10 Effects of a quale

   2. Consider Neural process V and the consciousness neural process in Figure 5.10A. As there is a registration of only the visual perception of the house occurring in this consciousness neural process, the information in this consciousness neural process will consist only of the visual perception of the house. But Neural process V’ in Figure 5.10B functions to produce a visual perception of the house with a quale of the visual perception of the house, Quale Q, occurring. When the consciousness neural process in Figure 5.10B reads the signals from Neural process V’, which has Quale Q, not only the registration of the visual perception of the house but also the conscious awareness and the conscious experience of Quale Q will occur in this consciousness neural process. The conscious awareness and the conscious experience of Quale Q are additional information that the consciousness neural process in Figure 5.10B has but the consciousness neural process in Figure 5.10A does not. A different signaling state must occur in the consciousness neural process in Figure 5.10B to represent this new information. So, there is a difference between the signaling states of the two consciousness neural processes. Therefore, a quale must have physical effects, at least in causing a different signaling state (to represent the conscious awareness and experiences of it) to occur in the consciousness neural process that reads it.

At present, there is not enough evidence to state conclusively what the effects of qualia are. As qualia occur in the final stages of sensory perception and the highest-level cognitive and executive mental processes only, it is probable that qualia evolved to augment functions of these important mental processes, such as to augment effects of sensory perception or emotion mental processes so that they have more effects on other mental processes, such as thought mental processes or the autonomic system. Evidently, these augmenting effects must yield some beneficial edges to the animals that possess qualia, such as (definitely) humans and (probably) high-level animals (e.g., other mammals, birds, reptiles, or even some insects) [85,86]), because they seem to be thriving in the evolutionary process.

5.4.1. But why does it have to be qualia to gain these augmenting effects?

Actually, before the augmentation of mental process functions by creating qualia emerged in the nervous system, the nervous system had been augmenting its functions with other means all along since it appeared: by developing a more and more complex and more and more capable nervous system. From a pre-nervous system with scattered neuron-like cells (such as in sponges) to a primitive nerve net (such as in cnidarians) to a primitive nerve cord with primitive nerve ganglia (such as in flatworms) to a nervous system with primitive brain (such as in Gastropoda, e.g., molluscs) to a nervous system with primitive cerebral cortex (such as in Vertebrata, e.g., lamprey) to a nervous system with more and more developed cerebral cortex (such as in reptiles, birds, mammals, and finally, human beings) [66,87-97], the nervous system has been evolving to be more complex and more capable throughout the time. Even after qualia had emerged in the cerebral cortex by evolving new neural circuitries and special signaling patterns, other parts of the cerebral cortex that functioned without qualia occurring in their processes did not stop evolving: they have been continuing to evolve to be more complex and more capable, resulting in higher intelligence, more language facilities, more manual skill abilities, etc. [66,89,91] Even the cerebellum and other parts of the brain have proved to continue to co-evolve with the cerebral cortex [89,98] (which is most likely the seat of qualia) all the time, even if they do not have any qualia occurring in any of their neural processes. Thus, the nervous system has always been evolving to be more complex and more capable notwithstanding the absence or presence of qualia.

Creation of qualia is just one possible path in the nervous system evolution. Qualia emerged in this world simply because, at some stage in the nervous system evolution, it was possible – the neural processes were advanced enough to evolve the new kinds of neural processes that were capable of producing signaling patterns that were qualia. After qualia began to appear in this world, they have been selected to persist up to the present time possibly because they yield some advantages to the animals that have them. And qualia emerged because of no other cause than evolution; that is why it took more than two billion years after life had appeared on earth and hundreds of millions of years after the nervous system had emerged before sufficiently-evolved neural processes that were able to create qualia could come into existence.

It remains to be seen whether creating qualia is the end of this evolutionary path or whether neural processes with qualia can evolve further into new kinds of neural processes with new kinds of mental phenomena that may be even more fascinating than qualia. It remains to be seen, also, whether non-qualia superintelligences (i.e., super-intelligences without qualia) rivaling or exceeding human intelligence (which has qualia) can evolve into existence in some animals in the far future. Actually, this kind of development is already progressing rapidly now in a non-living entity: a supercomputer without qualia, which is now able to solve complex mathematical problems that a human can never finish in his/her lifetime and to beat its own master at complex intelligent games, such as chess or Go. Someday, this type of super-computer – which does not have qualia – may become the ultimate supercomputers that are more intelligent and more capable of dealing with all problems better than their masters, humans – who have qualia. If we consider the powerful capabilities of the cerebellum, which can process billions of signals and control millions of muscle fibers accurately in milliseconds without qualia occurring in their processes but can result in such marvelous motor feats as those performed by skillful gymnasts and masterly musicians, it is reasonable to speculate that some animals can possibly develop non-qualia intelligence and capabilities, too. Even today, it is possible that some animals that demonstrate intelligence but have quite different brain structure from ours, such as octopuses and bees, may not have qualia in their systems. The generation of qualia is not the necessary path or the most effective path, but just one possible path, in augmenting the nervous system functions.

5.4.2. Then, why not augment all mental processes with qualia, why augment only some of them?

As qualia occur only in the final stages of sensory perception and the highest-level cognitive and executive mental processes, which are crucial mental processes for surviving in the complex world, it is possible that qualia evolved to augment functions of these crucial mental processes. Evidently, the lower mental processes, such as those in the basal ganglia, brain stem, and cerebellum, are able to perform their routine functions efficiently already without qualia. Qualia in these mental processes may thus be unnecessary and even disadvantageous because some resources must be diverted to create, maintain, and operate them. Therefore, the answer to this question is that qualia exist in only some mental processes and not in some mental processes because in some mental processes they are beneficial while in some mental processes they are not and may even be disadvantageous.

5.5. The hard problem of qualia

The hard problem of qualia, the problem of why and how qualia occur in this universe, is like the hard problem of consciousness [2,10-16] and the explanatory gap [12-21] in that it is not expected to be answered by scientific investigations alone. To answer it, some novel basic concepts are needed. These concepts have been developed from the first chapter up to this section and can now be used to answer this problem. The hard problem of qualia, the explanatory gap, and closely related questions can be answered as follows:

5.5.1. What are qualia?

Qualia are special kinds of neural process signaling patterns. These kinds of signaling patterns are special kinds of neural process information – the kinds of information that, in the neural language, mean phenomenal qualia, or qualia with manifestations of what they are like. Therefore, when the consciousness neural process reads these kinds of signaling patterns, with the provided information of the qualia and with the specialized ability of the consciousness neural process to create conscious awareness and experiences, conscious awareness and experiences of the qualia naturally and inevitably occur. This is how phenomenal qualia, or qualia with manifestations of what they are like, and conscious awareness and experiences of the qualia occur in the mind.

It is very important to emphasize that these special kinds of signaling patterns themselves are qualia – nothing else is created to be the qualia. Because signaling patterns are inherent in the signaling process, qualia are inherent in the neural process. This explains the hard problem of qualia and the explanatory gap of how non-material qualia arise from material neural processes. Strictly considering, qualia do not arise out of anything in the neural process, they are inherent and always there in their neural processes – naturally existing in the neural processes whenever and wherever there are neural processes – they are the information part or the information aspect of the neural processes.

5.5.2. Why do qualia exist?

Qualia exist in this universe because it is fundamentally possible to have them in this universe. And they exist in the nervous system – in the special signaling patterns of neural processes – because, in this universe, it is fundamental in the nature of neural signaling patterns that some of them are qualia: some kinds of neural signaling pattern in this universe mean, in the neural language, something that has a manifestation of what it is like, and these kinds of signaling pattern can induce the consciousness neural process to create the conscious awareness and conscious experiences of themselves; they thus are qualia. It is a brute fact.

5.5.3. Why do qualia occur?

At first, qualia occurred because, at some evolutionary stage about 520 – 315 million years ago, it was possible for the nervous system, which was advanced enough then, to evolve new kinds of neural process that were capable of producing special signaling patterns, which were qualia. Thus, qualia occurred simply because it was evolutionarily possible for them to occur.***

At present, qualia still occur because there still are neural processes that are capable of producing them functioning. Evidently, that these kinds of neural processes still exist today means that they have been preserved in the evolutionary process since they appeared in this world. This, in turn, indicates that these kinds of neural processes, which produce qualia, must yield some effects that help increase the chance of survival of the species that possess them. Thus, qualia still occur today because they must somehow help increase the chance of survival of the species that possess them.

N.B. 5.5.2 and 5.5.3 answer the hard problem of qualia of why qualia exist in this universe. Summarily: qualia exist in this universe because it is fundamental in the nature of this universe that there exist qualia in this universe and that qualia are some kinds of neural signaling pattern, and qualia still exist and occur today very probably because they help increase the survival chances of the species that have them.

(***Approximately, life began 3.5 billion years ago, and primitive nervous system arose about 700 million years ago (in Cnidaria)[88-90]. Between 550 and 525 MYa, we see the first fossil appearances of many animal innovations, including eyes [91], and nervous system complex enough to generate qualia arose around 520 million years ago (in primitive vertebrates) [88-90,92] or around 315 million years ago (if in more advanced vertebrates)[93].)

5.5.4. How do qualia occur?

As discussed in 5.5.1, qualia occur by the functioning of neural circuits. Specifically, they occur by neural circuits circulating their signals in some special signaling patterns. These special signaling patterns themselves are qualia – no additional entities to be qualia are created. Again, this answers the hard problem of qualia and the explanatory gap of how non-material qualia arise from the material neural process, as discussed in 5.5.1.

5.5.5. When do qualia occur?

As discussed in 5.5.3., qualia occurred in this world around 520 – 315 million years ago when the nervous system was advanced enough to evolve neural circuits that were able to produce special signaling patterns, which were qualia. After that, qualia occur whenever neural circuits circulate their signals in the form of special signaling patterns. It should also be noted that it is impossible for qualia to not occur when neural circuits circulate their signals in the form of special signaling patterns because special signaling patterns themselves are qualia.

5.5.6. Why can there not be just mental processes without qualia?

There can be just mental processes without qualia, and this had been the case for a long time – hundreds of millions of years – since the nervous system had appeared on this planet to the time when evolving neural processes became advanced enough to produce qualia. When that time came, qualia emerged simply because it was possible. It is only after that time that there are mental processes with qualia. But, it should be noted that, even nowadays, mental processes without qualia still far exceed mental processes with qualia in number – all the sub/non-conscious mental processes of the cerebral cortex, basal ganglia, thalamus, brainstem nuclei, cerebellum, etc. are mental processes without qualia.

5.5.7. Why can SSPs not be qualia but still preserve the same augmenting effects?

Because that is not possible. If SSPs are qualia (which they indeed are), they induce the consciousness neural process to produce conscious awareness and conscious experiences, which are particular signaling states, of the qualia. These particular signaling states are the very signaling states that have the augmenting effects (Figure 5.11 A).

Figure 5.11 Effects of a signaling pattern that is (A) and that is not (B) a quale

If they are not qualia (Figure 5.11 B), they will not induce the consciousness neural process to produce conscious awareness and conscious experiences of the qualia. Consequently, the particular signaling states that are conscious awareness and conscious experiences of the qualia will not occur, and the augmenting effects from such particular signaling states will not occur. That is, the augmenting effects cannot occur if these particular signaling states (conscious awareness and conscious experiences of the qualia) do not occur because SSPs are not qualia in the first place.

In conclusion, qualia, as they are (i.e., phenomenal qualia, with phenomenal characteristics that can induce the occurrences of conscious awareness and conscious experiences of themselves), occur in the nervous system because, in this form, they have particular effects on the nervous system and thus have particular functions in the nervous system. If they were not in this form (i.e., without phenomenal characteristics that can induce the occurrences of conscious awareness and conscious experiences of themselves), these particular effects and functions would not occur.

5.6. Predictions

  1. A quale can be identified, quantified, or monitored by identifying, quantifying, or monitoring only the SSP of its neural process, respectively. These actions on the SSP are both necessary and sufficient for the corresponding actions on the quale to occur, and these actions on anything else without having the actions on the SSP will not result in the corresponding actions on the quale.
  2. A quale can be created, modified, tested, or destroyed by creating, modifying, testing, or destroying only the SSP of its neural process, respectively. These actions on the SSP are both necessary and sufficient for the corresponding actions on the quale to occur, and these actions on anything else without having the actions on the SSP will not result in the corresponding actions on the quale. Experimentally, isolated actions on the SSP, without having actions on anything else, can be done by electrical stimulations, magnetic stimulations, and pharmacologic agents that have effects on only E/EC signal transmissions of the neural process (because the SSP is the pattern of E/EC signal transmissions among neurons of the neural process).
  3. In any event or experiment, all predictions that are valid for the SSP of the neural process of a quale, such as that the SSP will occur, change, or disappear, will be identically valid for the quale, that is, the changes that occur in the SSP and those that occur in the quale will be identical in all aspects (quality, quantity, temporal pattern, etc.). For example, if the SSP changes its pattern abruptly from being a signaling pattern of the static, faint, homogenous red color to being a signaling pattern of the dynamic, vivid, complex movie; the changes in the quale will be identical in all aspects, such as identical changes from homogeneous color to complex movie (quality), from faint to vivid (quantity), and abruptly from static to dynamic (temporal pattern).
  4. It will be found that neural processes that have qualia have signaling patterns that are SSPs, which have categorically different characteristics from those of signaling patterns of neural processes that do not have qualia, and that signaling patterns of different kinds of qualia are significantly different from each other but have some principal features in common.

5.7. Remarks

It may be against the feeling or belief of some people that a quale is not a novel entity or not a separate entity from the neural process. So, even with all the demonstrated evidence, some people may still insist that a quale is not a special kind of E/EC signaling pattern (SSP) but is something else. Let’s denote this something else with Q. If this is the case, then there must be some properties that differentiate Q from the SSP. These properties must be the quale’s properties, other than those listed at the beginning of this chapter, that Q has but that the SSP does not. Thus, not only must Q have all the already listed physical properties of the quale but also it must have these additional, differentiating properties too. The questions are, other than the SSP, what is the entity that has all the already listed physical properties of the quale and what are these additional, differentiating properties that will invalidate the SSP as the entity that the quale is? As long as such an entity and such additional, differentiating properties are not identified and as long as the predictions pertaining to the assertion that the quale is the SSP, as stated above, are true, it is illogical and useless to devise Q or any other entity that is vague and not experimentally testable to be the entity that the quale is and logical to theorize that the quale is the SSP. With an evidence-based theorem that has testable predictions as the basis, experiments can be designed to verify or falsify it. No matter whether the theorem is verified to be true or false, advance in understanding of qualia will occur, and a more refined or better theorem will emerge.

Also, it should be noted that the kind of idea that the signaling pattern of a neural process is a quale is not a novel one. It has been proposed by several authors before, such as by Orpwood (2007, 2013, 2017) [5,7,4], Loorits (2014) [2], Sevush (2005) [102], and Llinás (2002) [103], before. This theory just proves it explicitly and specifically that it is the special signaling pattern, the signaling pattern in some specific form, that is the quale. Likewise, it should be noted that the kind of idea that some kind of neural information is a quale is not a novel idea either. This has been proposed by some authors, such as Orpwood (2007, 2013, 2017) [5,7,4] and Balduzzi and Tononi (2009) [1] before. Specifically, Orpwood asserts that qualia are information cycled through a hierarchy of networks in a resonant state, and Balduzzi and Tononi states that qualia are a geometry of integrated information. Orpwood proposes that the input information of what X is, when repeatedly cycled through a hierarchy of networks in a resonant state, will finally evolve into information of how X seems to the network – this information of how X seems to the network is a quale. Balduzzi and Tononi proposes that the quantity of consciousness is the amount of integrated information generated by a complex of elements and that the quality of experience (a quale) is specified by the informational relationships it generates, i.e., a quale is the geometry of the integrated information. Sevush (2005) [102] asserts that conscious content corresponding to the spatial pattern of a portion of that neuron’s dendritic electrical activity and that the dendritic spatial pattern is reexpressed at the population level by the spatial pattern exhibited by a synchronously firing subgroup of the conscious neurons.

The present theorem, however, does not require that information has to be repeatedly cycled to be quale as Orpwood proposes. It is possible that information can become a quale in one-pass through the neural circuit of a quale-generating neural process if the neural process has a correct structural and functional configuration. Yet, this may not be the case. In general, whether information can become a quale in one or multiple passes through the neural circuit depends on its anatomic structure and the way the signals are processed through the neural circuit, both of which are presently unknown. Also, the present theorem, does not assert that qualia are geometry of integrated information but asserts that qualia are information – a non-material entity that describes something to some entity – itself. By this present theorem, information can be a quale if and only if it means “quale” in the neural process language, and, to mean “quale”, the information must describe phenomenal characteristic of something. Thus, according to the present theorem, the meaning of information, not the complexity or the geometry of information, is the determining factor whether any information is or can be a quale – this is different from Balduzzi and Tononi’s concept that qualia are a geometry of integrated information. Lastly, because this theorem asserts that it is the SSP, the special form of signaling pattern that a neural process sends to the consciousness neural process, and because signaling patterns that neural processes send to each other are signaling patterns of the axons that the neural processes make contacts between each other, qualia are the neuronal axonal electrical activities, not neuronal dendritic activities that are reexpressed at the population level by the spatial pattern exhibited by a synchronously firing subgroup of the conscious neurons, as Sevush [102] proposed.

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“Basically, all qualia that we have – all the colors, all the sounds, all the emotions, all the thoughts, and all the memory as they appear phenomenally in our minds – are here simply because it is possible to have them in this universe and for them to come into existence at some evolutionary time. And they are still here because they have helped us in our survival.

Qualia are here to help us survive.”

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Next: Chapter 6 – Theorem V >

Back to Chapter 4 – Theorem III


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