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Neural Netw. 2007 Nov;20(9):1004-20. Epub 2007 Sep 11.

The apical dendrite theory of consciousness.

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Bard College at Simon's Rock and Stanley Laboratory of Electrical Physics, Great Barrington, MA, 01230, USA.


The neural basis of consciousness is theorized here to be the elevated activity of the apical dendrite within a thalamocortical circuit. Both the anatomical and functional properties of these two brain structures are examined within the general context of the cortical minicolumn, which is regarded as the functional unit of the cerebral cortex. Two main circuits of the minicolumn are described: the axis circuit, which sustains activity for extended durations and produces our sensory impressions, and the shell circuit, which performs input-output processing and produces identifications, categorizations, and ideas. The apical dendrite operates within the axis circuit to stabilize neural activity, which enables conscious impressions to be steady and to be sustained over long periods of time. In an attempt to understand how the conscious aspect of subjective impressions may be related to apical dendrite activity, we examine the characteristics of the electric and magnetic fields during the movement of charges along the apical dendrite. The physical correlate of consciousness is regarded here as the relatively intense electromagnetic field that is located along the inside and the outside close to the surface of the active apical dendrite.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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