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PLoS Comput Biol. 2014 May 8;10(5):e1003588. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003588. eCollection 2014.

From the phenomenology to the mechanisms of consciousness: Integrated Information Theory 3.0.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America; RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Wako-shi, Saitama, Japan.
2
Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.

Abstract

This paper presents Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of consciousness 3.0, which incorporates several advances over previous formulations. IIT starts from phenomenological axioms: information says that each experience is specific--it is what it is by how it differs from alternative experiences; integration says that it is unified--irreducible to non-interdependent components; exclusion says that it has unique borders and a particular spatio-temporal grain. These axioms are formalized into postulates that prescribe how physical mechanisms, such as neurons or logic gates, must be configured to generate experience (phenomenology). The postulates are used to define intrinsic information as "differences that make a difference" within a system, and integrated information as information specified by a whole that cannot be reduced to that specified by its parts. By applying the postulates both at the level of individual mechanisms and at the level of systems of mechanisms, IIT arrives at an identity: an experience is a maximally irreducible conceptual structure (MICS, a constellation of concepts in qualia space), and the set of elements that generates it constitutes a complex. According to IIT, a MICS specifies the quality of an experience and integrated information ΦMax its quantity. From the theory follow several results, including: a system of mechanisms may condense into a major complex and non-overlapping minor complexes; the concepts that specify the quality of an experience are always about the complex itself and relate only indirectly to the external environment; anatomical connectivity influences complexes and associated MICS; a complex can generate a MICS even if its elements are inactive; simple systems can be minimally conscious; complicated systems can be unconscious; there can be true "zombies"--unconscious feed-forward systems that are functionally equivalent to conscious complexes.

PMID:
24811198
PMCID:
PMC4014402
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003588
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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