Marvan, Polák, Bachmann, Phillips: Apical Amplification – A Cellular Mechanism of Conscious Perception?

The next meeting of the seminar is planned for May, 14th, at 12:00 (CET). Our guest will be Tomáš Marvan (Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Philosophy, Prague). We will discuss a draft paper by Tomáš Marvan, Michal Polák (University of West Bohemia), Talis Bachmann (University of Tartu), William A. Phillip (University of Stirling): Apical Amplification – A Cellular Mechanism of Conscious Perception?  William Philips will be also present on our seminar.

Abstract: We present a theoretical view of the cellular foundations for network-level processes involved in producing our conscious experience. Inputs to apical synapses in layer 1 of a large subset of neocortical cells are summed at an integration zone near the top of their apical trunk. These inputs come from diverse sources, and provide a context within which the transmission of information abstracted from sensory input to their basal and perisomatic synapses can be amplified when relevant. We argue that apical amplication (AA) makes perceptual experience more flexible and thus more adaptive by making it sensitive to context. It restrains recurrence by avoiding strong loops, and makes broadcasting feasible while preserving the distinctive informational identity of the cells receiving the broadcast. As AA is highly dependent on cholinergic, aminergic, and other neuromodulators, it forms a bridge between global states of consciousness and the specific contents of conscious experience, thus treating both in a unified theoretical framework. Thus, apical amplification might provide a cellular mechanism that is crucial to our conscious perceptual experience.

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