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Field Effects

sunrise

    Fields are the antithesis of discontinuity.  As such they are crucial for telling us what consciousness is, or at least what it may be. 
    See the picture above?  It was chosen in order to show effects of fields, such as electric fields.  There is a very complex set of interactions involved, allowed to a considerable extent by the sensibly infinite gradations of the electric fields driving the charged particles emitting light.  What we get from electric fields is an essentially infinite set of possibilities of forces, interactions, and configurations, just the sort of effects necessary for the essentially infinite possibilities in sensory (visual, in this case) consciousness (actually, quantum mechanics rules that the gradations are not continuous, but we are allowed to think in infinite gradational effects so long as we're discussing human sensibilities, which normally are too coarse to recognize quantum steps).
    Nervous impulses are not in the least akin to fields, nor, for that matter, are they what we apparently experience in consciousness with its infinite gradations and variability.  There is one caveat, however:  even discontinuous nerve spikes moving down the same nerve may have meaningful connections via electrical fields, which no doubt would have some impact on the electrical force opening voltage-gated ion channels.  Far more interesting, however, are the connections possible between nerves via the electrical fields, and their subtle impacts on coordination and timing of nerve impulses.
    Fields that are being disturbed are constantly adjusting their energy and information states.  And they do so with infinite (on the human scale) variation and precision.  One portion of the field may be affected by an arbitrarily large number of forces operating within the same field, thus providing the scope for simultaneity and interactivity of a kind not found in other brain phenonomena.  That consciousness mirrors the predictable effects occurring within a complex and changing electric field ought to be considered unlikely to be mere coincidence.
    As mentioned elsewhere on this site, the stability of nerve impulses is extremely important, however the quanta that a nerve impulse exists as does not itself provide for much subtle interactivity with the rest of the information existing in the other nerves. let alone any simultaneous coordination over a collection of nerves all existing in close proximity to each other.  The fields allow for a large variety of interactions between nerves, and probably a limited scope for useful interaction between nerve spikes in the same nerve.  It is probably fairly early to speculate on just what the useful inter-nerve electric field activity would consist in, but from patterned signaling across nerves to eventual lockstep coordination between nerves (the latter is probably not highly conscious) could very well be happening.
    The range of possibilities must be large within electrical fields as complicated and varied as those in the brain.  Ion concentrations both within and without nerves would serve to inhibit or facilitate the travel of action-potentials along nerves having mainly voltage-gated channels (their concentrations might also have a chemical effect, but the reaction would be less quick, or informationally relevant, as field changes would be).  Thus the actual spike on the nerves would no doubt have the greatest effect, while it must be remembered that even the spike is complex and the entire range of nerve activity is far more complex.  This means that transient spikes are not the only effector of field changes, that a range of temporal effects are probably possible within the fields, and that both inhibitory and facilitory effects should be possible in the fields via the polarity of electrical phenomena.  If this complicates the search for relevant conscious correlates in the brain, it also suggests that the conscious medium could be subtly effective in many more ways than one would suppose at first.  It is worth noting, though, that the neuron spikes are the primary carriers of specific information and thus are most likely the main source of the information/energy dynamics affecting consciousness.
    It should be noted that coherent field effects presumably are minimized by the brain where codes and (classically) quantum processes are necessary, such as in reductive schemata, mathematics, and color codes.  It is exactly where information is necessarily associational and reliant upon highly complex contexts where consciousness and their source in the electrical fields are to be found.  Nervous data are held as quanta precisely because of the robustness and frequent value to be found in digital-like data.  However novel information in novel contexts is likely to benefit from contextual field interactions between data that are related in space, time, or in some other manner.  Fields are capable of allowing the sorts of subtle interactions that rational and mathematical data are quantized to prevent.  This is what we seem to be most conscious of (we seem not overly conscious of competent mathematical calculations once we have learned these well), and also it is what electric fields should be able to provide.*

*Just as an addendum, it is not impossible that the electrical fields making up conscious processing and consciousness itself are not simply due to the electric fields unavoidably produced between nerves.  While these are almost certainly a part of any proposed electric consciousness, there could be special structures that more precisely coordinate electric field information within themselves, like the glial cells, along with other supporting cells.  I do not think that this is likely, in fact, mainly because it cuts down on the scope of interactivity (unless these cells are specially structured to deal with electric fields) as compared to the more conventional electric fields that we know, but it seems worth mentioning the possibility.



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