Neurons and Psychology TermsPosted: May 12, 2013
Many researchers/theorists hypothesize, as their best guess, that psychology concepts arise from neurobiology (that is, “neurons firing*“) as follows (very roughly speaking):
- Consciousness = Neurons fire* in a pattern that reflects “information,” as defined by information theory. The reflected information is consciousness (as experienced by humans).
- Qualia = Neurons fire* in a basic* pattern that reflects a fundamental “bit of information,” as defined by information theory. The reflected information is a lowest-level bit of conscious experience (e.g. the “redness of red”, the “fearful feeling of pure fear”, etc…). Qualia are better represented when we account for the probability that a neuron will fire.
- Prediction = As part of a pattern, neurons fire*l because enough, but not all, of other connected neurons (in the same pattern) have already fired*l.
- Memory*l = Neurons fire in a pattern in which they had already fired*l (during a past experience). The involved neurons may not be the same cells, and may not fire in exactly the same patterns, as those of the original experience.
- Salience = Neurons fire*l in response to a stimulus (external or internal), which yields consciousness and a motor (and/or endocrine) response to gain more information about the stimulus. Salience and “general consciousness” are very similar concepts.
- Concept / Abstraction = Neurons fire*l in a pattern that is a subset of a larger pattern. The subset comprises a “representative sample” of neurons from the larger pattern.
- More to come: Working memory, ADD, emotion, obsession, imagination, cognition, goal.
Much psychology research centers on certain popular concepts and terms. And much neurobiology research explores them too, often in great technical detail.
But few places define a simple mapping between the abstract concepts and their underlying fundamental, neurobiological principles (which typically involve neurons “firing” or “not firing”). Hence this post.