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This article examines neurobiological and clinical observations that may be considered direct – …

Biology Articles » Neurobiology » Effects of relativistic motions in the brain and their physiological relevance » Preliminary observations

Preliminary observations
- Effects of relativistic motions in the brain and their physiological relevance


This article examines neurobiological and clinical observations that may be considered direct - rather than biologically mediated - consequences coming from the physical instant's ability to compound changes that generate the flow of time. Placing such observations in this context offers original results. The basis for the entire schema is the validity of special-relativity transformations even for the smallest time scale: it allows, for moving observers, dilatability both of intervals of any duration, even so brief that forces could not yet make a change in it, and also of the actual instant itself. Its interest is scientific, humanistic, and clinical. Supported by evidence expounded hereby, the range of validity for relativistic transformations (from long intervals down to the most fleeting possible one) also disproves the belief that the physical instant is interval-unlike, namely infinitesimal in the specific sense of being not integrable into intervals. These intervals resulting from the dilation of the instant - although they are time-resolvable or divisible and measurable by a clock at rest outside the observer - for an observer (mind) whose operative interactions are localized at microphysical components moving within the brain tissue with speeds close to light velocity remain unresolvable, as undivisible moduli of her time acuity.


This motion state, of the microphysical components at which the brain-mind interactions are localized, thus transforms a physical instant - which is a very minute period considered the ultimate modulus of transformational change, namely the minimal interval over which a causal transformation is at all possible or might be marked off by two different instants - into the minimal transformational resolution or time acuity of minds, which is observed to stay in the order of one hundredth of a second. We do not live and remember physical instants; we live and remember moments, and the difference between an instant and a moment is a dilation that stretches physical instants an ascertainable number of times.


The particular number of times affords precious information about the entire process, and also about the role of the relativistic transframing as biological tool, employed for varying the time graining (minimal resolution) of experiences and recall and, as a byproduct, for varying their attentional features as well. Generally not connected with psychology, this transframing is a motion effect naturally expected in the current state of our physical science, except where it is disqualified by the belief that the physical instant is interval-unlike - a belief that I will briefly address here.


As is known in the history of ideas, even if not particularly discussed in this article, this empirically disproven belief that the physical instant is interval-unlike has arisen in disparate epochs and cultures - pre-Columbian American, Eastern, African, ancient and contemporary European contexts - that may be fairly unrelated but are similar in certain characteristics. One of these is a compelling interest in holding illusory the irreparable time elapsing. The assignation to the physical instant of the aforementioned infinitesimality, or inability to compose (or integrate) into the real time or non-interval-like character called the "Chrysippus-Newton-Sommerfeld notion of instant," supplies the reasoning for a latent desire to find illusive the irrevocability of time. In other words, this antichronic or time-discounting belief in the interval-unlikeness of the physical instant requires us to assign a lowest limit for the validity of the Lorentz-FitzGerald transforms which are the basis of special relativity. Let me briefly explain this point. For durations that can be measured, one can empirically verify that a certain number of physical instants - that is a sequence of possible causal transformations - must appear dilated if the total duration is assessed from the sequence recorder (a clock) of moving observers. The antichronic outlook entails assuming some impediment that stops this dilational effect for smaller numbers of physical instants. In its view short intervals ought not to get dilated, a ban applied to the single instant in particular.


The groundlessness in conjecturing this impediment becomes apparent when we consider that no force in the observable universe can cause a transformation in less than about 10-25 second (imagine 0.000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 1 of a second), a duration that may also be expressed as its equivalent, namely as some 1019 Planck instants. Every transformation in time is thus currently ticked on intervals always larger than this one. Such a brief interval is accidentally unmeasurable (because any recording-change in a clock must be caused by some physical force, but no observed physical force could give rise to any effect so quickly). Nevertheless, nothing suggests that this ~10-25 second interval or a fraction of it is intrinsically noncompliant with the Lorentz-FitzGerald transforms.


Put differently, nothing suggests that this ~10-25 second interval or a fraction of it be refractory to become dilated and expand in due proportion any eventual marking sequence that subdivides it, revealing even the duration of those of its fractions (physical instants) in which no subdividing mark could ever be set - which fractions, if dilated, are to appear as a still discrete, causally impenetrable blank when appraised by moving observers. Where and why might any such hindrance to dilation be expected to begin, barring the special-relativity transforms' validity for fleeting intervals? The antichronic outlook demands this impediment in order to judge the physical instant unreal. In contrast, it is often thought that the Planck instant or Planck time (ħG/c5)1/2 = 5.3916... x 10-44 second, a minute fraction of a second (actually requiring forty-three zeros after the decimal point before starting with the mentioned numbers), may name a limit for any possible physical force to be efficient in causing a causal transformation. That is, it is thought that the Planck instant denotes the interval-like thickness of actuality, whose causal transformations - always taking many such instants because of the cosmologically acquired weakness of efficient forces - make real time. But this prospect is disturbing for an outlook that struggles against time. It rather wishes for a "block" universe where all intervals are simultaneously real, the actually present instant in no way different from the past and future ones, and time elapsing just subjective or illusory.


Historically, such yearning appears to be linked to the same societal stratification wherefrom the physico-mathematical grounds of modern science emerged, fostering the non-intervalic notion of instant. Scientific observations contradict this notion. They occur in the study of very complex systems, namely in neurobiology and its supporting clinical research, whose study belongs to a separate branch of learning and forces a scientist to depart from relativity physics. For this reason the context and observations presented in this article are rarely made available for physicists and biophysicists, notwithstanding their primary interest in features of, and hypotheses about, the physical instant. This article is written to remedy this situation.


Mind-brain research in Argentina stems from a 250-year neurobiological tradition that has focused on what today would be called the dynamic "sculpting" of intensities of the electric field inside brain tissue. This sculpting, not the connective function also served by the nervous ganglia integrated in the tissue, makes the dielectric states of electroneurobiological organs. The approach centered on these states differs from neuroscience research abroad, where the primary focus is on the circuitry embedded in the masses of brain tissue - a biochemically regulated circuitry whose activity carries out such dynamic "sculpting." This electric field "sculpting," in turn, molds the states of another physical field, on which minds also have a direct effect and react to it: the local states of this field, not those of the electric field, provide the cerebral localization of minds' operation - a topic discussed below. Our recognition of this force field in addition to the established ones had been portrayed abroad and even by esteemed local electroneurobiologists - quite consistent with nineteenth-century science - as if this field were a vital principle (vitalism). Our disambiguation of these concepts made clear that this portrayal was inadequate; it survived nonetheless as an added impediment to communicating our results across the contrasting neurobiological approaches (our emphasis on neurodielectrics versus emphasis on neural nets abroad). This article also aims to dispel this misperception by providing a synoptic overview.


Originally staged in private and university laboratories, our research programs moved to general hospitals in the 1880's, and by 1899 were mostly conducted in neuropsychiatric hospitals. These beginnings bequeathed to the Argentinian mind-brain research a combination of natural-scientific and humanistic aspects, a blend inspired by the recognition of every mind's intrinsic value. There is also a cultural dimension to our research and outlook regarding minds, whose conceptual articulation has been consistently dubbed abroad the "tango theory." Eventually we found it perceptive and, like erstwhile the first propounders of the "big bang theory," we got used to the label. In our research "consciousness" is not seen as a freely exchangeable material, replaceable in whole or in part for another portion of a similar nature - the nature of a "fungible material," such as a physical field or a body of water divisible in homogeneous portions. Thus every mind is initially defined not as mere intellectual performance but rather as synonymous with a psyche or finite existentiality, and to stress this all-important point, in what follows, mind or psyche will be referred to as "her," not as "it."


Every psyche is found to be primarily an unconnected, and unmergeable, eclosion or "pop-out" of "existential finitude." Although rare, the word "eclosion" will nevertheless appear often in this article. The phrase "existential finitude" denotes for natural scientists every reality able to sense and move a portion of nature while altering herself by sedimenting those causal involvements away from temporality - this refers to an "instant" and not a time sequence. The designation "away from temporality" thus means "not on a time course but inside the instant," specifying where such reality occurs and simultaneizes the sedimented sequences ("memories") of her reactions to her causal interactions. This is why any reality that knows itself ought to possess memory, being in turn erroneous the Aeschylus-Plato theory that envisaged brain-engraved memory traces, namely the never found "engrams". Or, in other words: since nature vacates itself outside actuality and consequently every thing in nature, including each mind, exists only within the physical instant, the preservation of memories is an effect due to the absence of time course rather than the presence of brain engrams.


By way of the brain organ, memories are made to include a representation of the time course that affected the surrounding circumstances. A most remarkable feature, each eclosion of existential finitude is found at a fixed circumstance (i.e., some brain, body, family, epoch) and possibilities of interpersonal relationships, wherefrom every circumstanced existentiality sensoperceptually apprehends reality as differently centered. This makes a well-defined or precisely determined sorting that, nonetheless, cannot be determined by the boundary conditions or historical path that led to compose such circumstance and formed the brain in it, rather than another sorting, in which this existential finitude has not eclosed at all or instead "popped out" at another circumstance. More simply, no brain can determine who will be the person to sense its states or to exert active ownership of it.


Consequently, the ontic makeup of minds or psyches is not to be confused with their mental contents. Even, in this special regard, every mind can no longer be defined as synonymous with a psyche or finite existentiality. Each psyche ecloses well determined as not another and as capable of sensing and moving (by no means as a tabula rasa), but mindless or without mind - that is to say, not yet innerly differentiated into mental contents, which psyches may acquire only later, along their existence. Mental contents are those distinctions, in the ontic makeup or constitution of psyches, that only the incumbent individual psyche can respectively know and distinguish, despite the fact that some of these mental contents can also be shaped by non-exclusive, fungible means. Such means are based on the action of physical force fields, used by every brain organ only to demarcate mental contents in any psyche eclosed at it; no brain can specify which existential finitude is to interact with itself rather than with some other brain. This organic incapacity becomes undetectable when every psyche is supposed to consist only of her mental contents - whose generative making is misjudged as the full entirety of brain-mind relationships. As a remedy to this oversight, the word "existentiality" also serves to designate a psyche without special regard to the acquired contents (which, strictly speaking, compose its mind) this psyche differentiates in her own reality or ontic consistency. This reality is ontic and also ontological, that is, also directly knowable to itself both with regards to its state and the causal generation of its inner contrasts and their demarcations, thus making those contents observable. These mental contents are the acquired availabilities found in everyone's mental world, and are made up of structural (structure-possessing) and structureless elements. Mental contents' structureless element comes as the psyche's reaction either to outer actions (intonation, phosphene-like phenomenology) or to the own acts (non-intonative or non-phenomenal reaction); mental contents' structure also comes from either extramentality or the psyche - that is, as outer patterning of the sensation-generating causal actions or as combinations of the psyche's sensation-generating own causal acts. Other availabilities are inherent or primary and thus are not called contents, but constituents of every existentiality.


In sum, all psyches eclose featured as an existentiality, i.e. well determined as not another (this determination is called cadacualtez, explained below), and take advantage of availabilities that can be divided into five kinds: two inherent abilities, to wit sensing and moving (which compose a "cognoscible transformability," whereby a psyche knows her state and every causally-efficient change occurring in it); and three kinds of acquired things or mental contents ("differentiations") that are possible to know and handle in the psyche, and collectively are called her mind. Differentiations broadly overlap with what many authors call "sensoperceptions," "episodic memories," and "praxias." These three kinds of mental contents are known and handled only by the incumbent finite subjective existence, namely by the existentiality or psyche of whose ontic consistency they are disjunctive alterations. Only one of these three kinds is regularly affected by causal actions emanating from its surroundings.


Sensoperceptions - comprised of sensations and perceptions - are the availabilities that the causal series coming from the surroundings may also directly affect. Inasmuch as such sensoperceptual mental contents are demarcated by fungible means, their study - viewed as the whole of psychology where psyches are believed to consist only in the so demarcated mental contents - becomes a natural science, namely a subdivision of neurobiology. The other two kinds of mental contents, episodic memories and praxias, cannot be affected in this way. Further, both of them are non-sensorial insofar as they involve non-phenomenal actions of the psyche in extramentality. These actions may in turn causally feed into the psyche's set of mental contents (namely, add to its already differentiated mind) fresh sensoperceptions that are hence traceable by scientific methodologies canvassing the productions of fungible means.


Psyches or existentialities, therefore, do not become innerly differentiated into psyche's acts and psyche's "objects" for contemplation, in the vein of languages that presuppose having to deal with what is signified by verbs and by nouns, or Platonisms that distribute reality into changing transiences and permanent realities. Objects are particular combinations of efficient causal actions. Also mental "objects", or rather contents that can be made sensoperceptual, are psyche's acts or causal actions, combined into diverse structures (attentional motor patterns, which may or may not trigger neural motor patterns), plus their possible structureless intonation as the acting psyche's reactions to her own acts or to outer actions; these outer actions may also pattern the reactive origination of intonations that they induce, thus bringing onto sensations a structural component coming from outside - yielding patterned sensations. Leaving these fresh sensations aside, all the remaining, older mental "objects" (episodic memories and learned praxias), being available combinations of the psyche's acts, may be cognoscitively identified and referred to, no matter if barely unfolded, inchoatively, or if further unpacked into diverse degrees of completion. Furthermore, the psyche, at her exercise of these particular combinations of her acts lending completion to her mental "objects," may become intonated, whether in full sensation or in some measure of it (noergy, explained below); and the enacted combinations of the psyche's acts or mental "objects" may either work only on one's own mind, or also on the body, or even beyond it - in the surroundings. While episodic memories, at their being reenacted or "recalled" by the incumbent psyche, work on the brain that the psyche reacts to (thus providing innerly determined sensory input to modify her mind), praxias work through this brain beyond it, into the surroundings that the psyche monitors through the extramentally determined sensory changes being imposed to her mind. Thus, episodic memories are nonsensorial but sensorially imaginable availabilities apt to be reconstructed in imagined sensoperceptions - that is, sensed as the psyche's reactions to brain states that she generates - as located in one's biography and recognized as one's own. Praxias, in turn, are practical sequences of one's actions unpacking a distinct mental content, which in this way is reconstructable in behavior outside the brain. In this behavioral reconstruction of a distinct mental content, praxias join sensoperceptions and reimagined episodic memories to become subjects for study by the subdivision of neurobiology that studies the mental contents demarcated by fungible or replaceable means. From another point of view, episodic memories do not significantly differ from praxias as regards the unpacking itself, a topic explained below.


The other two kinds of availabilities, namely the inherent abilities (sensing and moving), are not acquired mental contents, but constitutional or primary abilities of every psyche. One is gnoseological apprehension or knowledgeability: the ability to experience or have knowledge of one's own constitutive reality or ontic consistency, even if only of one's causal changes, and thus of differentiating the demarcations acquired by one's existentiality through causal efficiency whether of the outer circumstances or of the psyche. The other is semovience, the inherent or primary ability of every psyche found in nature (i.e., every circumstanced existentiality or existential finitude compounding in a personal organism) to start new causal series and not merely continuing causal sequences that are transmitted from elsewhere.


In this context, the states of the brain organ to which a finite existentiality finds herself circumstanced only affect the new formation of mental contents of the first kind of differentiations (i.e., sensoperceptions), including sensoperceptions of the new brain states that the psyche laid down for voluntary recall. These availabilities are the only ones shaped by fungible, or in other words, replaceable, means. These brain states are thus central to describing what is restored on recovery from fainting, comas, vegetative states, hibernation, general anesthesia, or ordinary sleep.


Brain states carry out this shaping in compliance with both causal-series-starting semovience of the finite existentiality that is circumstanced precisely to this brain organ (not of any other finite psyche, or existentiality circumstanced anywhere else: for example, one cannot directly move another's body, shape or watch another's dreams, see phosphenes by electrostimulating the brain of someone else, or use not one's own but another's brain to recall one's memories), as well as causal-series-continuing causation that is at work extramentally (that is, independently of being known by any circumstanced psyche) and whose lawfulness, or nomicity, comes from this continuance. Even though this brain is the site, or tópos, where the incumbent psyche is circumstanced for causal exchanges with the surroundings, as already mentioned no brain could determine who will be the person to sense its states or to exert active ownership of them. So, what exactly becomes restored on recovering the brain support of mental functions?


Brain functioning, by analogy, is vaguely reminiscent of regulating the proper speed in playing a soundtrack while simultaneously recording the music - the recording may or may not keep pace with its playing, "hitching up" or "unhitching" the music's source. Likewise, every brain organ, in its constituents that are immediately knowable and affectable by the existentiality circumstanced to it, can only lose or recover its aptitude (which is electroneurobiologically mediated) to provide adequate time resolution for the recording (a surroundings-depicting activity that is another electroneurobiological function of the same brain) of such forthcoming events of which a notice, knowledge, or gnoseological grasp has acquired evolutionary relevance, inasmuch as assigning it is conducive to nourishment or reproduction. Thus, the first aptitude or function gates the proper time resolution of the physiological hand-overs (which are the second function's products, and not immediately knowable themselves) that come from the sense organs and depict relevant events.

Contrary to this second function (surroundings-depicting brain activity) and in order to adjust the time resolution of the second function's products, the first function (gating) makes use of relativistic time-dilation effects that demand the coupling of a physical field's action carriers by another field. Just as two parties are needed for the tango, gating sensoperceptions also requires two distinct fungible physical fields, both overlapping and interacting yet diverse and segregated. No single field alone suffices. Application of these relativistic time-dilation effects is the core of the interaction of top-down corticocortical influences with bottom-up sensory entries. The gating function, far from "losing consciousness," instead enacts the modifications in selective disattention and at its peak values "switches off" and "on" the body, as explained below.

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