This book deals with impulse patterns, which nerve cells receive record and respond to with more impulse patterns. A lot of these pat terns can be explained as automatic responses to stimuli. But some are initiated by the system itself. Many processes are launched by the mind. They are not just automatic responses to inputs from the environment. We are not automatons which mechanically react to stimuli. We begin things: We are intensely aware of the continuous processing of Widely differing undertakings by our minds. Continual initiation of activity is an essential element of our consciousness.
We have two ways of explaining this process of initiation of activities. One way is to suggest that there is a soul, a ghost in the machine which triggers all those activities which the mind itself initiates. Somehow, that explanation doesn’t sound appealing. This book suggests a second process, a mechanical process, a Consciousness Drive which virtually compels you into action.
This book suggests that there are neural mechanisms which direct and evaluate sensory inputs, make decisions and set in motion activities which achieve these goals. Each of these mechanisms can be considered to be capable of initiating activities. This book suggests that they do not initiate the activity. They merely carry out the most attractive option of the moment, whatever it is. They are set in motion by an automatic initiating mechanism – the Consciousness Drive.
Consider a machine which rejects faulty components in a conveyer line. The machine keeps making decisions based on the parameters fed into It and acts to pick up bad pieces and throw them into a waste bin.The machine accepts information, decides and acts. Each individual act can be considered to be initiated by the machine. But the machine was only just switched on along with its decision-making process and a mechanism which compelled it to act on its decisions. The machine makes only one decision. We make millions. But the process could be the same.
The Consciousness Drive switches on the decision-making processes and the compulsions to act on the decisions. It has been suggested that all nerve cells are coded to be activated or inhibited by even a single impulse. The neural mechanism is known to be capable of triggering cyclic impulses. The Consciousness Drive impulses put you to sleep, or continually trigger activities in the primary Channels which initiate action. This book suggests that the Awareness Channel, the Feeling Channel and the Goal Channel are continually compelled to function by the Consciousness Drive.
These are areas which accept information, evaluate and decide on the information and initiate activity. These areas are activated when you become conscious. This book suggests that the mind becomes conscious when this Drive is switched on. It is suggested that this Drive is probably triggered from the reticular formation. Without this Drive, there would be no consciousness. It is notable that damage to the reticular formation causes the patient to go into coma.
There are thousands of neural circuits which perform special purpose functions. Our use of language itself indicates many computing elements which operate in the system. Consider the neural mechanisms needed to arouse curiosity. As explained earlier, an impulse pattern in any association channel indicates a specific area of recognition. When the Perception of the Channel does not relate to any previously experienced pattern, incoming impulses trigger inhibition of every neuron in the Channel. Consider a segment of fibers in the Feeling Channel as constituting a Curiosity Channel. Suppose that a segmental group of fibers in this Curiosity Channel are linked to fibers in the Association Channel, in a code recognition link that will inhibit the fibers if there is an Association Response.
In this situation, there would be inhibition of this segment of the Curiosity Channel if recognition has been triggered in this association region. As explained earlier,Feeling Channel impulses are continually triggered by sequential Consciousness Drive impulses Thus each neuron in the Feeling Channel will receive a dendritic input from the Consciousness Drive, which is an ongoing sequence of impulses which sustains consciousness. Whenever an object arouses interest, association regions will evaluate the object for recognition signals.
When the association regions are unable to recognize an object or an event, these channels will become inhibited. In such a neural system, as long as the Consciousness Drive energizes the Curiosity Channel, impulses will be triggered in the Channel, whenever an Association Channel is inhibited. In this manner, the global Curiosity Channel network would reflect a varying need for information based on the current level of recognition. Maybe, when the level of recognition is exceptionally poor, and the level of awareness exceptionally high, the individual will be “dying of curiosity”! Evidently, Curiosity Responses in the Feeling Channel will trigger Goal Responses which attempt to satisfy curiosity.