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Definitions

Harry Erwin erwin at trwacs.fp.trw.com
Tue Mar 1 11:11:10 EST 1994


This is in response to Walter Alter's post to sci.cognitive on some
proposed definitions of sentience, consciousness, and self-awareness

I believe the anthropoid apes pass the self-consciousness test. I also
seem to recall that elephants do. Monkeys don't.

Cichlids pass the object permanence test based on observation. I'm
currently reading some papers by Gary Aston-Jones (et al) that indicate
the Locus Coeruleus (LC) in monkeys operates off the conditioned
attributes or meaning of cues, not their physical properties, in
selective attention and vigilance tasks. (Aston-Jones, et al, "Locus
Coeruleus Neurons in Monkey are Selectively Activated by Attended Cues
in a Vigilance Task," J. Neuroscience, in press. "Afferent regulation
of locus coeruleus neurons: anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology."
Ch. 4 in Barnes and Pompeiano, ed., Progress in Brain Research, Vol 88,
Elsevier, 1991. "Discharge of noradrenergic locus coeruleus neurons in
behaving rats and monkeys suggests a role in vigilance." Ch. 35 in
Barnes and Pompeiano, ed., Progress in Brain Research, Vol 88, Elsevier,
1991.) Walter Freeman has shown similar properties in the olfactory
system. The LC appears to be the first processing stage after pattern
classification and serves an alerting function, notifying structures
throughout the brain of the occurance of a significant event via
sensitization by norepinephrinergic interneurons. This appears to be an
aspect of how the brain implements object permanence. If a similar
structure can be found in other taxa that operates in a similar manner,
then those taxa pass the object permanence test and so have consciousness.

-- 
Harry Erwin
Internet: herwin at gmu.edu or erwin at trwacs.fp.trw.com
Working on Katchalsky networks....



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