Thursday, July 08, 2010

"Sensori-intentional" matching

When we turn our attention to the role of qualia played within the brain's system, "communication" also surfaces as a major theme. The functional role of qualia in facilitating communication within the brain is a fundamental one. In order to understand the essense of communicative qualia, one needs to study the phenomenology of subjectivity.

Qualia are tightly coupled with subjectivity. After all, it is "I" that perceive the redness of red. A quale does not exist as an objective entity like an electron or a nucleus. A quale does not float in the mid-air. A quale exists only in reference to a subject such as "I", and makes sense only to that person.

Studies of sensory perception, for example visual perception, have made it clear that in order for a subject to "perceive" a quale, two networks in the brain need to match. One is the sensory network that receives the input from the sensory peripherals (such as the retina in the case of vision). The other is the "intentional" network that is centered in the prefrontal area of the brain, and supports the self-consciousness. The sensory network provides the basic material for the qualia, while the intentional network provides the infrastructure for subjectivity. When these networks meet, the subject "I" perceive the qualia coded by activities of neurons in the sensory network ("sensori-intentional" matching).


Greg said...

The concept of sensori-intentional matching is very thought-provoking and has stimulated many questions. For example, is the intentional network sampling from the "basic material" of the quale provided by the sensory network? In other words, is the intentional network, depending on the individual, selecting a subset of that material to create the experience of that quale? Currently, I have the impression that quale relate to signifiers (in the Saussurean sense) as quarks do to protons or electrons. They appear to be at a more fundamental level than linguistic signs.

PS: I appreciate your ability to convey such concepts in an accessible manner.

(ma)gog said...

Dear Mogi sensei,

I have a very simple question.
Even without sensory network (without any input from the sensory peripherals), we often find ourselves "deep in thought", that is, we feel as if only "intentional" network were working, and it is difficult to stop the flow of our consciousness.

Of course, as "nothing comes from nothing", there might be always "sensory network" hidden based on one's experience, and the two networks are eventually always together to support self-consciousness. Is it right??

yuzu said...

I am talking with the sky. I sigh. Can I learn something truly from you? Can my brain grow up even a little bit someday? I almost tear. I am foolish. I wanted to be one of your good student. I am sorry.