The "conscious pilot"-dendritic synchrony moves through the brain to mediate consciousness

J Biol Phys. 2010 Jan;36(1):71-93. doi: 10.1007/s10867-009-9148-x.


Cognitive brain functions including sensory processing and control of behavior are understood as "neurocomputation" in axonal-dendritic synaptic networks of "integrate-and-fire" neurons. Cognitive neurocomputation with consciousness is accompanied by 30- to 90-Hz gamma synchrony electroencephalography (EEG), and non-conscious neurocomputation is not. Gamma synchrony EEG derives largely from neuronal groups linked by dendritic-dendritic gap junctions, forming transient syncytia ("dendritic webs") in input/integration layers oriented sideways to axonal-dendritic neurocomputational flow. As gap junctions open and close, a gamma-synchronized dendritic web can rapidly change topology and move through the brain as a spatiotemporal envelope performing collective integration and volitional choices correlating with consciousness. The "conscious pilot" is a metaphorical description for a mobile gamma-synchronized dendritic web as vehicle for a conscious agent/pilot which experiences and assumes control of otherwise non-conscious auto-pilot neurocomputation.