OCT 21, 2020 10:30 AM PDT

New Theory Says Consciousness Arises from Electromagnetic Energy

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Professor Johnjoe McFadden, a researcher from the Univerity of Surrey in the UK, has proposed a new theory for consciousness. He says that electromagnetic energy in the brain enables neurons and areas of the brain to generate consciousness and our ability to think critically. 

“How brain matter becomes aware and manages to think is a mystery that has been pondered by philosophers, theologians, mystics and ordinary people for millennia,” he says. “I believe this mystery has now been solved, and that consciousness is the experience of nerves plugging into the brain’s self-generated electromagnetic field to drive what we call ‘free will’ and our voluntary actions.”

Whereas earlier theories of consciousness tended towards supernatural explanations and an immaterial soul in what s known as dualism, most scientists tend to embrace a view that consciousness is generated by the brain itself and its network of billions of neurons. McFadden's new theory, by contrast, is somewhat different. Instead, he has proposed a scientific form of dualism based on the difference between matter and energy. 

When neurons fire in the brain, they both send an electrical pulse down nerve fibers and electromagnetic energy into the surrounding tissue. While this energy has usually been disregarded as irrelevant to brain function, it carries the same information as is carried between nerve endings. Instead of a flow of atoms between neurons, however, it occurs as an immaterial wave of energy. As such, McFadden suggests that these waves may be the seat of consciousness- and as such, the driving force behind free will. 

Delving further into his theory, he highlights that previous examples of 'integrated information', such as neuronal information and conventional computing, are only temporarily integrated as they are reliant on multiple neuronal inputs for each output. He argues that this means they are implemented in time rather than space. As such, they can not correspond to physically integrated information. Given that 'only energy fields are capable of integrating information in space', he thus proposes that electromagnetic information ensures that consciousness can be physically integrated. 

Beyond explaining how consciousness arises, McFadden also believes that this theory may help develop conscious AI, something that has not been done yet due to our limited understanding and application of neural networks. 

 

Sources: Neuroscience of ConsciousnessMedical Xpress

About the Author
University College London
Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
You May Also Like
JUL 23, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
No Evidence for Depression and Serotonin Activity Link
JUL 23, 2022
No Evidence for Depression and Serotonin Activity Link
A new review study found that there is no clear evidence that serotonin levels or serotonin activity are responsible for ...
AUG 11, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
If You're Over 40 and You Like THC and CBD, Read This
AUG 11, 2022
If You're Over 40 and You Like THC and CBD, Read This
Are there risks to ingesting cannabis if you're over 40? Get the details here.
AUG 16, 2022
Neuroscience
Mental, Physical, Social Activities Linked to Lower Dementia Risk
AUG 16, 2022
Mental, Physical, Social Activities Linked to Lower Dementia Risk
Leisure activities such as reading a book or spending time with family and friends may reduce dementia risk. The corresp ...
SEP 11, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Smashing Stereotypes of Cannabis Users
SEP 11, 2022
Smashing Stereotypes of Cannabis Users
A new study conducted by University of Cambridge researchers shows that cannabis users and non-users do not demonstrate ...
SEP 11, 2022
Neuroscience
Circadian Rhythm Disruption Common to All Mental Health Disorders
SEP 11, 2022
Circadian Rhythm Disruption Common to All Mental Health Disorders
Researchers have found that circadian rhythm disruption (CRD) is a common factor among multiple mental health conditions ...
SEP 27, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
New Research Elucidates the Mechanism of Skin Cancer Metastasis to the Brain and Points to Groundbreaking Treatment
SEP 27, 2022
New Research Elucidates the Mechanism of Skin Cancer Metastasis to the Brain and Points to Groundbreaking Treatment
In advanced stages of skin cancer, patients develop brain metastases about 90% of the time. Though this is one of the mo ...
Loading Comments...