, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 71-93,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 02 Apr 2009

The “conscious pilot”—dendritic synchrony moves through the brain to mediate consciousness

Abstract

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.