What it is like to be a bit: an integrated information decomposition account of emergent mental phenomena

Luppi, Andrea I, Mediano, Pedro A M, Rosas, Fernando E, Harrison, David J, Carhart-Harris, Robin L, Bor, Daniel and Stamatakis, Emmanuel A (2021) What it is like to be a bit: an integrated information decomposition account of emergent mental phenomena. Neuroscience of Consciousness, 2021 (2). niab027 1-16. ISSN 2057-2107

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A central question in neuroscience concerns the relationship between consciousness and its physical substrate. Here, we argue that a richer characterization of consciousness can be obtained by viewing it as constituted of distinct information-theoretic elements. In other words, we propose a shift from quantification of consciousness - viewed as integrated information - to its decomposition. Through this approach, termed Integrated Information Decomposition (φID), we lay out a formal argument that whether the consciousness of a given system is an emergent phenomenon depends on its information-theoretic composition - providing a principled answer to the long-standing dispute on the relationship between consciousness and emergence. Furthermore, we show that two organisms may attain the same amount of integrated information, yet differ in their information-theoretic composition. Building on φID's revised understanding of integrated information, termed φR, we also introduce the notion of φR-ing ratio to quantify how efficiently an entity uses information for conscious processing. A combination of φR and φR-ing ratio may provide an important way to compare the neural basis of different aspects of consciousness. Decomposition of consciousness enables us to identify qualitatively different 'modes of consciousness', establishing a common space for mapping the phenomenology of different conscious states. We outline both theoretical and empirical avenues to carry out such mapping between phenomenology and information-theoretic modes, starting from a central feature of everyday consciousness: selfhood. Overall, φID yields rich new ways to explore the relationship between information, consciousness, and its emergence from neural dynamics.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: consciousness, information decomposition, integrated information theory, phenomenology, selfhood
Schools and Departments: School of Engineering and Informatics > Informatics
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2023 11:33
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2023 11:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/111006

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