Semblance Hypothesis

First Person Neuroscience

What is unique about neuroscience? What makes us get attracted to it? The nervous system is apparently mysterious and appears to be challenging to explore it. Let us examine some other systems and their most important functions. The main feature of the circulatory system is the pumping action of the heart. It remained a mystery to us until we explored and understood it very well. Artificial heart transplantation is a solid proof for our knowledge. Let's take another system - the excretory system. Here, the most important function is excretion of waste materials from the blood by the kidneys. We understood excretory function of the kidneys very well. We can carry out dialysis to replace its functions.

Now, let us examine the nervous system. It's most important functions are the formation of internal sensations of perception, retrieved memories and a state of being conscious. What are we doing to understand them? Current research examines third-person observed findings from various levels – molecular, cellular, electrophysiological, systems, imaging, and behavior with the expectation that internal sensations of higher brain functions are emergent properties. Advances in molecular biology, electrophysiology and imaging studies have significantly improved ways to examine the third-person observations at various levels. However, the first-person internal sensations and the nodal points in the circuity at which they emerge and specific conditions for them remain unexplored. In order to understand the nervous system, immediate attention is required to study the latter's formation. This is an essential step to cure its diseases - mental disorders, disorders of memory and consciousness. In addition, understanding this function will enable us to replicate the operational mechanism in engineered systems for developing artificial intelligence. This page explains the importance of beginning a first-person scientific approach for using the third-person observations to understand the formation of internal sensations of various higher brain functions. Examining the system from a first-person frame of reference is an essential step in this approach.

                Third Person Neuroscience

                 First Person Neuroscience

Studies taking place at various levels are based on third-person observations. Examples include the following.

Biochemical findings: Gene expression and action of protein molecules.

Cellular changes: Outgrowths of neuronal processes, new neuron formation and their connections and neuronal firing.

Electrophysiological changes: Changes in AMPA and NMDA receptor currents, changes in postsynaptic potentials and changes in voltage-dependent calcium currents.

Systems changes: Oscillating potentials recordable from using either surface or extracellular electrodes.

Imaging findings: Changes in signals in fMRI, changes in neuronal ensembles that fire during a higher brain function.

Behavioral changes: Speech and motor actions that can provide sensory inputs to third-person experimenters regarding the formation of first-person internal sensations.

First-person scientific approach deals with studying the mechanism of induction of first-person internal sensations. Currently these are considered as emergent properties. The apparent bottleneck in this approach is the access problem. What we need are methods and tools to overcome the challenges of the access problem.

Since third-person experimenters cannot access the first-person properties, the methods to solve the issue involve the following critical steps 1) Hypothesize a feasible mechanism that explains the nodal points at which internal sensation can emerge and specific conditions. It should have all the elements that can satisfy the requirements to explain findings made at various levels by different fields of neuroscience. 2) The hypothesized mechanism should be able to operate in union with the known circuit properties and should be able to explain various nervous system functions 3) Using the hypothesized mechanism, develop a circuit to conduct the gold standard test of replicating the mechanism in engineered systems. At this stage, it is required to know the nodal points and conditions in which units of internal sensations emerge as a systems property. 4) Devise methods to capture the emergent properties by converting them to suitable readouts for the third-person experimenters. This is a feasible step since we are designing the engineered system.

The ultimate aim is to understand a scientifically well-founded operation of the system that can explain both first- and third-person oberved findings in the system.

Why do we need a first peron neuroscience?