To better understand the “consciousness” of the brain

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To better understand the &laquo ; consciousness” of the brain

The word consciousness is the one of the most debated terms.

A new computer model developed by scientists from Quebec and France could provide insight into how the brain acquires its “consciousness,” which may lead to better treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders and advances in the field of brain health. artificial intelligence.

This neurocomputational model was developed by an international group of researchers from the Institut Pasteur and the Sorbonne University in Paris, the CHU Sainte-Justine, Mila (Quebec Institute of Artificial Intelligence) and the University of Montreal.

So far, this model has always been made for an already formed brain, an adult brain, said one of the authors of this work, Professor Guillaume Dumas of the Department of Psychiatry and Addiction of the Faculty of Medicine. from the University of Montreal.

However, in our model, what we did was to leave a bit like starting from the University of Montreal. a child's brain and to make the development of this model, that is, [what are] the biological mechanisms that are necessary so that, through the development and the experience of the world , a brain can acquire this faculty of consciousness.

The word consciousness, points out Professor Dumas, is one of the most debated terms and possibly one of the least well-defined in the field of cognitive science. In the context of this work, it refers to the brain's ability to describe a sensory experience (for example, I see a red flower or I hear music).

At birth, he continues, the child does not have this "consciousness", it does not have the basis of separation between itself and the others, and it is at the over time, through his interactions with others, that this separation develops.

The model we propose is the steps necessary to [get there ] to this self-awareness, explained Mr. Dumas. What are the most fundamental and critical mechanisms for consciousness to emerge?

The model is computational, in the sense that it is on a computer, but it is a biophysical model which, unlike algorithms which are programmed to arrive at a specific goal, is rather inspired by biology.

We simulated neurons, like [those] that are in our brain [and they] reproduce the electrical exchanges that take place in the brain, explained M Dumas. We also integrated into our model biological phenomena such as dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter associated with reward, so that the model can learn via rewards during its learning.

Understanding the& #x27;emergence of consciousness could have clinical implications in the treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders, but also in the development of artificial intelligence, he concludes.

The results of this work was published in the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).

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