Neural Networks, Brainwaves, And Ionic Structures:
A Biophysical Model For Altered States Of Consciousness
This new model seeks to explain the biophysical
basis of Psi phenomena.
Wide differences in the concepts of consciousness
are prevalent among biologists, psychologists, and sociologists. The threefold
meaning of consciousness comes from the Latin word 'con-scio': a) to cut, b)
to make a distinction, and c) to know.
There are three different ways to know the difference -- 'con-scientia':
1) Through genetic bio-reactive knowledge,
2) Through personal self-reflexive knowledge, and,
3) Through social, consensually validated knowledge.
Biologists generally define consciousness as an "ability to react to the environment". Psychologists emphasize the "knowledge of oneself"; whereas sociologists focus on the "knowledge of oneself and the environment".
There is a traditional dichotomy between the biological and psychological models of consciousness. The neuroscientists often describe the fast parallel mode of neural information processing; while psychologists mostly deal with a slow serial model of consciousness (1). Consciousness manifests dualistic properties that are para-conceptual by our ordinary concepts of space and time, and so require understanding in their own terms (2).
The biophysical model that can bridge the gap between the dualistic properties of human consciousness is the relativistic one (3,4). This model assumes that complete information from the brain's neural networks is continuously encoded as spatiotemporal patterns within the brainwaves.
The physical mechanism that can account for the extreme time distortion and speeding of information processing in altered states of consciousness is the relativistic one -- Provided that consciousness can be associated with an electromagnetic (EM) component of brainwaves which can move through the brain with relativistic velocities.
Conscious information processing is associated with the EM component of ultra low frequency (ULF) brainwaves in either:
a) dialectically "denser" parts of the brain in the normal awake state of consciousness; or
b) a gaseous ionic structure in the vicinity of the body while in altered states of consciousness.
An additional, low-dielectric, weakly ionized gaseous neural network is necessary in these processes. This structure can be related to the displaced-from-the-body ionic system. This system can conduct ULF brainwave currents inside the conductive channels, with a tendency of deterioration during a period of approximately 1 hour.
Relativistic, brain-like, conscious neural networks can emulate many of the altered states of consciousness (e.g. hypnosis, meditation, REM sleep phase, the psychedelic drug influence, some psychopathological states, and near-death experiences) (5); and are responsible for some peculiar psychic phenomena, such as healing energy, qi, subtle body, short and long range transpersonal interactions, time and space distortion, etc. (6).
The weakly ionized gaseous neural network with embedded ULF brainwave currents enables an extremely short 'objective' time period to be 'subjectively' experienced as a very long period while in altered states of consciousness. This phenomenon is due to the biophysical relativistic mechanism of the dilated subjective time base.
For example, experimental testing of information processing capacity in 10 subjects while in either normal or hypnotic states has shown a clear cut difference in the speed of data processing and visual perception thresholds. Subjects were not able to recognize and name the visual stimuli appearing on a computer screen in less than 20 ms while in a normal state. But they were able to perceive stimuli lasting 5 to 15 ms when in the hypnotic state. Subjects were also able to complete a mathematical task while in a hypnotic state in only 15 seconds -- a task that usually requires 15 minutes when in the 'normal' awake state of consciousness (6).
It should also be noted that some peculiar relativistic effects in the spatial domain are predicted by this model The weakly ionized gaseous neural network with embedded ULF brainwave currents enables even long "objective" distances to be "subjectively" optically recognized as very close, due to the relativistic mechanism of length contractions. This can provide a biophysical basis for extrasensory perception in the spatial domain. In addition to ULF, high frequency waves can also be easily emitted and received by weakly ionized gaseous neural networks while in altered states, and at any time, during long-range transpersonal interactions. This mechanism is not limited by the ultradian rhythms that regulate long-range interactions in ULF domain.
weakly ionized gaseous structure has a tendency to deteriorate during a period
of approximately one hour. As a consequence of
the deterioration process, the displaced part of the ionic system can be "emitted" together
with the informational content of the embedded ULF brainwaves. The conditions
for ULF EM field localization are not fulfilled anymore, and ULF brainwave
currents can now flow through the surrounding weakly ionized atmosphere. This
effect significantly enlarges the linear dimensions of the dipole source; and
therefore the intensity of the irradiated ULF EM field.
This effect can provide the biophysical basis for long-range transpersonal interactions. Only the respective phases of the 90-120 minute ultradian rhythms of two persons need to be matched. Also, to be effective, exchanged information should be emotionally significant for the receiver; which would then trigger his/her extended reticular-thalamic activating system. This can explain why the phenomenon is mainly observed between twins, mother and child, and otherwise closely related persons. Even long-range phenomena of this type are supported by the existence of extremely low attenuation at ULF frequencies due to the "Schumann resonance" of the earth-ionosphere cavity (which resonance also closely correlates with the EEG-spectrum) (7).
Both of the transpersonal interactions mentioned above were of the long-range type. However, this model also predicts short-range transpersonal interactions without any waves emitted. These interactions may be due to the electromagnetic induction coupling between two neural networks having embedded ULF brainwaves.
This situation is similar to that found in the primary and secondary coils of electrical transformers; with the difference being that not only energy, but also information are transferred from one neural network to another. This could be the biophysical basis for non-verbal hypnosis, suggestion, etc. These interactions are also not limited by ultradian rhythms, as there is no wave emission in the ULF domain. They are also possible in both normal and altered states of consciousness.
It should also be pointed out that the ionic nature of the acupuncture system supports the possibility that ions in the air (i.e., Prana? Qi?) can be physiologically effective. Through the biophysical mechanisms that are the basis of acupuncture regulation, the positive ions have an exciting influence (yang?); and the negative ones have an inhibiting influence (yin?) (8). So, via this model, Qi (or bioenergy) can be related to ions flowing through the ionic channels of the acupuncture system in the form of ULF ionic currents; with informational content encoded in the spatio-frequency form of currents and EM fields.
In support of the ULF nature of ionic currents in acupuncture channels, one can cite the resonance ULF (~4 Hz) stimulation of the acupuncture analgesia endorphin mechanism. It should be pointed out that a substantial amount of experimental phenomena related to external Qi Gong treatment can be reconciled with the (ULF) ionic nature of Qi.
It thus seems that the healing process can be related to the transfer of ions between the healer and patient; and/or transfer of EM information patterns responsible for the normal functioning of the acupuncture system, and for overall good health.
Also, it seems that esoteric notions such as subtle body (manas, suksma-sarira, ka, psyche, astral body, etc.) and causal body (alaya-vijnana, karana-sarira, ba, thymos, mind, etc.) (5) are biophysically associated with a partly displaced (from the body) ionic acupuncture system, and an EM component of ULF ionic currents embedded within it.
Further deterioration of points of the displaced part of the ionic acupuncture system makes the whole ionic system homogeneous. This homogeneity precludes the possibility for new information to reach the subjective consciousness; the latter being associated with the ULF EM component of brainwaves. This altered state of consciousness can be experienced as the ultimate, transpersonal condition of thoughtless consciousness (nirvana, samadhi, satori, enlightenment, etc.). (5). Objectively, the whole ionic system is completely open for information exchange in the ULF domain, bringing the sense of oneness with the surrounding world.
Subjectively, this is the state of empty consciousness, although the brain's neural networks can still be very active. This altered state collapses very shortly in non-trained persons, but can presumably be prolonged in trained persons. While in this altered state, the lost portion of ions is still insignificant in comparison with that which exists in the body; and can be presumably regenerated during the breathing process in approximately one hour.
In the framework of this model, the biophysical nature of the ultimate goal of yoga and related esoteric disciplines (5) is the prolongation of an altered state 24 hours a day; with a displaced ionic system that is continuously opened. This means that the ultradian rhythm does not exist any more. The elimination of the ultradian rhythm and the prolongation of an altered state of consciousness can be achieved through the gradually enhanced, functional interconnecting of the left and right brain hemispheres (The left-right hemispheric dominance is normally governed by the ultradian rhythm)(9).
While in a prolonged altered state of consciousness (as practiced in yoga and related esoteric disciplines), one has continuous access and more efficient "subjective" integration of normally conscious and unconscious contents. When the displaced ionic system becomes continuously homogeneous, it becomes "objectively" opened to ULF interactions, thereby achieving a continuous state of 'oneness' with surrounding world.
Finally, as the EM field is presumably one of the four primary manifestations (electromagnetic, gravitational, weak, and strong nuclear forces) of the unified physical field, it can be tentatively generalized that the unified field itself may be an internal conscious display for various physical processes at different structural levels; from the macroscopic cosmic to the microscopic subnuclear.
As a consequence, one could speculate that Nature itself is conscious at different structural levels, both animate and inanimate, as is widely claimed in esoteric traditional knowledge. Although such a non-local pantheistic idea of consciousness is rather bizarre, it can help resolve the fundamental problem of the non-locality of wave function reduction in the quantum theory of measurement.
Our biophysical analysis
of altered states of consciousness implies that conscious neural networks
must have embedded ULF "brainwaves", and a weakly ionized, unhomogeneous, "acupuncture system";
with the further possibility of partial displacement from the network, and
its subsequent deterioration. This system can emulate many of the altered states
of consciousness described by esoteric traditional knowledge. It also reveals
the probable biophysical nature of dreams, yoga, Qi, subtle body, causal body,
and short-range and long-range transpersonal EM ULF interactions.
It should finally be noted that our relativistic model shows that the acupuncture ionic system may have not only a regulatory role in the human body, but may also be involved in conscious information processing.
In sum, this model reveals the likely biophysical basis for the dualistic nature of consciousness; a condition empirically recognized and described a long time ago by many ancient civilizations.
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5. Wilber K. (1977), The Spectrum of Consciousness. Wheaton: Quest.
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7. A.P. Krueger (1969), Preliminary consideration of the biological significance of air ions, Scientia 104 , pp. 1-17.
8. H.L. Konig (1974), ELF and VLF signal properties: Physical characteristics, in M.A. Persinger, ed., ELF & VLF Electromagnetic Effects (Plenum, New York, NY, ).
9. E.L. Rossi (1986), Altered States of Consciousness in Everyday Life: Ultradian Rhythms, in B.B. Wolman and M. Ulman, eds., Handbook of States of Consciousness (Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, NY, ).
Copyright 1996, All Rights Reserved, Gordana Vitaliano , MD, and Dejan Rakovic, Ph.D.
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