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Adaptation of the generalized Carnot cycle to describe thermodynamics of cerebral cortex

See on Scoop.itBounded Rationality and Beyond

Abstract—The brain is a thermodynamic system operating

far from equilibrium. Its function is to extract microscopic

sensory information from the volleys of action potentials

(pulses) that are delivered by immense arrays of sensory

receptors, construct the macroscopic meaning of the

information, and store, retrieve, and update that meaning

by incorporating it into its knowledge base. The function is

executed repetitively in the action-perception-assimilation

cycle. Each cycle commences by a phase transition, in

which the immense population comprising each sensory

cortex condenses from a gas-like state to a liquid-like state.

It ends with return of the cortex to the expectant gas-like

state. We have modeled the microscopic thermodynamics

of the cycle using quantum field theory. Our new result is

modeling cortical macroscopic thermodynamics with the

generalized Carnot cycle, in which the energy required for

the construction of knowledge is supplied by brain

metabolism and is dissipated as heat by the cerebral

circulation. What makes the application possible is the

unprecedented precision with which spatial patterns of

ECoG are measured, thus providing precise state variables

with which to represent energy vs. entropy. We present

experimental evidence that these isothermal processes are

coupled by adiabatic cooling and heating. We postulate

that the action-perception-assimilation cycle comprises

minimally three consecutive Carnot cycles required for

basic perception, assimilation, and decision, and more

cycles with greater complexity of cognitive tasks at hand.

See on researchgate.net



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