Towards a molecular biology of conscious processing?

9 March 2018

Jean-Pierre Changeux
Institut Pasteur


Attempts to model conscious processing will be discussed in the frame work of a hierarchical multi-level model of the Human brain. Given the tremendous complexity of brain organisation, a strategy of dynamic nesting of models from genes to consciousness is proposed at four selected structural levels in brain organization: the gene level, the transcription factors gene-network level, the synaptic level, and the long-range connectivity level. All may be viewed as nested and reciprocally interregulated structures which hierarchical architectural design develops with different timescales. Interlevel bridging processes include intrinsic variation-selection mechanisms which offer a community of bottom up and topdown models progressively linking genes up to consciousness. The debate shall be introduced by the issue of the innateness of brain functions on the basis of what we know about the human genome & its evolution and the current views on the regulation of genes expression. Then, the Epigenesis by Selective Stabilisation of Synapses hypothesis shall be further invstigated in the case of the postnatal evolution of the human brain. Last, the highest level of brain functions, including conscious access shall be discussed in the framework of large scale brain integrative processes such as the Global Neuronal Workspace and the contribution of specialized brain architectures in conscious vs non-conscious processing.


current theory lunch schedule