Friday, July 12, 2013

Tutorial A3: Tononi, Koch, Tsuchiya, Oizumi

Friday July 12 13:00-16:00

A3: The Integrated Information theory of consciousness

Giulio Tononi (Dep’t of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin), Christof Koch (Cognitive and Behavioral Biology, Cal Tech; CSO, Allen Institute for Brain Science), Nao Tsuchiya (Monash University, Melbourne, AU) & Masafumi Oizumi (Dep’t of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin)

The Integrated Information theory of consciousness (IIT) has recently attracted attention among conscious- ness researchers. IIT stems from thought experiments that lead to phenomenological axioms and onto- logical postulates (information, integration, exclusion, and compositionality). According to IIT, an experi- ence is an integrated information structure, which in principle can be completely characterized, both in quantity and quality, by determining to what extent a system of causal mechanisms is irreducible to its parts. Many observations concerning the neural substrate of consciousness fall naturally into place within the IIT framework. Among them are the association of consciousness with certain neural systems rather than with others; the fact that neural processes underlying consciousness can influence or be influenced by neural processes that remain unconscious; the reduction of consciousness during dreamless sleep and generalized epileptic seizures; and the distinct role of different cortical architectures in affecting the quality of experience. The tutorial will i) introduce the basic notions of IIT to a broad audience without requiring a mathematical background, and provide hands-on examples in which integrated information can be computed rigorously; ii) introduce measures of integrated information that can be applied to empirical data and discuss how they can be applied to evaluate the level of consciousness in wake, sleep, anesthesia, and disorders of consciousness; iii) demonstrate how integrated information grows in animats adapting to a complex environment, thereby shedding light on the evolution of consciousness; iv) consider theoretical and practical aspects of measures of integrated information, potential problems, and future developments.

Our intended audience is broad. We do not assume any prior knowledge of integrated information theory or information theory in general. In the first part of the tutorial, we start from the basics of the probability theory and information theory, which are key to understanding the theory. After the introduction of the basics, the contents of the tutorial will be at the level of a master class.

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