TNGS – Theory of Neuronal Group Selection

TNGS – Theory of Neuronal Group Selection

TNGS and the dynamic core hypothesis have been proposed by Gerald M. Edelman as an explanation for the neural correlates of consciousness. As its name indicates, the theory is based on the concept of selection.

A huge number of neuronal pathways are generated in the brain and a reduced and valuable subset of these pathways or circuits has to be selected in order to generate adaptive behaviors. In other words, the brain is a selectional system. The selection is based on development and experience. That is the reason why neuronal circuits differs greatly from one individual to another.

During brain development and learning, groups of neurons that tend to fire together are generated. Vast numbers of these groups or circuits are selected according to their value as originators of adaptive and useful behaviors.

TNGS explain consciousness in terms of the Dynamic Core, which consists on extensive reentrant interactions in the thalamocortical system. Here, the concept of reentry refers to the dynamic process of rapid and reciprocal interaction between neuronal maps and nuclei in the brain. Edelman and Tononi believe that consciousness is produced by these reentrant processes, which would be able to provide the required discriminatory capability of consciousness experience as well as its integration. In short, TNGS advocates for a dynamic characterization of consciousness, where neurnal correlates of consciousness cannot be identified in any specific brain spot, but associated to the reentrant dynamics in the thalamocortical system.

To read more about TNGS:
– Edelman, G and Tononi, G. A Universe of Consciousness. How Matter becomes Imagination. Basic Books. 2001.
– Edelman, G. Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter Of the Mind. Basic Books. 1993.

 

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