Seeing without brains?
Science News tells about a finding that transplanted eyes located far outside the head of vertebrate can see without a direct connection to brain. The connection to spine is however present.
The experimenters surgically removed donor embryo eye primordia, marked them with fuorescent proteins, and grafted them into the posterior region of recipient embryos. This induced the growth of the ectopic eyes. The natural eyes of recipients were removed. Fluorescent spectroscopy revealed the natural innervation patterns but none of the animals developed connections to brain.
To determine whether the animals having only ectopic eyes could see the training system was divided to quadrants of water illuminated by either red or blue LED light, and experimenters gave slight electric shocks in a particular quadrant. What was found that about 19 per cent of animals with optic nerves connected to the spine learned to avoid the quadrant in which they received electric shocks.
What experiments show that it is possible to see without neural connections to brain. The question is whether only the spinal cord or also the brain was involved with the learning. Probably neuroscientist could immediately answer this question but for an innocent layman like me the answer is far from obvious. Experimenters seem to think that brain is involved. As Douglas J. Blackinston, the first author of the paper "Ectopic Eyes Outside the Head in Xenopus Tadpoles Provide Sensory Data For Light-Mediated Learning," in the February 27 issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology, states "Here, our research reveals the brain's remarkable ability, or plasticity, to process visual data coming from misplaced eyes, even when they are located far from the head."
If brain is involved and the learned response is not a mere reflex involving only the spine, there must be information transfer to brain - perhaps along spine - but not as nerve pulses.
In TGD framework these findings inspire several questions.
- Does the ability to see colors mean that visual colors are perceived at the level of retina rather than brain? The phenomenon of phantom limb supports strongly the standard view that various qualia emerge at the level of brain. On the other hand, the almost-prediction of TGD inspired theory of consciousness is that the primary sensory percept - and therefore also color qualia - can be assigned with the sensory organs. In TGD framework brain and body are 4-dimensional so that the pain in non-existing limb would be pain in the real limb of the geometric past.
Brain would build cognitive representations - standardized mental images - about the sensory input by decomposing the perceptive field to objects. Brain would of course induce also motor response by associating to these standardized mental images motor actions.
- In order to build standardized mental images brain would generate feedback as a virtual sensory input to the sensory receptors. Virtual sensory input would be realized using what I have called dark photons having "topological light rays" as space-time correlates and assignable to the magnetic flux tubes connecting body parts together. Two new notions are involved: magnetic body - the primary intentional agent - and the signalling using photons, which are dark in the sense that they are characterized by a large effective value hbareff of Planck constant coming as an integer multiple of hbar so that for say energy of visible photon the wavelength can be much longer than micrometer.
- It has of course known for a long time that EEG carries precise information about the state of brain, and the natural question is why so? Magnetic body must receive data from biological body and the hypothesis is that EEG and its variants and possible scaled variants of EEG involving dark photons with large enough value of Planck constant to make their energies higher than thermal energy make this communications possible. Dark photons would be assigned to what I have used to call "topological light rays" assignable to magnetic flux tubes. The basic functions of EEG would therefore be communication to and control by magnetic body.
For instance, quite recent experiment involved two rats as model animals. The first rat learned to press one of the two levers in response to a light signal over the correct level to get the reward. Second rat received the EEG response of the first rat and learned to respond in the same manner on basis of this response only so that this sensory response served as a virtual sensory or cognitive input for it.
Magnetic body would generate also motor response using brain as a control instrument. Is the motor response in the recent case a kind of reflex action using only spine? Or are brain and magnetic body involved? Certainly the magnetic body could use brain as an intermediate control instrument. How much of the plasticity usually assigned with brain is actually flexibility of the magnetic body? And who is learning: is it brain or the magnetic body?
- The communication using dark photons and the presence of magnetic body would make possible the participation of also brain to the learning process. For instance, the communication from the ectopic eye to brain could utilize quantum coherent dark photons travelling along the route ectopic eye → appropriate layer of magnetic body → brain. One can imagine also a dark photon communication along magnetic flux tubes parallel to spine.