Open access science journal PLoS Biology describes a computer model of brain function that incorporates biological accuracy while giving important insights into consciousness.
Researchers Stanislas Dehaene and Jean-Pierre Changeux modelled the neurons that connect the thalamus and the cortex to simulate how they responded when stimulated, when compared to a ‘resting’ state.
The researchers found that spontaneous activity occurred when the model was in the ‘resting’ state, blocking the processing of external perceptual information.
They suggest this may be an explanation for innattentional or change blindness, the phenomenon where we fail to notice obvious changes because we have our attention focused elsewhere.
Most computer models of ‘high-level’ psychological processes tend to be abstracted, so the model bears only a general resemblance to the underlying biology.
Dehaene and Changeux’s model is interesting, because it attempts to simulate the biology of brain cells, while producing effects relevant to conscious experience.