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A Global Workspace perspective on mental disorders

Wallace, Rodrick

Background: Recent developments in Global Workspace theory suggest that human consciousness can suffer interpenetrating dysfunctions of mutual and reciprocal interaction with embedding environments which will have early onset and often insidious staged developmental progression, possibly according to a cancer model, in which a set of long-evolved control strategies progressively fails. Methods and results: A rate distortion argument implies that, if an external information source carries a damaging 'message', then sufficient exposure to it, particularly during critical developmental periods, is sure to write a sufficiently accurate image of it on mind and body in a punctuated manner so as to initiate or promote similarly progressively punctuated developmental disorder, in essence either a staged failure affecting large-scale brain connectivity, which is the sine qua non of human consciousness, or else damaging the ability of embedding goal contexts to contain conscious dynamics. Conclusion: The key intervention, at the population level, is clearly to limit exposure to factors triggering developmental disorders, a question of proper environmental sanitation, in a large sense, primarily a matter of social justice which has long been known to be determined almost entirely by the interactions of cultural trajectory, group power relations, and economic structure, with public policy. Intervention at the individual level appears limited to triggering or extending periods of remission, representing reestablishment of an extensive, but largely unexplored, spectrum of evolved control strategies, in contrast with the far better-understood case of cancer.


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Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling

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September 9, 2014