In a book that may profoundly alter the modern discourse on mind and influence the practice of neuromedicine, neurobiologist/neuropsychiatrist, Richard M. Pico unveils a revolutionary new approach to understanding consciousness that pinpoints its origins in the brain. Called Consciousness in Four Dimensions: Biological Relativity and the Origins of Thought, the approach combines the laws of physics – especially Einstein's laws of relativity – with the latest breakthroughs in neuroscience, molecular biology, and computational theory to create a coherent four-dimensional model for explaining the origins of life and the emergence of complex biological systems – from the living cell to the thinking brain. Pico's main thesis begins with a description of the emergence of life from protocells, bubble-like structures inside which certain chemical reactions take place. Under normal conditions they are not robust enough to defend from changes in the environment and parish. Yet, when circumstances were right, protocells evolved to regulate their internal environment, defending themselves from many external changes. This persistence, in Pico's view, is what characterizes life. He expands upon this idea to describe the emergence of consciousness as roughly repeating the emerging life process. He believes the columnar structures of the prefrontal neocortex provide prefrontal integration modules (PIMs) which bring together a wide and disparate range of sensory inputs. Generally, the patterns formed are transient, each being swept away by a succeeding wave of inputs, but in the course of evolution some of these PIMs acquire new properties in more or less the way the true cells raised themselves above the level of the protocells; they became able to retain an echo of previous states, and hence provide thes basis for true perception of time, and consciousness.
Richard Pico Quote
We must acknowledge the simple fact that it is through our human senses that we perceive all of nature. Also, one individual's perception will not always, if ever, completely correspond to another's perception. Thus, a dynamic dichotomy of subjectivity and objectivity permeates all attempts to understand our existence – and, parenthetically, has plagued our discourse through the ages. That very quest for understanding, perhaps the only unique function of our human experience, must eternally refine the distinctions at the interface of subjective (individual) perception and objective (consensus) reality. Along the path of time's arrow, the interplay between the external world and our senses creates a never-ending process by which an individual's subjective experience is continually modified by enduring objective understanding. In other words, while each person experiences the world from a unique point of view, collectively we have derived an agreed-upon, learned, impersonal, or shared, perspective of natural processes. Thus, an event or process in nature is related to the individual experience. Each individual may experience what is recognized as the same event or process a little differently, depending upon many factors. At the foundation of scientific exploration (and Einstein's vision) is the understanding that any objective knowledge is relative to the point of view of the observer, the one experiencing nature's behavior. This position does not negate the establishment of an objective source of stable events or processes; it just acknowledges the unique point of view of each observer and how this point of view alters the observer's perspective of the event.