Is information the other face of causation in biological systems?

Author: Sergey B Yurchenko1
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> Brain and Consciousness Independent Research Center, Andijan, Uzbekistan. Electronic address:
Conference/Journal: Biosystems
Date published: 2023 May 12
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.biosystems.2023.104925. , Word Count: 255

Is information the other face of causation? This issue cannot be clarified without discussing how these both are related to physical laws, logic, computation, networks, bio-signaling, and the mind-body problem. The relation between information and causation is also intrinsically linked to many other concepts in complex systems theory such as emergence, self-organization, synergy, criticality, and hierarchy, which in turn involve various notions such as observer-dependence, dimensionality reduction, and especially downward causation. A canonical example proposed for downward causation is the collective behavior of the whole system at a macroscale that may affect the behavior of each its member at a microscale. In neuroscience, downward causation is suggested as a strong candidate to account for mental causation (free will). However, this would be possible only on the condition that information might have causal power. After introducing the Causal Equivalence Principle expanding the relativity principle for coarse-grained and fine-grained linear causal chains, and a set-theoretical definition of multiscale nested hierarchy composed of modular ⊂-chains, it is shown that downward causation can be spurious. It emerges only in the eyes of an observer, though, due to information that could not be obtained by "looking" exclusively at the behavior of a system at a microscale. On the other hand, since biological systems are hierarchically organized, this information gain is indicative of how information can be a function of scale in these systems and a prerequisite for scale-dependent emergence of cognition and consciousness in neural networks.

Keywords: Causal chains; Coarse-graining; Downward causation; Emergence; Hierarchy; Information; Self-organization.

PMID: 37182834 DOI: 10.1016/j.biosystems.2023.104925