Brain activity and cognition: a connection from thermodynamics and information theory

Author: Guillem Collell1, Jordi Fauquet2
1 Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA, USA.
2 Department of Psychobiology and Methodology of Health Sciences, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona Barcelona, Spain ; Research Group in Neuroimage, Neurosciences Research Program, Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute, Barcelona Biomedical Research Park Barcelona, Spain.
Conference/Journal: Front Psychol
Date published: 2015 Jun 16
Other: Volume ID: 6 , Pages: 818 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00818. , Word Count: 169

The connection between brain and mind is an important scientific and philosophical question that we are still far from completely understanding. A crucial point to our work is noticing that thermodynamics provides a convenient framework to model brain activity, whereas cognition can be modeled in information-theoretical terms. In fact, several models have been proposed so far from both approaches. A second critical remark is the existence of deep theoretical connections between thermodynamics and information theory. In fact, some well-known authors claim that the laws of thermodynamics are nothing but principles in information theory. Unlike in physics or chemistry, a formalization of the relationship between information and energy is currently lacking in neuroscience. In this paper we propose a framework to connect physical brain and cognitive models by means of the theoretical connections between information theory and thermodynamics. Ultimately, this article aims at providing further insight on the formal relationship between cognition and neural activity.

Keywords: brain thermodynamics; cognitive models; free energy; information theory; negentropy.

PMID: 26136709 PMCID: PMC4468356 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00818