Stratium, a theory of mind and personality

This article is a presentation of Stratium for the professional readership, which complements the previous article for the general public. Intended for publication in specialized journals, it addresses more technical points in the first part, and in the second part provides a detailed test of current competing theses on consciousness.

Abstract: Stratium is a body-mind theory describing the brain as a multi-tiered system with layered levels of meaning. Each level has a relative independence, indissoluble from its underlying structure, entangling its own level of representation with the previous ones. The remanence and synchronization of neural excitations surimposes (superimposes and merges) all the levels to form the conscious impressions in the highest working space. The principle of relative independence accounts for the blurring of the access of consciousness to its own constitution, until it disappears for the unconscious levels. Pledge of both stability and mental flexibility. The theory is confronted with the main existing philosophical and neuroscientific theses.



The mind is its own creator, from ingredients that do not belong to it.

The theory called Stratium1“Stratium” is a neologism born of ‘strata’ and ‘atrium’, picturing the mind as the interior of an atrium whose tiered services rise to lofty consciousness, services connected by innumerable footbridges throughout the ascent. builds a bridge between body and mind. Its originality? It was born not in neuroscience or in the philosophy of mind but at their meeting point: the subconscious, that fuzzy and mysterious limit where the germs of thought are offered to consciousness and then manipulated by attention. The interest of such a starting point? Ground the most direct mental experience. Thus establishing an indisputable rooting, experienced by each owner of a brain, from which I make the link to the system of neural patterns and the phenomenology of conscious impressions, without reducing their respective paradigms. Within the limits of this short article, I sketch the main lines of Stratium then confront it with contemporary theses, around a persistent dualistic gap between neuroscience and philosophy.

First part
Stratium: A Stairway Between Body and Mind

Stratium describes the brain as a multi-tiered system layering levels of meaning. Take as an example data to process visual stimuli. The receptor neuron announces: ‘I am an excited point’. Neurons grouped in the 1st hierarchical level of processing: ‘I am a line’. 2nd level: ‘I am eyes / nose / mouth’ 3rd: ‘I am a face’ 4th: ‘I am a famous person’ 5th: ‘I play such a role in the life of the organism to which I belong’, etc… This is a simplified description. The gateways to other conceptual treatments are manifold; the hierarchy is complex and plastic. Essential point: each of these levels has a relative independence. Reason for my use of ‘I’. Each representation searches for itself in order to continue to exist. The more it is solicited the more it becomes famous and expands its relationships. The self-organization of neurons creates successive levels of intention, which intertwine. The final consciousness is the surimposition (superposition and fusion) of all these levels of representation. The remanence and synchronization of neural excitations makes all the levels participating simultaneously in conscious impressions indissoluble, which makes their fusion and their richness. While relative independence explains that the conscious feedback only has access to a limited extent of the information that structures it (the unconscious is not accessible). Guarantee of its stability.

The basics of this theory are in line with the current neuroscience paradigm. Such a neural organization is validated for the processing of visual signals. How does the theory differ from the usual paradigm and how would it be better able to satisfy philosophers attached to the ‘hard’ problem of consciousness? It all hinges on the term ‘relative independence’. It hides both a discontinuity between the levels of mental representation and their intricacy. Unlike artificial data processing systems, neural transmission is not sequenced; it is surimposed. Here we face the same problem as with biological matter: to understand how particles become self-replicating biomolecules and then cells, we are forced to layer different levels of significance. Impossible to reduce the whole to its micro-mechanisms; it is also impossible to talk about emergent properties while ignoring the micro-mechanisms. The levels are simultaneous, intricate, indissoluble and yet independent to our observation.

Continuity between physical and virtual organization

Does this independence also exist in the essence of physical reality, or is it purely related to how our minds function? Physical models are structuralist, i.e. they do not speak of substances but of systems. Reality is described in terms of levels of information. Stratium thus extends in the mind the established description of physical reality, without changing the material support: neurons are always the fundamental elements of systems, however their graphic organization defines groups hierarchically superior to others. In the same way that an atom remains entangled in the constitution of a cell, after multiple levels of organization, a neuron remains entangled in the constitution of a conscious concept, by being part of multiple hierarchical groups.

Theorizing the mind in terms of levels of information makes it possible to very simply define a mental representation: it is a mimicry by neurons of the information contained in physical systems. Mimicry is symbolic, uses codes forming languages. Languages make it possible to deal with multiple levels of reality within the same space of mental organization. We can represent for example an apple as atoms, molecules, fruit, flavor, etc., together within a single conscious workspace.

A flat mental world perched on a pyramid of complexity

We thus consciously experience our representations as pieces of a horizontal puzzle, rather than the vertical pile of complexity that is reality by constitution. Consciousness juxtaposes and confronts concepts from all material and virtual levels in a single workspace. It “flattens” the complexity of reality. It is by self-examining our mental functioning through dedicated concepts that we can “straighten out” this complexity, and see its vertical arrangement.

Conscious fusion and its relative independence are responsible for the body-mind duality experienced. Partial duality: we experience our bodies well. Without perceiving the detail of the tiny and innumerable stimuli it produces, we know it is there. Having a liver or a kidney is not just knowledge. The absence or blurring of their signals disturbs our bodily impression on a level that is difficult to access to consciousness and yet clearly felt. These perceptions are the bedrock of our intentions. They sculpt our behavior in an order that our conscience attends, comfortably installed in its belvedere. Consciousness is a retro-control deeply entangled with its micro-mechanisms, maintaining relative independence between one and the other.

An applicative theory

The interest of Stratium is not only theoretical. Its applications are immediate and varied. I have been using it as a doctor for twenty years, to personalize diagnosis and therapy. No disease is purely biological. A mental impact is systematic. It is paradoxically increased today by the better information of the patients on their affections. They conceive more or less fair representations of it, whereas previous generations were content to delegate care to the doctor. Communication has gone from “saying the useful” to “saying everything”, attitudes sometimes with equally dramatic effects. The announcement of a biological pathology thus leads to a variable mental transformation, rarely profitable, which did not exist at the time when we were much less concerned about our illnesses. Conventional medicine was overtaken by this sudden development. The management of adverse psychological effects has been done through an explosion of alternative medicine and social networks dedicated to health. But no body-mind theory has made it possible to rationalize this care.

The concept of a hierarchical mind extending the hierarchical body physiology makes it possible to specify the dysfunctional levels of organization, whether biological or psychological. The therapist trained in this staggered diagnosis easily rectifies a referral error, mental suffering manifested by physical symptoms —”somatization”—, or on the contrary behavioral disorders wrongly classified as psychiatric when there are biological abnormalities. However, the vast majority of conditions are mixed, involving dysfunctions at several biological and mental levels. The current categorization of diseases is too “horizontal”, based purely on physiological levels, does not take into account this vertical complexity of our pathologies.

The desertification of the theoretical field of personality

Personality theories abounded in the last century. Freudian trinity, Jung’s collective unconscious, Adler’s assertiveness, Horney’s neurotic needs, Bingswanger’s daseinanalysis, Fromm’s transcendent freedom, Kelly’s fruitful metaphor, May’s demonium, Rogers’ realizational tendency, Maslow’s pyramid of needs, Frankl’s dynamics noös, Allport’s proprium, Snygg and Combs’ phenomenological field, Piaget’s cognitive stages, Erikson’s epigenetic principle, Skinner’s operant conditioning, Bandura’s reciprocal determinism, Buddhist skandhas, etc. What has this flowering of patterns been replaced by today? By the Big Five, which simply defines personality based on five temperament traits. Should this be seen as progress, or regression, in the theory of the psyche?

The Freudian model is the only one to retain a certain popularity today (mostly in France), despite its low therapeutic efficacy and a fundamental flaw: the fact that Freud wanted to make his own neuroses universal. Defects which require revisions of the theories of the psyche and not their eradication. The id/ego/superego trinity is the ancestor of hierarchical models. Stratium differs from it by the multiplication of the levels so as to house all the mental functions and their interactions. It also restores the true place of the unconscious, which is not a second directing brain but simply the raw base of the proposals made to consciousness. The unconscious is stupid, relatively easy to manipulate, through behavioral injunction techniques and not by telling it the story of its past. Psychoanalysis should be taken as work of identity reinforcement rather than as behavioral therapy.

A psychic assembly gathered during awakening

Stratium prioritizes personality from basic concepts to higher ones. The final organization forms a psychic assembly of persona —the most distinct aspects of our personality— susceptible to recomposition without disintegration during the upheavals of personal life. This explains why our attitude borrows contrasting aspects depending on the context while maintaining an intrinsic coherence.

Neurologically the mental organization is well localized anatomically for the first stages of the hierarchy (processing of sensory afferents) then becomes more diffuse as the hierarchy rises, up to the conscious workspace which extends through the entire brain and requires specific excitatory nuclei to maintain arousal. The symbolic meaning of an excited neuron is very weak for neurons at the bottom of the hierarchy —a visual neuron only symbolizes a lit pixel on the retina— while this meaning is extraordinarily rich for a conscious workspace neuron —its stimulation triggers the evocation of a person with all his attributes. The proven conceptual richness comes from the surimposition of all the underlying symbolic levels. When the neurons of the higher levels cease their communications, at the end of the awakening, the surimposition decreases and the vivid quality of the conscious experience fades, being reduced to states of crude or partial consciousness —semi-awakening, dream, somnambulism .

Consciousness as a phenomenon

Stratium describes the mind as a hierarchy of levels of information topped by the conscious workspace. Is this theory enough to account for consciousness as a phenomenon? Can philosophers of mind be satisfied? At first glance it would seem that the theory even denigrates the possibility of a particular phenomenon in conscious space: Why would activated neural patterns experience differently on this floor when they function identically throughout the hierarchy ?

Materialists in neuroscience defend themselves against the criticism of philosophers in two ways. Eliminativists regard the phenomenon as an illusion. Elimination, not explanation, since the materialists do not know what place to give to an illusion in this physical reality that they want to keep monist. The other way, less peremptory, is to treat the phenomenon as a correspondence of the physical system, a simple emanation that it is impossible to explain since the explanation only takes place in the physical domain precisely. This position remains dualistic without our understanding of the world being hampered by it. As long as the correlations between matter and phenomenon are perfect, knowledge is sure.

Scientific pragmatism

This is the position already commonly used in the physical sciences. Magnetism as a phenomenon is a correspondence of the alignment of electronic spins and no one dreams of placing it in an alternate reality. Materialism consists in dismantling things into their elements, reassembling them and witnessing the resulting phenomenon. It does not denigrate the existence of the phenomena appearing to our mind. Why should consciousness escape this vast construction game already rich in astonishing phenomena?

Here is a thought experiment to illustrate this pragmatic position: Let’s take the problem backwards. Let us place ourselves in an older reality where mental consciousness has not yet arisen. Time travelers, we land in this ancient reality at the moment when evolution brings about the neural networks and their regrouping in a brain. We are not “on board” of the phenomenon but simple analysts, rid of all a priori. What could we predict from this amazing neural organization? In our team of travelers is a behaviorist. She asserts that the organism endowed with the new management organ will be a ‘zombie’, a being endowed with a much more sophisticated behavior than a plant but without any other particular phenomenon, nothing that is felt. The being is only a more evolved biological entity, which does not move them into another order of matter. The team’s philosopher is unable to contradict her.

How could we predict zombies as we observe conscient beings?

In this era no evidence of the phenomenon of consciousness has yet appeared. To invent it would be to reinstall a priori or fall into mysticism. Why believe in consciousness more than in God, at a time when neither has ever been observed? The philosopher is silent. But the centuries go by and the brain completes its organization under the eyes of our travellers. At the same time, the bipedal being endowed with it gives all the appearance of innovative properties. She observes herself in a mirror, begins to draw and then write, builds a cooperative society, behaves unpredictably and pretends to be “conscious”. Surprise in the behaviorist, whose allegations are no longer sufficient to explain the unexpected desires of the biped. The philosopher, on the other hand, frantically begins to fill pages with observations. She has just invented a new discipline: the philosophy of the mind.

Our thought experiment ends by restating the question: what could we predict from the outcome of neural organization that could contradict the appearance of consciousness? What could make it less inevitable than the appearance of magnetism with the alignment of electronic spins, if our travelers had gone back to the appearance of elementary particles? How is consciousness less inherent in reality than any other phenomenon?


This pragmatic position is imbued with a certain fatalism. No need to solve questions that have no useful outlet. Should we leave it at that, be satisfied with an inescapable and inexplicable phenomenon-consciousness, as some philosophers think? Is there no way to connect it to the rest of reality? The only alternative imagined so far is panpsychism, which consists of injecting phenomenon-consciousness into inert matter since the organization of this matter is not sufficient to explain it. The phenomenon must be made constitutive of matter.

The pitfall of panpsychism is to seek to represent a phenomenon which by definition cannot be modeled, since it is not related to physics. Panpsychism thus uses for the consciousness phenomenon a minimal representation, a sort of inverted reductionist model of matter: A conscious Whole would separate into our individual consciousnesses and then into tiny fragments of consciousness attached to elementary particles. Simplicity that may seem candid, but panpsychism shields itself from such an accusation by pointing out that the sophistication of the model is not a criterion for something that is not modelable.

A more general theory for the ‘hard’ problem

Can Stratium do better? Not alone, since it too is content to be a partial model of reality, that of the mind. Let us note that solving the ‘hard’ problem of consciousness, explaining it as a phenomenon, requires creating a new episteme, an innovative way of representing the whole of reality. It is impossible to be satisfied with a simple theory of the mind. A model of the mind will always be a correspondence, a representation, incapable of explaining the phenomenon experienced directly. We need a more general theory of reality. We have an obligation to find this more global theory, otherwise all scientific knowledge, incapable of explaining a truly proven phenomenon, is weakened. As a phenomenon, consciousness is no different from any other level of reality experiencing what structures it. Consciousness belongs to the vast agglomeration of material and virtual phenomena. It arises from this unique set of related phenomena. There is no argument to sanctify it.

Getting Stratium to answer the ‘hard’ problem of consciousness required pairing it with the larger theory I called Surimposium. The term ‘surimposition’ designates this astonishing relative independence of the levels of information, which superimpose each other in a substantial appearance. All levels of organization are imperative in the existence of the substance, but it is the highest that determines the properties of the substance in its environment. I will not detail here this theory which scrupulously respects the principle of scientific reduction but does not make it the only direction of knowledge. Stratium works without Surimposium, however the association of the two is necessary to understand the consciousness-phenomenon and the transformation of an interaction into intention, which are based on the stacking of levels of organization.

Consciousness outside the scientific field?

Science is too much considered by some as a guillotine. This is indeed its role when it judges what falls within the scientific field. We must decapitate the misuses of science. But its principles do not cover the entire epistemology of knowledge. In particular, they do not allow the discovery of new theories, they are content to subject them to the test of falsification. How do you model this mind that discovers? Are the concepts in the service of the ‘I’, or the ‘I’ in the service of the concepts? The investigation generally starts with a postulate: By designating consciousness as causally superior to its physical support, representations must be subservient to it. Teleological and metaphysical bastion. By designating sensory information as primitively causal, it is they that model the psyche. Behaviorist stronghold.

Stratium makes this opposition unnecessary. Our higher representations do indeed come from sensory stimuli, but their organization has gradually emancipated them from this information. They have become intentions, which seek themselves in reality and shape it to confirm themselves. Behaviorist and teleological postulates alternate to weave and thicken our identity core.


Second part
Test bed of theories of mind

How does Stratium stack up against existing theories of consciousness? My thesis does not diverge from the neuroscientific corpus regarding physiology and neural organization. On the contrary, it is discoveries in these areas that are likely to complete the model. The crucial point is to understand how neurons establish the hierarchical discontinuities of the network corresponding to that of the concepts. The mechanism must be self-organizing: neurons build their patterns on their own. There is no programmer other than sensory signals carrying information that is itself hierarchical. Artificial intelligence models and graph theory are the most promising avenues.

Regarding consciousness, the hypotheses are less consensual than for neural mechanics. Extremely divergent theories are in competition. Dualism is always in ambush. It is one thing to explain one’s consciousness and another to experience it. The theories split into two branches under the trenchant of dualism: phenomenological and physical. Neither satisfies both sides equally. Philosophy culminated in representationalism. Neuroscience has produced Integrated Information Theory, Quantum Consciousness, Adaptive Resonance Theory, Global Workspace, Multi-Modal User Interface, Attention Scheme. Let’s quickly run through these competing official theses by comparing them to Stratium.

Philosophical representationalism

Several branches:

Standard First Order Representationalism (FOR):

a mental state is a conscious phenomenon through the intentionality of the mental representation. It seeks to exist as such and nothing else. The properties of the phenomenon are not those of the experience but of what is represented in the experience.

Positive: argument from transparency —through a single conscious experience many different elements of representation can pass. These multiple characteristics can then be the subject of classical modeling by systemic theories. Opening towards the reductionist treatment of consciousness by neurosciences.

Negative: does not account for the presence of elements of a different nature (mood, abstraction, bodily sensation) or contradictory within the representation. Example of a visual illusion; two lines seem to you to be divergent whereas by measuring their spacing they are parallel. The impression drawn from this image contains two contradictory things: divergent lines for vision and parallel lines for reason. How can they be part of the same representation?

Higher Order Representationalism (HOR):

criticizes the lack of explanation by the FOR of the mental state experienced as experienced. For the HOR we need a representation of the representation, which is the higher order. Principle of transitivity: the transfer of one representative space to another allows one to experience the sensation of watching oneself think.

Positive: The idea of higher representation paves the way for the entanglement of levels of information behind the richness of conscious impressions, an idea more widely exploited in Stratium.

Negative: At only two levels, this is too narrow a view to explain the range of conscious states. Self-observation is far from constant; you have to invent unconvincing “empty” higher order states.

Self-Representationalism of Consciousness (SRC):

a mental representation contains its own faculty to represent itself. FOR and HOR are unified. Several theoretical branches result from these confrontations. In fact the distinction between SRC and standard representationalism becomes blurred; moreover, SRC is also called representational theory in the contemporary sense.

Stratium vs Representationalism:

Stratium is in essence a representationalist theory. But it does not make the representation an image without depth, a sort of mental photocopy of the corresponding neurological states. Stratium structures the virtual representation as a material entity, based on a general theory of reality which makes it a layering of information levels. Philosophers reject reductionist theories claiming to explain the phenomenon of consciousness through particle or neural interactions. They are right. Nevertheless, this phenomenon must be integrated into reality, except to invoke an inexplicable rupture of reality. Representationalism must be the logical extension of a general systems theory reaching up to the brain.

Neuroscientific theories

Grossberg’s Adaptive Resonance Theory (ART):

based on a neural learning model that links neurological (learning, attention, resonance and synchronization) and psychological (visual and auditory perceptions, feelings, knowledge) processes. Correlations are extended to consciousness. The principle of resonance/persistence of activation of neural networks explains the maintenance and succession of mental micro-states.

Positive: models the antagonism between plasticity/instability and rigidity/stability in neural processes; has had detailed development for most brain functions. This is the most detailed official thesis.

Negative: does not explain why some of the resonant neural units participate in consciousness and others do not; in particular does not account for the constancy of conscious contents while others are excluded. Does not cross the hurdle of simple correlations between the resonance of specific patterns and conscious impressions.

Stratium vs ART: Stratium also makes the persistence of neural excitations the support for micro mental states. However, it makes the delay between synaptic stimuli a crucial point of the conceptual code. It is not a question of persistence or resonance but of re-excitations defining the celebrity of the schemas concerned. The principle of hierarchy, essential in Stratium, accounts for the shortcomings of the ART. Resonance, as a physical phenomenon, is not sufficient to explain the formation of a conscious impression; this comes from the structural entanglement of information.

Baas and Dehaene’s Global WorkSpace Theory (GWS):

bases consciousness on a specific neural circuit including the prefrontal cortex and its connected areas, in particular the hippocampus. Consciousness-relevant information is massively disseminated to this network. The relevance of a representation is that it is “expected” by the conscious network.

Positive: finely connects the different conscious states to the activity of the relevant networks; integrates the notion of biography, the inclusion of the hippocampus (long-term memory) bringing a temporal dimension to consciousness.

Negative: Reserves the quality of being conscious to brains with such circuitry. This is not at all the impression withdrawn from the observation of nature. Confusion between the phenomenon of consciousness and its contents. Does not make the connection with the unconscious neurological structure, remains obscure on the way in which the contents of this one participate effectively in the conscious impressions. Finally, the reprocessing of information by a separate neurological set is costly in terms of resources and evolutionarily improbable.

Stratium vs. GWS: Stratium fully embraces the concept of an integrative space for consciousness, but in a very different way: a small number of neurons are involved in it, not large, specific brain areas. The pre-frontal cortex adds evolved functions (abstraction, self-representation, language capacities) but the integration itself is not a sophisticated function: it is the apex of organization of all neurological architecture, at least in animals with a central nervous system (others have more fragmented systems). The brain has developed by the addition of successive layers of organization, and the current integration space is only the latest version, born from the appearance of pre-frontal aptitudes and not constituted by them. By separating the process of ‘consciousness’ from its contents, Stratium explains it for any neurological device, any fragment of the brain. It also explains it for organisms without a single neuron, since the definition of the process is based on self-organization.

Hoffman’s multi-modal user interface theory of perception (MMUI):

denies that the role of perceptions is to approximate the properties of the objective physical world; they simplify and reformat them for a purely utilitarian purpose for the user. This scene is the reality of the user. Hoffman arguably wronged his MMUI by associating Conscious Realism (CR) with it. In this more controversial part of the theory, it is no longer reality that constructs consciousness but consciousness that constructs reality. Destruction of a dogma.

Positive: Shows that the mind is suspended in a “reality” of its own. CR deftly turns the mind/matter problem on its head: it’s about finding out how the user constructs their interface, which is what we know best.

Negative: CR poses insurmountable difficulties: how do our consciousnesses create the same objects? Why do physical theories lead to findings that no conscience has imagined? The CR contradicts the argument of the MMUI: the MMUI supports the evolutionary thesis while the CR discards it. Mixture of neural ontology and panpsychism without resolving the inconsistencies.

Stratium vs MMUI: Stratium sees perception in a similar way: utilitarian. Most satisfactory hypothesis for the evolutionary view. However Hoffman neglects an important part of the utilitarian constraints: the need to reconcile the world and our fellow human beings. The mind is not strictly individualistic. Collectivism encourages building a scene that garners the approval of the human clan, also because the world itself conforms better to a consensus vision. In the face of other theories, MMUI asks a sensible question: what in the world conforms? Stratium responds through its embedding in a more general theory: what perception registers is simply the level of reality to which it belongs, regardless of what more fundamentally constitutes that level. Perception models a system in which part of the organism is included. It thus promotes the satisfaction of vital necessities. The definition of “vital” evolves with the environment, becoming the satisfaction of the concepts themselves in an omnipresent society. Everyone seeks to create their own reality.

Graziano’s Attention Schema Theory (AST):

differentiates between paying attention and being aware of; attention is a mechanistic process (neural processing of information) while consciousness is a model of attention constructed by the brain, convinced of its own existence and insisting that it is not just a belief.

Positive: Explains that there is nothing behind conscious impressions, no access to neural machinery.

Negative: many contradictions: why would this model be conscious and not others? What evolutionary interest in such a scheme if the mechanistic process suffices? No link is made precisely with the neural machinery. Finally, the limits of consciousness are not static; it can advance more or less towards its unconscious foundations, which does not make them clearly independent circuits.

Stratium vs AST: By getting rid of the idea that the unconscious is a single system, and also making it a pile of self-representing layers of information, Stratium escapes the contradictions of the AST.

Common negatives of previous theories:

No phylogenetic or embryological roots. Many questions remain unanswered. Is a fetus or an animal conscious? How to deduce the personality? Psychologists cannot draw from these theories practical recommendations to act on depression, existential difficulties, learning concerns. Among the burning questions of the day, impossible to predict if an AI can be conscious, and the necessary conditions. Finally, the most troublesome deficiency: no theory explains how information as foreign to each other as images, smells, abstractions, emotions, categories, memories, etc. can relate and be aggregated together to form qualia. Too horizontal theories. They are before the pieces of a puzzle, but putting them together does not produce the particular qualitative mixture that are conscious sensations. On the contrary, Stratium‘s vertical vision perfectly explains this progressive entanglement leading to conscious fusion, which it is no longer necessary to see as an expensive mirror of the entire underlying structure.

Global theories

Tononi and Koch’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT):

incorporates the principles of Shannon’s information theory; measures the amount of information integrated into the brain, a measurement called ‘Phi’ (Φ), which serves as an index of consciousness.

Positive: Grounds consciousness in general systems theory, connects with the inanimate.

Negative: Some systems with very high Φ absolutely do not meet the definition of a conscious entity. No link is made between informative integration and feeling. Shannon’s theory cannot be applied as such to the brain: it concerns a definite set of states connected by fixed probabilities; the brain constantly generates new information.

Stratium vs IIT: Stratium takes the notion of integrated information in the form of a pyramid, but qualitatively separates the information of each level, which makes any general quantitative measurement illusory. It is the congruence of the adjacent levels and the final diversity of the conceptual integration that measures the intelligence of the whole. Stratium thus explains that very simple animals or even plants seem to us to be endowed with consciousness, while much larger integrations in terms of quantity of data are not, whether they are digital, virtual, social architectures, etc… The brain is not considered by Stratium as a global system but as a superimposition of levels of information, to which it is possible to apply Shannon’s theory individually.

At the end of this test bed, each of the competing theories produces interesting hypotheses, but none are satisfactory overall. Tononi’s IIT is the most ambitious: it seeks in inert matter the creative processes of human consciousness. Stratium is moving in the same direction and is just one chapter of the larger theory that attempts to address this challenge.



Stratium offers a fine stratification of the organization of data from physical perception to arrive at conscious impressions. The processing of stimuli by neural patterns is not a succession but a superimposition of hierarchical levels of significance. This is how the impression takes on thickness instead of being the simple deduction of an analytical process. The conclusion integrates its structural pyramid. A single neuron becomes capable, if it is excited, of consciously experiencing a concept of great complexity, for example the representation of a known person. This experiment has already been carried out. But this neuron is in no way significant in isolation. It is the symbolic apex of an organized pile of concepts that constantly seeks and reformulates itself in the games of sensory data and on the self-created mental scene.


References :

Le Code de la conscience, Stanislas Dehaene, Odile Jacob 2014

Face-selective neurons in the vicinity of the human fusiform face area, Vadim Axelrod, Camille Rozier, Tal Seidel Malkinson, Katia Lehongre, Claude Adam, Virginie Lambrecq, Vincent Navarro, Lionel Naccache, January 21, 2019, DOI:

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