The Catalytic Model Ecological Theory and the Perception Action Cycle

A growing group of theorists are attempting to reconcile living processes with the laws of thermodynamics within a unified theory. For example, in ecosystems that have been perturbed as a consequence of species reduction, the gradual process by which animal and plant species reintegrate into the ecosystem correlates with an increase in the paths for energy dissipation [61, 62]. Also, it is argued that the perception-action cycle of com plex animals allows for an increase in the available paths for energy dissipation [69].

To demonstrate how the scale-invariant catalytic model rationalizes and unifies the catalytic theme in living processes when we consider the nervous system specifically, we may consider a particular evolutionary development. The early stages of the evolutionary process would have started where there was a constant supply of raw materials and energy that could support an ongoing and robust catalytic process involving many catalysts in a dynamic relationship. However, when we observe the behavior of a complex organism, for example, a whale shark, we note that it is no longer necessary for there to be a constant supply of energy and raw materials in the environment. The fact that complex living organisms can escape the necessity of a continuously excited medium may seem to imply that complex behavior mediated by the nervous system represents a development that cannot be fully accommodated by the catalytic model as it has been described. The question is: can the complex behavior of the shark, for example, be understood in the same way that we understand a traveling wave of bacteria in an excitable medium?

The brain of the whale shark is structured according to a set of boundary conditions. These include the spatiotemporal symmetries or invariance that are implicit in the shark's body, the dynamic interaction between the shark and its environment, and the relative spatial relationships in the sensory field. In this case, the energy constraint is not associated with the environment per se, but is determined by the internal energy reserve of the shark. It is within this set of boundary conditions that a traveling-wave solution emerges. Because of the intimate relationship between the nervous system and the shark's musculature, a traveling-wave solution corresponds to the macroscopic motion of the shark. Not only is energy released as a consequence of energy being used to drive the musculature of the shark, but the traveling-wave solution is also releasing energy in the shark's nervous system. In this way we see that there is no real precedence of behavioral states over neural states. The reason for the robustness of each is identical. The effect of internalizing an excitable medium that can be structured in real time, is that it facilitates the emergence of catalytic processes that do not rely on the constant availability of energy and raw materials in the environment; we observe this as complex behavior. Consequently, the perception/action cycle of complex animals can be understood as resulting from exactly the same dynamic principles that operate at the level of the enzyme.

The scale-invariant catalytic model is essentially an ecological theory that places the emphasis on the relationship between entropy production and the structure in the environment that is effected as a result of a soliton or traveling-wave mechanism. We can observe this at the macroscopic scale in the perception/action cycle of animals. Animal behavior invariably involves the structure of the environment. The perception/action cycle is essentially an extension of the catalytic process made possible by internalizing an excitable medium. This is an inevitable consequence of the scale-invariant model.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment