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The physiology of coordination: self-resolving diverse affinities via the sparse order in relevant noise

J. Augustus Bacigalupi

Corresponding Author

J. Augustus Bacigalupi

Department of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Tartu, Tartumaa Estonia

Corresponding author J. A. Bacigalupi: Department of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Jakobi 2-304, Tartu, 51005, Tartumaa, Estonia.  Email: [email protected]

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Donald Favareau

Donald Favareau

University Scholars Programme, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

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First published: 27 December 2023

Handling Editors: Laura Bennet & Denis Noble

The peer review history is available in the Supporting Information section of this article (https://doi.org/10.1113/JP284418#support-information-section).

Abstract

Living systems at any given moment enact a very constrained set of end-directed and contextually appropriate actions that are self-initiated from among innumerable possible alternatives. However, these constrained actions are not necessarily because the system has reduced its sensitivities to themselves and their surroundings. Quite the contrary, living systems are continually open to novel and unanticipated stimulations that require a physiology of coordination. To address these competing demands, this paper offers a novel heuristic model informed by neuroscience, systems theory, biology and sign study to explain how organisms situated in diverse, complex and ever-changing environments might draw upon the sparse order made available by ‘relevant noise’. This emergent order facilitates coordination, habituation and, ultimately, understanding of the world and its relevant affordances. Inspired by the burgeoning field of coordination dynamics and physiologist Denis Noble's concept of ‘biological relativity’, this model proposes a view of coordination on the neuronal level that is neither sequential nor stochastic, but instead implements a causal logic of phasic alignment, such that an organism's learned and inherited sets of diverse biological affinities and sympathies can be resolved into a continuous and complex range of patterns that will implement the kind of novel orientations and radical generativity required of such organisms to adaptively explore their environments and to learn from their experiences.