Bioelectricity (natural electrical signaling among cells) is an extremely interesting field, in that it spans the gulf between very fundamental issues in philosophy (computation, cognition, downward causation, holism, mind-matter interaction) to specific aspects of biophysics at the heart of practical applications like regenerative medicine and cancer. Bioelectricity is the cognitive glue that binds individual neurons in your nervous system toward a coherent, emergent Self that has preferences, goals, memories, and problem-solving capacities in spaces that no individual neuron can fathom. Bioelectrical signaling scales control across levels of organization in our bodies, allowing high-level executive intent in our minds (“I want to get up and go to the lab”) to be transduced to depolarizing your muscle cells so that your body can actually perform that function. This amazing example of mind-matter interaction (control of cell biochemistry by mental intent) is not some rare example of yogic practices or biofeedback, it is the everyday magic of voluntary muscle motion made possible by a control architecture that enables causality across scales. The evolutionary origin of this remarkable system is the much more ancient somatic bioelectric signaling that bound the (non-neural) cells in your embryonic body toward large-scale anatomical goals, and enabled them to solve problems in navigating from a single cell (egg) state to that of a complex being. These electrical networks are at the heart of scaling the modest cognitive light cone of single cells into much larger one of self-assembling complex form and function.
Here is a talk I gave on this topic at the University of Bristol (October, 2023):
At this event:
Audio Q&A afterward: