Visual perception and imagery
Here, we put forward a redox molecular hypothesis about the natural biophysical substrate of visual perception and visual imagery. This hypothesis is based on the redox and bioluminescent processes of neuronal cells in retinotopically organized cytochrome oxidase rich visual areas. Our hypothesis is in line with the functional roles of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species in living cells that are not part of haphazard process, but rather a very strict mechanism used in signaling pathways. We point out that there is a direct relationship between neuronal activity and the biophoton emission process in the brain. Electrical and biochemical processes in the brain represent sensory information from the external world. During encoding or retrieval of information, electrical signals of neurons can be converted into synchronized biophoton signals by bioluminescent radical and non-radical processes. Therefore, information in the brain appears not only as an electrical (chemical) signal but also as a regulated biophoton (weak optical) signal inside neurons. During visual perception, the topological distribution of photon stimuli on the retina is represented by electrical neuronal activity in retinotopically organized visual areas. These retinotopic electrical signals in visual neurons can be converted into synchronized biophoton signals by radical and non-radical processes in retinotopically organized mitochondria-rich areas. As a result, regulated bioluminescent biophotons can create intrinsic pictures (depictive representation) in retinotopically organized cytochrome oxidase-rich visual areas during visual imagery and visual perception. The long-term visual memory is interpreted as epigenetic information regulated by free radicals and redox processes. This hypothesis does not claim to solve the secret of consciousness, but proposes that the evolution of higher levels of complexity made the intrinsic picture representation of the external visual world possible by regulated redox and bioluminescent reactions in the visual system during visual perception and visual imagery.