Fractal catalytic model

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The fractal catalytic model (also referred to as the fractal catalytic theory or soliton-catalytic model) - proposed by Christopher James Davia and adopted in the research of Carnegie Mellon University (Lee and Marge Gregg) Professor of Psychology Patricia Carpenter - is a “theory of cognition grounded in metabolism” [1] which identifies enzymatic catalysis (taking place in cells) as a “prototypical process” [2] applying at all levels of scale in biological organisms.

The theory asserts that energy and structure (also information) become synonymous in complex biological structures via a self-organizing, multiple-scale catalytic process (thus: bioenergetics = bioinformatics) – the proposed mechanism involving the catalytic action of soliton propagation in (biological) excitable media.[2] The theory resolves problems (particularly problems associated with brain function) arising from an assumed distinction between function and metabolism. The theory attempts to show that no such distinction exists; thus: FUNCTION = METABOLISM = CATALYSIS.[2]

Developed initially within the field of embodied cognition[3][4] it has been referenced in such areas as semiotics,[5] artificial intelligence[6] and theories of life’s origins.[7]


  1. ^ Davia, C.J. (2002). "Minds, Brains & Catalysis: A theory of cognition grounded in metabolism". Dept of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.  – also alternately titled: “Quantum Ontology: Minds, Brains, and Catalysts”.
  2. ^ a b c Davia, C.J (June 2006), "Life, Catalysis and Excitable Media: A Dynamic Systems Approach to Metabolism and Cognition", in Tuszynski, J.A, The Emerging Physics of Consciousness (The Frontiers Collection), Springer, pp. 255–292, ISBN 978-3540238904 
  3. ^ Carpenter, P.A; Davia, C.J. (2006). "A catalytic theory of embodied mind" (PDF). Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (2006): 1080–1085. 
  4. ^ Carpenter, P.A.; Davia, C.J.; Vimal, R (2009). "Catalysis, Perception and Consciousness". New Mathematics and Natural Computation (NMNC). 5 (1): 287–306. doi:10.1142/s1793005709001295. 
  5. ^ Thibault, P.J (Dec 2011). "Languaging Behaviour as Catalytic Process: Steps Towards a Theory of Living Language (Parts 1 & 2)" (PDF). The Public Journal of Semiotics. 3 (2): 2–151. 
  6. ^ The CORVUS II / SCARI (Self-organizing Curious Anticipatory Architectures for Robust Intelligence) project mounted by the Cognitive Models subgroup of Texas A&M University-Commerce (Principal Investigator Derek Harter, Ph.D.) existed to “build and understand models of cognition based on (the) theory of intelligence as a self-organizing catalytic process” via the implementation of a “curious infrastructure built on top of a distributed, heterogeneous grid computing environment”. National Science Foundation (NSF), $450,000. See Harter, D (Nov 2006). Catalytic Self-Organization of Hierarchies: A Dynamical Systems View of Cognition. Presentation for the 2006 Northeast Texas INNS/MIND Workshop on Goal Directed Neural Systems. UT-Arlington, TX for a brief summary.
  7. ^ Mitra-Delmotte, G; Mitra, A.N (2012). "Softening the "crystal-scaffold" for life's emergence". Physics Research International. 2012 (232864): 1. arXiv:1108.0309Freely accessible. doi:10.1155/2012/232864.