The creation of ideas is complicated. It’s not just built upon neurons.
You have to build both top down and bottom up to get ideas to link to neurons.
Ideas build upon ideas within societies, transmitted in a variety of mechanical means, encoded within languages (which are also built of ideas shared among humans), stretching back to the beginning of human communication and likely prior to animal coded communications.
That’s top down.
Then you have the coding in evolution allowing for mechanisms that can hold, use and transmit information down generations, information on how to construct species that are capable of idea-creation, holding, usage, transmission.
That’s bottom up.
Most of our ideas did not come from our neurons. They came from paper. Spoken word. Learning.
Our neurons don’t do much without input. Where’s the input come from?
Ideas are emergent properties of not only a sweep of oscillatory neurons but also that which they were fed with, which is “sensory data”.
Neurons are a part of the human nervous system which connect to the sensory inputs.
The sensory inputs receive signals from within the body itself and from outside of itself.
Neurons, nervous systems and senses functioning without EXTERNAL input, will only have its own noise to feed off of.
A perfect neuronal-only thought experiment; a brain in a vat; could not produce ideas without some kind of social interaction of some kind.
The social interaction could likely be inanimate: simply engaging with the senses might be enough.
Could a noisy imperfect brain-in-a-vat eventually create ideas based upon reoccurring coinciding firings that somehow flip on whatever deigns something as “salient”, worthy of — recording — in neuronal patterns for future comparison?
But it’s a recording there too that is salient which is why I’m hard pressed to make much of a distinction between an external recording and an internal one.