Well, I find this a bit disappointing. I was hoping that the contest between global workspace theory (GWT) and integrated information theory (IIT) would be announced sometime this year. Apparently, I’m going to have to wait awhile:
Pitts describes the intention of this competition as “to kill one or both theories,” but adds that while he is unsure that either will be definitively disproved, both theories have a good chance of being critically challenged. It’s expected to take three years for the experiments to be conducted and the data to be analyzed before a verdict is reached.
Three years. And of course there remains no guarantee the results will be decisive. Sigh.
I don’t particularly need the results to tell me which theory is more plausible. GWT is probably not the final theory, but it currently feels more grounded than IIT.
Still it would be nice to get insights on the back vs front of the brain matter. I’m expecting the answer to be the whole brain is usually involved, but that consciousness can get by in reduced form with only the posterior regions. (Assuming the necessary subcortical regions remains functional.) Having only those regions might be a sensory consciousness with no emotional feeling, a type of extreme akinetic mutism.
I suppose it’s conceivable consciousness could also get by with just the frontal regions, but it seems like it would be without any mental imagery (except for olfactory ones), blind feelings, which seems pretty desolate. On the other hand, it might amount to what the forebrain of fish and amphibians have, since their non-smell senses only go directly to their midbrain.
Oh well. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of other studies and papers to entertain us in the meantime!