The seven attributes of minimal consciousness

I'm still working my way through Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka's tome: The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul.  This is the second post of a series on their book.  I'm actually on the last chapter, but that last chapter is close to a hundred pages long, and the book's prose is dense.  Light reading it … Continue reading The seven attributes of minimal consciousness

The sensitive soul and the rational soul

I think examining the evolution of consciousness in animals helps shed light on it in humans.  Admittedly, there are difficulties.  Animals can't self report using language, which limits just how much of their experience can be garnered from experiments.  Still, taking data from human studies and combining it with animal studies can provide a lot … Continue reading The sensitive soul and the rational soul

Islands of awareness

(Warning: neuroscience weeds) An interesting paper by Tim Bayne, Anil Seth, and Marcello Massimi, which came up in my Twitter stream today, asks whether there can be islands of awareness. Ordinary consciousness involves ongoing interaction with the environment, receiving sensory information, and producing motor output.  It has a functional role, enabling an organism to deal … Continue reading Islands of awareness

Daniel Dennett on why phenomenal consciousness is access consciousness

This old talk by Daniel Dennett touches on a lot of topics we've discussed recently.  Dennett explains why it's wrong to regard phenomenal consciousness (the "what it's likeness" or "raw experience" version) as separate from access consciousness (the cognitive access of information for decision making, memory, report, etc). Note that Dennett doesn't deny the existence … Continue reading Daniel Dennett on why phenomenal consciousness is access consciousness

Stimulating the central lateral thalamus produces consciousness

(Warning: neuroscience weeds) A couple of people have asked me about this study, described in numerous popular science articles (such as this one).  A monkey had electrodes installed in its brain that allowed scientists to stimulate parts of its thalamus, the region at the center of the brain which links the cortex to the brainstem … Continue reading Stimulating the central lateral thalamus produces consciousness

Do qualia exist? Depends on what we mean by “exist.”

The cognitive scientist, Hakwan Lau, whose work I've highlighted several times in the last year, has been pondering illusionism recently.  He did a Twitter survey on the relationship between the phenomenal concept strategy (PCS) and illusionism, which inspired my post on the PCS.  (Meant to mention that in the post, but it slipped.)  Anyway, he's … Continue reading Do qualia exist? Depends on what we mean by “exist.”

The phenomenal concept strategy and issues with conceptual isolation

I've often pondered that the hard problem of consciousness, the perceived problem of understanding how phenomenal consciousness can happen in physical systems, arises due to the fact that our intuitive model of the phenomenal is very different from our intuitive model of the physical, of the brain in particular. As is usually the case, anytime … Continue reading The phenomenal concept strategy and issues with conceptual isolation

Prefrontal activity associated with the contents of consciousness

The other day I bemoaned the fact that the Templeton competition between global workspace theory (GWT) and integrated information theory (IIT) would take so long, particularly the point about having to wait to see the role of the front and back of the brain in consciousness clarified.  Well, it looks like many aren't waiting, and … Continue reading Prefrontal activity associated with the contents of consciousness

Recurrent processing theory and the function of consciousness

Victor Lamme's recurrent processing theory (RPT) remains on the short list of theories considered plausible by the consciousness science community.  It's something of a dark horse candidate, without the support of global workspace theory (GWT) or integrated information theory (IIT), but it gets more support among consciousness researchers than among general enthusiasts.  The Michael Cohen … Continue reading Recurrent processing theory and the function of consciousness