A perceptual hierarchy of consciousness

I've discussed many times how difficult consciousness can be to define. One of the earliest modern definitions, from John Locke, was, "the perception of what passes in a man's own mind." This definition makes consciousness inherently about introspection. But other definitions over the centuries have focused on knowledge in general as well as intentionality, the … Continue reading A perceptual hierarchy of consciousness

Stimulating the prefrontal cortex

(Warning: neuroscience weeds) This is an interesting study getting attention on social media: Does the Prefrontal Cortex Play an Essential Role in Consciousness? Insights from Intracranial Electrical Stimulation of the Human Brain. Ned Block is one of the authors. (Warning: paywalled, but you might have luck here.) The study looks at data from epileptic patients … Continue reading Stimulating the prefrontal cortex

The global playground

(Warning: neuroscience weeds) Stanislas Dehaene recently called attention to a paper in Nature studying the brain dynamics of something becoming conscious. The study supports the global neuronal workspace theory that consciousness involves "bifurcation" dynamics, an "ignition", a phase transition between preconscious and conscious processing. Prior to the transition, the processing is feedforward and fleeting. After … Continue reading The global playground

The location of the global workspace

(Warning: neuroscience weeds) I've discussed global workspace theories (GWT) before, the idea that consciousness is content making it into a global workspace available to a vast array of specialty processes. More specifically, through a neural competitive process, the content excites key hub areas, which then broadcast it to the rest of the specialty systems throughout … Continue reading The location of the global workspace

The problem with the theater of the mind metaphor

A theater in the head

In the last post, in response to my criticism of Chalmers for relying on the standard but vague "something it is like" definition of phenomenal consciousness, someone pointed out that Chalmers has talked before metaphorically about a movie playing in our head, notably at the beginning of his TED talk on consciousness. I think this … Continue reading The problem with the theater of the mind metaphor

The substitution argument

Diagram of Phenomenal and Functional consciousness

A preprint came up a few times in my feeds, titled: Falsification and consciousness.  The paper argues that all the major scientific theories of consciousness are either already falsified or unfalsifiable.  One neuroscientist, Ryota Kanai, calls it a mathematical proof of the hard problem.  Based on that description, it was hard to resist looking at … Continue reading The substitution argument

Postdictive perception and the consciousness finish line

(Warning: neuroscience weeds) Recently I noted that one of the current debates in cognitive science is between those who see phenomenal and access consciousness as separate things, and those who see them as different aspects of the same thing.  Closely related, perhaps actually identical, is the debate between local and global theories of consciousness. Local … Continue reading Postdictive perception and the consciousness finish line

Is there a conscious perception finish line?

Global workspace theory (GWT) is the proposition that consciousness is composed of contents broadcast throughout the brain.  Various specialty processes compete for the limited capacity of the broadcasting mechanisms, to have their content broadcast to the all the other specialty processes. Global neuronal workspace (GNW) is a variant of that theory, popularly promoted by Stanislas … Continue reading Is there a conscious perception finish line?

The battle between integration and workspace will take a while

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 … Continue reading The battle between integration and workspace will take a while

Global workspace theory: consciousness as brain wide information sharing

Lately I've been reading up on global workspace theory (GWT).  In a survey published last year, among general consciousness enthusiasts, integrated information theory (IIT) was the most popular theory, followed closely by GWT.  However, among active consciousness researchers, GWT was seen as the most promising by far (although no theory garnered a majority).  Since seeing … Continue reading Global workspace theory: consciousness as brain wide information sharing