Hard criteria for theories of consciousness?

(Warning: consciousness theory weeds.) A new paper in the journal Cognitive Neuroscience: Hard criteria for empirical theories of consciousness, takes a shot at proposing criteria for assessing scientific theories of consciousness.  The authors make clear at the beginning that they're aiming their criteria at empirical theories, rather than metaphysical ones.  So they make no attempt … Continue reading Hard criteria for theories of consciousness?

Assembly Calculus: the missing link between mind and brain?

Read any mainstream neuroscience book, and one of the things you'll typically see is an admission that while a lot is known about the operations of neurons and synapses, and a lot about high level signalling patterns in various brain regions, along with a good amount on how sensory processing happens in some regions (such … Continue reading Assembly Calculus: the missing link between mind and brain?

Building a consciousness-detector

Joel Frohlich has an interesting article up at Aeon on the possibility of detecting consciousness.  He begins with striking neurological case studies, such as the one of a woman born without a cerebellum, yet fully conscious, indicating that the cerebellum is not necessary for consciousness. He works his way to the sobering cases of consciousness … Continue reading Building a consciousness-detector

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

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 response schema

Several months ago Michael Graziano, and colleagues, attempted a synthesis of three families of scientific theories of consciousness: global workspace theory (GWT), higher order theory (HOT), and his own attention schema theory (AST). A quick (crudely simplistic) reminder: GWT posits that content becomes conscious when it is globally broadcast throughout the brain, HOT when a … Continue reading The response schema

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

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

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