Last week, Science Magazine published an interesting study on bird consciousness: A neural correlate of sensory consciousness in a corvid bird. The study conducted an experiment where crows were trained to respond to a sensory stimulus. The stimulus itself could be at the threshold of perceptibility, above that threshold, or missing. After the stimulus (or … Continue reading The consciousness of crows
(Warning: neuroscience weeds) Earlier this year I discussed Victor Lamme's theory of consciousness, that phenomenal experience is recurrent neural processing, that is, neural signalling that happens in loops, from lower layers to higher layers and back, or more broadly from region to region and back. In his papers, Lamme notes that recurrent processing is an … Continue reading The unproductive search for simple solutions to consciousness
When I was very young, the top of my feet started itching, so I started scratching. The itching continued for weeks and months, with me constantly scratching. My poor mother, seeing my red and scratched feet, implored me to stop. But the itching was relentless and I was maybe five or six, so I kept … Continue reading The complex composition of pain
(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?
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?
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
(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
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
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
(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