Computational Correlates of Consciousness

Abstract
Over the past few years numerous proposals have appeared that attempt to characterize consciousness in terms of what could be called its computational correlates: Principles of information processing with which to characterize the differences between conscious and unconscious processing. Proposed computational correlates include architectural specialization (such as the involvement of specific regions of the brain in conscious processing), properties of representations (such as their stability in time or their strength), and properties of specific processes (such as resonance, synchrony, interactivity, or information integration). In exactly the same way as one can engage in a search for the neural correlates of consciousness, one can thus search for the computational correlates of consciousness. The most direct way of doing is to contrast models of conscious versus unconscious information processing. In this paper, I review these developments and illustrate how computational modeling of specific cognitive processes can be useful in exploring and in formulating putative computational principles through which to capture the differences between conscious and unconscious cognition. What can be gained from such approaches to the problem of consciousness is an understanding of the function it plays in information processing and of the mechanisms that subtend it. Here, I suggest that the central function of consciousness is to make it possible for cognitive agents to exert ?exible, adaptive control over behavior. From this perspective, consciousness is best characterized as involving (1) a graded continuum de?ned over quality of representation, such that availability to consciousness and to cognitive control correlates with properties of representation, and (2) the implication of systems of meta-representations
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Axel Cleeremans (2001). Conscious and Unconscious Processes in Cognition. International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
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