Functional neuroanatomy of altered states of consciousness: The transient hypofrontality hypothesis

Consciousness and Cognition 12 (2):231-256 (2003)
It is the central hypothesis of this paper that the mental states commonly referred to as altered states of consciousness are principally due to transient prefrontal cortex deregulation. Supportive evidence from psychological and neuroscientific studies of dreaming, endurance running, meditation, daydreaming, hypnosis, and various drug-induced states is presented and integrated. It is proposed that transient hypofrontality is the unifying feature of all altered states and that the phenomenological uniqueness of each state is the result of the differential viability of various frontal circuits. Using an evolutionary approach, consciousness is conceptualized as hierarchically ordered cognitive function. Higher-order structures perform increasingly integrative functions and thus contribute more sophisticated content. Although this implies a holistic approach to consciousness, such a functional hierarchy localizes the most sophisticated layers of consciousness in the zenithal higher-order structure: the prefrontal cortex. The hallmark of altered states of consciousness is the subtle modification of behavioral and cognitive functions that are typically ascribed to the prefrontal cortex. The theoretical framework presented yields a number of testable hypotheses
Keywords *Consciousness States  *Dreaming  *Hypnosis  *Neuroanatomy  *Prefrontal Cortex  Daydreaming  Drugs  Running  Theory of Mind
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/S1053-8100(02)00046-6
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,890
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Michael I. Posner (1994). Attention: The Mechanisms of Consciousness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Usa 91:7398-7403.

View all 15 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 9 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

87 ( #32,811 of 1,725,305 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

5 ( #134,513 of 1,725,305 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.