Consciousness, connectionism, and cognitive neuroscience: A meeting of the minds

Philosophical Psychology 9 (1):61-78 (1996)
Accounting for phenomenal structure—the forms, aspects, and features of conscious experience—poses a deep challenge for the scientific study of consciousness, but rather than abandon hope I propose a way forward. Connectionism, I argue, offers a bi-directional analogy, with its oft-noted “neural inspiration” on the one hand, and its largely unnoticed capacity to illuminate our phenomenology on the other. Specifically, distributed representations in a recurrent network enable networks to superpose categorical, contextual, and temporal information on a specific input representation, much as our own experience does. Artificial neural networks also suggest analogues of four salient distinctions between sensory and nonsensoty consciousness. The paper concludes with speculative proposals for discharging the connectionist heuristics to leave a robust, detailed empirical theory of consciousness.
Keywords Cognition  Consciousness  Mind  Neuroscience  Science
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Elizabeth Schier (2009). Identifying Phenomenal Consciousness. Consciousness and Cognition 18 (1):216-222.
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