On the neural correlates of object recognition awareness: Relationship to computational activities and activities mediating perceptual awareness

Consciousness and Cognition 11 (1):51-77 (2002)
Abstract
Based on theoretical considerations of Aurell (1979) and Block (1995), we argue that object recognition awareness is distinct from purely sensory awareness and that the former is mediated by neuronal activities in areas that are separate and distinct from cortical sensory areas. We propose that two of the principal functions of neuronal activities in sensory cortex, which are to provide sensory awareness and to effect the computations that are necessary for object recognition, are dissociated. We provide examples of how this dissociation might be achieved and argue that the components of the neuronal activities which carry the computations do not directly enter the awareness of the subject. The results of these computations are sparse representations (i.e., vector or distributed codes) which are activated by the presentation of particular sensory objects and are essentially engrams for the recognition of objects. These final representations occur in the highest order areas of sensory cortex; in the visual analyzer, the areas include the anterior part of the inferior temporal cortex and the perirhinal cortex. We propose, based on lesion and connectional data, that the two areas in which activities provide recognition awareness are the temporopolar cortex and the medial orbitofrontal cortex. Activities in the temporopolar cortex provide the recognition awareness of objects learned in the remote past (consolidated object recognition), and those in the medial orbitofrontal cortex provide the recognition awareness of objects learned in the recent past. The activation of the sparse representation for a particular sensory object in turn activates neurons in one or both of these regions of cortex, and it is the activities of these neurons that provide the awareness of recognition of the object in question. The neural circuitry involved in the activation of these representations is discussed
Keywords *Awareness  *Object Recognition  *Somatosensory Cortex  Temporal Lobe  Visual Perception
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