A neurophilosophical slant on consciousness research

Explaining the nature and mechanisms of conscious experience in neurobiological terms seems to be an attainable, if yet unattained, goal. Research at many levels is important, including research at the cellular level that explores the role of recurrent pathways between thalamic nuclei and the cortex, and research that explores consciousness from the perspective of action. Conceptually, a clearer understanding of the logic of expressions such as ‘‘causes’’ and ‘‘correlates’’, and about what to expect from a theory of consciousness are required. The logic of some terms, such as ‘‘qualia’’ and ‘‘reductionism’’, continues to generate misunderstandings about the scientific possibilities and limits. Experimentally, a deeper understanding of the role of the thalamus in coordinating activity across cortical levels, and a readiness to reconsider the orthodox approach to thalamocortical organization are also required.
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