Discovering the moment of consciousness? I: Bridging techniques at work

Philosophical Psychology 9 (2):149 – 166 (1996)
Connectionist views in psychology and neuroscience give the impression that there is no one place in the brain into which all information funnels. If these impression are accurate, then we will have great difficulty picking out a point in neuronal or psychological time at which phenomena become conscious. If so, pointing to one place in which we are conscious of a particular event and expecting a psychophysical correlation between qualitative and neural events seems hopeless. In response to this worry, I argue that ERP research can bridge the psychology and neuroscience such that we can identify when qualitative experiences occur relative to other cognitive events. I present data suggesting that accessing an early implicit priming system gives rise to a qualitatively different kind of ERP wave than does accessing a later episodic memory system. These results illustrate how it is possible to parse psychological events finely enough in (neuro-)psychological investigations in order to determine when particular psychological events occur in the head. So, if we could align consciousness with some psychological event, then we should be able to articulate when that event occurs in the processing stream (relative to other events) as long as that event can be correlated with some ERP waveform.
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DOI 10.1080/09515089608573178
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Carl G. Hempel (1966). Philosophy of Natural Science. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall.

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