A higher order Bayesian decision theory of consciousness

In Rahul Banerjee & B. K. Chakrabarti (eds.), Models of Brain and Mind: Physical, Computational, and Psychological Approaches. Elsevier (2008)
It is usually taken as given that consciousness involves superior or more elaborate forms of information processing. Contemporary models equate consciousness with global processing, system complexity, or depth or stability of computation. This is in stark contrast with the powerful philosophical intuition that being conscious is more than just having the ability to compute. I argue that it is also incompatible with current empirical findings. I present a model that is free from the strong assumption that consciousness predicts superior performance. The model is based on Bayesian decision theory, of which signal detection theory is a special case. It reflects the fact that the capacity for perceptual decisions is fundamentally limited by the presence and amount of noise in the system. To optimize performance, one therefore needs to set decision criteria that are based on the behaviour, i.e. the probability distributions, of the internal signals. One important realization is that the knowledge of how our internal signals behave statistically has to be learned over time. Essentially, we are doing statistics on our own brain. This ‘higherorder’ learning, however, may err, and this impairs our ability to set and maintain optimal criteria for perceptual decisions, which I argue is central to perception consciousness. I outline three possibilities of how conscious perception might be affected by failures of ‘higher-order’ representation. These all imply that one can have a dissociation between consciousness and performance. This model readily explains blindsight and hallucinations in formal terms, and is beginning to receive direct empirical support. I end by discussing some philosophical implications of the model.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,793
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
The Myth of Phenomenological Overflow.Richard Brown - 2012 - Consciousness and Cognition 21 (2):599-604.

View all 9 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Locke on Consciousness.Angela Coventry & Uriah Kriegel - 2008 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 25 (3):221-242.
Consciousness and Concepts.Robert Kirk - 1992 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 66 (66):23-40.
Leibniz on Memory and Consciousness.Larry M. Jorgensen - 2011 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 19 (5):887-916.
The Same-Order Monitoring Theory of Consciousness.Uriah Kriegel - 2006 - In Uriah Kriegel & Kenneth Williford (eds.), Self-Representational Approaches to Consciousness. MIT Press. pp. 143--170.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
216 ( #20,508 of 2,214,685 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #108,528 of 2,214,685 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature