Synthese 191 (2):263-285 (2014)

Authors
Miguel Angel Sebastian
National Autonomous University of Mexico
Abstract
Cognitive theories claim, whereas non-cognitive theories deny, that cognitive access is constitutive of phenomenology. Evidence in favor of non-cognitive theories has recently been collected by Block and is based on the high capacity of participants in partial-report experiments compared to the capacity of the working memory. In reply, defenders of cognitive theories have searched for alternative interpretations of such results that make visual awareness compatible with the capacity of the working memory; and so the conclusions of such experiments remain controversial. Instead of entering the debate between alternative interpretations of partial-report experiments, this paper offers an alternative line of research that could settle the discussion between cognitive and non-cognitive theories of consciousness. Here I relate the neural correlates of cognitive access to empirical research into the neurophysiology of dreams; cognitive access seems to depend on the activity of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. However, that area is strongly deactivated during sleep; a period when we entertain conscious experiences: dreams. This approach also avoids the classic objection that consciousness should be inextricably tied to reportability or it would fall outside the realm of science.
Keywords Consciousness  Cognitive access  Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex  Dreams  Phenomenology  Working memory
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-013-0385-y
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References found in this work BETA

On a Confusion About a Function of Consciousness.Ned Block - 1995 - Brain and Behavioral Sciences 18 (2):227-–247.
A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness.Bernard J. Baars - 1988 - Cambridge University Press.
Perceptual Consciousness Overflows Cognitive Access.Ned Block - 2011 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15 (12):567-575.

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