The subjective experience of time is a fundamental constituent of human consciousness and can be disturbed under conditions of mental disorders such as schizophrenia or affective disorders. Besides the scientific domain of psychiatry, time consciousness is a topic that has been extensively studied both by theoretical philosophy and cognitive neuroscience. It can be shown that both approaches exemplified by the philosophical analysis of time consciousness and the neuroscientific theory of cross-temporal contingencies as the neurophysiological basis of human consciousness implemented in (...) the prefrontal cortex converge in 2 respects. Firstly, a tripartite conception of consciousness divides human cognition in 3 different temporal domains comprising retention, presentation, and protention and the past, the present, and the future corresponding to working memory, interference control, and preparatory set. Secondly, both concepts refer to the present as an extended duration that integrates information from the recent past and the future. We propose that the integration of phenomenological and neuroscientific approaches can stimulate the development of enriched pathophysiological concepts of mental disorders. This approach appears to be particularly fruitful with respect to schizophrenia that is interpreted as a structural disturbance of time consciousness. (shrink)
Disturbances of consciousness, including fluctuations in attention and awareness, are a common and clinically important symptom in dementia with Lewy bodies . In the present study we investigate potential mechanisms of such disturbances of consciousness in a clinicopathological study evaluating specific components of the cholinergic system. [3H]Epibatidine binding to the high-affinity nicotinic receptor in the temporal cortex differentiated DLB cases with and without DOC, being 62–66% higher in those with DOC . The were no differences between DLB patients (...) with or without DOC in 125I-labeled α-bungaratoxin binding to the low-affinity nicotinic receptor, [3H]pirenzepine binding to the muscarinic M1 receptor, or in choline acetyltransferase activity. These findings provide support for the hypothesis that cholinergic activity is an important neural correlate if consciousness and suggest a mechanism of DOC in DLB involving alterations in the nicotinic receptor, composed of predominantly α4 and β2 subunits. (shrink)
By allowing one artificial neural network to govern the synaptic noise injected into another based upon its appraisal of patterns nucleating from such disturbances, a contemplative form of artificial intelligence is formed whose creativity and pattern delivery closely parallels that of human cognition. Drawing upon the theory of fractional Brownian motion, we may derive an equation, verifiable through statistical mechanics, which governs both the novelty and rhythm of pattern turnover within such neural systems. Through this equation, we gain valuable (...) insight into the process of idea formation within the brain, whether that organ is making sense of its environment or itself. In doing so, a relationship between creativity and consciousness is revealed, along with a potential path toward building conscious machine intelligence. (shrink)
Mental health, in one awake, guarantees that person knowledge of the central phenomenon-contents of his own mind, under an adequate classificatory heading. This is the primary thesis of the paper. That knowledge is not itself a phenomenon-content, and usually is achieved in no way. Rather, it stems from the natural accessibility of mental phenomenon-contents to wakeful consciousness. More precisely, when mental normality obtains, such knowledge necessarily obtains in wakeful consciousness. This thesis conjoins a version of Cartesianism with the concepts of (...) mental health and human nature. Demonstration of the thesis requires that we show that a particular human mental potential fails fully to be realized when such self-awareness is impaired. That potential is for consciousness of the world (w-Cs), wakefulness. W-Cs divides into consciousness of the outer world (ow-Cs), and consciousness of the inner world (iw-Cs), and we need to demonstrate an essential dependence of ow-Cs upon iw-Cs. Now w-Cs is the adoption of the correct occurrent epistemological posture to the world, and this involves free rational determination of occurrent cognitive attitudes via the internal systematized knowledge of the world, which requires adequate awareness of mental phenomenon-contents. Therefore ow-Cs needs iw-Cs. This is displayed in mental structural accounts of hypnotic, drunken, and psychotic disturbances of consciousness. (For we endorse a structural account of mental health.) We show how failures of self-consciousness entail disturbed modes of determination of cognitive attitudes by the knowledge-system, which is loss of contact with the personal yet true internal representation of the world, which is loss of contact with reality, which is a disturbance both of w-Cs and of consciousness itself. (shrink)
We suggest that consciousness (C) should be addressed as a multilevel concept. We can provisionally identify at least three, rather than two, levels: Gray's system should relate at least to the lowest of these three levels. Although it is unlikely to be possible to develop a behavioural test for C, it is possible to speculate as to the evolutionary advantages offered by C and how C evolved through succeeding levels. Disturbances in the relationships between the levels of C could (...) underlie mental illness, especially schizophrenia. (shrink)
Memory is a general attribute of living species, whose diversification reflects both evolutionary and developmental processes. Episodic-autobiographical memory is regarded as the highest human ontogenetic achievement and as probably being uniquely human. EAM, autonoetic consciousness and the self are intimately linked, grounding, supporting and enriching each other’s development and cohesiveness. Their development is influenced by the socio-cultural–linguistic environment in which an individual grows up or lives. On the other hand, through language, textualization and social exchange, all three elements leak into (...) the world and participate to the dynamic shaping and re-shaping of the cultural scaffolding of the self, mental time traveling and EAM formation. Deficits in self-related processing, autonetic consciousness, emotional processing and mental time traveling can all lead to or co-occur with EAM disturbances, as we illustrate by findings from EAM impairments associated with neurological or psychiatric disorders. (shrink)
A hypothesis on the physiological conditions for the occurrence of phenomenal states is presented. It is suggested that the presence of phenomenal states depends on the rate at which neural assemblies are formed. Unconsciousness and various disturbances of phenomenal consciousness occur if the assembly formation rate is below a certain threshold level; if this level is surpassed, phenomenal states necessarily result. A critical production rate of neural assemblies is the necessary and sufficient condition for the occurrence of phenomenal states.
Gil R, Arroyo-Anllo EM, Ingrand P, Gil M, Neau JP, Ornon C, Bonnaud V. Self-consciousness and Alzheimer’s disease. Acta Neurol Scand 2001: 104: 296–300. # Munksgaard 2001. Objectives – To propose a neuropsychological study of the various aspects of self-consciousness (SC) in Alzheimer’s disease. Methods – Forty-five patients with probable mild or moderate AD were included in the study. Severity of their dementia was assessed by the Mini Mental State (MMS). Fourteen questions were prepared to evaluate SC. Results – No (...) significant correlations were found between SC score and educational level, age, and duration of disease. A significant correlation was found between SC score and the severity of dementia, whereas frontal disturbances were just short of the significance threshold. The various aspects of SC were not impaired to the same degree. The most disturbed ones were awareness of cognitive deficiencies, moral judgements and prospective memory. The least disturbed aspects were awareness of identity and of mental representation of the body. Items relating to anosognosia and moral judgements were significantly correlated with the MMS score, whereas affective state, body representation disorders, prospective memory, and capacities for introspection were not related to the severity of the dementia. Consciousness of identity was sound, regardless of MMS score. Conclusions – AD clearly induces an heterogeneous impairment of SC. SC requires a convergence of many neural networks. In AD, neuronal alterations involve many cortical areas and information sent to the associative frontal cortex from memory, language and visuospatial areas is lacking or disturbed. Thus, the sequential order of successive stimuli cannot be maintained by the heteromodal associative cortex (dorsal convexity of the prefrontal cortex), and the supramodal associative cortex (located rostrally in the frontal lobes) is unable to provide reliable monitoring and assessment of simultaneous neural cognitive networks carrying insufficient and inadequate input. The core deficiency in AD patients might be impaired SC equated with the disability to maintain sequential and simultaneous ‘‘attention to life’’. The Self-Consciousness Questionnaire, a clinical scale providing multidimensional measurement, indicates that different aspects of consciousness are not correlated with overall cognitive deficiency as determined by the MMSE. (shrink)
Excellent performance in sport involves specialized and refined skills within very narrow applications. Choking throws a wrench in the works of finely tuned performances. Functionally, and reduced to its simplest expression, choking is severe underperformance when engaging already mastered skills. Choking is a complex phenomenon with many intersecting facets: its dysfunctions result from the multifaceted interaction of cognitive and psychological processes, neurophysiological mechanisms, and phenomenological dynamics. This article develops a phenomenological model that, complementing empirical and theoretical research, helps understand and (...) redress choking. It aims at describing the experience of choking as experience, and to discuss strategies to palliate or prevent its onset at the pragmatic level at which athletes engage the phenomenon experientially. An overview of current empirical research and theoretical models highlights key ideas and points out contentious issues. The model describes the common structure of the choking experience. It identifies four core constitutive elements: A) disruptive proprioceptive and kinesthetic dynamics, B) a malfunctioning background or Jamesian fringe of consciousness, C) dislocated time dynamics, and D) emotional disturbances. The novelty of the remedy is that it is designed to cross disciplinary boundaries between phenomenology, historiography, and hermeneutics, and moreover connects theory to praxis as it looks at Japanese dō, practices of self-cultivation. It focuses on actual do-or-die situations, not putative ones such as important business deals or competing for a medal. To this effect, it examines medieval Japanese swordsmanship and training manuals and also engages risk sports, where death is indeed a real possibility. The manuals, which arise in the context of choke-inducing life or death duels, and risk sports, afford keen phenomenological observations and practical advice that prove invaluable for today’s sports world and beyond. (shrink)
From an outsider's perspective, today's Popular China might appear as a self-confident and triumphant country. However, a large-scale examination of the country's recent moral controversies reveals a very different picture, one that has much to do with the widespread local public perception of an ongoing “moral crisis”, whose examination requires careful attention placed on the ethical and affective aspects of the everyday lives of today's Chinese people. In this article, I propose to examine the anguish that Chinese bachelor youths and (...) their concerned parents undergo and express, as they are confronted with the difficult process of finding a suitable mate for marriage. I examine the fears their celibacy generates, the mutual distrust that participants taking part in bachelors’ parents gatherings demonstrate, and the disputes these encounters engage. I analyze the moral world of today's urban China from the perspective of the very feelings and affects that pervade it. Highlighting the ways in which my interlocutors shared their emotions with me along the course of my fieldwork, carried out in the cities of Beijing and Chengdu, I will insist on the importance of these affects within an anthropological approach. The moral sensitivities contained in the maintenance of the economic and social situations of one's family reveal themselves as an exceptional resource for knowledge. By examining the political economy of sentiments within which parents and their children find themselves entrapped, I argue that we can gain a deeper understanding of the concrete consequences of today's societal transformations. (shrink)
The significance of consciousness in modern science is discussed by leading authorities from a variety of disciplines. Presenting a wide-ranging survey of current thinking on this important topic, the contributors address such issues as the status of different aspects of consciousness; the criteria for using the concept of consciousness and identifying instances of it; the basis of consciousness in functional brain organization; the relationship between different levels of theoretical discourse; and the functions of consciousness.
John Campbell investigates how consciousness of the world explains our ability to think about the world; how our ability to think about objects we can see depends on our capacity for conscious visual attention to those things. He illuminates classical problems about thought, reference, and experience by looking at the underlying psychological mechanisms on which conscious attention depends.
Consciousness is a mongrel concept: there are a number of very different "consciousnesses." Phenomenal consciousness is experience; the phenomenally conscious aspect of a state is what it is like to be in that state. The mark of access-consciousness, by contrast, is availability for use in reasoning and rationally guiding speech and action. These concepts are often partly or totally conflated, with bad results. This target article uses as an example a form of reasoning about a function of "consciousness" based on (...) the phenomenon of blindsight. Some information about stimuli in the blind field is represented in the brains of blindsight patients, as shown by their correct "guesses," but they cannot harness this information in the service of action, and this is said to show that a function of phenomenal consciousness is somehow to enable information represented in the brain to guide action. But stimuli in the blind field are BOTH access-unconscious and phenomenally unconscious. The fallacy is: an obvious function of the machinery of access-consciousness is illicitly transferred to phenomenal consciousness. (shrink)
Within psychology and the brain sciences, the study of consciousness and its relation to human information processing is once more a focus for productive research. However, some ancient puzzles about the nature of consciousness appear to be resistant to current empirical investigations, suggesting the need for a fundamentally different approach. In Velmans I have argued that functional accounts of the mind do not `contain' consciousness within their workings. Investigations of information processing are not investigations of consciousness as such. Given this, (...) first-person investigations of experience need to be related nonreductively to third-person investigations of processing. For example, conscious contents may be related to neural/physical representations via a dual-aspect theory of information. Chalmers arrives at similar conclusions. But there are also theoretical differences. Unlike Chalmers I argue for the use of neutral information processing language for functional accounts rather than the term `awareness'. I do not agree that functionalctional equivalence cannot be extricated from phenomenal equivalence, and suggest a hypothetical experiment for doing so - using a cortical implant for blindsight. I argue that not all information has phenomenal accompaniments, and introduce a different form of dual-aspect theory involving `psychological complementarity'. I also suggest that the hard problem posed by `qualia' has its origin in a misdescription of everyday experience implicit in dualism. (shrink)
Many current neurophysiological, psychophysical, and psychological approaches to vision rest on the idea that when we see, the brain produces an internal representation of the world. The activation of this internal representation is assumed to give rise to the experience of seeing. The problem with this kind of approach is that it leaves unexplained how the existence of such a detailed internal representation might produce visual consciousness. An alternative proposal is made here. We propose that seeing is a way of (...) acting. It is a particular way of exploring the environment. Activity in internal representations does not generate the experience of seeing. The out- side world serves as its own, external, representation. The experience of seeing occurs when the organism masters what we call the gov- erning laws of sensorimotor contingency. The advantage of this approach is that it provides a natural and principled way of accounting for visual consciousness, and for the differences in the perceived quality of sensory experience in the different sensory modalities. Sev- eral lines of empirical evidence are brought forward in support of the theory, in particular: evidence from experiments in sensorimotor adaptation, visual “filling in,” visual stability despite eye movements, change blindness, sensory substitution, and color perception. (shrink)
Contemporary theories of consciousness are based on widely different concepts of its nature, most or all of which probably embody aspects of the truth about it. Starting with a concept of consciousness indicated by the phrase “the feeling of what happens” (the title of a book by Antonio Damásio), we attempt to build a framework capable of supporting and resolving divergent views. We picture consciousness in terms of Reality experiencing itself from the perspective of cognitive agents. Each conscious experience is (...) regarded as composed of momentary feeling events that are combined by recognition and evaluation into extended conscious episodes that bind cognitive contents with a wide range of apparent durations (0.1 secs to 2 or more secs, for us humans, depending on circumstances and context). Three necessary conditions for the existence of consciousness are identified: a) a ground of Reality, envisaged as an universal field of potentiality encompassing all possible manifestations, whether material or 'mental'; b) a transitional zone, leading to; c) a manifest world with its fundamental divisions into material, 'informational' and quale-endowed aspects. We explore ideas about the nature of these necessary conditions, how they may relate to one another and whether our suggestions have empirical implications. (shrink)
How can we disentangle the neural basis of phenomenal consciousness from the neural machinery of the cognitive access that underlies reports of phenomenal consciousness? We can see the problem in stark form if we ask how we could tell whether representations inside a Fodorian module are phenomenally conscious. The methodology would seem straightforward: find the neural natural kinds that are the basis of phenomenal consciousness in clear cases when subjects are completely confident and we have no reason to doubt their (...) authority, and look to see whether those neural natural kinds exist within Fodorian modules. But a puzzle arises: do we include the machinery underlying reportability within the neural natural kinds of the clear cases? If the answer is ‘Yes’, then there can be no phenomenally conscious representations in Fodorian modules. But how can we know if the answer is ‘Yes’? The suggested methodology requires an answer to the question it was supposed to answer! The paper argues for an abstract solution to the problem and exhibits a source of empirical data that is relevant, data that show that in a certain sense phenomenal consciousness overflows cognitive accessibility. The paper argues that we can find a neural realizer of this overflow if assume that the neural basis of phenomenal consciousness does not include the neural basis of cognitive accessibility and that this assumption is justified by the explanations it allows. (shrink)
It is well known that the nature of consciousness is elusive, and that attempts to understand it generate problems in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, psychology, and neuroscience. Less appreciated are the important – even if still elusive – connections between consciousness and issues in ethics. In this chapter we consider three such connections. First, we consider the relevance of consciousness for questions surrounding an entity’s moral status. Second, we consider the relevance of consciousness for questions surrounding moral responsibility for action. (...) Third, we consider the relevance of consciousness for the acquisition of moral knowledge. (shrink)