Sharing a public language facilitates particularly efficient forms of joint perception and action by giving interlocutors refined tools for directing attention and aligning conceptual models and action. We hypothesized that interlocutors who flexibly align their linguistic practices and converge on a shared language will improve their cooperative performance on joint tasks. To test this prediction, we employed a novel experimental design, in which pairs of participants cooperated linguistically to solve a perceptual task. We found that dyad members generally showed a (...) high propensity to adapt to each other’s linguistic practices. However, although general linguistic alignment did not have a positive effect on performance, the alignment of particular task-relevant vocabularies strongly correlated with collective performance. In other words, the more dyad members selectively aligned linguistic tools fit for the task, the better they performed. Our work thus uncovers the interplay between social dynamics and sensitivity to task affordances in successful cooperation. (shrink)
Human behavior depends on the ability to effectively introspect about our performance. For simple perceptual decisions, this introspective or metacognitive ability varies substantially across individuals and is correlated with the structure of focal areas in prefrontal cortex. This raises the possibility that the ability to introspect about different perceptual decisions might be mediated by a common cognitive process. To test this hypothesis, we examined whether inter-individual differences in metacognitive ability were correlated across two different perceptual tasks where individuals made judgments (...) about different and unrelated visual stimulus properties. We found that inter-individual differences were strongly correlated between the two tasks for metacognitive ability but not objective performance. Such stability of an individual’s metacognitive ability across different perceptual tasks indicates a general mechanism supporting metacognition independent of the specific task. (shrink)
In a range of contexts, individuals arrive at collective decisions by sharing confidence in their judgements. This tendency to evaluate the reliability of information by the confidence with which it is expressed has been termed the ‘confidence heuristic’. We tested two ways of implementing the confidence heuristic in the context of a collective perceptual decision-making task: either directly, by opting for the judgement made with higher confidence, or indirectly, by opting for the faster judgement, exploiting an inverse correlation between confidence (...) and reaction time. We found that the success of these heuristics depends on how similar individuals are in terms of the reliability of their judgements and, more importantly, that for dissimilar individuals such heuristics are dramatically inferior to interaction. Interaction allows individuals to alleviate, but not fully resolve, differences in the reliability of their judgements. We discuss the implications of these findings for models of confidence and collective decision-making. (shrink)
Block proposes that phenomenal experience overflows conscious access. In contrast, we propose that conscious access overflows overt report. We argue that a theory of phenomenal experience cannot discard subjective report and that Block's examples of phenomenal relate to two different types of perception. We propose that conscious access is more than simply readout of a pre-existing phenomenal experience.
Health-related Quality of Life measures have recently been attacked from two directions, both of which criticize the preference-based method of evaluating health states they typically incorporate. One attack, based on work by Daniel Kahneman and others, argues that ‘experience’ is a better basis for evaluation. The other, inspired by Amartya Sen, argues that ‘capability’ should be the guiding concept. In addition, opinion differs as to whether health evaluation measures are best derived from consultations with the general public, with patients, or (...) with health professionals. And there is disagreement about whether these opinions should be solicited individually and aggregated, or derived instead from a process of collective deliberation. These distinctions yield a wide variety of possible approaches, with potentially differing policy implications. We consider some areas of disagreement between some of these approaches. We show that many of the perspectives seem to capture something important, such that it may be a mistake to reject any of them. Instead we suggest that some of the existing ‘instruments’ designed to measure HR QoLs may in fact successfully already combine these attributes, and with further refinement such instruments may be able to provide a reasonable reconciliation between the perspectives. (shrink)
Health‐related Quality of Life measures have recently been attacked from two directions, both of which criticize the preference‐based method of evaluating health states they typically incorporate. One attack, based on work by Daniel Kahneman and others, argues that ‘experience’ is a better basis for evaluation. The other, inspired by Amartya Sen, argues that ‘capability’ should be the guiding concept. In addition, opinion differs as to whether health evaluation measures are best derived from consultations with the general public, with patients, or (...) with health professionals. And there is disagreement about whether these opinions should be solicited individually and aggregated, or derived instead from a process of collective deliberation. These distinctions yield a wide variety of possible approaches, with potentially differing policy implications. We consider some areas of disagreement between some of these approaches. We show that many of the perspectives seem to capture something important, such that it may be a mistake to reject any of them. Instead we suggest that some of the existing ‘instruments’ designed to measure HR QoLs may in fact successfully already combine these attributes, and with further refinement such instruments may be able to provide a reasonable reconciliation between the perspectives. (shrink)
In order to identify the neural correlates of consciousness it is necessary to distinguish these from the neural correlates associated with unconscious information processing. We describe the various techniques, such as masking, which can be used to generate conditions in which the same stimulus is presented either just above or just below a threshold for visibility. Directed attention can also be used to manipulate the extent to which a stimulus gains access to awareness, as can various methods for creating bi‐stable (...) perception. A major problem for these studies is the possible confound of the need for participants to report their awareness and there is currently much interest in developing paradigms in which reporting awareness is not required. We also discuss studies exploring the neural correlates of imagination, illusions and hallucinations in which a perceptual experience occurs in the absence of a physical stimulus. Finally we consider techniques that go beyond correlation and attempt to identify the necessary and sufficient neural processes leading to conscious experience. (shrink)
Non-invasive neuroimaging in humans permits direct investigation of the potential role for mesodiencephalic structures in consciousness. Activity in the superior colliculus can be correlated with the contents of consciousness, but it can be also identified for stimuli of which the subject is unaware; and consciousness of some types of visual stimuli may not require the superior colliculus. (Published Online May 1 2007).
O'Regan & Noë (O&N) are pessimistic about the prospects for discovering the neural correlates of consciousness. They argue that there can be no one-to-one correspondence between awareness and patterns of neural activity in the brain, so a project attempting to identify the neural correlates of consciousness is doomed to failure. We believe that this degree of pessimism may be overstated; recent empirical data show some convergence in describing consistent patterns of neural activity associated with visual consciousness.
The attempt to develop a systematic approach to the study of consciousness begins with René Descartes (1596–1650) and his ideas still have a major influence today. He is best known for the sharp distinction he made between the physical and the mental (Cartesian dualism). According to Descartes, the body is one sort of substance and the mind another because each can be conceived in terms of totally distinct attributes. The body (matter) is characterized by spatial extension and motion, while the (...) mind is characterized by thought. This characterization of the mind also renders it private, a precursor of the distinction between the first‐person and the third‐person perspectives. Today, most scientists do not accept dualism, instead believing that mind somehow emerges from the physical properties of the brain. However, the distinction between mind and matter is still perceived as being so clear‐cut that explaining how mind can emerge from matter, and reconciling the first‐person and third‐person perspectives, remain the hardest problems facing the student of consciousness. (shrink)
For the few scientists that earn a Nobel prize, the im-, D.J. Scalapino, G. Parisi, pact and relevance of their research work is unquestion- S.G. Louie, R. Jackiw, F. Wilczek able. Among the rest of us, how does one quantify the, C. Vafa, M.B. Maple, D.J. cumulative impact and relevance of an individual’s sci- Gross, M.S. Dresselhaus, S.W. Hawkentific research output? In a world of not unlimited reing. sources such quantification (even if potentially distaste- I argue that h is preferable (...) to other single-number cri-. (shrink)
Revonsuo makes a provocative and interesting claim: that currently available neurophysiological recording techniques will be unable to discover the neural basis of consciousness in the brain. Although the title refers exclusively to functional brain imaging, Revonsuo considers MEG, EEG, ERP and measurements of firing rate in single cell electrophysiology all in principle incapable of discovering consciousness in the brain. This conclusion is reached by assuming that only one particular type of physical entity constitutes awareness.