Amidst the many brain events evoked by a visual stimulus, which are specifically associated with conscious perception, and which merely reflect non-conscious processing? Several recent neuroimaging studies have contrasted conscious and non-conscious visual processing, but their results appear inconsistent. Some support a correlation of conscious perception with early occipital events, others with late parieto-frontal activity. Here we attempt to make sense of those dissenting results. On the basis of a minimal neuro-computational model, the global neuronal workspace hypothesis, we propose a (...) taxonomy which distinguishes between vigilance and access to conscious report, as well as between subliminal, preconscious and conscious processing. We suggest that these distinctions map onto different neural mechanisms, and that conscious perception is systematically associated with a sudden surge of parieto-frontal activity causing top-down amplification. (shrink)
Can we ever experimentally disentangle phenomenal consciousness from the cognitive accessibility inherent to conscious reports? In this commentary, we suggest that (1) Block's notion of phenomenal consciousness remains intractably entangled with the need to obtain subjective reports about it; and (2) many experimental paradigms suggest that the intuitive notion of a rich but non-reportable phenomenal world is, to a large extent illusory – in a sense that requires clarification.