Critics have often misunderstood the higher-order theory (HOT) of consciousness. Here we clarify its position on several issues, and distinguish it from other views such as the global The higher-order theory (HOT) of consciousness has often been misunderstood by critics. Here we clarify its position on several issues, and distinguish it from other views such as the global workspace theory (GWT) and early sensory models (e.g. first-order local recurrency theories). For example, HOT has been criticized for over-intellectualizing consciousness. We show (...) that while higher-order states are cognitively assembled, the requirements are actually considerably less than often presumed. In this sense HOT may be viewed as an intermediate position between GWT and early sensory views. Also, we clarify that most proponents of HOT do not stipulate consciousness as equivalent to metacognition or confidence. Further, compared to other existing theories, HOT can arguably account better for complex everyday experiences, such as of emotions and episodic memories. This makes HOT particularly useful as a framework for conceptualizing pathological mental states. (shrink)
Emotional states of consciousness, or what are typically called emotional feelings, are traditionally viewed as being innately programed in subcortical areas of the brain, and are often treated as different from cognitive states of consciousness, such as those related to the perception of external stimuli. We argue that conscious experiences, regardless of their content, arise from one system in the brain. On this view, what differs in emotional and non-emotional states is the kind of inputs that are processed by a (...) general cortical network of cognition, a network essential for conscious experiences. Although subcortical circuits are not directly responsible for conscious feelings, they provide non-conscious inputs that coalesce with other kinds of neural signals in the cognitive assembly of conscious emotional experiences. In building the case for this proposal, we defend a modified version of what is known as the higher-order theory of consciousness. (shrink)
'Fear' is used scientifically in two ways, which causes confusion: it refers to conscious feelings and to behavioral and physiological responses. Restricting the use of 'fear' to denote feelings and using 'threat-induced defensive reactions' for the responses would help avoid misunderstandings about the brain mechanisms involved.
When subjective state words are used to describe behaviors, or brain circuits that control them nonconsciously, the behaviors and circuits take on properties of the subjective state. Research on fear illustrates the problems that can result. Subjective state words should be limited to the description of inner experiences, and avoided when referring to circuits underlying nonsubjectively controlled behaviors.
Pain, suffering and positive emotions in patients in vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (VS/UWS) and minimally conscious states (MCS) pose clinical and ethical challenges. Clinically, we evaluate behavioural responses after painful stimulation and also emotionally-contingent behaviours (e.g., smiling). Using stimuli with emotional valence, neuroimaging and electrophysiology technologies can detect subclinical remnants of preserved capacities for pain which might influence decisions about treatment limitation. To date, no data exist as to how healthcare providers think about end-of-life options (e.g., withdrawal of artificial nutrition (...) and hydration) in the presence or absence of pain in non-communicative patients. Here, we aimed to better clarify this issue by re-analyzing previously published data on pain perception (Prog Brain Res 2009 177, 329–38) and end-of-life decisions (J Neurol 2010 258, 1058–65) in patients with disorders of consciousness. In a sample of 2259 European healthcare professionals we found that, for VS/UWS more respondents agreed with treatment withdrawal when they considered that VS/UWS patients did not feel pain (77%) as compared to those who thought VS/UWS did feel pain (59%). This interaction was influenced by religiosity and professional background. For MCS, end-of-life attitudes were not influenced by opinions on pain perception. Within a contemporary ethical context we discuss (1) the evolving scientific understandings of pain perception and their relationship to existing clinical and ethical guidelines; (2) the discrepancies of attitudes within (and between) healthcare providers and their consequences for treatment approaches, and (3) the implicit but complex relationship between pain perception and attitudes toward life-sustaining treatments. (shrink)
The target articles by Dixon (2012), Scarantino (2012), and Mulligan and Scherer (2012) explore the nature of emotion from philosophical and psychological perspectives. I discuss how neuroscience can also contribute to debates about the nature of emotion. I focus on the aspects of emotion that usually fall within the topic of basic emotions, but conclude that we may need to revise how we conceive and study these kinds of emotional states in relation to the brain.
Very little has been done to find out what corporations have done to build ethical values into their organizations. In this report on a survey of 1984 Fortune 1000 industrial and service companies the Center for Business Ethics reveals some facts regarding codes of ethics, ethics committees, social audits, ethics training programs, boards of directors, and other areas where corporations might institutionalize ethics. Based on the survey, the Center for Business Ethics is convinced that corporations are beginning to take steps (...) to institutionalize ethics, while recognizing that in most cases more specific mechanisms and strategies need to be implemented to make their ethics efforts truly effective. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to rationalise why and how philosophy can help today’s managers in their daily practices.I will first explain why today’s managers particularly should engage themselves in profound and enduring dialogue with philosophers. To this end, I will present the close links between the major managerial activities and the major philosophical domains.In the second section, I will sketch out how such a dialogue can be facilitated. To this end, I will present some of the methods and (...) conditions used to ensure the success of the practice of philosophy in organisations. (shrink)
Pavlovian cues predict the occurrence of motivationally salient outcomes, thus serving as an important trigger of approach and avoidance behavior. The amygdala is a key substrate of Pavlovian conditioning, and the nature of its contribution varies by the motivational valence of unconditioned stimuli. The literature on aversive Pavlovian learning supports a serial-processing model of amygdalar function, while appetitive studies suggest that Pavlovian associations are processed through parallel circuits in the amygdala. It is proposed that serial and parallel forms of information (...) processing can be attributed to differential recruitment of amygdalar nuclei, with emphasis placed on the lateral amygdala. (shrink)