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Matthias Michel
New York University
  1. Minority Reports: Consciousness and the Prefrontal Cortex.Matthias Michel & Jorge Morales - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (4):493-513.
    Whether the prefrontal cortex is part of the neural substrates of consciousness is currently debated. Against prefrontal theories of consciousness, many have argued that neural activity in the prefrontal cortex does not correlate with consciousness but with subjective reports. We defend prefrontal theories of consciousness against this argument. We surmise that the requirement for reports is not a satisfying explanation of the difference in neural activity between conscious and unconscious trials, and that prefrontal theories of consciousness come out of this (...)
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  2. Fish and Microchips: On Fish Pain and Multiple Realization.Matthias Michel - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2411-2428.
    Opponents to consciousness in fish argue that fish do not feel pain because they do not have a neocortex, which is a necessary condition for feeling pain. A common counter-argument appeals to the multiple realizability of pain: while a neocortex might be necessary for feeling pain in humans, pain might be realized differently in fish. This paper argues, first, that it is impossible to find a criterion allowing us to demarcate between plausible and implausible cases of multiple realization of pain (...)
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  3. The Mismeasure of Consciousness: A Problem of Coordination for the Perceptual Awareness Scale.Matthias Michel - 2018 - Philosophy of Science.
    As for most measurement procedures in the course of their development, measures of consciousness face the problem of coordination, i.e., the problem of knowing whether a measurement procedure actually measures what it is intended to measure. I focus on the case of the Perceptual Awareness Scale to illustrate how ignoring this problem leads to ambiguous interpretations of subjective reports in consciousness science. In turn, I show that empirical results based on this measurement procedure might be systematically misinterpreted.
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  4. Methodological Artefacts in Consciousness Science.Matthias Michel - 2017 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 24 (11-12):94-117.
    Consciousness is scientifically challenging to study because of its subjective aspect. This leads researchers to rely on report-based experimental paradigms in order to discover neural correlates of consciousness (NCCs). I argue that the reliance on reports has biased the search for NCCs, thus creating what I call 'methodological artefacts'. This paper has three main goals: first, describe the measurement problem in consciousness science and argue that this problem led to the emergence of methodological artefacts. Second, provide a critical assessment of (...)
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  5. Consciousness Science Underdetermined: A Short History of Endless Debates.Matthias Michel - 2019 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6.
    Consciousness scientists have not reached consensus on two of the most central questions in their field: first, on whether consciousness overflows reportability; second, on the physical basis of consciousness. I review the scientific literature of the 19th century to provide evidence that disagreement on these questions has been a feature of the scientific study of consciousness for a long time. Based on this historical review, I hypothesize that a unifying explanation of disagreement on these questions, up to this day, is (...)
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  6.  41
    An Informal Internet Survey on the Current State of Consciousness Science.Matthias Michel, Stephen M. Fleming, Hakwan Lau, Alan L. F. Lee, Susana Martinez-Conde, Richard E. Passingham, Megan A. K. Peters, Dobromir Rahnev, Claire Sergent & Kayuet Liu - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9.
    The scientific study of consciousness emerged as an organized field of research only a few decades ago. As empirical results have begun to enhance our understanding of consciousness, it is important to find out whether other factors, such as funding for consciousness research and status of consciousness scientists, provide a suitable environment for the field to grow and develop sustainably. We conducted an online survey on people’s views regarding various aspects of the scientific study of consciousness as a field of (...)
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  7. A Role for the Anterior Insular Cortex in the Global Neuronal Workspace Model of Consciousness.Matthias Michel - 2017 - Consciousness and Cognition 49:333-346.
    According to the global neuronal workspace model of consciousness, consciousness results from the global broadcast of information throughout the brain. The global neuronal workspace is mainly constituted by a fronto-parietal network. The anterior insular cortex is part of this global neuronal workspace, but the function of this region has not yet been defined within the global neuronal workspace model of consciousness. In this review, I hypothesize that the anterior insular cortex implements a cross-modal priority map, the function of which is (...)
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  8.  32
    A Little History Goes a Long Way Toward Understanding Why We Study Consciousness the Way We Do Today.Joseph LeDoux, Matthias Michel & Hakwan Lau - 2020 - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 1.
    Consciousness is currently a thriving area of research in psychology and neuroscience. While this is often attributed to events that took place in the early 1990s, consciousness studies today are a continuation of research that started in the late 19th century and that continued throughout the 20th century. From the beginning, the effort built on studies of animals to reveal basic principles of brain organization and function, and of human patients to gain clues about consciousness itself. Particularly important and our (...)
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  9.  1
    On the Dangers of Conflating Strong and Weak Versions of a Theory of Consciousness.Matthias Michel & Hakwan Lau - 2020 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 1 (II).
    Some proponents of the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness profess strong views on the Neural Correlates of Consciousness, namely that large swathes of the neocortex, the cerebellum, at least some sensory cortices, and the so-called limbic system are all not essential for any form of conscious experiences. We argue that this connection is not incidental. Conflation between strong and weak versions of the theory has led these researchers to adopt definitions of NCC that are inconsistent with their own previous definitions, (...)
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  10. Les données en première personne et l’expérimentation en psychologie (First-Person Data and Psychological Experiments).Pascal Ludwig & Matthias Michel - 2019 - Philosophia Scientae 23:111-130.
    En sciences sociales, les scientifiques utilisent les rapports des sujets sur leurs propres états mentaux dans leurs démarches expérimentales. Ainsi, l’introspection, ou la capacité des sujets à former des croyances sur leurs propres états mentaux, y joue un rôle important. Selon les tenants de l’introspectionnisme, l’introspection est une méthode, certes privée, mais qui permet de justifier directement des hypothèses scientifiques. Ainsi, contrairement aux méthodes utilisées dans les sciences de la nature qui se fondent uniquement sur des données publiques, les sciences (...)
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  11. A New Empirical Challenge for Local Theories of Consciousness.Matthias Michel & Adrien Doerig - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    Local theories of consciousness state that one is conscious of a feature if it is adequately represented and processed in sensory brain areas, given some background conditions. We challenge the core prediction of local theories based on recently discovered long-lasting postdictive effects demonstrating that features can be represented for hundreds of milliseconds in perceptual areas without being consciously perceived. Unlike previous empirical data aimed against local theories, proponents of local theories cannot explain these effects away by conjecturing that subjects are (...)
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  12. Confirmation Bias Without Rhyme or Reason.Matthias Michel & Megan A. K. Peters - forthcoming - Synthese:1-16.
    Having a confirmation bias sometimes leads us to hold inaccurate beliefs. So, the puzzle goes: why do we have it? According to the influential argumentative theory of reasoning, confirmation bias emerges because the primary function of reason is not to form accurate beliefs, but to convince others that we’re right. A crucial prediction of the theory, then, is that confirmation bias should be found only in the reasoning domain. In this article, we argue that there is evidence that confirmation bias (...)
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  13. Calibration in Consciousness Science.Matthias Michel - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-22.
    To study consciousness, scientists need to determine when participants are conscious and when they are not. They do so with consciousness detection procedures. A recurring skeptical argument against those procedures is that they cannot be calibrated: there is no way to make sure that detection outcomes are accurate. In this article, I address two main skeptical arguments purporting to show that consciousness scientists cannot calibrate detection procedures. I conclude that there is nothing wrong with calibration in consciousness science.
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  14. Higher-Order Theories Do Just Fine.Matthias Michel & Hakwan Lau - forthcoming - Cognitive Neuroscience.
    Doerig et al. have set several criteria that theories of consciousness need to fulfill. By these criteria, higher-order theories fare better than most existing theories. But they also argue that higher-order theories may not be able to answer both the ‘small network argument’ and the ‘other systems argument’. In response, we focus on the case of the Perceptual Reality Monitoring theory to explain why higher-order theories do just fine.
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  15.  35
    Is Blindsight Possible Under Signal Detection Theory? Comment on Phillips (2021).Matthias Michel & Hakwan Lau - 2021 - Psychological Review 128 (3):585-591.
    Phillips argues that blindsight is due to response criterion artefacts under degraded conscious vision. His view provides alternative explanations for some studies, but may not work well when one considers several key findings in conjunction. Empirically, not all criterion effects are decidedly non-perceptual. Awareness is not completely abolished for some stimuli, in some patients. But in other cases, it was clearly impaired relative to the corresponding visual sensitivity. This relative dissociation is what makes blindsight so important and interesting.
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