Monday, February 4, 2013

Experimental and theoretical approaches to conscious processing

The above is another article by Stanislas Dehaene with Jean-Pierre Changeux in Neuron 70, April 28, 2011. Abstract follows:

"Recent experimental studies and theoretical models have begun to address the challenge of establishing
a causal link between subjective conscious experience and measurable neuronal activity. The present
review focuses on the well-delimited issue of how an external or internal piece of information goes
beyond nonconscious processing and gains access to conscious processing, a transition characterized
by the existence of a reportable subjective experience. Converging neuroimaging and neurophysiological
data, acquired during minimal experimental contrasts between conscious and nonconscious processing,
point to objective neural measures of conscious access: late amplification of relevant sensory activity,
long-distance cortico-cortical synchronization at beta and gamma frequencies, and '‘ignition'’ of
a large-scale prefronto-parietal network. We compare these findings to current theoretical models of
conscious processing, including the Global Neuronal Workspace (GNW) model according to which
conscious access occurs when incoming information is made globally available to multiple brain systems
through a network of neurons with long-range axons densely distributed in prefrontal, parieto-temporal,
and cingulate cortices. The clinical implications of these results for general anesthesia, coma, vegetative
state, and schizophrenia are discussed."

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