Monday, February 4, 2013

Schurger on conscious and nonconscious neural representations

Dr. Schurger, who wrote the recent paper on Libet's study,* did this earlier study: "Reproducibility distinguishes conscious from nonconscious neural representations." You have to page down past some general info and footnotes from the previous article to get to it. The abstract follows:

"What qualifies a neural representation for a role in subjective experience? Previous evidence suggests that the duration and intensity of the neural response to a sensory stimulus are factors. We introduce another attribute—the reproducibility of a pattern of neural activity across different episodes—that predicts specific and measurable differences between conscious and nonconscious neural representations indepedently of duration and intensity. We found that conscious neural activation patterns are relatively reproducible when compared with nonconscious neural activation patterns corresponding to the same perceptual content. This is not adequately explained by a difference in signal-to-noise ratio."

* Recall this paper concluded: "We propose that the neural decision to move coincides in time with average subjective estimates of the time of awareness of intention to move (9, 11) and that the brain produces a reasonably accurate estimate of the time of its movement-causing decision events.” (My emphasis. Does "awareness of intention" mean some form of consciousness?) Also recall the New Scientist article that made us aware of this new research. Schurger was quoted as saying the following, but I don't know the source, since it is not in the referenced paper:  "If we are correct, then the Libet experiment does not count as evidence against the possibility of conscious will," says Schurger.

Therefore I'd say that his earlier article above obviously assumes a conscious neural decision, since it has properties different from nonconscious neural representations.

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