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 New theory on how consciousness works

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Lady Guinevere


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1PostSubject: New theory on how consciousness works   Mon Nov 16, 2015 4:12 am

Scientists’ attempts to discern the neurological activities that constitute consciousness have taken a dramatic twist, after a recent study appeared to contradict one of the leading theories on the topic. Until now, it had been widely accepted that conscious thought requires complex, sustained and widespread brain activity, while the mind’s unconscious workings involve much shorter and simpler processes. However, the paper, which appeared in the journal Cortex, seems to show that some of the mechanisms previously considered unique to and constitutive of consciousness can in fact be observed during unconscious processes, too.
In particular, the study challenges the notion that a specific event-related potential (ERP) – an electrophysiological response to external stimuli – called P3b is a key indicator of conscious thought. Because this particular ERP occurs relatively late (about 375 milliseconds) after the occurrence of a stimulus, it had previously been thought that its presence was a neural correlate of consciousness (NCC), i.e. something that constitutes consciousness. In contrast, a related ERP called P3a occurs much earlier (250 milliseconds), and had therefore been associated with simpler, unconscious processes such as the automatic attraction of attention.
Moreover, the widely-accepted global workspace theory, first suggested by ............
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