Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Consciousness: Where does consciousness come from?, new paper asks

In this preprint from PLOS, we are informed that "Consciousness arises as an emergent property of the human mind." Not "Consciousness arises as an emergent property of the human brain." The authors have an interesting theory you can read there:

The present work suggests that, rather than hoping for a putative unique marker - the neural correlate of consciousness - a more mature view of conscious processing should consider that it relates to a brain-scale distributed pattern of coherent brain activation," explained neuroscientist Lionel Naccache, one of the authors of the paper.
In other words, there isn't a neurological equivalent of a light switch that wwe turn on when we wake up in the morning.

It's intersting, though, how often that illusion creeps into our language, as in "He saw the light at last about Dora"or "He was out like a light."

See also: Consciousness: Best understood as like dancing, not digesting?; Consciousness: Pioneer neurosurgeon on a key question regarding our minds - double consciousness; Andrew Newberg on the problem of measuring consciousness; Consciousness: Half an oaf is better than none?; Consciousness: So familiar and yet so puzzling; Consciousness: Belated "sublimely ridiculous" award for 2006; Philosophy of Mind: In case you wondered whether you are conscious and reading this; Consciousness: Recent public squabble between philosophers of mind rates better than most sitcoms
(Note: The illustration above, from Scholarpedia, attempts to offer an account of consciousness, via researchers Mormann and Koch.)