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The Brain's Representational PowerOn Consciousness and the Integration of Modalities$
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Cyriel M.A. Pennartz

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262029315

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262029315.001.0001

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Requirements for Conscious Representations

Requirements for Conscious Representations

(p.209) 8 Requirements for Conscious Representations
The Brain's Representational Power

Cyriel M. A. Pennartz

The MIT Press

This chapter argues that brain systems must meet several 'hard' requirements to qualify as conscious, while other requirements are 'soft' in that they are important for sustaining normal, daily-life awareness but not strictly necessary for having the most basic form of conscious experience. The hard requirements include, first, the ability to interpret (or reconstruct) sensory inputs as having particular qualities or content, within a rich repertoire of modalities or (sub)modalities, such as visual motion, shape, depth and color. Second, this process of attributing sensory “feel” or meaning to inputs occurs in a dynamic or stable state, depending on the constancy of variables governing the sensory flux. Projection of interpreted sensory inputs into an external, perspectival space (vision) or body map (somatosensation) is seen as a relatively basic process, but patient studies indicate that core consciousness does not strictly depend on this ability, as applies as well to normal requirements on the grouping of similar features and binding of different submodalities into objects. Also the “unity” of consciousness and self-awareness are not classified as an essential feature but rather as a constantly maintained “illusion” of the healthy brain empowered by proper multimodal and motor alignment.

Keywords:   Binding problem, Interpretation, Multimodal integration, Perceptual stability, First-person perspective, Phenomenal content, Projection, Self awareness, Space, Unity of consciousness

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