Consciousness: Creeping up on the Hard Problem

Overview

How does conscious experience arise out of the functioning of the human brain? How is it related to the behaviour that it accompanies? How does the perceived world relate to the real world? Between them, these three questions constitute what is commonly known as the 'Hard Problem' of consciousness. Despite vast knowledge of the relationship between brain and behaviour, and rapid advances in our knowledge of how brain activity correlates with conscious experience, the answers to all three questions remain ...
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Overview

How does conscious experience arise out of the functioning of the human brain? How is it related to the behaviour that it accompanies? How does the perceived world relate to the real world? Between them, these three questions constitute what is commonly known as the 'Hard Problem' of consciousness. Despite vast knowledge of the relationship between brain and behaviour, and rapid advances in our knowledge of how brain activity correlates with conscious experience, the answers to all three questions remain controversial, even mysterious. This important new book analyses these core issues and reviews the evidence from both introspection and experiment. To many its conclusions will be surprising and even unsettling -: The entire perceived world is constructed by the brain. The relationship between the world we perceive and the underlying physical reality is not as close as we might think. Much of our behaviour is accomplished with little or no participation from conscious experience. Our conscious experience of our behaviour lags behind the behaviour itself by around a fifth of a second - we become aware of what we do only after we have done it. The lag in conscious experience applies also to the decision to act - we only become aware of our decisions after they have been formed. The self is as much a creation of the brain as is the rest of the perceived world. Written by a leading scientist, this analysis of how conscious experience relates to brain and behaviour is accessible and compelling. It will have major implications for our understanding of human nature.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198520917
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/3/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

In 1983, Jeffrey Gray received the Presidents' Award of the British Psychological Society. He has given the Lister Lecture to the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1967), the Myers Lecture to the British Psychological Society (1977), the Donald Hebb Lecture at McGill University, Montreal (1994), and the Kenneth Craik Lecture (1995) at St John's College, Cambridge. He was elected a Fellow of the British Psychological Society in 1993, President of the Experimental Psychology Society 1996-1998, and life-time Honorary Member of the Experimental Psychology Society, 1999. He was Mary Morten Moody Visiting Professor, VMI, Virginia USA in 1983, and Visiting Professor at the CollPge de France, Paris, in 1999. He has received an Honorary Doctorate from Washington and Lee University, Virginia USA, 2000, and an Honorary Fellowship at Goldsmiths College, London University, 2002.

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Table of Contents


Colour plates     xiii
Stances towards the problem of consciousness     1
The illusory narrative of consciousness     7
Consciousness comes too late     7
The world is inside the head     9
Vision: perception versus action     15
Illusions of the will     21
Conclusions     25
Where science and consciousness meet     27
Scientific reduction in biology     27
How does consciousness fit into neuroscience?     33
Intentionality     35
The binding problem     35
Searle's model     39
The intentionality of conscious experience     40
Unconscious intentionality?     43
Harnad's model for categorical representation     50
Fitting intentionality into biology     52
Conclusions     55
Reality and illusion     57
The unreality of the external world     57
The paradox of illusion     61
Enter qualia     65
Consciousness in animals?     67
Epiphenomenalism     71
A survival value for consciousness?     75
Late error detection     75
The comparatorsystem     77
The nature of conscious perception     80
The evolution of colour vision     85
Conclusions     87
Creeping up on the hard problem     89
The assumptions     89
The scope of conscious experience     89
Perception models enduring features of the world     89
Survival value     90
The necessity of consciousness     90
Animal consciousness     90
Qualia     90
Qualia are constructed by the unconscious brain     91
Conscious experience is selective     91
Conscious experience comes too late to affect on-line processing and action     91
late error detection vs change blindness     92
The nature of perception     96
Remediating error     98
Juxtaposition of controlled variables     98
Contextual disambiguation of action programs     99
Addition of new controlled variables     100
Modification of the value of reinforcers     103
Conclusions     104
Epiphenomenalism revisited     107
Causality and consciousness     107
Language, science, aesthetics     111
Ongoing causal efficacy for consciousness?     114
The evolution and ontogeny of consciousness     117
Conclusions     121
Scrutinising functionalism     123
Foreclosures     123
Conscious computers?     125
Conscious robots?     128
Functionalism     130
Experiments on synaesthesia     133
Function vs tissue     135
Implications of synaesthesia for functionalism     138
The alien colour effect     140
Conclusions     143
From Cartesian theatre to global workspace     149
Is there a Cartesian theatre?     150
An egalitarian brain?     155
Executive functions     161
The global workspace     164
Conclusions     170
The global neuronal workspace     171
The common communication protocol     171
Some neuronal specifics     173
Conclusions     179
The neural correlate of consciousness     181
Activity in V1 and visual awareness     182
The frontal connection     191
Bottom-up vs top-down processing     195
Bottom-up and top-down combined      195
The hippocampus     197
Hippocampal cell fields     197
Spatial mapping     200
Episodic memory     201
A common hippocampal computational function?     206
Hippocampal function and consciousness     209
Egocentric space and the parietal lobes     215
Spatial neglect     215
Balint's syndrome     223
Putting space together     225
The role of V1 in veridical perception     228
Consciousness in a brain slice?     231
Taking physics seriously     233
The Gestalt principles     234
The Penrose-Hameroff theory     241
Quantum computation     244
Objective reduction of the quantum wave function     245
Descending into the quantum brain     246
Psychophysical isomorphism     253
Whence qualia?     255
Conclusions     259
Consciousness of self: the point of view     261
The point of view     261
Belongingness     264
The bodily senses     267
Intentionality revisited     267
The approach from the brain stem     269
Emotion      273
Signals of error?     277
Core consciousness     281
An evolutionary scenario     290
Responsibility     293
The sense of agency     293
The concept of responsibility     296
Overview     301
The problem: qualia and only qualia     301
Reduction     304
The function of conscious experience     308
Where does the brain create qualia?     314
Enter quantum mechanics     319
Last words     322
References     325
Index     335
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