The Conscious Brain: How Attention Engenders Experience

Overview


The problem of consciousness continues to be a subject of great debate in cognitive science. Synthesizing decades of research, The Conscious Brain advances a new theory of the psychological and neurophysiological correlates of conscious experience.

Prinz's account of consciousness makes two main claims: first consciousness always arises at a particular stage of perceptual processing, the intermediate level, and, second, consciousness depends on attention. Attention changes the ...

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Overview


The problem of consciousness continues to be a subject of great debate in cognitive science. Synthesizing decades of research, The Conscious Brain advances a new theory of the psychological and neurophysiological correlates of conscious experience.

Prinz's account of consciousness makes two main claims: first consciousness always arises at a particular stage of perceptual processing, the intermediate level, and, second, consciousness depends on attention. Attention changes the flow of information allowing perceptual information to access memory systems. Neurobiologically, this change in flow depends on synchronized neural firing. Neural synchrony is also implicated in the unity of consciousness and in the temporal duration of experience.

Prinz also explores the limits of consciousness. We have no direct experience of our thoughts, no experience of motor commands, and no experience of a conscious self. All consciousness is perceptual, and it functions to make perceptual information available to systems that allows for flexible behavior.

Prinz concludes by discussing prevailing philosophical puzzles. He provides a neuroscientifically grounded response to the leading argument for dualism, and argues that materialists need not choose between functional and neurobiological approaches, but can instead combine these into neurofunctional response to the mind-body problem.

The Conscious Brain brings neuroscientific evidence to bear on enduring philosophical questions, while also surveying, challenging, and extending philosophical and scientific theories of consciousness. All readers interested in the nature of consciousness will find Prinz's work of great interest.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Conscious Brain is a tour-de-force. Drawing on his vast knowledge of philosophy, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience, Prinz develops an account of consciousness that is both conceptually sophisticated and also makes sense of vast tracts of data. The Conscious Brain is destined to become a classic in the field of consciousness studies."—Tim Bayne, Oxford University

"I think Prinz is right to wrap consciousness and attention together as parts of a single subject matter. This book makes a major statement of one of the most important theories of consciousness and attention." —Ned Block, New York University

"The empirical studies of consciousness has flourished over the last two decades, but many scientists have also developed the attitude to do experiments first, and worry about theorizing later — perhaps a backlash to some high profile but unfortunately poor theorizing that has characterized the history of this field. In this context, Jesse Prinz's book is refreshing because it is a masterful endeavor to systematically make sense of the explosion of empirical findings in the field. What he proposes here will probably remain controversial, at least for a while, but anyone interested in the topic can learn a lot by going through his superbly thoughtful arguments."—Hakwan Lau, Columbia University

"This book should only be taken as one contribution to our ongoing attempts to address that question, but the contribution it makes is a unique and valuable one."—Christopher Mole, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"In this remarkably erudite book, Prinz...articulates and defends a theory of consciousness that is the most empirically well-informed, philosophically sophisticated, and deeply developed account written to date.... Along the way, the author tackles a vast number of topics in the philosophy and science of consciousness.... Essential."—W. Seager, CHOICE

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195314595
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 9/14/2012
  • Series: Philosophy of Mind Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 540,085
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jesse Prinz is Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Part I. A Theory of Consciousness
Chapter 1. Do We Really Need Another Theory of Consciousness?
Chapter 2. Which States Are Conscious? The Intermediate Level
Chapter 3. When Are We Conscious? Attention and Availability

Part II. The Limits of Consciousness
Chapter 4. Does Consciousness Outstrip Perception? A Restrictive View
Chapter 5. Why Are We Conscious? Action without Enaction
Chapter 6. Whose Conscious States Are These? The Illusory Self

Part III. The Metaphysics of Consciousness
Chapter 7. How Is Consciousness Unified? Attentional Resonance
Chapter 8. What Is Consciousness? Neural Correlates and Nuerofunctionalism
Chapter 9. Could Consciousness Be Physical? The Brain Maintained
Conclusion: AIR Compared

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