Thursday 5 July 2012


V. What's Feeling For Anyway? (Wednesday July 4)

Bernard Baars (NSI) The biological basis of conscious experience: Global workspace dynamics in the brain 
Ezequiel Morsella (SFSU) The Primary Function of Consciousness in the Brain 
Roy Baumeister (FSU) The Why, What and How of Consciousness 
Bjorn Merker (Sweden) The Brain's Need for Sensory Consciousness: From Probabilities to Percepts 
Paul Cisek (U Montreal) The Vanishing Central Executive: Distributed Neural Mechanisms for Decision-Making 
Michael Shadlen (HHMI) Consciousness as a Decision to Engage 
 Comments invited


  1. During the whole summer school, and especially on day V, we talked a lot about cognitive abilities. But what about cognitive abilities and consciousness in terms of evolution? Because we all agree that human cognitive abilities are highly adaptive, but might it be possible that the human brain (with all its higher cognitive abilities) could have evolved without consciousness? and to which extent human cognitive abilities absolutely need consciousness to fulfill their adaptive function?

  2. CONSCIOUSNESS AS A MEDIATOR OF CONFLICT: There is something in conflict that may be key to understanding the function of consciousness. There is conflict happening constantly in behavioural plans. Each subsystem of the brain is pushing to do something, but only one behavior comes out. Every time 2 or more planned behaviors are in conflict, there needs to be a resolution. If each of these systems wants to push out its own behavior and there is no universal rule to resolve conflicts, then each conflict becomes a separate battle of subsystems. There is where consciousness may have come into play as a mediator. It receives influences from all those subsystems at a time, and integrates these influences, giving each a particular weight, to come up with a unique and integrated behavioural output.


    Where's the conflict in a headache, an itch, or an insight?