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Authors: Haynes, John-Dylan
Title: An information-based approach to consciousness : mental state decoding
Online publication date: 24-Oct-2016
Language: english
Abstract: The debate on the neural correlates of visual consciousness often focuses on the question of which additional processing has to happen for a visual representation to enter consciousness. However, a related question that has only rarely been addressed is which brain regions directly encodespecific contents of consciousness. The search for these core neural correlates of contents of consciousness (NCCCs) requires establishing a mapping between sensory experiences and population measures of brain activity in specific brain regions. One approach for establishing this mapping is multivariate decoding. Using this technique, several properties of NCCCs have been investigated. Masking studies have revealed that information about sensory stimuli can be decoded from the primary visual cortex, even if the stimuli cannot be consciously identified by a subject. This suggests that information that does not reach awareness can be encapsulated in early visual stages of processing. Visual imagery representations and veridical perception share similar neural representations in higher-level visual regions, suggesting that these regions are directly related to the encoding of conscious visual experience. But population signals in these higher-level visual regions cannot be the sole carriers of visual experiences because they are invariant to low-level visual features. We found no evidence for increased encoding of sensory information in the prefrontal cortex when a stimulus reaches awareness. In general, we found no role of the prefrontal cortex in encoding sensory experiences at all. However, the improved discrimination of sensory information during perceptual learning could be explained by an improved read-out by the prefrontal cortex. One possible implication is that prefrontal cortical regions do not participate in the encoding of sensory features per se. Instead they may be relevant in making decisions about sensory features, without exhibiting a re-representation of sensory information.
DDC: 100 Philosophie
100 Philosophy
Institution: Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Department: FB 05 Philosophie und Philologie
Place: Mainz
URN: urn:nbn:de:hebis:77-publ-549966
Version: Published version
Publication type: Buchbeitrag
License: in Copyright
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Citation: Open MIND
Metzinger, Thomas
Pages or article number: Kap. 17(T)
Publisher: MIND Group
Publisher place: Frankfurt am Main
Issue date: 2015
Publisher URL:
Publisher DOI: 10.15502/9783958570276
Appears in collections:JGU-Publikationen

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