Thursday, July 5, 2012

Symposium 2 Talk 2: Hopkins

Thursday, July 5 2012 11:00-13:00 @ Dome Theatre

Symposium 2: "Bringing the in-depth body to the surface: interoception, awareness and prediction"
Talk 2: “Interoception and the Problem of Consciousness”

Jim Hopkins (Department of Philosophy, King’s College, UK)


Recent studies have shown that “unconscious” processing can be surprisingly powerful (cf work in the labs of Lamme, Dijksterhuis, Mattler, Haynes, Dehaene, Bargh, myself, etc). I had taken these results to be a challenge to the notion that sensory awareness has special functional power. Here I criticize my previous arguments. A useful analogy: People without legs can move around (albeit poorly), but we all agree that legs are for locomotion. Likewise, although certain higher cognitive functions can be performed without awareness (just barely better than chance), it does not mean that awareness has no functional advantage. A different approach is to create conditions where subjects are equally good at detecting and discriminating the stimulus, but they report different subjective levels of awareness. Under these performance capacity‐matched cases, we observed functional advantage for awareness only in some specific tasks. These results give powerful constraints for theorizing about sensory awareness in general.

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