Saturday, July 13, 2013

Symposium 1: Prefrontal cortex

Saturday July 13 10:30-12:30

The role of prefrontal cortex in conscious experience

Chair: Richard Brown (Dep’t of Philosophy, CUNY)

One major divide in consciousness theory is that between higher-order and first-order theories. Inter- preted anatomically, first-order theories of consciousness maintain that consciousness will depend on the activity in the sensory cortices alone while higher-order theories deny that and maintain that consciousness will be reflected, at least in part, in activity of higher-order areas of the brain, most likely frontal-parietal regions.

Virtually all theories of consciousness have a stake in this debate. For instance, besides higher-order thought, and self representational views, Global Workspace Theory, and Information Integration Theory can be seen as versions of higher-order theory in that they posit a role for prefrontal areas in conscious perception, at least in some cases. Also in addition to first-order representation views, recurrent feedback, and attention-based theories can all be seen as versions of the first-order view.

This symposium will bring together two neuroscientists and two philosophers to present the empirical and philosophical case for and against the involvement of the prefrontal cortex in conscious experience.

Local neuronal “ignitions” and perceptual awareness
Rafi Malach (Dep’t of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Tel Aviv, IL)

There are no unconscious phenomenal states
Joseph Levine (Dep’t of Philosophy, U. Massachusetts, Amherst)

Higher order attentional contributions to subjective perception
Dobromir Rahnev (Dep’t of Philosophy, U. California, Berkeley)

Consciousness without first-order representations
Richard Brown (Dep’t of Philosophy, CUNY)

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