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Perceptual and contextual awareness: methodological considerations in the search for the neural correlates of consciousness.

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journal contribution
posted on 14.05.2015, 12:49 by Joaquin Navajas, Hernan G. Rey, Rodrigo Quian Quiroga
In the last decades, the neural correlates of consciousness (NCCs) have been explored using both invasive and non-invasive recordings by comparing the brain activity elicited by seen versus unseen visual stimuli (i.e., the contrastive analysis). Here, we review a selection of these studies and discuss a set of considerations to improve the search for the NCCs using the contrastive analysis. In particular, we first argue in favor of implementing paradigms where different perceptual outputs are obtained using identical visual inputs. Second, we propose that the large disagreement in the field -in terms of the dissimilar neural patterns proposed as NCCs- is partially explained by the fact that different studies report the neural correlates of different conscious processes in the brain. More specifically, we distinguish between the perceptual awareness of a visual stimulus, associated to a boost in object-selective neural assemblies, and a more elaborate process (contextual awareness) that we argue is reflected in the firing of concept neurons in the medial temporal lobe, triggering a rich representation of the context, associations, and memories linked to the specific stimulus.

Funding

This work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council [grant number EP/H051651/1] and the Medical Research Council [grant number G1002100].

History

Citation

Frontiers in Psychology, 2014, 5, 959

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Engineering

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Frontiers in Psychology

Publisher

Frontiers

issn

1664-1078

eissn

1664-1078

Copyright date

2014

Available date

14/05/2015

Publisher version

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00959/abstract

Notes

PMCID: PMC4148639

Language

en