Philosophy and the Mind Sciences <p><em>Philosophy and the Mind Sciences</em>&nbsp;(PhiMiSci) is a peer-reviewed, not-for-profit, open-access journal that is free for authors and readers. PhiMiSci focuses on the interface between philosophy of mind, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience. Articles can be submitted at any time and will be published whenever peer-review and revisions have been completed. In addition to these stand-alone articles, PhiMiSci publishes collections of articles on special topics, compiled by guest editors.</p> MIND Group en-US Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 2699-0369 Seeing the forest for the trees: Scene perception and the admissible contents of perceptual Experience <p>Debates surrounding the high-level contents of perceptual experience focus on whether we<br>perceive the high-level properties of visual objects, such as the property of being a pine tree. This<br>paper considers instead whether we perceive the high-level properties of visual scenes, such as<br>the property of being a forest. Liberals about the contents of perceptual experience have offered a<br>variety of phenomenal contrast cases designed to reveal how the high-level properties of objects<br>figure in our visual experience. I offer a series of equivalent phenomenal contrast cases intended<br>to show how the high-level properties of visual scenes also figure in visual experience. This<br>first-person evidence of high-level scene perception is combined with third-person evidence from<br>the extensive empirical literature on scene categorisation. Critics of liberalism have attempted to<br>deflate existing phenomenal contrast cases by explaining the contrasts in terms of non-perceptual<br>contents or in terms of attentional changes. I show that neither response is applicable to my<br>contrast cases and conclude that we do indeed perceptually experience the high-level properties<br>of visual scenes.</p> Tom McClelland Copyright (c) 2021 Tom McClelland 2021-05-10 2021-05-10 2 1 27 10.33735/phimisci.2021.19 Exploring the range of reported dream lucidity <p>Dream lucidity, or being aware that one is dreaming while dreaming, is not an all-or-none phenomenon. Often, subjects report being some variant of “a little lucid” as opposed to completely or not at all. As recent neuroimaging work begins to elucidate the neural underpinnings of lucid experience, understanding subtle phenomenological variation within lucid dreams is essential. Here, we focus on the variability of lucid experience by asking participants to report their awareness of the dream on a 5-point Likert scale (from <em>not at all </em>to <em>very much</em>). Participants implemented a combination of mnemonic training lucid dream induction methods at home for one week and provided detailed reports about their dream experiences each morning. Consistent with previous research, cognitive induction methods led to about half of participants reporting at least one lucid dream and about half of all dreams including some level of lucidity. However, we also show that induction success rate varies significantly depending on the minimum criteria for lucidity. Participants also reported how much they adhered to specific components of each induction method, and the amount of mnemonic rehearsal during a brief early awake period was predictive of lucidity level. Furthermore, lucidity levels were positively correlated with dream control, dream bizarreness, and next-morning positive affect. Lastly, we asked participants open-ended questions about why they chose particular levels of lucidity. We focus a qualitative discussion on responses to those “semi-lucid” dreams (rated <em>just a little</em>, <em>moderately</em>, or <em>pretty much </em>lucid) to explore why participants rate their dreams as having intermediate levels of awareness. Together, the present study explores the frequency of semi-lucid dreams, what they are, why they might arise, their correlates, and how they impact methodological concerns in lucid dreaming research.</p> Remington Mallett Michelle Carr Martin Freegard Karen Konkoly Ceri Bradshaw Michael Schredl Copyright (c) 2021 Remington Mallett, Michelle Carr, Martin Freegard, Karen Konkoly, Ceri Bradshaw, Michael Schredl 2021-04-15 2021-04-15 2 1 23 10.33735/phimisci.2021.63 Erratum <p>On p. 3 of the introduction, a distorting typing error has crept into the text. Instead of “Just like the light that turns off whenever one looks in the refrigerator, it might be the case […]” it should of course read “Just like the light that turns ON whenever one looks in the refrigerator, it might be the case […].”</p> Raphaël Millière Thomas Metzinger Copyright (c) 2021 Raphaël Millière, Thomas Metzinger 2021-01-22 2021-01-22 2 Generality and content-specificity in the study of the neural correlates of perceptual consciousness <p>The present paper was written as a contribution to ongoing methodological debates within the NCC project. We focus on the neural correlates of conscious perceptual episodes. Our claim is that the NCC notion, as applied to conscious perceptual episodes, needs to be reconceptualized. It mixes together the processing related to the perceived contents and the neural substrate of consciousness proper, i.e. mechanisms making the perceptual contents conscious. We thus propose that the perceptual NCC be divided into two constitutive subnotions. The paper elaborates the distinction, marshals some initial arguments in its favour, and sketches advantages of the proposed reconceptualization.&nbsp;</p> Tomáš Marvan Michal Polák Copyright (c) 2020 Tomas Marvan, Michal Polák 2020-12-30 2020-12-30 2 10.33735/phimisci.2020.II.61 Dendritic integration theory: A thalamo-cortical theory of state and content of consciousness <p>The idea that the thalamo-cortical system is the crucial constituent of the neurobiological mechanisms of consciousness has a long history. For the last few decades, however, consciousness research has to a large extent overlooked the interplay between the cortex and&nbsp;thalamus. Here we revive an integrated view of the neurobiology of consciousness by presenting and discussing several recent major findings about the role of the thalamocortical interactions in consciousness. Based on these findings we propose a specific cellular mechanism how thalamic nuclei modulate the integration of different processing streams within single cortical pyramidal neurons. This theory is inspired by recent work done in rodents, but it integrates decades of work conducted on various species. We illustrate how this new view readily explains various properties and experimental phenomena associated with conscious experience. We discuss the implications of this idea and some of the experiments that need to be done in order to test it. Our view&nbsp;bridges two long-standing perspectives on the neural mechanisms of consciousness and proposes that cortical and thalamo-cortical processing interact at the level of single pyramidal cells.</p> Talis Bachmann Mototaka Suzuki Jaan Aru Copyright (c) 2020 Talis Bachmann 2020-12-30 2020-12-30 2 10.33735/phimisci.2020.II.52 On the dangers of conflating strong and weak versions of a theory of consciousness <p>Some proponents of the Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of consciousness profess strong views on the Neural Correlates of Consciousness (NCC), namely that large swathes of the neocortex, the cerebellum, at least some sensory cortices, and the so-called limbic system are all not essential for any form of conscious experiences. We argue that this connection is not incidental. Conflation between strong and weak versions of the theory has led these researchers to adopt definitions of NCC that are inconsistent with their own previous definitions, inadvertently betraying the promises of an otherwise fruitful empirical endeavour.</p> Matthias Michel Hakwan Lau Copyright (c) 2020 Matthias Michel, Hakwan Lau 2020-12-30 2020-12-30 2 10.33735/phimisci.2020.II.54 What is a global state of consciousness? <p>The notion of a global state (or level) of consciousness is an increasingly important construct in the science of consciousness. However, exactly what a global state of consciousness is remains poorly understood. In this paper I offer an account of global states of consciousness as consciousness-related capacity modulations. On this view global states are not themselves phenomenal states – they are not occurring experiences. Rather, they are states that specify which of a creature’s overall consciousness-related capacities are currently online. Given that the search for the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC), as it is currently conceived, is the search for the neural basis of occurrent experiences, the NCC framework is incapable of revealing the neural basis of global states. As such, a mature science of consciousness will need to move beyond the search for NCCs, as that project is currently conceived.</p> Andy Kenneth Mckilliam Copyright (c) 2020 Andy Kenneth Mckilliam 2020-12-30 2020-12-30 2 10.33735/phimisci.2020.II.58 Distinguishing absence of awareness from awareness of absence <p class="p1">Contrasting brain states when subjects are aware compared to unaware of a presented stimulus has allowed researchers to isolate candidate neural correlates of consciousness. Here we propose that an important next step in this research program is to investigate, perhaps paradoxically, brain states that covary with reports of absences of awareness. Specifically, we propose that in order to distinguish content-specific and content-invariant neural correlates of consciousness, a distinction needs to be made between the neural correlates of awareness of stimulus absence, and the neural correlates of absence of awareness (of either stimulus presence or absence). We ground this distinction in higher-order computational models of consciousness, where the state of higher-order nodes is invariant to the specific contents of awareness. To map the different levels of these models to neurophysiological correlates, we suggest two empirical approaches – inverted designs and two-dimensional awareness reports – in which reports about awareness and stimulus presence can be dissociated.</p> Matan Mazor Stephen M. Fleming Copyright (c) 2020 Matan Mazor, Stephen M. Fleming 2020-12-30 2020-12-30 2 10.33735/phimisci.2020.II.69 A double anniversary for the neural correlates of consciousness: Editorial introduction <p>This special issue celebrates the double anniversary of the neural correlates of consciousness (NCCs): 30 years since the research programme for finding neural correlates of consciousness was brought back onto the scientific agenda and 20 years since the standard definition of an NCC was published in a seminal anthology. Here, we take up some of the conceptual, methodological, and empirical questions raised and take stock of how the field has developed since then.</p> Sascha Benjamin Fink Copyright (c) 2020 Sascha Benjamin Fink 2020-12-30 2020-12-30 2 10.33735/phimisci.2020.II.85 Predictive processing as a systematic basis for identifying the neural correlates of consciousness <p class="p1">The search for the neural correlates of consciousness is in need of a systematic, principled foundation that can endow putative neural correlates with greater predictive and explanatory value. Here, we propose the predictive processing framework for brain function as a promising candidate for providing this systematic foundation. The proposal is motivated by that framework’s ability to address three general challenges to identifying the neural correlates of consciousness, and to satisfy two constraints common to many theories of consciousness. Implementing the search for neural correlates of consciousness through the lens of predictive processing delivers strong potential for predictive and explanatory value through detailed, systematic mappings between neural substrates and phenomenological structure. We conclude that the predictive processing framework, precisely because it at the outset is not itself a theory of consciousness, has significant potential for advancing the neuroscience of consciousness.</p> Jakob Hohwy Anil Seth Copyright (c) 2020 Jakob Hohwy, Anil Seth 2020-12-30 2020-12-30 2 10.33735/phimisci.2020.II.64 Explanation in the science of consciousness: From the neural correlates of consciousness (NCCs) to the difference makers of consciousness (DMCs) <div class="page" title="Page 1"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>At present, the science of consciousness is structured around the search for the neural correlates of consciousness (the NCCs). One of the alleged advantages of the NCCs framework is its metaphysical neutrality—the fact that it begs no contested questions with respect to debates about the fundamental nature of consciousness. Here, we argue that even if the NCC framework is metaphysically neutral, it is structurally committed, for it presupposes a certain model—what we call the Lite-Brite model—of consciousness. This, we argue, represents a serious liability for the NCC framework for the plausibility of the Lite-Brite model is very much an open question, and the science of consciousness would be better served by a framework that does not presuppose it. Drawing on interventionist ideas in the philosophy of science, we suggest that the Difference-Maker framework can provide just such an alternative. Instead of searching for the neural correlates of consciousness (NCCs), we ought to be searching for the difference makers of consciousness (DMCs). We detail how a shift to searching DMCs will change both the practice of consciousness science and the interpretation of existing results.</p> </div> </div> </div> Colin Klein Jakob Hohwy Tim Bayne Copyright (c) 2020 Colin Klein, Jakob Hohwy, Tim Bayne 2020-12-30 2020-12-30 2 10.33735/phimisci.2020.II.60 Is mental time travel real time travel? <p>Episodic memory (memories of the personal past) and prospecting the future (anticipating events) are often described as mental time travel (MTT). While most use this description metaphorically, we argue that episodic memory may allow for MTT in at least some robust sense. While episodic memory experiences may not allow us to literally <em>travel</em> through time, they do afford genuine <em>awareness</em> of past-perceived events. This is in contrast to an alternative view on which episodic memory experiences present past-perceived events as mere intentional contents. Hence, episodic memory is a way of coming into experiential contact with, or being again aware of, what happened in the past. We argue that episodic memory experiences depend on a causal-informational link with the past events being remembered, and that, assuming direct realism about episodic memory experiences, this link suffices for genuine awareness. Since there is no such link in future prospection, a similar argument cannot be used to show that it also affords genuine awareness of future events. Constructivist views of memory might challenge the idea of memory as genuine awareness of remembered events. We explain how our view is consistent with both constructivist and anti-causalist conceptions of memory. There is still room for an interpretation of episodic memory as enabling genuine awareness of past events, even if it involves reconstruction.</p> Michael Barkasi Melanie G. Rosen Copyright (c) 2020 Michael Barkasi, Melanie G. Rosen 2020-05-26 2020-05-26 2 1 27 10.33735/phimisci.2020.1.28 Perspectival self-consciousness and ego-dissolution <div id="magicparlabel-494" class="abstract">It is often claimed that a minimal form of self-awareness is constitutive of our conscious experience. Some have considered that such a claim is plausible for our ordinary experiences but false when considered unrestrictedly on the basis of the empirical evidence from altered states. In this paper I want to reject such a reasoning. <div class="abstract_item">This requires, first, a proper understanding of a minimal form of self-awareness – one that makes it plausible that minimal self-awareness is part of our ordinary experiences. I will argue that it should be understood as <em>Perspectival First-Person </em>Awareness (PFP-Awareness): a non-conceptual identification-free self-attribution that defines the first-person perspective for our conscious experience. I will offer a detailed characterization of PFP-Awareness in semantic and epistemological terms.</div> <div class="abstract_item">With this tool in hand, I will review the empirical literature on altered states. I will focus on psychedelics, meditation and dreams, as they have been claimed to present the clearest cases in favor of a radical disruption of self-awareness. I will show that the rejection of the idea that minimal self-awareness is constitutive of our experience on the basis of this evidence is unfounded, for two main reasons. First, although there are good grounds to think that some forms of self-awareness that typically accompany our ordinary experiences are compromised, they do not support the claim that PFP-Awareness is absent. Secondly, the reports that could make us think of a radical disruption of self-awareness are most probably due to a confirmation bias – and hence we should mistrust them – derived from the expectations and metaphysical views of their subjects.</div> </div> Miguel Angel Sebastian Copyright (c) 2020 Miguel Angel Sebastian 2020-03-24 2020-03-24 2 1 27 10.33735/phimisci.2020.I.44 Cotard syndrome, self-awareness, and I-concepts <p>Various psychopathologies of self-awareness, such as somatoparaphrenia and thought insertion in schizophrenia, might seem to threaten the viability of the higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness since it requires a HOT about <em>one’s own</em> mental state to accompany every conscious state. The HOT theory of consciousness says that what makes a mental state a conscious mental state is that there is a HOT to the effect that “I am in mental state M.” I have argued in previous work that a HOT theorist can adequately respond to this concern with respect to somatoparaphrenia and thought insertion. There is also Cotard syndrome which is a rare neuropsychiatric disorder in which people hold the delusional belief that they are dead, do not exist, or have lost their blood or internal organs. In this paper, I argue that HOT theory has nothing to fear from it either and can consistently account for what happens in such unusual cases. I analyze Cotard syndrome in light of my previous discussion of somatoparaphrenia and thought insertion, and argue that HOT theory can provide a somewhat analogous account without the worry of inconsistency. It is crucial to recognize that there are multiple “self-concepts” and levels of HOTs which can help to provide a more nuanced explanation. With regard to the connection between consciousness and self-consciousness, it is proposed that Cotard patients are indeed capable of having some “I-thoughts” about their bodies and mental states.</p> Rocco Joseph Gennaro Copyright (c) 2020 Rocco Joseph Gennaro 2020-03-24 2020-03-24 2 1 20 10.33735/phimisci.2020.I.41 Look who's talking! Varieties of ego-dissolution without paradox <p>How to model non-egoic experiences – mental events with phenomenal aspects that lack a felt self – has become an interesting research question. The main source of evidence for the existence of such non-egoic experiences are self-ascriptions of non-egoic experiences. In these, a person says about herself that she underwent an episode where she was conscious but lacked a feeling of self. Some interpret these as accurate reports, but this is questionable. Thomas Metzinger (2004, p. 566, 2018), Rocco Gennaro (2008), and Charles Foster (2016, p. 6) have hinted at the self-defeating nature of such statements if we take them to be genuine reports: Apparently, the reporter (a) explicitly denies her existence during the selfless experience, but (b) implicitly affirms her existence as a witness to that selfless experience in order to give a first-person report about it. So the content of such a report conflicts with the pragmatics of reporting. If all self-ascriptions of non-egoic experiences are self-defeating in this way, then they cannot count as evidence for the existence of non-egoic experiences. Here, I map out why such strong conclusions do not directly follow: What look like self-ascriptions of non-egoic experiences may occur for a number of reasons. Only some explanations for such utterances rely on a change in consciousness. Of those that do rely on a change in consciousness, only one (total ego-dissolution) is incoherent. But its alternatives do not lead to contradictions. I argue that the most likely change in phenomenality that leads to self-ascriptions of non-egoic experiences is not one where a felt self disappears, but where it expands.</p> Sascha Benjamin Fink Copyright (c) 2020 Sascha Benjamin Fink 2020-03-24 2020-03-24 2 1 36 10.33735/phimisci.2020.I.40 Dissolving the self <p>Psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin, LSD and DMT are known to induce powerful alterations in phenomenology. Perhaps of most philosophical and scientific interest is their capacity to disrupt and even “dissolve” one of the most primary features of normal experience: that of being a self. Such “peak” or “mystical” experiences are of increasing interest for their potentially transformative therapeutic value. While empirical research is underway, a theoretical conception of the mechanisms underpinning these experiences remains elusive. In the following paper, psychedelic-induced ego-dissolution is accounted for within an active inference framework, as a collapse in the “temporal thickness” of an agent’s deep temporal model, as a result of lowered precision on high-level priors. The argument here is composed of three moves: first, a view of the self-model is proposed as arising within a temporally deep generative model of an embodied organism navigating an affordance landscape in the service of allostasis. Next, a view of the action of psychedelics as lowering the precision of high-level priors within the generative model is unpacked in terms of a high Bayesian learning rate. Finally, the relaxation of high-level priors is argued to cause a “collapse” in the temporal thickness of the generative model, resulting in a collapse in the self-model and a loss of the ordinary sense of being a self. This account has implications for our understanding of ordinary self-consciousness and disruptions in self-consciousness present in psychosis, autism, depression, and dissociative disorders. The philosophical, theoretical and therapeutic implications of this account are touched upon.</p> George Deane Copyright (c) 2020 George Deane 2020-03-24 2020-03-24 2 1 27 10.33735/phimisci.2020.I.39 Attenuating oneself <p>In this paper, we address reports of “selfless” experiences from the perspective of active inference and predictive processing. Our argument builds upon grounding self-modelling in active inference as action planning and precision control within deep generative models – thus establishing a link between computational mechanisms and phenomenal selfhood. We propose that “selfless” experiences can be interpreted as (rare) cases in which normally congruent processes of computational and phenomenal self-modelling diverge in an otherwise conscious system. We discuss two potential mechanisms – within the Bayesian mechanics of active inference – that could lead to such a divergence by attenuating the experience of selfhood: “self-flattening” via reduction in the depth of active inference and “self-attenuation” via reduction of the expected precision of self-evidence.</p> Jakub Limanowski Karl Friston Copyright (c) 2020 Jakub Limanowski, Karl Friston 2020-03-24 2020-03-24 2 1 16 10.33735/phimisci.2020.I.35 Minimal phenomenal experience <p>This is the first in a series of instalments aiming at a minimal model explanation for conscious experience, taking the phenomenal character of “pure consciousness” or “pure awareness” in meditation as its entry point. It develops the concept of “minimal phenomenal experience” (MPE) as a candidate for the simplest form of consciousness, substantiating it by extracting six semantic constraints from the existing literature and using sixteen phenomenological case-studies to incrementally flesh out the new working concept. One empirical hypothesis is that the phenomenological prototype of “pure awareness”, to which all such reports refer, really is the content of a predictive model, namely, a Bayesian representation of tonic alertness. On a more abstract conceptual level, it can be described as a model of an unpartitioned epistemic space.</p> Thomas Metzinger Copyright (c) 2020 Thomas Metzinger 2020-03-24 2020-03-24 2 1 44 10.33735/phimisci.2020.I.46 Being for no-one <p>Can there be phenomenal consciousness without self-consciousness? Strong intuitions and prominent theories of consciousness say “no”: experience requires minimal self-awareness, or “subjectivity”. This “subjectivity principle” (SP) faces apparent counterexamples in the form of anomalous mental states claimed to lack self-consciousness entirely, such as “inserted thoughts” in schizophrenia and certain mental states in depersonalization disorder (DPD). However, Billon &amp; Kriegel (2015) have defended SP by arguing (inter alia) that while some of these mental states may be totally selfless, those states are not phenomenally conscious and thus do not constitute genuine counterexamples to SP.</p> <p>I argue that this defence cannot work in relation to certain experiences of ego dissolution induced by potent fast-acting serotonergic psychedelics. These mental states jointly instantiate the two features whose co-instantiation by a single mental state SP prohibits: (a) phenomenal consciousness and (b) total lack of self-consciousness.</p> <p>One possible objection is that these mental states may lack “me-ness” and “mineness” but cannot lack “for-me-ness”, a special inner awareness of mental states by the self. In response I propose a dilemma. For-me-ness can be defined either as containing a genuinely experiential component or as not. On the first horn, for-me-ness is clearly absent (I argue) from my counterexamples. On the second horn, for-me-ness has been defined in a way that conflicts with the claims and methods of its proponents, and the claim that phenomenally conscious mental states can totally lack self-consciousness has been conceded. I conclude with some reflections on the intuitive plausibility of SP in light of evidence from altered states.</p> Chris Letheby Copyright (c) 2020 Chris Letheby 2020-03-24 2020-03-24 2 1 26 10.33735/phimisci.2020.I.47 The varieties of selflessness <p>Many authors argue that conscious experience involves a sense of self or self-consciousness. According to the strongest version of this claim, there can be no<em> selfless states of consciousness</em>, namely states of consciousness that lack self-consciousness altogether. Disagreements about this claim are likely to remain merely verbal as long as the target notion of self-consciousness is not adequately specified. After distinguishing six notions of self-consciousness commonly discussed in the literature, I argue that none of the corresponding features is necessary for consciousness, because there are states of consciousness in which each of them is plausibly missing. Such states can be said to be at least <em>partially selfless,</em> since they lack at least one of the ways in which one could be self-conscious. Furthermore, I argue that there is also preliminary empirical evidence that some states of consciousness lack all of these six putative forms of self-consciousness. Such states might be <em>totally selfless</em>, insofar as they lack all the ways in which one could be self-conscious. I conclude by addressing four objections to the possibility and reportability of totally selfless states of consciousness.</p> Raphael Milliere Copyright (c) 2020 Raphael Milliere 2020-03-24 2020-03-24 2 1 41 10.33735/phimisci.2020.I.48