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> en-US (Editors-in-Chief) (Wanja Wiese) Thu, 15 Apr 2021 10:31:54 +0200 OJS 60 A structural constraint on neural correlates of consciousness <p>Researchers on the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC) need to distinguish mere statistical<br>NCCs from NCCs proper. Some neural events may be co-occurrent, probabilistically coupled,<br>or coincidental with a type of conscious experience but lack any deeper connection to it, while<br>in other cases, the relation between neural states and a type of experience hints at a strong<br>metaphysical relation, which distinguishes such NCCs proper from mere statistical NCCs. In order<br>to address this issue of how to distinguish NCCs proper from mere statistical NCCs, we propose<br>a position we call <em>neurophenomenal structuralism</em>. The position hinges on the uncontroversial<br>idea that phenomenal experiences relate to each other in degrees of similarity and difference.<br>These complex structures are used to identify and individuate experiences in the methods of<br>neuroscience, psychophysics, and phenomenology. Such individuation by structure leads to <em>phenomenal</em><br><em>holism</em>, which has implications for how to investigate consciousness neuroscientifically<br>and generates a constraint by which we can distinguish NCCs proper from mere statistical NCCs:<br>the <em>structural similarity constraint</em>. Neural activation must preserve the structure governing the<br>domain of experiences it is associated with in order to count as that domain’s NCC proper. Any<br>activation that fails to preserve phenomenal structure fails to be an NCC proper. We illustrate<br>how this constraint works with a study by Brouwer &amp; Heeger (2009) as an example.</p> Sascha Benjamin Fink, Lukas Kob, Holger Lyre Copyright (c) 2021 Sascha Benjamin Fink, Holger Lyre, Lukas Kob Mon, 19 Jul 2021 20:43:18 +0200 You can't always get what you want <p class="p1">The predictive processing framework has gained significant popularity across disciplines investigating the mind and brain. In this article we critically examine two of the recently made claims about the kind of headway that the framework can make in the neuroscientific and philosophical investigation of consciousness. Firstly, we argue that predictive processing is unlikely to yield significant breakthroughs in the search for the neural correlates of consciousness as it is still too vague to individuate neural mechanisms at a fine enough scale. Despite its unifying ambitions, the framework harbors a diverse family of competing computational models which rely on different assumptions and are under-constrained by neurological data. Secondly, we argue that the framework is also ill suited to provide a unifying theory of consciousness. Here, we focus on the tension between the claim that predictive processing is compatible with all of the leading neuroscientific models of consciousness with the fact that most attempts explaining consciousness within the framework rely heavily on external assumptions.</p> Tobias Schlicht, Krzysztof Dolega Copyright (c) 2021 Tobias Schlicht, Krzysztof Dolega Mon, 19 Jul 2021 20:36:33 +0200 Finding the neural correlates of consciousness will not solve all our problems <p class="p1">Subjective experience has often taken center stage in debates between competing conceptual theories of the mind. This is also a central object of concern in the empirical domain, and especially in the search for the neural correlates of consciousness (NCCs). By now, most of the competing conceptual theories of consciousness have become aligned with distinct hypotheses about the NCCs. These hypotheses are usually distinguished by reference to their proposed location of the NCCs. This difference in hypothesized location of the NCCs has tempted participants in these debates to infer that evidence indicating the location of the NCCs in one or the other brain region can be taken as direct evidence for or against a given conceptual theory of consciousness. We argue that this is an overestimation of the work finding the NCCs can do for us, and that there are principled reasons to resist this kind of inference. To show this we point out the lack of both an isomorphism and a homomorphism between the conceptual frameworks in which most theories are cached, and the kind of data we can get from neuroimaging. The upshot is that neural activation profiles are insufficient to distinguish between competing theories in the conceptual domain. We suggest two ways to go about ameliorating this issue.</p> Morten S. Overgaard, Asger Kirkeby-Hinrup Copyright (c) 2021 Morten S. Overgaard, Asger Kirkeby-Hinrup Mon, 19 Jul 2021 20:28:27 +0200 The search for the neural correlate of consciousness: Progress and challenges <p class="p1">Twenty years ago, Thomas Metzinger published the book "The Neural Correlates of Consciousness" amassing the state of knowledge in the field of consciousness studies at the time from philosophical and empirical perspectives. On the occasion of the 20<span class="s1">th </span>anniversary of this impactful publication, we review the progress the field has made since then and the important methodological challenges it faces. A tremendous number of empirical studies have been conducted, which has led to the identification of many candidate neural correlates of consciousness. Yet, this tremendous amount of work has not unraveled a consensual account of consciousness as of now. Many questions, some already raised twenty years ago, remain unanswered, and an enormous proliferation of theories sharply contrasts with the scarcity of compelling data and methodological challenges. The contrastive method, the foundational method used to study the neural correlate of consciousness (NCC), has also been called into question. And while awareness in the community of its shortcomings is widespread, few concrete attempts have been made to go beyond it and/or to revise existing theories. We propose several methodological shifts that we believe may help to advance the quest of the NCC program, while remaining uncommitted to any specific theory: (1) the currently prevalent “contrastive method” should lose its monopoly in favor of methods that attempt to explain the phenomenology of experience; (2) experimental data should be shared in centralized, multi-methods databases, transcending the limitations of individual experiments by granting granularity and power to generalize findings and “distill” the NCC proper; (3) the explanatory power of theories should be directly pitted against each other to overcome the non-productive fractioning of the field into insular camps seeking confirmatory evidence for their theories. We predict these innovations might enable the field to progress towards the goal of explaining consciousness.</p> Alex Lepauvre, Lucia Melloni Copyright (c) 2021 Alex Lepauvre, Lucia Melloni Mon, 19 Jul 2021 20:26:12 +0200 The neural correlates of consciousness under the free energy principle: From computational correlates to computational explanation <p>How can the free energy principle contribute to research on neural correlates of consciousness, and to the scientific study of consciousness more generally? Under the free energy principle, neural correlates should be defined in terms of neural <em>dynamics</em>, not neural states, and should be complemented by research on <em>computational</em> correlates of consciousness – defined in terms of probabilities encoded by neural states.</p> <p>We argue that these restrictions brighten the prospects of a computational explanation of consciousness, by addressing two central problems. The first is to account for consciousness in the absence of sensory stimulation and behaviour. The second is to allow for the possibility of systems that implement computations associated with consciousness, without being conscious, which requires differentiating between computational systems that merely simulate conscious beings and computational systems that are conscious in and of themselves.</p> <p>Given the notion of computation entailed by the free energy principle, we derive constraints on the ascription of consciousness in controversial cases (e.g., in the absence of sensory stimulation and behaviour). We show that this also has implications for what it means to <em>be</em>, as opposed to merely <em>simulate</em> a conscious system.</p> Wanja Wiese, Karl J. Friston Copyright (c) 2021 Wanja Wiese, Karl J. Friston Mon, 19 Jul 2021 20:25:19 +0200 Progress and paradigms in the search for the neural correlates of consciousness <p>An introduction to the second part of the special issue celebrating the neural correlates of consciousness. Here, we focus on progress and paradigms in the science of consciousness from the perspective of philosophy of science.</p> Sascha Benjamin Fink, Ying-Tung Lin Copyright (c) 2021 Sascha Benjamin Fink, Ying-Tung Lin Mon, 19 Jul 2021 00:00:00 +0200 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 Mon, 10 May 2021 17:31:52 +0200 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 Thu, 15 Apr 2021 00:00:00 +0200 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 Fri, 22 Jan 2021 07:10:56 +0100 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 Wed, 30 Dec 2020 00:00:00 +0100 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 Wed, 30 Dec 2020 00:00:00 +0100 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 Wed, 30 Dec 2020 00:00:00 +0100 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 Wed, 30 Dec 2020 00:00:00 +0100 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 Wed, 30 Dec 2020 00:00:00 +0100 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 Wed, 30 Dec 2020 00:00:00 +0100 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 Wed, 30 Dec 2020 00:00:00 +0100 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 Wed, 30 Dec 2020 00:00:00 +0100 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 Tue, 26 May 2020 00:00:00 +0200 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 Tue, 24 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0100 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 Tue, 24 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0100