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The Central Role of the Parietal Lobes in Consciousness

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Abstract:

There are now various approaches to understand where and how in the brain consciousness arises from neural activity, none of which is universally accepted. Difficulties among these approaches are reviewed, and a missing ingredient is proposed here to help adjudicate between them, that of “perspectivalness.” In addition to a suitable temporal duration and information content of the relevant bound brain activity, this extra component is posited as being a further important ingredient for the creation of consciousness from neural activity. It guides the development of what is termed the “Central Representation,” which is supposed to be present in all mammals and extended in humans to support self-consciousness as well as phenomenal consciousness. Experimental evidence and a theoretical framework for the existence of the central representation are presented, which relates the extra component to specific buffer working memory sites in the inferior parietal lobes, acting as attentional coordinators on the spatial maps making up the central representation. The article closes with a discussion of various open questions.

Keywords: Key Words: awareness; attention; intention; parietal lobe; perspectivalness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Mathematics, King's College, Strand, London, WC2 R2LS, United Kingdom

Publication date: September 1, 2001

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