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Prediction and internal feedback in conscious perception

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Recent conjectures regarding the nature and mechanism of consciousness (Cotterill, 1995) are extended to include the contribution of the cerebellum. The role of this brain structure appears to be a rather sophisticated form of prediction, as exemplified by certain dynamical capabilities of the visual system, and by the difficulty of self-administered tickling. The pars intermedia of the cerebellum is perceived as a direct feedback device, functioning in parallel to the primary neuronal circuit involved in consciousness; this leads to the suggestion that it serves as a tutor for the putative master node, the latter governing the collective movements of all the body's muscles. The cerebellar hemispheres are believed to act as an internal feedback device, and to be more directly coupled to the master node; they are seen as serving plenisentient unconsciousness. The possible importance of muscular spindles for the generation of qualia is discussed, as are the significance of the frontal lobes, the basal ganglia and the limbic system for the content of consciousness. Finally, the stages through which infant consciousness gradually acquires its sophistication are tentatively identified.
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Keywords: Consciousness; attention; autism; awareness; cognition; conscious unity; creativity; efferent copy; explanatory gap; gamma oscillations; hard problem; intelligence; mirror neurons; phantom limbs; qualia; schema; schemata; self-tickling; thought

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Biophysics Group, Building 307, Danish Technical University, DK2800 Lyngby, Denmark.

Publication date: 1996-03-01

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