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On the mechanism of consciousness

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The master-module theory of consciousness (Cotterill, 1995; 1996) is considered in the light of experimental evidence that has emerged since the model was first published. It is found that these new results tend to strengthen the original hypothesis. It is also argued that the master module is involved in generation of the schemata previously postulated to be associated with consciousness (Bartlett, 1932). The recent discovery of attention-related activity in the thalamic intralaminar nuclei is taken to indicate that these structures constitute an important part of the feedback loop which the theory conjectured to mediate thought. The theory is shown to lead to a remarkably simple rationalization of the cerebral cortex, and it offers explanations of attention, binocular rivalry and qualia. It also makes the surprising prediction that Broca's area might not exclusively serve speech.

Keywords: Consciousness; attention; autism; awareness; cognition; conscious unity; creativity; efferent copy; explanatory gap; gamma oscillations; hard problem; intelligence; mirror neurons; phantom limbs; qualia; schemata; self-tickling; thought

Document Type: Research Article

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

Publication date: 1997-03-01

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