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Neurophenomenology Integrating Subjective Experience and Brain Dynamics in the Neuroscience of Consciousness

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Abstract:

The paper presents a research programme for the neuroscience of consciousness called 'neurophenomenology' (Varela 1996) and illustrates it with a recent pilot study (Lutz et al., 2002). At a theoretical level, neurophenomenology pursues an embodied and large-scale dynamical approach to the neurophysiology of consciousness (Varela 1995; Thompson and Varela 2001; Varela and Thompson 2003). At a methodological level, the neurophenomenological strategy is to make rigorous and extensive use of first-person data about subjective experience as a heuristic to describe and quantify the large-scale neurodynamics of consciousness (Lutz 2002). The paper focuses on neurophenomenology in relation to three challenging methodological issues about incorporating first-person data into cognitive neuroscience: (i) first-person reports can be biased or inaccurate; (ii) the process of generating first-person reports about an experience can modify that experience; and (iii) there is an 'explanatory gap' in our understanding of how to relate first-person, phenomenological data to third-person, biobehavioural data.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: W.M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior, Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1500 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53703-2280, USA., Email: alutz@wisc.edu 2: , Email: evant@yorku.ca

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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