What is Mental Representation?: And How Does It Relate to Consciousness?

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Abstract:

The relationship between mental representation and consciousness is considered. What it means to 'represent', and several types of representation (e.g., analogue, digital, spatial, linguistic, mathematical), are described. Concepts relevant to mental representation in general (e.g., multiple levels of processing, structure/process differences, mapping) and in specific domains (e.g., mental imagery, linguistic/propositional theories, production systems, connectionism, dynamics) are discussed. Similarities (e.g., using distinctions between different forms of representation to predict different forms of consciousness, parallels between digital architectures of the brain and connectionist models) and dissociations (e.g., insensitivity to gaps in subjective experience, explicit memory/implicit memory, automatic processing/controlled processing, blindsight, neglect, prediction/ explanation) of mental representation and consciousness are discussed. It is concluded that representational systems are separable from consciousness systems, and that mental representation appears necessary but not sufficient for consciousness. Considerations for future research on correspondences between representation and consciousness are suggested.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX 76129, USA., Email: t.hubbard@tcu.edu

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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