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The Role of Brain Mechanisms in the Generation of Consciousness

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This paper first reviews our present understanding, and misunderstanding, of the 'binding' problem of how phenomenal colour, shape, and movement are integrated within the visual system. The traditional theory that this is done by interactions between the separate colour, shape, and motion computational centres in the visual cortex has been undermined by experiments carried out by Semir Zeki that suggest that such interactions do not take place. This is linked to the hypothesis that the visual system contains two channels: (1) Ohyama's hierarchical behavioural network and (2) the visual phenomenal network. The review presents a further linkage between the computational mechanisms (in particular information compression) used in vision with those used in digital television. Then a number of theories designed to explain how the 'binding' may operate are examined. Two theories have their basis within the identity theory and a third theory is based on a recent version of the psychoneural interaction theory that distinguishes phenomenal space (and its contents) from physical space (and its contents). The conclusion is made that the new formation presented in this review supports the latter theory.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Center for Brain and Cognition, UCSD, San Diego, CA, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 January 2017

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