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Consciousness and cognitive architecture

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The Global Workspace theory of consciousness (GW) explains conscious-unconscious dichotomies in cognitive processing in the context of a proposal about the qualitative properties of the architecture of cognition (Baars, 1988; 1997). This represents a theoretical and methodological approach to the study of consciousness which, as I will argue in this commentary, has at least two major advantages. A first advantage is that GW theory as a proposal about the architecture of cognition has the potential to explain consciousness-related phenomena in mechanistic terms, thereby avoiding the homunculus problem. A second advantage is that GW theory makes explicit use of conscious-unconscious dichotomies to specify a proposal about the architecture of cognition, thereby using an extra source of constraint which proponents of computational instantiations of such architectures have largely ignored in the past (e.g. Anderson, 1993; Just & Carpenter, 1992; Newell, 1990).
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Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.

Publication date: April 1, 1997

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