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Consciousness Engineered

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The attention schema theory offers one possible account for how we claim to have consciousness. The theory begins with attention, a mechanistic method of handling data in which some signals are enhanced at the expense of other signals and are more deeply processed. In the theory, the brain does more than just use attention. It also constructs an internal model, or representation, of attention. That internal model contains incomplete, schematic information about what attention is, what the consequences of attention are, and what its own attention is doing at any moment. This 'attention schema' is used to help control attention, much like the 'body schema', the brain's internal simulation of the body, is used to help control the body. Subjective awareness -- consciousness -- is the caricature of attention depicted by that internal model. This article summarizes the theory and discusses its relationship to the approach to consciousness that is called 'illusionism'.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept. of Psychology, Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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