Monday, June 07, 2021

Making the hard problem of consciousness easier

Yet another morsel of text for consciousness mavens. Melloni et al. (open source) describe efforts to narrow down on which of several current theories better explains conscious experience by using the approach of adversarial collaboration...
...adversarial collaboration rests on identifying the most diagnostic points of divergence between competing theories, reaching agreement on precisely what they predict, and then designing experiments that directly test those diverging predictions. During the past 2 years, several groups have adopted this approach...The global neuronal workspace theory (GNWT)  claims that consciousness is instantiated by the global broadcasting and amplification of information across an interconnected network of prefrontal-parietal areas and many high-level sensory cortical areas...Conversely, the integrated information theory (IIT)  holds that consciousness should be understood in terms of cause-effect “power” that reflects the amount of maximally irreducible integrated information generated by certain neuronal architectures. On the basis of mathematical and neuroanatomical considerations, the IIT holds that the posterior cortex is ideally situated for generating a maximum of integrated information ...experiments designed by neuroscientists and philosophers not directly associated with the theories are being conducted in six independent laboratories.
I pass on their summary graphic (click to enlarge):

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