Manjoo, Priya S.; Young, Ronald E.
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Department of Basic Medical Sciences
On the mechanisms of consciousness
Alzheimer's Disease Review
Date of Publication
We define consciousness as the subjective experience associated with processing sensory or recalling stored information at the cognitive level. To have evolved, consciousness must have survival value, which we propose, is the speed and completeness it lends to the formulation of behavioral responses and interpretation of external reality. We postulate that consciousness derives from activity in neural modules, which are engaged by inputs of a particular configuration. Their outputs model putative triggering sensory scenarios. Discrepancy between output from the model, and feed-forward from the triggering input, drives inhibitory feedback to the module, or feeds onward to activate other related perceptual circuits. Incompatible modules are mutually inhibitory. Conscious experience includes activation, validation, extension, and where necessary, rejection and re-selection of models, based on discrepancies between received and model-derived activity patterns. Coherent sub-sets of perceptual models are thus co-activated. The operation of these neural 'models' allows us to interpret, imagine, or recall - to consciously experience - complex scenarios. We describe evidence supporting the existence of models within the brain, and illuminating their involvement in generating consciousness. We propose that consciousness is an emergent property: the outcome of both activity and anatomical organization of the neutral networks comprising the perceptual models.....