(Copyright © 2000 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
This book collects the talks on a symposium on cognition. Among many technical papers, the highlights are the conflicting views of Hobson and Kinsbourne.
Hobson defines consciousness as the brain's representation of the world, the body and the self. Consciousness is a representation by the brain of the representation by the brain of the world, the body and the self. Adult humans possess the brain circuitry to achieve this "representation of a representation". That circuitry constitutes a "secondary" network within the brain that is responsible for "metarepresentational" functions. Consciousness is a graded characteristic, as Hobson describes the "graded" behavioral and neural differences between wake, NREM sleep, and REM sleep.
Based on the fact that brain lesions remove consciousness only when they remove performance, in 1988 the American neuropsychologist Marcel Kinsbourne reached the conclusion that consciousness "is" performance, and developed an "integrated cortical field theory" of consciousness. Marcel Kinsbourne criticizes the idea that consciousness sits at the top of a pyramid of cognitive faculties and that it is produced by the neural activity of a specialized region of the brain. Kinsbourne believes that consciousness is not a product of neural activity: it is the neural activity itself. The brain does not generate consciousness: it is conscious. There is no need for a special region to manufacture consciousness. Kinsbourne criticizes the idea that for some information to become conscious it has to be input to a special region of the brain, which is in charge of "transducing" neural activity into a conscious feeling. Kinsbourne believes that it is not the region that matters but the state of the circuit. Any region of the brain can be conscious when its circuits are in the appropriate state. There is no central site for consciousness: any site can host consciousness.
In this model there is no need for binding.
And the model admits the possibility of more than one consciousness.
Kinsbourne's model is "heterarchical", i.e. highly distributed.