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Symposium on Michel and Morales, “Minority Reports: Consciousness and the Prefrontal Cortex”

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I’m very pleased to announce our latest Mind & Language symposium on Matthias Michel and Jorge Morales’ forthcoming “Minority Reports: Consciousness and the Prefrontal Cortex.” Our outstanding commentators on the target article include Liz Irvine (Cardiff), Benjamin Kozuch (Alabama), and Michael Pitts with Kevin Ortego (Reed College).  *** A great deal of neuroscience research focuses on finding neural correlates of consciousness (NCCs), that is, neural states that are minimally sufficient for mental states to be conscious (Chalmers 2000). A number of neuroscientists and philosophers have maintained on the basis of experimental and theoretical evidence that prefrontal cortex is a NCC. Examples include the global workspace theory (Baars 2005, Dehaene & Changeux 2011) and the higher-order theory (Brown 2015, Lau & Rosenthal 2011, Lau & Brown 2019). Proponents of “back of the head” theories, in contrast, argue that consciousness primarily depends on neural activity in posterior parts of the cortex (Lamme 2006) or a “posterior hot-zone” (Koch et al. 2016, Koch 2018). Numerous experiments, reviewed by Michel and Morales, provide evidence that conscious perception elicits increased activity in the PFC, while unconscious perception does not. Proponents of prefrontal theories take this to be evidence that PFC is part of the neural substrate of consciousness. Most of the experiments to which proponents of prefrontal theories appeal, however, make use of a “report-based” experimental method in which subjects are directed to report on whether they consciously perceive a stimulus or not. According to what Michel and Morales call the “argument from report,” this introduces a confound: the presence of neural activity in PFC that is correlated with conscious perception is also correlated with post-perceptual cognitive processes that enable verbal report. Hence, methods that require subjects to provide. . .

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News source: Philosophy of Mind – The Brains Blog

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