Animal consciousness: a synthetic approach.

The Neurosciences Institute, 10640 John Jay Hopkins Drive, San Diego, CA 92121, USA.
Trends in Neurosciences (Impact Factor: 12.9). 09/2009; 32(9):476-84. DOI: 10.1016/j.tins.2009.05.008
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Despite anecdotal evidence suggesting conscious states in a variety of non-human animals, no systematic neuroscientific investigation of animal consciousness has yet been undertaken. We set forth a framework for such an investigation that incorporates integration of data from neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and behavioral studies, uses evidence from humans as a benchmark, and recognizes the critical role of explicit verbal report of conscious experiences in human studies. We illustrate our framework with reference to two subphyla: one relatively near to mammals - birds - and one quite far -cephalopod molluscs. Consistent with the possibility of conscious states, both subphyla exhibit complex behavior and possess sophisticated nervous systems. Their further investigation may reveal common phyletic conditions and neural substrates underlying the emergence of animal consciousness.


Available from: David B Edelman, Jun 01, 2015
1 Follower
  • Article: Bewustzijn
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Consciousness has long been viewed as a mystery, scientifically inaccessible because of its elusive nature with subjectivity at its core. Attitudes have changed, however, during the last two decades. Hypotheses, frameworks and careful (but incomplete and only partial) theories have been put forward and the general perspective now is one of moderate optimism. The aim of this article is not to extensively review the broad and varied literature, but to introduce the interested but uninitiated reader to this heterogeneous topic. To this end and after a short introduction including definition issues and a brief history, consciousness’ distinct philosophical and neuroscientific components are highlighted by examples. Philosophically, David Chalmers’ dissection of the problems of consciousness and his nonreductionistic viewpoint is set against Daniel Dennett’s no-nonsense approach. Neuroscientifically, the emphasis is on a recently developed theory called theGlobal Neuronal Workspace. Functional and evolutionary aspects of consciousness are also discussed. Ons bewustzijn wordt vaak afgeschilderd als een mysterie, niet in de laatste plaats omdat het zowel deelneemt aan de wereld als deze tegelijkertijd bevat en een duidelijke subjectieve kant heeft. Onderzoek ernaar begeeft zich op de grens van filosofie, psychologie en (neuro) biologie en kent dus veel invalshoeken en veel meningen. Het is werk in uitvoering, vol hypothesen en raamwerken zonder een duidelijke, dominante theorie. In dit artikel vat ik, middels voorbeelden uit de filosofie en de biologische psychologie, de huidige stand van zaken samen.
    04/2012; 16(2):35-45. DOI:10.1007/s12474-012-0007-3
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Although most aspects of world and self-consciousness are inherently subjective, neuroscience studies in humans and non-human animals provide correlational and causative indices of specific links between brain activity and representation of the self and the world. In this article we review neuroanatomic, neurophysiological and neuropsychological data supporting the hypothesis that different levels of self and world representation in vertebrates rely upon (i) a "basal" subcortical system that includes brainstem, hypothalamus and central thalamic nuclei and that may underpin the primary (or anoetic) consciousness likely present in all vertebrates; and (ii) a forebrain system that include the medial and lateral structures of the cerebral hemispheres and may sustain the most sophisticated forms of consciousness [e.g., noetic (knowledge based) and autonoetic, reflective knowledge]. We posit a mutual, bidirectional functional influence between these two major brain circuits. We conclude that basic aspects of consciousness like primary self and core self (based on anoetic and noetic consciousness) are present in many species of vertebrates and that, even self-consciousness (autonoetic consciousness) does not seem to be a prerogative of humans and of some non-human primates but may, to a certain extent, be present in some other mammals and birds.
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 03/2015; 9:157. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00157 · 2.90 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: How does attention contribute to perceptual experience? Within cognitive science, attention is known to contribute to the organization of sensory features into perceptual objects, or “object-based organization.” The current paper tackles a different type of organization and thus suggests a different role for attention in conscious perception. Within every perceptual experience we find that more subjectively interesting percepts stand out in the foreground, whereas less subjectively interesting percepts are relegated to the background. The sight of a sycamore often gains the visual foreground for a nature lover, whereas the sound of a violin often gains the auditory foreground for a music lover, but not necessarily vice versa. How does the perceptual system organize early sensory processing according to the subject’s interests? The current paper reveals how this subject-based organization is brought about and maintained through top-down attention. In fact, the current paper argues that top-down attention is necessary for conscious perception in so far as it is necessary for bringing about and maintaining the subject-based organization of perceptual experience.
    Philosophical Studies 05/2014; 172(5). DOI:10.1007/s11098-014-0348-2