The conscious brain: Empirical investigations of the neural correlates of perceptual awareness
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Although consciousness has been studied since ancient time, how the brain implements consciousness is still considered a great mystery by most. This thesis investigates the neural correlates of consciousness by measuring brain activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while specific contents of consciousness are defined and maintained in various experimental settings. Study 1 showed that the brain works differently when creating a new conscious percept compared to when maintaining the same percept over time. Specifically, sensory and fronto-parietal regions were activated for both conditions but with different activation patterns within these regions. This distinction between creating and maintaining a conscious percept was further supported by Study 2, which in addition showed that there are both differences and similarities in how the brain works when defining a visual compared to an auditory percept. In particular, frontal cortex was commonly activated while posterior cortical activity was modality specific. Study 3 showed that task difficulty influenced the degree of frontal and parietal cortex involvement, such that fronto-parietal activity decreased as a function of ease of identification. This is interpreted as evidence of the non-necessity of these regions for conscious perception in situations where the stimuli are distinct and apparent. Based on these results a model is proposed where sensory regions interact with controlling regions to enable conscious perception. The amount and type of required interaction depend on stimuli and task characteristics, to the extent that higher-order cortical involvement may not be required at all for easily recognizable stimuli.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Psykologi , 2007. , 68 p.
Umeå studies in cognitive science, ISSN 1654-2568 ; 4
consciousness, visual perception, object identification, functional neuroimaging, top-down processing, prefrontal cortex, auditory perception
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1430ISBN: 978-91-7264-457-1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-1430DiVA: diva2:141028
2007-12-07, MA 121, MIT-huset, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 10:15
Rees, Geraint, Professor
Nyberg, Lars, Professor
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