A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, Jul 30, 1993 - Medical - 424 pages
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Conscious experience is one of the most difficult and thorny problems in psychological science. Its study has been neglected for many years, either because it was thought to be too difficult, or because the relevant evidence was thought to be poor. Bernard Baars suggests a way to specify empirical constraints on a theory of consciousness by contrasting well-established conscious phenomena - such as stimulus representations known to be attended, perceptual, and informative - with closely comparable unconscious ones - such as stimulus representations known to be preperceptual, unattended, or habituated. Adducing data to show that consciousness is associated with a kind of global workplace in the nervous system, and that several brain structures are known to behave in accordance with his theory, Baars helps to clarify many difficult problems.
  

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Contents

What is to be explained? Some preliminaries
3
11 Some history and a look ahead
4
12 What is to be explained? A first definition of the topic
13
13 Some attempts to understand conscious experience
28
A gathering consensus
43
15 Some common themes in this book
64
16 Chapter summary and a look ahead
70
The basic model
71
65 Further implications
243
66 Chapter summary
245
Model 5 Volition as ideomotor control of thought and action
246
71 Is there a problem of volition? Some contrasts between similar voluntary and involuntary actions
248
72 Voluntary action resembles spontaneous problem solving
257
The ideomotor theory in modern garb
259
74 Evidence bearing on the ideomotor theory
267
75 Explaining the voluntaryinvoluntary contrasts
273

Model 1 Conscious representations are internally consistent and globally distributed
73
21 Contrasting the capabilities of conscious and unconscious processes
74
A global workspace blackboard in a distributed system of intelligent information processors
86
23 How the theoretical metaphor fits the evidence of Table 21
89
24 Input properties of the global workspace
96
How global is global?
99
26 Further considerations
104
27 Testable predictions and counterarguments
108
28 Chapter summary
117
The neural basis of conscious experience
119
31 The neurophysiological fit with Model 1
121
32 Extensions suggested by the neurophysiology
128
33 Recent refinements of the neurophysiological evidence
131
34 Chapter summary
134
The fundamental role of context
135
Model 2 Unconscious contexts shape conscious experience
137
41 Sources of evidence on contexts
139
42 Several kinds of contexts
151
43 Modeling contextual knowledge
161
44 Some plausible properties of contexts
166
45 Implications for empirical testing
173
46 Chapter summary
176
Model 3 Conscious experience is informative it always demands some degree of adaptation
177
Any learnable task goes from contextcreation to conscious information to redundancy
184
52 Human beings also seek information at many levels
199
Interpreting informativeness in the theory
203
Is informativeness a necessary condition for conscious experience?
208
55 Implications for learning
213
56 Some experimental predictions
219
57 Other implications
220
58 Chapter summary
221
Goals and voluntary control
223
Model 4 Goal contexts spontaneous problem solving and the stream of consciousness
225
61 The tipofthetongue state as a goal context or intention
226
62 The consciousunconsciousconscious CUC triad
233
63 Empirical assessment of goal contexts
239
64 Goal contexts and the stream of consciousness
240
76 Wider implications
279
77 Absorption and hypnosis as ideomotor events
287
78 Conflicts between goals
292
79 Chapter summary
296
Attention self and conscious selfmonitoring
299
Model 6 Attention as control of access to consciousness
301
81 Voluntary and automatic control of access to consciousness
305
82 Modeling voluntary and automatic access control
307
83 Directing attention toward something
314
Suppression repression and emotional conflict
317
85 Further implications
321
86 Chapter summary
324
Model 7 Self as the dominant context of experience and action
325
91 Contrasting self and notself experiences
331
92 Modeling self and selfconcept
336
93 Further questions to explore
341
94 Chapter summary
344
Consciousness is functional
345
The functions of consciousness
347
101 Definitional and Contextsetting Function
350
102 Adaptation and Learning Function
351
104 Recruiting and Control Function
352
106 Decisionmaking or Executive Function
353
108 Metacognitive or Selfmonitoring Function
354
109 Autoprogramming and Selfmaintenance Function
355
1010 Chapter summary
356
Conclusion
357
A summary and some future directions
359
112 A brief review of the models
360
113 What are the necessary conditions for conscious experience?
362
114 Some practical implications of GW theory
364
The mindbody problem revisited
365
Glossary and guide to theoretical claims
367
References
393
Name index
411
Subject index
416
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