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Brain Res. 2012 Oct 2;1476:3-21. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2012.01.003. Epub 2012 Jan 11.

Neuronal correlates to consciousness. The "Hall of Mirrors" metaphor describing consciousness as an epiphenomenon of multiple dynamic mosaics of cortical functional modules.

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Fondazione IRCCS San Camillo, Venezia Lido, Italy.


Humans share the common intuition of a self that has access to an inner 'theater of mind' (Baars, 2003). The problem is how this internal theater is formed. Moving from Cook's view (Cook, 2008), we propose that the 'sentience' present in single excitable cells is integrated into units of neurons and glial cells transiently assembled into "functional modules" (FMs) organized as systems of encased networks (from cell networks to molecular networks). In line with Hebb's proposal of 'cell assemblies', FMs can be linked to form higher-order mosaics by means of reverberating circuits. Brain-level subjective awareness results from the binding phenomenon that coordinates several FM mosaics. Thus, consciousness may be thought as the global result of integrative processes taking place at different levels of miniaturization in plastic mosaics. On the basis of these neurobiological data and speculations and of the evidence of 'mirror neurons' the 'Hall of Mirrors' is proposed as a significant metaphor of consciousness. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Brain Integration.

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