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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2014 Apr;25:76-84. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2013.12.005. Epub 2013 Dec 29.

Toward a computational theory of conscious processing.

Author information

1
Collège de France, F-75005 Paris, France; Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, U992, F-91191 Gif/Yvette, France; NeuroSpin Center, Institute of BioImaging Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, F-91191 Gif/Yvette, France; Université Paris 11, Orsay, France. Electronic address: stanislas.dehaene@gmail.com.
2
Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, U992, F-91191 Gif/Yvette, France; NeuroSpin Center, Institute of BioImaging Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, F-91191 Gif/Yvette, France; Université Paris 11, Orsay, France.

Abstract

The study of the mechanisms of conscious processing has become a productive area of cognitive neuroscience. Here we review some of the recent behavioral and neuroscience data, with the specific goal of constraining present and future theories of the computations underlying conscious processing. Experimental findings imply that most of the brain's computations can be performed in a non-conscious mode, but that conscious perception is characterized by an amplification, global propagation and integration of brain signals. A comparison of these data with major theoretical proposals suggests that firstly, conscious access must be carefully distinguished from selective attention; secondly, conscious perception may be likened to a non-linear decision that 'ignites' a network of distributed areas; thirdly, information which is selected for conscious perception gains access to additional computations, including temporary maintenance, global sharing, and flexible routing; and finally, measures of the complexity, long-distance correlation and integration of brain signals provide reliable indices of conscious processing, clinically relevant to patients recovering from coma.

PMID:
24709604
DOI:
10.1016/j.conb.2013.12.005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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