Tag Archives: Consciousness

Further support for a multi-tool approach for consciusness

Biyu J. He, Towards a pluralistic neurobiological understanding of consciousness, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 27, Issue 5, 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2023.02.001.

Theories of consciousness are often based on the assumption that a single, unified neurobiological account will explain different types of conscious awareness. However, recent findings show that, even within a single modality such as conscious visual perception, the anatomical location, timing, and information flow of neural activity related to conscious awareness vary depending on both external and internal factors. This suggests that the search for generic neural correlates of consciousness may not be fruitful. I argue that consciousness science requires a more pluralistic approach and propose a new framework: joint determinant theory (JDT). This theory may be capable of accommodating different brain circuit mechanisms for conscious contents as varied as percepts, wills, memories, emotions, and thoughts, as well as their integrated experience.

It seems that consciousness is not an analog uni-dimensional line, but multi-dimensional

Jonathan Birch, Alexandra K. Schnell, Nicola S. Clayton, Dimensions of Animal Consciousness. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 24, Issue 10, 2020, Pages 789-801 DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2020.07.007.

How does consciousness vary across the animal kingdom? Are some animals ‘more conscious’ than others? This article presents a multidimensional framework for understanding interspecies variation in states of consciousness. The framework distinguishes five key dimensions of variation: perceptual richness, evaluative richness, integration at a time, integration across time, and self-consciousness. For each dimension, existing experiments that bear on it are reviewed and future experiments are suggested. By assessing a given species against each dimension, we can construct a consciousness profile for that species. On this framework, there is no single scale along which species can be ranked as more or less conscious. Rather, each species has its own distinctive consciousness profile.

Consciousness as a learning framework

Axel Cleeremans, Dalila Achoui, Arnaud Beauny, Lars Keuninckx, Jean-Remy Martin, Santiago Muñoz-Moldes, Laurène Vuillaume, Adélaïde de Heering, Learning to Be Conscious, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 24, Issue 2, 2020, Pages 112-123 DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2019.11.011.

Consciousness remains a formidable challenge. Different theories of consciousness have proposed vastly different mechanisms to account for phenomenal experience. Here, appealing to aspects of global workspace theory, higher-order theories, social theories, and predictive processing, we introduce a novel framework: the self-organizing metarerpresentational account (SOMA), in which consciousness is viewed as something that the brain learns to do. By this account, the brain continuously and unconsciously learns to redescribe its own activity to itself, so developing systems of metarepresentations that qualify target first-order representations. Thus, experiences only occur in experiencers that have learned to know they possess certain first-order states and that have learned to care more about certain states than about others. In this sense, consciousness is the brain’s (unconscious, embodied, enactive, nonconceptual) theory about itself.

How a robot can learn to recognize itself on a mirror

Zeng, Y., Zhao, Y., Bai, J. et al., Toward Robot Self-Consciousness (II): Brain-Inspired Robot Bodily Self Model for Self-Recognition, Cogn Comput (2018) 10: 307, DOI: 10.1007/s12559-017-9505-1.

The neural correlates and nature of self-consciousness is an advanced topic in Cognitive Neuroscience. Only a few animal species have been testified to be with this cognitive ability. From artificial intelligence and robotics point of view, few efforts are deeply rooted in the neural correlates and brain mechanisms of biological self-consciousness. Despite the fact that the scientific understanding of biological self-consciousness is still in preliminary stage, we make our efforts to integrate and adopt known biological findings of self-consciousness to build a brain-inspired model for robot self-consciousness. In this paper, we propose a brain-inspired robot bodily self model based on extensions to primate mirror neuron system and apply it to humanoid robot for self recognition. In this model, the robot firstly learns the correlations between self-generated actions and visual feedbacks in motion by learning with spike timing dependent plasticity (STDP), and then learns the appearance of body part with the expectation that the visual feedback is consistent with its motion. Based on this model, the robot uses multisensory integration to learn its own body in real world and in mirror. Then it can distinguish itself from others. In a mirror test setting with three robots with the same appearance, with the proposed brain-inspired robot bodily self model, each of them can recognize itself in the mirror after these robots make random movements at the same time. The theoretic modeling and experimental validations indicate that the brain-inspired robot bodily self model is biologically inspired, and computationally feasible as a foundation for robot self recognition.