Neural signs and mechanisms of consciousness: Is there a potential convergence of theories of consciousness in sight?

Georg Northoff, Victor Lamme

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Various theories for the neural basis of consciousness have been proposed, suggesting a diversity of neural signs and mechanisms. We ask to what extent this diversity is real, or whether many theories share the same basic ideas with a potential for convergence towards a more unified theory of the neural basis of consciousness. For that purpose, we review and compare the various neural signs, measures, and mechanisms proposed in the different theories. We demonstrate that different theories focus on neural signs and measures of distinct aspects of neural activity including stimulus-related, prestimulus, and resting state activity as well as on distinct features of consciousness. Therefore, the various mechanisms proposed in the different theories may, in part, complement each other. Together, we provide insight into the shared basis and convergences (and, in part, discrepancies) of the different theories of consciousness. We conclude that the different theories concern distinct aspects of both neural activity and consciousness which, as we suppose, may be integrated and nested within the brain's overall temporo-spatial dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-587
Number of pages20
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Volume118
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Consciousness
  • Spontaneous activity
  • Temporo-spatial dynamic
  • Theories
  • Unified theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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