Not ‘just what it is like’

consciousnessSteven Bodovitz

In:- Consciousness and the Universe (2009-11)

This paper describes an interesting experiment serving to demonstrate the distinction between information processing and conscious/subjective assessment. In an experiment by Lau & Passingham (2006) subjects are shown an image (the target), followed quickly by a second image (the mask). When the second image follows quickly enough, the first image/target is removed from consciousness. In a finding similar to blindsight and other evidence of non-conscious processing, the subjects’ guesses for the nature of images that did not get into consciousness were as accurate as their responses for those that did enter consciousness.

This comprises yet another study that contrary to what is often promoted in parts of modern consciousness studies indicates that the brain’s information processing and consciousness are distinct functions. Given studies of this kind, it is not possible to say that consciousness is just what it is like, or the same thing as, or even a by-product of information processing. It might be possible to argue that it did not have a function in the light of the subjects’ guessing abilities, but other evidence does involve it in the longer-run assessment of inputs that the brain is receiving.

Tags: , Posted by

Leave a Reply