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[definitions, models] of consciousness

"... Consciousness, at its simplest, is sentience and awareness of internal and external existence.[1] However, its nature has led to millennia of analyses, explanations and debates by philosophers, theologians, linguists, and scientists. Opinions differ about what exactly needs to be studied or even considered consciousness. ..."(Wiki2023)

Table of Contents


Only a very small number of theories of consciousness are listed on this webPage, compared to the vast number of [paper, book]s on the subject coming out all of the time. "Popular theories" as listed on Wikipedia, are shown, assuming that this will be important for non-experts. But the only ones that really count for this webSite are the "Priority model of consciousness".

I mostly quote other sources on this webPage, as elsewhere on this webSite (as defined by the menus at the top of the webPages). I feel it will not help the reader if I re-phrase material that is well expressed. Links are provided throughout, often to Wikipedia, which provides many other links to pursue.

I have also provided background on "Sentience", which I was less familiar with, to clarify potential mis-understandings.

Readers will have completely different [interest, priority]s than I, so they would normally have different "Priority model of consciousness", and rankings of the conscousness theories. To understand my selections and rankings, see Introduction to this webSite.

Historical thinking about consciousness

My initial paragraphs in this section are deliberately provocative, but necessary to wake myself up yet again, as I keep forgetting this kind of context. Furthermore, it seems that no matter how far back one goes in history, earlier [reference, occurence]s eventually show up. For example : As they say, "history is written by the winner", or in this case, by modern scientists because the ancient people are all dead.

Early-stage biological evolution": and probably much predates homo sapiens. But is this like Robert Hecht-Nielson's question regarding his own theory for mammalian cognition : does it extend to reptiles? Stephen Grossberg does not apply conciousness so far "down the evolutionary ladder", but : Pre-language - These likely long pre-date language, ??? pull out material from my "concepts of consciousness page"

[mythology, religion, custom]s I am not at all surprised at the almost complete lack of mention of consciousness-related [theoretical, pragmatic, working] [concept, practice]s from [mythology, religion, custom]s.

Ancient philosophy: I am still very much surprised that I haven't seen descriptions of how ancient philosophy viewed consciousness. Usually mention of at least the tri-generational mindset school [Socrates, Plato, Aristotle] (or other ancient philosophers) pops up when reading a subject like consciousness. One or two comments I have read suggest that it was not a subject they broached.

'Multiple Conflicting Hypothesis' for consciousness:

My "multiple conflicting hypothesis" in this section provide a set for both : Note that neither [Stephen Grossberg, John Taylor, Antonio Damasio]'s work appear in common listings of consciousness theories.

My own perspective is reflected in the "background color" classification of all of the consciousness concepts on this webPage. Everyone else has a different [style of thinking, preferred basis, awareness of the theories of consciousness (my own is admitedly limited), criteria for what is necessary], so your assessment will be differrnt from mine. Just remember that any concept may have "gems" that can be useful, even as an inspiration or provocation.

Definitions of consciousness

This section for definitions of consciousness follows the historical section I like the description in Wikipedia (Wiki2023):

"... Consciousness, at its simplest, is sentience and awareness of internal and external existence.[1] However, its nature has led to millennia of analyses, explanations and debates by philosophers, theologians, linguists, and scientists. Opinions differ about what exactly needs to be studied or even considered consciousness. In some explanations, it is synonymous with the mind, and at other times, an aspect of mind. In the past, it was one's "inner life", the world of introspection, of private thought, imagination and volition.[2] Today, it often includes any kind of cognition, experience, feeling or perception. It may be awareness, awareness of awareness, or self-awareness either continuously changing or not.[3][4] The disparate range of research, notions and speculations raises a curiosity about whether the right questions are being asked.[5]

Examples of the range of descriptions, definitions or explanations are: simple wakefulness, one's sense of selfhood or soul explored by "looking within"; being a metaphorical "stream" of contents, or being a mental state, mental event or mental process of the brain.

The following additional definitions are also quoted from (Wiki2023) :

The common usage definitions of consciousness in Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1966 edition, Volume 1, page 482) are as follows :
    • awareness or perception of an inward psychological or spiritual fact; intuitively perceived knowledge of something in one's inner self
    • inward awareness of an external object, state, or fact
    • concerned awareness; INTEREST, CONCERN—often used with an attributive noun [e.g. class consciousness]
  1. the state or activity that is characterized by sensation, emotion, volition, or thought; mind in the broadest possible sense; something in nature that is distinguished from the physical
  2. the totality in psychology of sensations, perceptions, ideas, attitudes, and feelings of which an individual or a group is aware at any given time or within a particular time span—compare STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
  3. waking life (as that to which one returns after sleep, trance, fever) wherein all one's mental powers have returned . . .
  4. the part of mental life or psychic content in psychoanalysis that is immediately available to the ego—compare PRECONSCIOUS, UNCONSCIOUS
The Cambridge Dictionary defines consciousness as "the state of understanding and realizing something."[23]
The Oxford Living Dictionary defines consciousness as :
  • "The state of being aware of and responsive to one's surroundings."
  • "A person's awareness or perception of something."
  • "The fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world."[24]


In addition to the challenge of defining sentience, there is also considerable overlap with the concept of consciousness. As can be seen from this sub-section, sentience is seen by some as a portion of consciousness. To me, the definitions of sentience below also relate to the concept of cognition, as defined and used by Robert Hecht-Nielson's 2007 "Confabulation Theory". Even though he developed cognition for processes of [deduction, inference] from data, he clearly also applied it to low-level sensory information processing. Under the right simplifications, Confabulation Theory, reduces to Aristotolean logic. Confabulation can also be seen as the "other side of the coin" from the distinct Bayes Theory, and is likely responsible for at least some of the success of the latter, particulary when "naives Bayesian assumptions" are made. That mathematical distinction is not made in mainstream literature.

Definitions of sentience

"... Sentience is the capacity of a being to experience feelings and sensations.[1] The word was first coined by philosophers in the 1630s for the concept of an ability to feel, derived from Latin sentientem (a feeling),[2] to distinguish it from the ability to think (reason).[citation needed] In modern Western philosophy, sentience is the ability to experience sensations. In different Asian religions, the word 'sentience' has been used to translate a variety of concepts. In science fiction, the word "sentience" is sometimes used interchangeably with "sapience", "self-awareness", or "consciousness".[3]

Some writers differentiate between the mere ability to perceive sensations, such as light or pain, and the ability to perceive emotions, such as fear or grief. The subjective awareness of experiences by a conscious individual are known as qualia in Western philosophy.[3] ..."

Philosophy and sentience

"... In philosophy, different authors draw different distinctions between consciousness and sentience. According to Antonio Damasio, sentience is a minimalistic way of defining consciousness, which otherwise commonly and collectively describes sentience plus further features of the mind and consciousness, such as creativity, intelligence, sapience, self-awareness, and intentionality (the ability to have thoughts about something). These further features of consciousness may not be necessary for sentience, which is the capacity to feel sensations and emotions.[4]

Alleged sentience of artificial intelligence

"... It is a subject of debate as to whether artificial intelligence can potentially display, or has displayed, the level of awareness and cognitive ability required of sentience in animals.[23] Notably, the discussion on the topic of alleged sentience of artificial intelligence has been reignited as a result of recent (as of mid-2022) claims made about Google's LaMDA artificial intelligence system that it is "sentient" and had a "soul."[24] LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) is an artificial intelligence system that creates chatbots — AI robots designed to communicate with humans — by gathering vast amounts of text from the internet and using algorithms to respond to queries in the most fluid and natural way possible. The transcripts of conversations between scientists and LaMDA reveal that the AI system excels at this, providing answers to challenging topics about the nature of emotions, generating Aesop-style fables on the moment, and even describing its alleged fears.[25]

However, the term "sentience" is not used by major artificial intelligence textbooks and researchers.[26] It is sometimes used in popular accounts of AI to describe "human level or higher intelligence" (or artificial general intelligence).

Stephen Grossberg 2021 Conscious Mind, Resonant Brain

Stephen Grossberg's concepts of consciousness : Conversely, it seems to me that all other theories of consciousness by other researchers :
Grossberg's concepts are NOT normally listed in [compilations, reviews] of consciousness, which is a [puzzle, failure] that I address separately.

16Jul2023 I am currently lacking a coherent overall webPage for Grossberg's Consciousness. In the meantime refer to the very detailed listing of consciousness and other themes as a starting point to peruse for Grossberg's ideas. This webPage is a compilation of themes extracted from files listing [chapter, section, figure, table, comment]s.

The following listing is taken from What is consciousness: from historical to Grossberg, and repeats some of the points in this section above :

John Taylor 2006 The Mind: A users manual

Howell 16Jul2023 : I still have to put this section together, based on : Key concepts that I remember are :
For me, the significance of Taylor's concepts for consciousness is that they have an [entirely different, well-[established, proven] track record in very advanced [system identification, control theory, real applications]. More than the consciousness concepts in the sections below, Taylor's consciousness nicely [complement, contrast]s Grossbergs concepts.

Antonio Damasio 1999 Body and Emotion in the making of consciousness

Grossberg 2021 p048c2h0.90 "... Perhaps the theory of the highly influential Portugese-Amereican neuroscientist and author, Antonio Damasio, comes closest to theoretically linking brain to mind in his beautifully written 1999 book with the title The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the making of consciousness (Damasio 1999). ... Damasio used the cliical data that he elegantly summarized in his book to guide him to what is, in effect, a heuristic derivation of the Cognitive-Emotional-Motor, or CogEM, model that I had first published in 1991. ... Unlike CogEM and its refinements, Damasio's theory provides no mechanistic account, and could therefore provide no data simulations or predictions based on the model's emergent properties. Nor could he situate his heuristic concepts within a larger theory of how brain resonances and conciousness may be linked. ..."

Ridolfo Llinas 1998 Recurrent thalamo-cortical resonance

"... Recurrent thalamo-cortical resonance is an observed phenomenon of oscillatory neural activity between the thalamus and various cortical regions of the brain. It is proposed by Rudolfo Llinas and others as a theory for the integration of sensory information into the whole of perception in the brain.[1][2] Thalamocortical oscillation is proposed to be a mechanism of synchronization between different cortical regions of the brain, a process known as temporal binding.[3] This is possible through the existence of thalamocortical networks, groupings of thalamic and cortical cells that exhibit oscillatory properties.

Thalamocortical oscillation involves the synchronous firing of thalamic and cortical neurons at specific frequencies; in the thalamocortical system, the exact frequencies depend on current brain state and mental activity. Fast frequencies in the gamma range are associated with much of conscious thought and active cognition. The thalamus in this system acts as both the gate for sensory input to the cortex as well as the site for feedback from cortical pyramidal cells, implying a processing role in sensory perception in addition to its function in directing information flow. The state of the brain, whether it be conscious, in REM sleep, or non-rapid eye movement sleep, changes how sensory information is gated through the thalamus.

One comment by (Grossberg 2021 p046c1h0.05) : "... Of particular interest are data supporting ART's predicted link between synchronous oscillations and consciousness that neuroscientists such as ; have reported. ..."

Min 2010 Thalamic reticular networking

Byoung-Kyong Min 2010 "A Thalamic reticular networking model of consciousness"
"... The model suggests consciousness as a "mental state embodied through TRN-modulated synchronization of thalamocortical networks". In this model the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN) is suggested as ideally suited for controlling the entire cerebral network, and responsible (via GABAergic networking) for synchronization of neural activity. ..." (Wiki2023)

Min, B. K. (2010). A thalamic reticular networking model of consciousness. Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, 7(1), 10.

Howell 16Jul2023: It's usually hard for me to get excited about ghostly information processing between brain regions unless there is specific [connectome, neuron architectures, [neuroscience, neurophysiological] data] data to support it. Grossberg's work provides a great deal of that for the thalamus, and many other regions of the brain as well.

Modern [philosophical, logical] models of consciousness

Wikipedia: Models of consciousness, retrieved Apr2023 (Wiki2023)

Grossberg commented about several theories in this section :
Grossberg 2021 p204c2h0.30 "... In their 1990 article, Crick and Koch described two forms of consciousness : "a very fast form, linked to iconic memory...; and a slower one [wherein] an attentional mechanism transiently binds together all those neurons whose activity relates to the relevant features of a single visual object]". This conclusion was consistent with available results about ART at that time, but did not offer a linking hypothesis between brain dynamics and the perceptual, cognitive, and cognitive-emotional representations whose resonances support different conscious qualia. A great deal of additional experimental evidence for neural correlates of consciousness has been reported since 1990, but has typically led to theoretical conclusions that fail to make the crucial linking hypothesis between specific conscious pyschological qualia (eg Baars 2005; Dehaene 2014; Dennett 1991; Edelman, Tononi 2000; Koch etal 2016; Tononi 2004, 2015). ... Such claims are consistent with the analysis in this book, but they do not describe the underlying organizational principles, neural mechanisms, or brain representations that embody subjective conscious aspects of experience. ..."

Dehaene–Changeux 1986 global neuronal workspace model

"... The Dehaene–Changeux model (DCM), also known as the global neuronal workspace or the global cognitive workspace model is a computer model of the neural correlates of consciousness programmed as a neural network. Stanislas Dehaene and Jean-Pierre Changeux introduced this model in 1986.[6] It is associated with Bernard Baars's Global workspace theory for consciousness.

Stanislas Dehaene 2014 neural global workspace model

missing background info - later...

Grossberg 2021 p047c2h0.20 "... the neural global workspace model that was published in 2014 by Stanislas Dehaene (Dehaene 2014) builds upon the global workspace of Bernard Baars (Baars 2005) and claims that "consciousness is global information broadcasting within the cortex [to achieve] massive sharing of pertinent information throughout the brain" (p13). Dehaene also makes a number of other useful observations, including that "the time that our conscious vision spends entertaining an interpretation is directly related to its likelihood, given the sensory information received" (p97) and that "the conditioning paradigm suggests that consciousness has a specific evolutionary role: learning over time, rather than simply living in the instant. The system formed by the prefrontal cortex and its interconnected areas, including the hippocampus, may serve the essential role of bridging temporal gaps" (p103). Such claims are consistent with the analysis in this book, but they do not describe the underlying organizational principles, neural mechanisms, or brain representations that embody subjective conscious aspects of experience. ..."

Bernard Baars 1988 global workspace model

"... Global workspace theory (GWT) is a simple cognitive architecture that has been developed to account qualitatively for a large set of matched pairs of conscious and unconscious processes. It was proposed by Bernard Baars (1988, 1997, 2002). Brain interpretations and computational simulations of GWT are the focus of current research.

GWT involves a fleeting memory with a duration of a few seconds (much shorter than the 10–30 seconds of classical working memory). GWT contents are proposed[citation needed] to correspond to what we are conscious of, and are broadcast to a multitude of unconscious cognitive brain processes, which may be called receiving processes. Other unconscious processes, operating in parallel with limited communication between them, can form coalitions which can act as input processes to the global workspace. Since globally broadcast messages can evoke actions in receiving processes throughout the brain,[citation needed] the global workspace may be used to exercise executive control to perform voluntary actions. Individual as well as allied processes compete for access to the global workspace,[1] striving to disseminate their messages to all other processes in an effort to recruit more cohorts and thereby increase the likelihood of achieving their goals. Incoming stimuli need to be stored temporarily in order to be able to compete for attention and conscious access. Kouider and Dehaene predicted the existence of a sensory memory buffer that maintains stimuli for "a few hundreds of milliseconds."[1] Recent research offers preliminary evidence for such a buffer store and indicates a gradual but rapid decay with extraction of meaningful information severely impaired after 300 ms and most data being completely lost after 700 ms.[2]

Baars (1997) suggests that the global workspace "is closely related to conscious experience, though not identical to it." Conscious events may involve more necessary conditions, such as interacting with a "self" system, and an executive interpreter in the brain, such as has been suggested by a number of authors including Michael S. Gazzaniga.

Nevertheless, GWT can successfully model a number of characteristics of consciousness, such as its role in handling novel situations, its limited capacity, its sequential nature, and its ability to trigger a vast range of unconscious brain processes. Moreover, GWT lends itself well to computational modeling. Stan Franklin's IDA model is one such computational implementation of GWT. See also Dehaene et al. (2003), Shanahan (2006) and Bao (2020).

GWT also specifies "behind the scenes" contextual systems, which shape conscious contents without ever becoming conscious, such as the dorsal cortical stream of the visual system. This architectural approach leads to specific neural hypotheses. Sensory events in different modalities may compete with each other for consciousness if their contents are incompatible. For example, the audio and video track of a movie will compete rather than fuse if the two tracks are out of sync by more than 100 ms., approximately. The 100 ms time domain corresponds closely with the known brain physiology of consciousness, including brain rhythms in the alpha-theta-gamma domain, and event-related potentials in the 200-300 ms domain.[3]

However, much of this research is based on studies of unconscious priming and recent studies show that many of the methods used for unconscious priming are flawed [4]


J. W. Dalton has criticized the global workspace theory on the grounds that it provides, at best, an account of the cognitive function of consciousness, and fails even to address the deeper problem of its nature, of what consciousness is, and of how any mental process whatsoever can be conscious: the hard problem of consciousness.[7] A. C. Elitzur has argued, however, "While this hypothesis does not address the 'hard problem', namely, the very nature of consciousness, it constrains any theory that attempts to do so and provides important insights into the relation between consciousness and cognition.", as much as any consciousness theory is constrained by the natural brain perception limitations.[8]

New work by Richard Robinson shows promise in establishing the brain functions involved in this model and may help shed light on how we understand signs or symbols and reference these to our semiotic registers.[9]

Crick-Koch 1990 Towards a neurobiological theory of consciousness

Comments by (Grossberg 2021 p47c1h0.5) : Grossberg 2021 p204c2h0.30 "... In their 1990 article, Crick and Koch described two forms of consciousness : "a very fast form, linked to iconic memory...; and a slower one [wherein] an attentional mechanism transiently binds together all those neurons whose activity relates to the relevant features of a single visual object]". This conclusion was consistent with available results about ART at that time, but did not offer a linking hypothesis between brain dynamics and the perceptual, cognitive, and cognitive-emotional representations whose resonances support different conscious qualia. A great deal of additional experimental evidence for neural correlates of consciousness has been reported since 1990, but has typically led to theoretical conclusions that fail to make the crucial linking hypothesis between specific conscious pyschological qualia (eg Baars 2005; Dehaene 2014; Dennett 1991; Edelman, Tononi 2000; Koch etal 2016; Tononi 2004, 2015). ... Such claims are consistent with the analysis in this book, but they do not describe the underlying organizational principles, neural mechanisms, or brain representations that embody subjective conscious aspects of experience. ..."

Selected papers :

Neural correlates of consciousness

"... The Neural correlates of consciousness (NCC) formalism is used as a major step towards explaining consciousness. The NCC are defined to constitute the minimal set of neuronal events and mechanisms sufficient for a specific conscious percept, and consequently sufficient for consciousness. In this formalism, consciousness is viewed as a state-dependent property of some undefined complex, adaptive, and highly interconnected biological system.[3][4][5] ..." (Wiki2023, full article: Wiki2023 - Neural_correlates_of_consciousness, also cited by Grossberg 2021)

"... A major part of the scientific literature on consciousness consists of studies that examine the relationship between the experiences reported by subjects and the activity that simultaneously takes place in their brains—that is, studies of the neural correlates of consciousness. The hope is to find that activity in a particular part of the brain, or a particular pattern of global brain activity, which will be strongly predictive of conscious awareness. Several brain imaging techniques, such as EEG and fMRI, have been used for physical measures of brain activity in these studies.[79]

Another idea that has drawn attention for several decades is that consciousness is associated with high-frequency (gamma band) oscillations in brain activity. This idea arose from proposals in the 1980s, by Christof von der Malsburg and Wolf Singer, that gamma oscillations could solve the so-called binding problem, by linking information represented in different parts of the brain into a unified experience.[80] Rodolfo Llinás, for example, proposed that consciousness results from recurrent thalamo-cortical resonance where the specific thalamocortical systems (content) and the non-specific (centromedial thalamus) thalamocortical systems (context) interact in the gamma band frequency via synchronous oscillations.[81] ..."
(Wiki2023 - Consciousness#Neural_correlates)

Howell 19Jul2023 Note that Grossberg's ART predictions are supported by experiments by a number of researchers including Wolf Singer (see Quoted text from (Grossberg 2021)).
Howell 16Jul2023 "Neural correlates of consciousness" seems to be a collection of conceptually-related work, including (Dehaene, Changeux 1986; Baars 1988; Crick, Koch 1990).

Giulio Tononi 2004 Integrated information theory

"... Integrated Information Theory (IIT) offers an explanation for the nature and source of consciousness. Initially proposed by Giulio Tononi in 2004, it claims that consciousness is identical to a certain kind of information, the realization of which requires physical, not merely functional, integration, and which can be measured mathematically according to the phi metric. ..." (UTM - Integrated information theory)

"... Integrated information theory (IIT) attempts to provide a framework capable of explaining why some physical systems (such as human brains) are conscious,[1] why they feel the particular way they do in particular states (e.g. why our visual field appears extended when we gaze out at the night sky),[2] and what it would take for other physical systems to be conscious (Are other animals conscious? Might the whole Universe be?).[3] ... In IIT, a system's consciousness (what it is like subjectively) is conjectured to be identical to its causal properties (what it is like objectively). Therefore it should be possible to account for the conscious experience of a physical system by unfolding its complete causal powers (see Central identity).[4] ... Specifically, IIT moves from phenomenology to mechanism by attempting to identify the essential properties of conscious experience (dubbed "axioms") and, from there, the essential properties of conscious physical systems (dubbed "postulates"). 3..." (Wiki2023 - Integrated information theory)

Wikipedia lists numerous criticisms of IIT, but I have not yet quoted from that, other than to mention the authors : Grossberg 2021 p048c1h0.25 "... In 2012 and 2015, Tononi further develops postulates for his Integrated Information Theory (IIT) for physical systems that include consciousness (Tononi 2012, 2015). These postulates are intrinsic existence, compositionality, information, integration, and exclusion, These postulates summarize some basic facts about consciousness, but do not explain them. ..." p048c1h0.85 "... Both Dehaene and Tononi used the word "information" as a critical component of their hypothesis. But what is "information"? The scientific concept of "information" in the mathematical sense of Information Theory was defined and characterized in 1948 by the great American mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptographer Claude Shannon (Shannon 1948). ... In order to even discuss what "information" is requires that a set of states exist whose information can be computed, and that fixed probabilities exist for transitions between these states. In contrast, the brain is a self-organizing system that continuously creates new states through development and learning, and whose probability structure is continually changing along with them. Without a theory that explains how their transition probabilities may change through time in response to changing environmental statistics, the classical concept of information is useless. How such states arise is a key explanatory target of ART, and is one reason why ART can offer a classification of the resonances that are proposed to embody specific conscious experiences. ..."

Modern [philosophical, logical] models of consciousness

Wikipedia: Models of consciousness

Howell 16Jul2023: While the consciousness theories in this section are not strictly philosophical, I have collected them together here because they lacking the post-[rational, logical, scientific] types of thinking such as [patterns, non-linear connectionist systems, kernel systems, evolution, etc], which are characteristic of "Computational Intelligence" fields of research such as [evolutionary computation, neural networks, fuzzy systems, particle swarms, cultural algorithms, etc].

IIT seems like a strict logical approach to consciousness, and is an example. I may be wrong, though, as I haven't actually gone through it in detail, nor have I worked with [data, software] based on the IIT concept.

Sociology of human consciousness

"... Sociology of human consciousness uses the theories and methodology of sociology to explain human consciousness. The theory and its models emphasize the importance of language, collective representations, self-conceptions, and self-reflectivity. It argues that the shape and feel of human consciousness is heavily social. ..."(Wiki2023, full webPage Wiki2023

Multiple drafts

"... Daniel Dennett proposed a physicalist, information processing based multiple drafts model of consciousness described more fully in his 1991 book, Consciousness Explained. ..." (Wiki2023, full webPage Wiki2023)

"... Dennett describes the theory as first-person operationalism. As he states it:
    The Multiple Drafts model makes [the procedure of] "writing it down" in memory criterial for consciousness: that is what it is for the "given" to be "taken" ... There is no reality of conscious experience independent of the effects of various vehicles of content on subsequent action (and hence, of course, on memory).[1]
..." (Wiki2023)

Grossberg 2021 p048c2h0.25 "... The influential philosopher of mind, Daniel Dennett, wrote a highly cited book in 1991 with the arresting title Conciousness Explained (Dennett 1991). In this book, Dennett argued against the a Cartesian Theater model; that is, a place in the brain where "it all comes together" and generates subjective judgements. Instead, Dennett advocated a Multiple Drafts model where discriminations are distributed in space and time across the brain, a concept that, without elaboration, is too vague to have explanatory power. ..."

Howell 16Jul2023 : In reference to the statement that : Here Dennet seems too [vague, categorical], as perceptions don't automatically lead to action (m,emory isn't action, except perhaps to save a concept), and percepts are often "filled-in" so they don't coincide with [visual, auditory, touch, etc]. Dennett makes several other strong statements which I find to be [arbitrary, unsupportable].


"... Functionalism is a view in the theory of the mind. It states that mental states (beliefs, desires, being in pain, etc.) are constituted solely by their functional role – that is, they have causal relations to other mental states, numerous sensory inputs, and behavioral outputs. ..." (Wiki2023, full webPage Wiki2023)

"... functionalism is the thesis that each and every mental state (for example, the state of having a belief, of having a desire, or of being in pain) is constituted solely by its functional role, which means its causal relation to other mental states, sensory inputs, and behavioral outputs.[1] ..."

This seems to me to be a gross over-simplification, as it ignores neural network structure, processes, percepts?

Undefined neuron structures, Universal Function Approximators, Magic science

There is considerable speculation in all theories of consciousness, some more than others. As for the concepts in this section, perhaps one day key ideas will breath new life into them.

Electromagnetic theories of consciousness

"... Electromagnetic theories of consciousness propose that consciousness can be understood as an electromagnetic phenomenon that occurs when a brain produces an electromagnetic field with specific characteristics.[7][8] Some electromagnetic theories are also quantum mind theories of consciousness.[9] ..." (Wiki2023)

Perhaps this is summarized well by :
"... "No serious researcher I know believes in an electromagnetic theory of consciousness,"[16] Bernard Baars wrote in an e-mail.[better source needed] Baars is a neurobiologist and co-editor of Consciousness and Cognition, another scientific journal in the field. "It's not really worth talking about scientifically,"[16] he was quoted as saying. ..." (Wiki2023)

Howell 16Jul2023: It's not clear how "Electromagnetic theories of consciousness" are actually saying anything at all, given the usual assumption that neurons do produce electromagnetic activity. Much more substantive are the [resonance, synchrony] concepts of Grossberg, which are based on very clear neuron [architecture, process]s, and which presumably provide electromagnetic signatures that can be indicative of consciousness. Grossberg also states something like "... All conscious states are resonant states, but not all resonant states are conscious states. ...". He has concepts to differentiate which is which.

Quantum consciousness

Orchestrated objective reduction - Roger Penrose, Stuart Hameroff

"... Orchestrated objective reduction (Orch-OR) model is based on the hypothesis that consciousness in the brain originates from quantum processes inside neurons, rather than from connections between neurons (the conventional view). The mechanism is held to be associated with molecular structures called microtubules. The hypothesis was advanced by Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff and has been the subject of extensive debate,[10][11]

Stuart Hameroff separately worked in cancer research and anesthesia, which gave him an interest in brain processes. Hameroff read Penrose's book and suggested to him that microtubules within neurons were suitable candidate sites for quantum processing, and ultimately for consciousness.[30][31] Throughout the 1990s, the two collaborated on the Orch OR theory, which Penrose published in Shadows of the Mind (1994).[19] ..."

+-----+ presents a hard-nosed critique of various "quantum consciousness" theories, from which the following quote is taken :

Quantum consciousness (sometimes called quantum mind) is the idea that consciousness requires quantum processes, as opposed the view of mainstream neurobiology in which the function of the brain is wholly classical, and quantum processes play no computational role.

While many attempts at a theory of quantum consciousness are pseudoscientific by naively claiming the strangeness of quantum mechanics is a parallel to the strangeness of consciousness, more sophisticated quantum consciousness theories are an attempt at a solution of the "combination problem"; the problem explaining how a system of classical neurons can combine to form a single subject of experience (also referred to as the "binding problem"). However, there is currently little experimental evidence of computationally relevant quantum processes in the human brain, in part due to the technical difficulty of probing the brain at sufficient spatial and temporal granularity.

Whether or not quantum effects influence thought is a valid topic for scientific investigation, but simply stating "quantum effects cause consciousness" explains nothing unless scientists can come up with some suggestion about how quantum effects could possibly cause consciousness. The argument goes:
  • I don't understand consciousness.
  • I don't understand quantum physics.
  • Therefore, consciousness must be a function of quantum physics!
It's god of the gaps with "quantum" as the all-purpose gap filler.[1]

Please note: This should be distinguished from research into "quantum cognition," which applies quantum-mechanical mathematical models to human behavior in areas where classical probability theory fails to match observed human behavior. "Quantum cognition" does not assume that the underlying human consciousness is quantum-mechanical; it's simply that a few psychologists noted that the same concepts and equations used in quantum mechanics are for reasons unknown good analogies for actual human behavior where traditional probability theory suggests that actual behavior is irrational.

Also note that at the atomic level, quantum events (radioactive decay of atoms, probablistic collisions of molecules) obviously take place in the brain and affect neurons to some extent. However, such events are considered trivial and there is no evidence that they play any computationally relevant role.

Howell 16Jul2023: As with "Electromagnetic theories of consciousness", it's not clear how "Quantum consciousness" is actually saying anything at all yet, even if you are a [priest, disciple] of quantum theories in physics, given the usual assumption that quantum processes are fundamental to matter. Quantum skeptics like myself have even greater concerns, noting that recent fundamental theoretical concepts now appear to be close to starting a century-plus long process to replace quantum mechanics (and General Relativity).