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Streams of Consciousness Alumit Ishai When investigating the neural correlates of consciousness neuroscientists distinguish between conscious state being awake as opposed to asleep or in a coma which is regulated by brainstem and thalamic nuclei and conscious representation awareness of specific phenomenal experience The advent of functional brain imaging techniques especially fMRI enables the noninvasive inquiries of the mechanisms underlying conscious experience particularly in the visual system To date most experimental paradigms designed to study consciousness contrast the response during conscious visual experience with the response during unconscious visual experience the so called blindsight phenomenon or record patterns of brain activation during binocular rivalry perception of bistable figures and visual mental imagery The current data suggest that activity in high level areas of the ventral visual pathway but not in V1 are necessary for conscious visual experience Moreover visual awareness requires parietal and prefrontal regions for a recent review see Rees Kreiman Koch 2002 The neural correlates of conscious vision therefore parallel the distributed cortical networks that modulate visual attention and visual imagery As most researchers confuse awareness with consciousness the reported differential activity during consciousness is currently indistinguishable from that of other higher cognitive functions In his article Functional fMRI and the Study of Human Consciousness Dan Lloyd uniquely combines a conceptual analysis of consciousness with neuroscientific methods in order to characterize the neural manifestations of consciousness Lloyd 2002 Lloyd adopts Husserl s criteria according to which the phenomenology of consciousness is based on three essential principles intentionality the external world as it is experienced and not as it is superposition sensory and nonsensory properties are present in perception and temporality all objects share perception of



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