Brain Mechanisms and Conscious Experience

  1. Gregory R. Bock Organizer and
  2. Joan Marsh
  1. Michael S. Gazzaniga

Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9780470514412.ch12

Ciba Foundation Symposium 174 - Experimental and Theoretical Studies of Consciousness

Ciba Foundation Symposium 174 - Experimental and Theoretical Studies of Consciousness

How to Cite

Gazzaniga, M. S. (2007) Brain Mechanisms and Conscious Experience, in Ciba Foundation Symposium 174 - Experimental and Theoretical Studies of Consciousness (eds G. R. Bock and J. Marsh), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470514412.ch12

Author Information

  1. Center for Neuroscience, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471938668

Online ISBN: 9780470514412

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Keywords:

  • brain;
  • conscious experience;
  • sensation;
  • neuropil;
  • modality

Summary

The human brain enables a variety of unique mental capacities. Our special capacities for inference, personal insight into the reasons for our actions, deception, high level problem solving, for literally dozens of activities represent specialized systems that most likely reflect specialized neuronal circuits that have accumulated in our brain by selection processes over thousands of years of evolution. I believe many of these enriching capacities are not so much the advantageous computational products of a large neuropil as they are the product of a brain that has accumulated specific algorithms for adaptation. Our awareness, our consciousness of these capacities, is nothing more or less than a feeling about them. A correlate of this view is that there are many processes supporting human cognition of which we are neither aware nor conscious. When conscious appreciation or feeling is involved for a modality of sensation or action, neural pathways communicating this information must be intact, normally to the left hemisphere. This paper reviews evidence that supports this view of consciousness that distinguishes special human capacities and feelings about those capacities from the neural substrates that underlie these distinctions.