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An integrative, multiscale view on neural theories of consciousness

Research group Roelfsema
Publication year 2024
Published in Neuron
Authors Johan F Storm, P Christiaan Klink, Jaan Aru, Walter Senn, Rainer Goebel, Andrea Pigorini, Pietro Avanzini, Wim Vanduffel, Pieter R Roelfsema, Marcello Massimini, Matthew E Larkum, Cyriel M A Pennartz

How is conscious experience related to material brain processes? A variety of theories aiming to answer this age-old question have emerged from the recent surge in consciousness research, and some are now hotly debated. Although most researchers have so far focused on the development and validation of their preferred theory in relative isolation, this article, written by a group of scientists representing different theories, takes an alternative approach. Noting that various theories often try to explain different aspects or mechanistic levels of consciousness, we argue that the theories do not necessarily contradict each other. Instead, several of them may converge on fundamental neuronal mechanisms and be partly compatible and complementary, so that multiple theories can simultaneously contribute to our understanding. Here, we consider unifying, integration-oriented approaches that have so far been largely neglected, seeking to combine valuable elements from various theories.

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