Announcement: ASSC Seminar "Consciousness and self in the brain: A Global Workspace perspective"

Patrick Wilken patrickw at cs.monash.edu.au
Sun Oct 12 00:02:15 EST 1997


The Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC)
invites your attention to the electronic seminar:

   Consciousness and self in the brain:  A Global Workspace perspective. 


Seminar commences on October 12, 1997, and will be led by:

Bernard J. Baars and Katherine McGovern
The Wright Institute
Berkeley, California  

Target Paper: "Metaphors of consciousness and attention in the brain." 
by Bernard J. Baars, Trends in Neurosciences, in press. We have 
permission from TINS and Elsevier Publishers, to post the target paper 
on the ASSC website http://www.phil.vt.edu/ASSC/  for public access. Our 
intention is to encourage and support wide dissemination and discussion 
of the ideas generated in the seminar, while protecting the electronic 
privacy of the panelists.  

Seminar dialog will be available to the public, both over the ASSC web 
site at http://www.phil.vt.edu/ASSC/ and via the ASSC seminar mailing 
list at ASSC-SEMINAR1 at LISTSERV.UH.EDU. 

To subscribe to the seminar mailing list, send the request

SUB ASSC-SEMINAR1 <your name> to LISTSERV at LISTSERV.UH.EDU.


Abstract for the seminar: 

Global Workspace theory is a simple cognitive architecture that has been
developed to account qualitatively for a large set of matched pairs of
conscious and unconscious processes (Baars, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1997).  
Such matched contrastive pairs of phenomena can be either psychological 
or neural.  Psychological phenomena include subliminal priming, 
automaticity with practice,  selective attention, and many others. 
Neural examples include coma and blindsight.   Like other cognitive 
architectures (Newell, 1990), GW theory may be seen in terms of a 
theater metaphor of mental functioning.  Consciousness resembles a 
bright spot on the theater stage of Working Memory (WM), directed there 
by a spotlight of attention,  under executive guidance (Baddeley, 1992). 
The rest of the theater is dark and unconscious. "Behind the scenes" are 
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.  For sensory 
consciousness the bright spot on stage is likely to require the 
corresponding sensory projection areas of the cortex. Sensory 
consciousness in different modalities may be mutually inhibitory, within 
approximately 100-ms time steps. Sensory cortex can be activated 
internally as well as externally, resulting in conscious inner speech 
and imagery.  Once a conscious sensory content is established, it is 
broadcast widely to a distributed "audience" of expert networks sitting 
in the darkened theater, using corticocortical and corticothalamic 
fibers. Among the experts behind the scenes are "self-systems," viewed 
as contextual data structures that both shape and receive information 
from the bright spot; they include parts of prefrontal cortex, but may 
range posteriorly as far as parietal cortex for visual orientation.  
The primary functional role of consciousness is to allow a "blackboard" 
architecture to operate in the brain, in order to integrate, provide 
access, and coordinate the functioning of very large numbers of special-
ized networks that otherwise operate autonomously (Mountcastle, 1978).
All the elements of GW theory have reasonable brain interpretations, 
allowing us to generate a set of specific, testable brain hypotheses 
about consciousness and its many roles in the brain.  This approach is 
compatible with a number of other proposals (Crick, 1984; Crick & Koch, 
1990; Damasio, 1989; LaBerge, 1997; Gazzaniga, 1996; Ramachandran, 1995;
Edelman, 1989; Llinas & Ribary, 1992; Newman & Baars, 1993; Shallice, 
1976; Posner, 1992). 
 

SCHEDULE FOR THE SEMINAR

September 24 -- TARGET PAPER DISTRIBUTED, POSTED ON WEB. 

October 12   -- SEMINAR COMMENCES, PARTICIPANTS' COMMENTARIES DISTRIBUTED.

October 15   -- PANEL DISCUSSION COMMENCES.

October 22   -- CONCLUDING REMARKS, FEEDBACK, SYNOPSIS.

Public dialog and feedback will be invited for a period of two to four 
weeks following the conclusion of the seminar. 

 

PARTICIPANTS: 

1. Antti Revonsuo, PhD 
University of Turku, Finland 

2. Peter Cariani, Ph.D.
Eaton Peabody Laboratory of Auditory Physiology
Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary

3. Stephen Grossberg, PhD
Director, Center for Adaptive Systems
Boston University 

3. Eyal Reingold, PhD 
Department of Psychology
University of Toronto 

4. Stan Franklin, PhD
Department of Computer Science
University of Memphis 
 
5. Jim Newman, PhD
Colorado Neurological Institute 
Graduate Programs Division
The Bhaktivedanta Institute
Mumbai 400049, INDIA

6. Steen Folke Larsen 
Institute of Psychology, University of Aarhus
Asylvej 4, DK-8240 Risskov, Denmark

7. Kai Vogeley, M.D.  
University of Bonn, FRG  

8. Aaron Sloman, PhD
Department of Computer Science
Birmingham University, UK 

9. Sean ONuallain, PhD  
Department of Computer Science 
Dublin University 

10. Francisco J. VARELA Ph.D.
LENA - Neurosciences Cognitives et Imagerie Cerebrale
Hopital de la Salpetriere
75651 Paris cedex 13

11. Henk J. Haarmann, Ph.D.
Dept of Hearing and Speech Sciences
University of Maryland 

12. Stephen LaBerge
Stanford Sleep Laboratory
Department of Psychology
Stanford University

13. Victor Shamas, PhD
Dept. of Psychology
University of Arizona


We are most grateful to the ASSC Seminar Committee for making this
electronic seminar possible. They include:

    Jim Newman, ASSC E-seminar Coordinator
    George Buckner, ASSC Network Coordinator
    Patrick Wilken, Editor, PSYCHE, Monash University
    Valerie Hardcastle, Webmaster

-- 
Patrick Wilken                     http://www.cs.monash.edu.au/~patrickw/
Editor:     PSYCHE: An International Journal of Research on Consciousness
Secretary:      The Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness
http://psyche.cs.monash.edu.au/              http://www.phil.vt.edu/ASSC/



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