Temporal dimensions of the brain’s intrinsic activity and levels of consciousness

Symposium 1-1Time:13:30 - 15:00
Timothy Lane1
1Taipei Medical University-Shuang Ho Hospital, Taiwan,

Bayne et al. (2016) take aim at the concept ‘levels of consciousness’ (LOC), the idea that distinct global states of consciousness are “scalable along a single dimension”. They acknowledge the clinical utility of LOC, but argue that treating it as a “central theoretical construct” in consciousness science might be a “fatal” misstep. They deny that the global states associated with sleep, sedation, minimally conscious or other altered states can be “assigned a determinate ordering relative to each other.” Briefly, they suggest that having a “subjective point of view” does not admit of degrees; then, speculating about cognitive functions, they propose two crucial dimensions—gating of conscious contents and exercise of cognitive control. Finally, they insist that multidimensional cognitive models cannot “exonerate” even an amended version of LOC. Although Bayne et al.’s adoption of a multidimensional, cognitive approach suggests a means of improving upon behavior-based assessments, their dismissal of LOC is unwarranted. Electrophysiological investigations of temporal dimensions of the brain’s intrinsic activity suggest how distinct global states of consciousness might be ordered relative to one another, in such a way as to contribute to theory development in consciousness science.

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September 1-3, 2017