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      Emergence of qualia from brain activity or from an interaction of proto-consciousness with the brain: which one is the weirder? Available evidence and a research agenda

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          This contribution to the science of consciousness aims at comparing how two different theories can explain the emergence of different qualia experiences: meta-awareness, meta-cognition, the placebo effect, out-of-body experiences, cognitive therapy, meditation-induced brain changes, etc. The first theory postulates that qualia experiences derive from specific neural patterns, and the second one that qualia experiences derive from the interaction of a proto-consciousness with the brain’s neural activity. From this comparison, it will be possible to judge which one seems to better explain the different qualia experiences and to offer a more promising research agenda.

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          Most cited references 73

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          The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation.

          Research over the past two decades broadly supports the claim that mindfulness meditation - practiced widely for the reduction of stress and promotion of health - exerts beneficial effects on physical and mental health, and cognitive performance. Recent neuroimaging studies have begun to uncover the brain areas and networks that mediate these positive effects. However, the underlying neural mechanisms remain unclear, and it is apparent that more methodologically rigorous studies are required if we are to gain a full understanding of the neuronal and molecular bases of the changes in the brain that accompany mindfulness meditation.
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            Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain.

            There has been a long controversy as to whether subjectively 'free' decisions are determined by brain activity ahead of time. We found that the outcome of a decision can be encoded in brain activity of prefrontal and parietal cortex up to 10 s before it enters awareness. This delay presumably reflects the operation of a network of high-level control areas that begin to prepare an upcoming decision long before it enters awareness.
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              Human volition: towards a neuroscience of will.

              The capacity for voluntary action is seen as essential to human nature. Yet neuroscience and behaviourist psychology have traditionally dismissed the topic as unscientific, perhaps because the mechanisms that cause actions have long been unclear. However, new research has identified networks of brain areas, including the pre-supplementary motor area, the anterior prefrontal cortex and the parietal cortex, that underlie voluntary action. These areas generate information for forthcoming actions, and also cause the distinctive conscious experience of intending to act and then controlling one's own actions. Volition consists of a series of decisions regarding whether to act, what action to perform and when to perform it. Neuroscientific accounts of voluntary action may inform debates about the nature of individual responsibility.

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                16 August 2016
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                [1 ]Dipartimento di Psicologia Generale, Università di Padova, Padova, Italy
                [2 ]Department of Neurosciences, Università di Padova, Padova, Italy
                [3 ]DPSS, Università di Padova, Padova, Italy
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author’s e-mail address: patrizio.tressoldi@
                © 2016 Tressoldi et al.

                This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0 , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at .

                Figures: 1, Tables: 2, References: 66, Pages: 7
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