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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 72

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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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              Meta-awareness, perceptual decoupling and the wandering mind.

              Mind wandering (i.e. engaging in cognitions unrelated to the current demands of the external environment) reflects the cyclic activity of two core processes: the capacity to disengage attention from perception (known as perceptual decoupling) and the ability to take explicit note of the current contents of consciousness (known as meta-awareness). Research on perceptual decoupling demonstrates that mental events that arise without any external precedent (known as stimulus independent thoughts) often interfere with the online processing of sensory information. Findings regarding meta-awareness reveal that the mind is only intermittently aware of engaging in mind wandering. These basic aspects of mind wandering are considered with respect to the activity of the default network, the role of executive processes, the contributions of meta-awareness and the functionality of mind wandering. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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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@ 123456unipd.it
                © 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 www.scienceopen.com .

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