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      Neural correlates of consciousness: progress and problems

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          Abstract

          There have been a number of advances in the search for the neural correlates of consciousness--the minimum neural mechanisms sufficient for any one specific conscious percept. In this Review, we describe recent findings showing that the anatomical neural correlates of consciousness are primarily localized to a posterior cortical hot zone that includes sensory areas, rather than to a fronto-parietal network involved in task monitoring and reporting. We also discuss some candidate neurophysiological markers of consciousness that have proved illusory, and measures of differentiation and integration of neural activity that offer more promising quantitative indices of consciousness.

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          Most cited references 230

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          Parallel organization of functionally segregated circuits linking basal ganglia and cortex.

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            Oscillatory responses in cat visual cortex exhibit inter-columnar synchronization which reflects global stimulus properties.

            A fundamental step in visual pattern recognition is the establishment of relations between spatially separate features. Recently, we have shown that neurons in the cat visual cortex have oscillatory responses in the range 40-60 Hz (refs 1, 2) which occur in synchrony for cells in a functional column and are tightly correlated with a local oscillatory field potential. This led us to hypothesize that the synchronization of oscillatory responses of spatially distributed, feature selective cells might be a way to establish relations between features in different parts of the visual field. In support of this hypothesis, we demonstrate here that neurons in spatially separate columns can synchronize their oscillatory responses. The synchronization has, on average, no phase difference, depends on the spatial separation and the orientation preference of the cells and is influenced by global stimulus properties.
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              Neuronal circuits of the neocortex.

              We explore the extent to which neocortical circuits generalize, i.e., to what extent can neocortical neurons and the circuits they form be considered as canonical? We find that, as has long been suspected by cortical neuroanatomists, the same basic laminar and tangential organization of the excitatory neurons of the neocortex is evident wherever it has been sought. Similarly, the inhibitory neurons show characteristic morphology and patterns of connections throughout the neocortex. We offer a simple model of cortical processing that is consistent with the major features of cortical circuits: The superficial layer neurons within local patches of cortex, and within areas, cooperate to explore all possible interpretations of different cortical input and cooperatively select an interpretation consistent with their various cortical and subcortical inputs.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Neuroscience
                Nat Rev Neurosci
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1471-003X
                1471-0048
                May 2016
                April 20 2016
                May 2016
                : 17
                : 5
                : 307-321
                Article
                10.1038/nrn.2016.22
                27094080
                © 2016

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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