Saturday, March 05, 2011

Consciousness, Plasticity, and Connectomics: The Role of Intersubjectivity in Human Cognition

[A mapping of the brain networks involved in intersubjective consciousness]

Here is some geeky brain science stuff for your weekend reading pleasure, courtesy of Frontiers in Consciousness Research, an open source journal for cutting edge research. This is the stuff that excites me - researchers are finally starting to look at the intersubjective element in consciousness - we are not conscious in a vacuum.

Dan Siegel and his cohort is already working one angle of this in his interpersonal neurobiology, and his work is very useful to me as a therapist in training. Understanding what is happening in our brains during that interpersonal exchange is important. It is equally important to know what is happening intersubjectively in that space.

Download the pdf at the link below.

Consciousness, Plasticity, and Connectomics: The Role of Intersubjectivity in Human Cognition

  • 1Interacting Minds Project, Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, Denmark
  • 2Philosophy, Louisiana State University, USA

Consciousness is typically construed as being explainable purely in terms of either private, raw feels or higher-order, reflective representations. In contrast to this false dichotomy, we propose a new view of consciousness as an interactive, plastic phenomenon open to sociocultural influence. We take up our account of consciousness from the observation of radical cortical neuroplasticity in human development. Accordingly, we draw upon recent research on macroscopic neural networks, including the “default mode”, to illustrate cases in which an individual’s particular “connectome” is shaped by encultured social practices that depend upon and influence phenomenal and reflective consciousness. On our account, the dynamically interacting connectivity of these networks bring about important individual differences in conscious experience and determine what is “present” in consciousness. Further, we argue that the organization of the brain into discrete anti-correlated networks supports the phenomenological distinction of prereflective and reflective consciousness, but we emphasize that this finding must be interpreted in light of the dynamic, category-resistant nature of consciousness. Our account motivates philosophical and empirical hypotheses regarding the appropriate time-scale and function of neuroplastic adaptation, the relation of high and low frequency neural activity to consciousness and cognitive plasticity, and the role of ritual social practices in neural development and cognitive function.

Full Citation:
Allen M & Williams G (2011). Consciousness, Plasticity, and Connectomics: The Role of Intersubjectivity in Human Cognition. Front. Psychology 2:20. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00020


[qualities of prereflective vs. reflective consciousness and their unification -
open the image in a new tab for a full size view]


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