Listed in Issue 171


RAFFONE and SRINIVASAN,  Department of Psychology, "Sapienza" University of Rome, Rome, Italy; Perceptual Dynamics Laboratory, BSI RIKEN, Japan. antonino.raffone@uniroma1 .it attempt to develop a framework for neural correlates of consciousness (NCC) and to characterize attention, access consciousness, awareness and a non-referential form of unified consciousness and hypothesize re NCC based on neurodynamics, prefrontal cortex function and meditation-related factors of conscious experiences.


While enormous progress has been made to identify neural correlates of consciousness (NCC), crucial NCC aspects are still very controversial. A major hurdle is the lack of an adequate definition and characterization of different aspects of conscious experience and also its relationship to attention and metacognitive processes like monitoring.


In this paper, we therefore attempt to develop a unitary theoretical framework for NCC, with an interdependent characterization of endogenous attention, access consciousness, phenomenal awareness, metacognitive consciousness, and a non-referential form of unified consciousness. We advance an adaptive workspace hypothesis about the NCC based on the global workspace model emphasizing transient resonant neurodynamics and prefrontal cortex function, as well as meditation-related characterizations of conscious experiences.


In this hypothesis, transient dynamic links within an adaptive coding net in prefrontal cortex, especially in anterior prefrontal cortex, and between it and the rest of the brain, in terms of ongoing intrinsic and long-range signal exchanges, flexibly regulate the interplay between endogenous attention, access consciousness, phenomenal awareness, and metacognitive consciousness processes. Such processes are established in terms of complementary aspects of an ongoing transition between context-sensitive global workspace assemblies, modulated moment-to-moment by body and environment states.


Brain regions associated to momentary interoceptive and exteroceptive self-awareness, or first-person experiential perspective as emphasized in open monitoring meditation, play an important modulatory role in adaptive workspace transitions.


Raffone A and Srinivasan N. An adaptive workspace hypothesis about the neural correlates of consciousness: insights from neuroscience and meditation studies. Progress in Brain Research. 176: 161-80. 2009.

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