I propose a possible development of the Global Neuronal Workspace (GNW) model of access consciousness. Its initial motivation is that the model does not offer a clear distinction between the neural signatures associated with information broadcasting (which is the main function of the GNW) and those of other processes also related to consciousness, such as information integration. I suggest that a theoretically interesting and neurally plausible signature of broadcasting can be provided by using the graph-theoretic approach to information dissemination in communication networks. The theoretical appeal of this framework lies in the fact that, in addition to distinguishing between broadcasting and other relevant communication processes, it can possibly also contribute to identifying the GNW mechanism. I suggest that the approach can provide precise predictions regarding the communication algorithms and wiring diagram that the GNW would implement if it were an efficient broadcasting network.
Two fundamental challenges of contemporary neuroscience are to make sense of the scalar relations in the nervous system and to understand the way behavior emerges from these relations while at the same time is affecting them. In this paper, we analyze the notion of enabling constraint and the way it can frame the two kinds of relations involved in the challenges: of different neural scales (e.g., molecular scale, genetic scale, single-neurons, neural networks, etc.) and between neural systems and behavior. We think the notion of enabling constraint provides a promising alternative to other classic, mechanistic understandings of these relations and the different issues contemporary neuroscience finds in them.
Optogenetic techniques are described as “revolutionary” for the unprecedented causal control they allow neuroscientists to exert over neural activity in awake-behaving animals. In this article, I demonstrate by means of a case study that optogenetic techniques will only illuminate causal links between the brain and behavior to the extent that their error characteristics are known and, further, that determining these error characteristics requires (1) comparison of optogenetic techniques with techniques having well-known error characteristics (methodological pluralism) and (2) consideration of the broader neural and behavioral context in which the targets of optogenetic interventions are situated (perspectival pluralism).
Distinguishing between perception and thought is a vacuous task. At least this is what most adopters of predictive coding accounts express. Here I want to argue for the opposite. Although I concur that perception can no longer be equated with strictly bottom-up processing, I argue that thought, in virtue of being at the top of the hierarchy, can be equated with a distinctive kind of process: It predicts but is not predicted by any other level. Using this argument and some recent collaborative experimental work on the much discussed example of racial biases in vision, I show why it makes a difference to the way we frame the issue of whether thought influences perception : What we have is a much more tractable and interesting problem of how much cognitive and metacognitive control we have over our perceptual biases.