Constructing the relational mind

PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 4 (1998)
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The "relational mind" approach to the inner content of consciousness is developed in terms of various control structures and processing strategies and their possible neurobiological identifications in brain sites. This leads naturally to a division of consciousness into a passive and an active part. A global control structure for the "single strand" aspect of consciousness is proposed as the thalamo-nucleus reticularis thalami-cortex coupled system, which is related to experimental data on the electrical stimulation of awareness. Local control, in terms of excitatory transfer from pre-processing sites to posterior working memory regions, is supported by data on subliminal perception timing and disambiguation of poorly defined percepts. The inner content of consciousness is understood as arising from the resulting relational features between inputs and stored pre-processing and episodic memories. Strong analogies are drawn between emergent properties of the model and suggested properties of "raw feels", supporting the thesis that working memories are the initial sites for the emergence of phenomenal awareness, and the frontal lobes for its further adumbration in terms of higher cognitive processing, including the creation of self



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