Schizophrenia Bulletin 33 (1):157-165 (2006)

The subjective experience of time is a fundamental constituent of human consciousness and can be disturbed under conditions of mental disorders such as schizophrenia or affective disorders. Besides the scientific domain of psychiatry, time consciousness is a topic that has been extensively studied both by theoretical philosophy and cognitive neuroscience. It can be shown that both approaches exemplified by the philosophical analysis of time consciousness and the neuroscientific theory of cross-temporal contingencies as the neurophysiological basis of human consciousness implemented in the prefrontal cortex converge in 2 respects. Firstly, a tripartite conception of consciousness divides human cognition in 3 different temporal domains comprising retention, presentation, and protention and the past, the present, and the future corresponding to working memory, interference control, and preparatory set. Secondly, both concepts refer to the present as an extended duration that integrates information from the recent past and the future. We propose that the integration of phenomenological and neuroscientific approaches can stimulate the development of enriched pathophysiological concepts of mental disorders. This approach appears to be particularly fruitful with respect to schizophrenia that is interpreted as a structural disturbance of time consciousness.
Keywords Consciousness States*  Mental Disorders*  Neurosciences*  Schizophrenia*  Time*  Cognitive Processes
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Reprint years 2007
DOI 10.1093/schbul/sbl056
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