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CONSCIOUSNESS DISASSEMBLED

Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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(see Brain Memory: Outside the Box)

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Introduction

Investigation difficulties

Consciousness ´assembled` (includes scenario basic stages, brain memory changes and consciousness changes

Consciousness ´disassembled` (includes attention, emotion and conscious thinking

Neural correlates of consciousness

Discussion

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INTRODUCTION

    This part of the website is a summary of my book, ´Consciousness Disassembled`, details of which are given in the Publications section of this website. This book describes consciousness from the perspective of brain memory and investigates how awareness can affect every stage of that process. Brain memory was chosen because of a personal interest in the topic, and suitability because of physiological and functional similarities with consciousness, and  psychology theories that link the two together. A simple look at generic input, storage and recall processes of the brain memory mechanism was considered as less suitable to investigate consciousness since it is a ´human` trait and so a more realistic example of brain memory usage, a fourteen-stage scenario of a common, real-life situation, was used in order to give a more genuine view of consciousness and its effects. The book begins with an investigation of brain memory and consciousness changes during the fourteen-stage scenario and then consciousness is ´disassembled` into some of its recognised components, e.g. attentional system, thinking, and the process repeated. It was hoped that the study of these components individually would provide elucidation of some of the characteristics of consciousness as a whole.  The book ends with a look at the possible physiology of consciousness, the neural correlates, and then a ´re-assembling` of consciousness in order to discuss the ´hard science` of it and its more subjective aspect.                                

INVESTIGATION DIFFICULTIES 

   This website concentrates on two of the difficulties cited in the book, ´Consciousness Disassembled` and these are: the exultation of the human species and the two different concepts attached to it.  

EXULTATION OF THE HUMAN SPECIES

   In Brain Memory: Outside the Box (2011) I defined an individual as consisting of three ´bodies`: physiological, electrical and mind with the mind relating to consciousness, brain memory and processing for example. We have a belief that the overall capability of the human being is superior to all other living species and consciousness is one of those human qualities that gives us this belief. This exultation is exhibited in some of the psychological theories relating to concepts of consciousness such as the dual-aspect theory and its functions. The concept of Self, the ´experiencer`, is itself a prime example of exultation. We believe in our individuality and this is demonstrated by the Self, our own capability to internally experience and guide actions and decisions. Another topic pivotal in the discussion of exultation is  subjectivity with feelings playing an important role in our behaviour and cognition. The final example of exultation of the human species regarding consciousness is its physiology. It is in humans that Global Workspace Theory (GWT) is suggested (Baars, 1988) consisting of interrelating brain modules and processes necessary for consciousness unlike any organisation seen in lower species.

    So, why does exultation of the species make consciousness  difficult to study? One reason is that if we are definitive in our belief that exultation of the species comes from the presence of thinking and consciousness then our studies, research, beliefs are programmed, interpreted, discussed to show it present. We have a need to make sure that any experimentation supports our superior cognitive ability and therefore we must show not only the basic skills, but the extended skills as well, e.g. experimentation where future events are planned, where humour (tricks, jokes) is involved, surprise illogical events are encountered and have to be managed. Experimentation also tends to be language related which is a human memory-based, processing skill and therefore, experiments are designed where language is a part of the method.

    Conversely, we are less amenable to demonstrations of conscious awareness and thought in other species. Although extended skills of some description are observed we are more sceptical because of our belief that no species matches human beings for memory, processing and communication capabilities. From this discussion evolved suggestions for the criteria for observing consciousness in other species, such as evidence of the three bodies, an appreciation of time and phenomenal sensations and these are described in more detail in the book. 

DIFFERENT CONCEPTS - BRAIN VS MIND  

    Consciousness can even depend on peoples` points of view, for example, whether in general they believe in what can be defined as:

brain consciousness - this relates to attention, awareness, conscious thinking, verbalisation, the ´I am, I can do this` stance and could be said to be linked to psychologist, neuroscientist studies,  

or,

mind consciousness  - this relates to feeling/´being`, sensory awareness, the ´I feel, I am here` stance and often linked to complementary and alternative medicine, meditation etc.

   The best way to envisage brain and mind consciousness relating to brain memory is to employ scientific principles and those from yoga or meditation. So, if we imagine a candle burning, then the brain consciousness stance would think about its light, its decorating properties, remember last year`s birthday cake etc. and the mind consciousness stance would have conscious awareness of the flame, feelings, would perhaps clear the mind of other thoughts etc. just like that seen in meditation for example. If the flame suddenly flares, then the brain consciousness stance then perceives the change in flame size and direction, flits to the danger of fire and perhaps memories of candles falling etc., and the mind consciousness stance is aware of the flicker and its changes in flame shape and colour, but the focus remains on the flame.

   The differences and similarities between brain and mind consciousness are many fold, for example, psychological theory support, importance, and requirements and  it is important to consider consciousness from a combined view when experimenting just like brain memory. Brain memory can cover both perspectives. It can have real-time input (mind consciousness, ´I am here.`) with perception (using brain memories and relating to brain consciousness, ´I don`t know, but I can find out.`); it can involve conscious and non-conscious events; and it has time appreciation (brain consciousness), but also processes where there is no synchrony with real-time as in fear situations (mind consciousness) for example. 

   Therefore, we can say that: 

Brain consciousness in relation to brain memory can be said to be conscious awareness with verbal report (according to Global Workspace Theory, GWT), but with verbal report either as part of conscious thinking, processing  and/or as an information-gleaning tool. Brain memory is used in brain consciousness for interpretation and action (i.e. planning, decision-making) and may include all stages such as input, storage and recall without, with and with further processing. Conscious thinking is a part of brain consciousness. 

And mind consciousness is conscious awareness with verbal report (according to GWT), but with verbal report restricted to an extra information-gleaning tool only. Brain memory is used in mind consciousness for interpretation and recall methods are restricted to without or with processing only. Thinking only within these constraints occurs.

CONSCIOUSNESS INVESTIGATION USING BRAIN MEMORY

TWO-DRINK SCENARIO INVESTIGATION

 

introduction

 

   The book, ´Consciousness Disassembled` uses a scenario to look into links between consciousness and brain memory and this section describes the general processes involved - consciousness is said to be ´assembled`.  The  sections following investigate the individual components that make up brain memory and are said to be linked to consciousness - in this way, consciousness is as the book title suggests, ´disassembled`.  The scenario used is an example of a common situation using all brain memory stages and that is identification of an unknown drink (mango and apple juice), followed at a later date by a decision-making part where a choice has to be made between that drink and another (coffee). From now on, for convenience this scenario is termed the ´two-drink scenario`. It consists of fourteen stages and a general outline is given in Table 1 - the identification part, stages 1-5, and Table 2 - the re-encounter and decision-making part, stages 6-14. 

 

Table 1 - Two-drink scenario - identification of unknown drink

 

STAGES

GENERAL DETAILS

 

 

1

Look around.

2

See drinking glass full of liquid.

3

Recognition similar to apple, but know that it is not exact and contains unknown component.

4

Pick up and taste.

5

Know that drink components are familiar, then recognise as mango and apple.

 

Value associated to drink. Long-term memories formed of drink and situation.

 

 

 

   Two general assumptions are made for the scenario regarding memory. We assume in Stage 2 that the subject is primed to need a drink. For example he may be thirsty, or be at a social occasion where it would be politeness to accept a drink. This is probably no different to consciousness studies where the subject is told about the study and what is required before it begins. And the second assumption is that we assume that the subject knows what an apple and mango look and taste like. Therefore, he has at hand the information needed for identification in Stage 5. We also assume in this case that the individual likes both drinks to the same extent. The reason for this assumption will become clear later.

    The scenario continues by placing the subject in a situation at a later date where placed on a table before him are two beverages: a glass of the mango and apple drink, identified in Stages 1-5 and termed drink 1 and a second drink, a cup of coffee (drink 2). The individual has to choose between the two and the scenario begins with the identification of the drinks and then the decision-making stage. We assume that all factors pertaining to the drinks like preparation, cost, etc. are equal. Table 2 outlines Stages 6-14.

 

Table 2 - Two-drink scenario - drinks presentation and decision-making stages

 

STAGES

GENERAL DETAILS

 

 

6

Looking around

7

See table with two beverages on it.

8

Further looking at table and beverages then two drinks recognised; one as mango and apple and the other as coffee

9

Realisation that a decision needs to be made.

10

Decision-making stages - first stage, define purpose of following stages.

11

Decision- making stages - input stage.

12

Decision-making stages - solutions stage, choosing options and method.

13

Decision-making stage - choice stage. Chooses which drink to take.  Pick up and drink.

14

Decision-making stages - outcome stage. Re-valuation of drink. Storage of details and event.

 

 

 

  In order to elucidate consciousness, brain memory changes and consciousness changes are described during the fourteen stage two-drink scenario from a personal perspective. These are personal observations that are thought to occur at each specific stage and are general and assumed to be relatively standard for most individuals.

 

brain memory process during two-drink scenario

 

   The brain memory processes occurring during the two-drink scenario are hypothesised according to the views expressed in ´Brain Memory: Outside the Box` (Salt, 2011) and are summarised here. A fuller description and explanation can be found in the book ´Consciousness Disassembled`.  

 

   The biochemical mechanism begins in Stage 1 with a sort of sensory ´flitting` - a common situation where we allow our eyes and other senses to ´wander`, not consciously aware of anything in particular and with relatively little effort expended. This situation changes as the glass of mango and apple juice is spotted on the table (Stage 2). The flitting of the sensory organs calms down and steering and engagement of attention and focus is brought to the juice placed in front of the individual. Incoming visual information fires appropriate visual and the features of the event can be registered.  Continued engagement of the event in the sensory field leads to constant activation of the relevant neuronal pathways from the sensory organ to the higher cortical areas and leads to recognition of some aspects of the drink (Stage 3 early). This occurs by the firing of the input activating and matching the firing of cortical neuronal groups that represent the pre-formed memories associated with drinks of matching features (termed the sNCA - storage neuronal cell assemblies, Salt, 2011). 

 

   Firing of these groups leads to recall without processing of these features and the identity of those features becomes known. Specificity of the features leads to exact identification of the object, in this case apple juice. Just like a spiders web, activation of the stored neuronal groupings, the sNCA, lead to links with more memories relating to the topic of, in this case, apples but the input in this case activates more than just those memories. Unknown features induce firing above and beyond the firing patterns appropriate to the object and hence, conflict at the higher brain areas is registered and a working memory state (Baddeley and Hitch, 1974) is instigated (Stage 3 late). The tNCA or transitional neuronal cell assembly which represents the firing at this time corresponds to real-time sensory input of known features, reactivated memories relating to these known features and sensory input of unidentified features with activated memory snippets corresponding to those unknown features. The important feature of this late Stage 3 is the presence of neuronal conflict and the feeling that whilst certain features have been recognised, the complete identification of the drink has not yet occurred.  

   The information that is consciously available is not the only information being inputted during these early stages. Other sensory information is being taken in pertaining to the event and this is limited by perceptual load capacity (Lavie, 1995). Emotional information is also available in Stage 2 relating to the real-time functioning of the emotional system (termed the OWL, overall working level, Salt 2011) or in Stage 3 from the reactivated memories of previous experiences of those recognised drink features. Therefore, the value of the drink relating to those identified characteristics is known at this point.  

   The presence of conflict in late Stage 3 and the instigation of the working memory state lead to a change in tactic to remedy the failure to identify completely the drink (Stage 4). The change in tactic forced by the change in attention in this stage relates to common exploratory techniques and involves the picking up of the glass and tasting the liquid, which leads to further visual sensory input plus stimulation of the taste and olfactory sensory systems. This type of brain memory, termed here ´memory of method` relates to this and other types of memory where common techniques and common sequences of actions are required which have been learnt over time. The increase in available information leads to full identification of the drink and therefore, the electrical image formed at this time corresponds to the electrical representation of both mango and apple features. The emotional system is also activated at this time and the value associated with the sight, smell and taste of the mango and apple drink is given. Both are sets of information are stored in the neuronal cell assembly, sNCA (Stage 5).  

   The second part of the two-drink scenario, Stages 6 to 14 can occur at any time at a later date. Any memory of the circumstances of the previous event (Stages 1-5) may fade if actually stored at all, but it is likely that the memories formed about the drink and the value associated to it will remain at least for a while. So, for Stages 6 -14, the individual is now placed in a situation where set before him on a table are two beverages.  

   Stage 6, like Stage 1 relates to the individual looking around and sensory flitting. When focus and attention are steered to the table and engaged on the two drinks placed upon it, visual information is inputted and temporary sensory stores are formed just like in early Stage 3. This occurs in Stage 7 and it is likely that both drinks are dealt with individually. With attention still remaining on the drinks, Stage 7 slips into Stage 8 where both drinks are identified and the  emotional tags are also recalled so that the individual knows how he feels about the drinks at the same time.  

   Identification of both drinks leads to Stage 9 where there is a conscious realisation that a decision has to be made since activation of the appropriate informational groupings and emotional tags in Stage 8 has led to the situation where there are two viable options for the drinking action. The individual is aware that before him stands two known beverages with associated similar personal values and so he is  consciously aware that he has to make a choice. This leads to the top-down controlled decision-making process and assessment using recall with further processing methods (Salt, 2011) and these constitute the last four stages of the two-drink scenario.  

   Stages 10-14 follow the PISCO method for decision-making (De Bono, 1982)  described in ´Brain Memory: Outside the Box` (Salt, 2011). Stage 10 requires the purpose of the task to be defined (choose a drink) and here experience tells us what the purpose is in this case since we have probably experienced a similar situation many times before. According to De Bono`s decision-making PISCO method, Stage 11 attributes to the input stage which is one of the easiest stages of the recall with further processing task. It reflects where the subject is in relation to the task being undertaken. In this case, attention steers from one drink to another so that the visual pathways are maintained from sensory organ to higher cortical areas. Because the drinks are both standing before the individual this input is real unlike in other situations where input has to be ´cued` from unreal but relevant points of access.   

   Once the input is established then options for choosing between the drinks are then created (Stage 12) according to the PISCO decision-making theory (De Bono 1982, Salt 2011). There are many different strategies, e.g. considering other peoples` views - looking at the situation in the light of other peoples` opinions or having empathy as to their opinion; or consequence and sequel - where the situation is run through from beginning to end and based on experience foretelling what the outcome might be. In this case, regarding the low importance of whether one drink is taken or the other, the method likely to be chosen would relate to emotional values. Normally, such a method would compare like/dislike values for the drinks in question, but the information relating to the task given here states that the drinks have equal emotional value. Therefore, in this two-drink scenario the taste of the drinks is not being considered, but a more minor feature, that is of drink temperature. Mango and apple juice is a cold drink and coffee hot and it is these features that provide the basis of the comparison of both drinks in the following stage, Stage 13.  

   Stage 13 is the decision-making stage where one or other of the two drinks placed before the individual is chosen. Decision-making strategy is described in more detail in ´Brain Memory: Outside the Box` (Salt, 2011), but suffice it to say, in this case the most likely decision-making strategy, ´heart` is employed rather than ´head`, which involves a comparison of the two options relating to frequency of partaking (observed by strength of neuronal group firing of both options), similarity (matching the features of the two) or risk (strength of emotional response, particularly fear). The decision-making stage means that the two options are compared to each other relating to emotional response to the feature of temperature. The strongest firing relating to pleasure means that this is the drink chosen at this time. This is observed by looking at the sliding switch position of the prefrontal cortex relating to positive emotional values - the higher the emotional value, the greater the chance of selection.  Once the beverage has been chosen and drunk then the two-drink scenario ends with the final stage that of evaluation of the outcome (Stage 14). This stage monitors what the individual thinks of the action taken and stores information and values pertaining to the event.  

 

   Therefore, the two-drink scenario requires all stages of the brain memory mechanism and begins with information stored from previous experiences being used to evaluate a real-time situation. The complexity of the scenario with both drinks having equal emotional values means that a simple ´like this drink, do not like this other one` could not be used to bring the task to an end and a more complicated decision-making method had to be used, which introduced stages 10-14. This section reports only the basic outline of the processes used in the complete fourteen stages, but it is sufficient to compare to consciousness changes and these are detailed next 

 

consciousness during two-drink scenario

 

   In this study consciousness is defined as what the subject is experiencing and can report. The form of the reporting is as if describing to a blind person, for example, or for those vocabulary improving exercises used for foreign language learners where complicated pictures are taken and the student has to describe in minute details what is being observed. Therefore, the report contains no embellishments, just a true description of what is happening at the time.   Of course, a conscious experience is multi-modal and therefore, the report contains information about all the senses and it is more than just what is seen by the sensory systems, a conscious experience can include internal events too, for example what is felt and what is being thought or processing, manipulation etc. This type of experience has already been described in brain consciousness. Since it was decided that the study of consciousness here covers both brain and mind consciousness definitions, the conscious experience consists of what the individual is aware of from the external environment using the sensory systems and what he is aware of from internal workings. This definition may appear logical and relatively simple, but there are problems linked with using language, e.g. the speed of verbalisation relative to actual events.

   The study of consciousness begins with Stage 1 of the two-drink scenario where the individual is looking around. There is probably awareness of things in general, but of no specific events since attention is normal and the sensory systems are flitting from one object to another in the external environment. There is however, an awareness of real-time and of existing and an awareness of both the external environment and internal environment. Verbalisation during this Stage 1 would match the general ´nothingness` of awareness with perhaps fleeting reports of the internal environment and a report of ´I am alive. I exist.` if requested.

   This relaxed state changes in Stage 2 where the individual is suddenly aware of a drinking glass full of liquid. Somehow awareness has been brought to this event perhaps because of the physical need of thirst, priming, curiosity, habit etc. Continued engagement of the visual stimuli in the early stages of Stage 3 means that there is a general awareness of what the object is and what it does and this can be reported, but there is also the feeling that this drink is not just like previous encounters (late Stage 3) and as far as consciousness is concerned, this ´novelty` of the event induces a mild heightened awareness. 

   It is perhaps important here to describe what is meant by normal awareness and heightened awareness. Normal awareness is what has been described above in the definition: if a person is given a complex picture he can describe each aspect of it as a unified event calmly without lingering on any one feature, and with no physical feelings of anxiety or fear. Heightened awareness here means that the experience appears to take on a higher significance. Reporting of the complex picture then becomes more ´intense` with more attention to detail for each unified experience, and although it need not be linked to feelings of anxiety or fear it often is.

   During Stages 2 and 3 generally awareness is only on a selection of the visual stimuli that are being encountered at this time and verbal report means that each is reported sequentially, like a witness report. It is clear however that other features are also being inputted and processed, but these remain unattended, which means that there is no conscious awareness of them and they cannot be reported. There is however, awareness of the overall emotional status at the time and this can be reported, more likely secondary to the information at this stage. Changes in information and feelings are observed and the report follows these as they occur, e.g. emotional change due to the novelty of the situation from Stage 3 early to the later stage is given.

     The presence of conflict in the later stage of Stage 3 initiates a change in attentional state which then shifts the recall process to one with processing. This means new tactics are instigated to remedy the situation and this leads onto Stage 4, where the drink is picked up and tasted. The individual is still aware of  the event and the mild ´heightened` awareness maybe eased by doing something positive, i.e. looking for more information using a familiar method, e.g. moving closer, picking up, smelling and tasting. Verbal report may follow the actions, on why moving closer, picking up, examining for sight, taste, smell etc. but the mechanism is not reported as the individual is accessing ´memories of method` which are so familiar and so standard that they need no conscious awareness. This exploratory phase then leads to the awareness that the drink is completely identified (Stage 5) as mango and apple, two flavours known by the subject. Therefore, verbal report is that the drink has been identified and even personal feelings about the drink or associations with the drink, may be included.

   Therefore, Stages 4-5 show an unified, conscious awareness of an event which can be verbally reported as known and unknown elements (Stage 4) to complete identification in Stage 5. However, there are elements that at no stage reach conscious awareness, just like in Stage 2/3. The conclusion that can be made at this stage is that consciousness is then an ON/OFF mechanism regarding information - some features are on and hence consciously aware, others off and although processed are unattended and do not reach conscious awareness (supports Block`s view on phenomenal and access consciousness, 2005). This is possible because of the brain memory mechanisms of recall without processing or with processing, where conscious awareness is not a factor for the completion of the process. This explains why Stages 4 and 5 probably display what can be termed as ´consciousness catch-up`. Awareness follows brain processing as demonstrated by Libet and colleagues (1983) and the delay between conscious awareness of an action and the actual preparation for the action itself.

   Just like with brain memory, the second part of the two-drink scenario used here as a tool to investigate consciousness, begins at a later date. In this part, the individual is in a situation which begins with Stage 6 with general awareness of what is around, of real-time and of the existence of an external and internal environment. This situation drastically changes in Stage 7 when the table with two drinks on it is seen. There is awareness of the event, the two drinks, which means that verbal report of their presence, if not their identities, is possible. As the individual continues to look at the two drinks (Stage 8) then, attention flits between the two and both drinks are recognised as mango and apple for one and coffee the other. Not only are the drinks identified, but the individual`s feelings towards both flavours is also revealed through the reactivation of emotional tags. In this scenario we assume that the subject regards both flavours with the same level of positive feeling.

   Although the individual is aware and can report on the result of the continued activation, the path to that conclusion is not registered. This is because the ´answers`, which in this case is the identification of the two drinks, is carried out via recall without processing of each single drink, which can occur without conscious intervention. This point is clear when unattended stimuli are considered during these first two stages.

   Although awareness is centred on the two drinks set before the individual, other stimuli are also being processed by the brain - unattended stimuli - according to the perceptual load capacity rule (Lavie, 1995). These unattended factual stimuli can cause an effect, as can the reactivated memories associated with this event. This is evident in Stage 8 where awareness during it is regarded as normal, but there can be heightened awareness as seen in Stage 3. This corresponds to intuition before conscious awareness and exists due to the reactivation of memories relating to previous experiences of a similar nature, i.e. ´memory of method`. The heightened awareness may not occur, depending on the individual, his level of attention to the task etc., but we all have experienced this type of feeling, i.e. we instinctively feel something before we actually know something even if we have no proof at this stage. 

   The normalness and calmness of Stage 8 leads to the conscious awareness of a difficulty existing in Stage 9 and awareness and verbal report correspond to the situation that action must be taken to resolve the situation. There are two viable options and there is no going forward unless tactical changes are seen. The realisation that a decision has to be made coupled with the conscious desire to carry on lead the individual to the next four stages of the decision-making process, that of the PISCO stages described above for brain memory (De Bono, 1982; Salt, 2011). Stage 10, which involves the definition of the purpose of the decision-making task, is carried out with probably a normal level of awareness. This is because of the situation itself – experience says that a drink must be chosen - and therefore the purpose tNCA is probably formed without report of its biochemical path and the awareness of the purpose would only become important if requested by an external source. Stage 11, the input stage, like Stage 10 also proceeds under normal awareness, with the individual being consciously aware of both drinks before him and the task. However, like Stage 8, awareness can heighten due to ´memory of method` where the knowledge that there are two viable options can cause the individual to ´panic` slightly at the task ahead. Although possible, it is less likely in this scenario than others since decision-making for the selection of a drink is hardly a high priority task. 

   The solutions stage follows the input of the relevant information, in this case the drinks. Stage 12 is where the method of choosing which drink to take is decided. The method suitable in this case is the comparison of a minor feature relating to each drink, that of temperature. Normal awareness would show that the drinks could not be selected using the more common like/dislike values for the drinks` flavours since these are of equal emotional value, but selection could be made according to whether a hot or cold drink is preferred at this time. Verbal report would allow justification of this tactic to be made public to others.

   Once the method of selection is established, Stage 13 follows quickly and awareness would lie directly on the choice made. The neuronal firing patterns and other biochemical mechanisms would be hidden from the individual, who is only aware that he has now chosen which drink he will take and he can report why - that at this time he prefers one to the other on the basis of the drink temperature. Awareness also lies in the end-result for Stage 14, too. The individual may know whether the decision was the right one, or whether he was disappointed, and this outcome would possibly be stored for future reference.

   Just like Stage 9, the decision-making stages of Stages 10-14 are critical points in the two-drink scenario. They are critical, because awareness at this time shows either a willingness to ´work the problem` thus demonstrating consciousness concepts such as free will, subjectivity, conscious thinking, unity of action, and brain memory, or an unwillingness to expend any cognitive effort, in which case a drink is picked at random, for example (non-active decision-making - Salt, 2011). Therefore, in this scenario conscious awareness affects each stage of the decision-making process. Therefore, we can see that the second part of the two-drink scenario is divided into the early stages where awareness only reflects on what is happening through automatic processes to the later decision-making stages where conscious awareness can influence which path is taken.

 

scenario conclusions

 

general

 

  So, what can we conclude from our two-drink scenario? We can divide the stages into similar consciousness ´situations`. We have: 

 

1) Stages 1 and 6 where there is an awareness of the here and now, but nothing in particular. This correlates to a ´flitting` of attention, visual input etc. and verbal report is of the ´nothingness` of the event.

2) Stages 2 and 7 where we are aware of either what is in our internal or external environment and we can report it, but we cannot identify it.

3) Stages 5 and 8 where we are aware of the end-result of a series of processes. In both cases, awareness lies on the recognition of the drink(s) even though there is a difference in how the results are obtained. Both stages are the result of recall processes.

4) Stages 3-4 and Stage 9 where the individual is aware that something is not right, but does not consciously do anything about it. During the early stages, there is a roller-coaster of awareness levels with early Stage 3 normal, late Stage 3 and 4 heightened, dropping back to normal for the end-result in Stage 5. The heightened awareness (this more intense, concentrated state) is probably due to the conflict caused by the appearance of factors not normally associated with the drink. Therefore, a change of tactic is automatically instigated by the shift in recall method to that of recall with processing. This change in tactic comes from experience (´memory of method`) and this case leads to the drink being tasted and smelled, a standard exploratory technique employed by humans. ´Extending the view` (Salt, 2011) leads to new information being inputted in order to facilitate identification of the unknown drink. Stage 9, like Stages 3/4, exhibits heightened awareness that is due to non-conscious actions. In this case, there is a realisation that a decision needs to be made and without it the drink cannot be chosen logically. In both situations, non-conscious processing/actions are important.

5) Stages 10 - 14 where, in an opposite manner to point (3), conscious intervention is required and awareness follows deliberately and actively the different stages of the process. These stages make up the decision-making process, PISCO (De Bono, 1982) where a choice has to be made having processed the available information to some degree. In this scenario it occurs because there is no clear answer at Stage 8 when identification is made.  

 

    Therefore, this scenario brings to light several ways in which consciousness is involved in a simple fourteen stage scenario relying on brain memory. It can be said that consciousness has two roles in this scenario, the first as an ´observer` and the second as a ´participant`.   Consciousness as ´observer` can be seen in various Stages between 1 and 9 and it can be at either the normal level (e.g. Stage 2), or at the heightened level (e.g. Stage 4). In all stages awareness is in real-time, temporary and constantly changing content and level. It appears to have a ´seat within the brain` from which it can observe the external environment, plus the internal environment. Content of the ´observation` ranges from sensory information, facts, emotional state, physiological information (embodiment), reactivated past experiences, thoughts etc. and takes several forms: as fleeting experiences, as focused events that are not identified, as focused events that are regarded as complete, and finally, focused events that demonstrate the workings of the individual processing capability, which are outside conscious control at that time. In all cases, the conscious observed event appears as a single ´inner experience` (or ´picture`) that exists in real-time and is constantly changing.  

   In its role as ´observer` it is clear that not all brain activity occurring at any one time is conscious or is part of this single, ´inner experience`. The individual is aware of some things, but unaware of others (unconscious processing, unattended processing) and it is only the former that the individual can ´observe` even if the rest is taking part in the overall processing of the event. We assume from the scenario that the conscious event is the one producing the strongest neuronal firing, dominant amongst the other firing groups and in this way, consciousness can be regarded then as an ON/OFF mechanism with ON as aware, OFF as unaware. This supports Dennett`s view of the Self (2005) with it being all-or-none, existent or non-existent. Regarding information, some features are on and hence consciously aware, others off and although processed, they are unattended and do not reach conscious awareness. However, they do take part in the overall processing of the event. This supports Block`s view on phenomenal and access consciousness (1995). In this scenario, conscious and unconscious processing occurs simultaneously and in some stages it is the unconscious processing that determines what happens, e.g. Stages 4 and 8. This is possible because of the brain memory mechanisms of recall without processing or with processing (Salt, 2011), where conscious awareness is not a factor for the successful completion of these processes. This explains why Stages 4 and 9 probably display what can be termed as ´consciousness catch-up` (Libet and colleagues, 1983). Conscious awareness lags behind unconscious brain processing, which has already established that the current experience is unlike a previous one.   

   The second role for consciousness shown in this scenario is that of ´participant`, i.e. in some way consciousness is an important part of the cognitive processes occurring at a particular time. In this scenario, the ´participant` role is task-related as demonstrated by Stages 10-14, where decision-making is required in order to bring about a satisfactory conclusion to the real-time demands. Just like with the ´observer` role, consciousness as ´participant` is ´seated in the brain`, is real-time, temporary and constantly changing and can exist at the normal level (Stage 10) and if necessary, heightened (Stage 11).   Content of consciousness in this ´participant` state depends on the task or condition at the time, but can include information, emotions, etc. from both internal and external sources just like in its other role. In this scenario, the content of consciousness for Stage 10, i.e what we are aware of, is that we need to choose a drink and this content comes from the internally sourced past experiences being recalled. However, in the input stage (Stage 11), the content of consciousness comes from the internally sourced purpose and the externally sourced visual input of the two drinks standing before the individual. Therefore, it is clear that consciousness in the ´participant` role can appear to be divided, having multiple simultaneous ´inner experiences`. This may be a misinterpretation of the situation - is it like the books on the book shelf where we see it as ´one event` or is it a case of quick flitting between two separate events so it appears as one? This question will be addressed later.

   Just like the ´observer` role, conscious awareness in this situation does not include all information and processing currently being carried out. Unconscious input and processing also occurs. Verbal report and thinking reflects the strongest neuronal firing, hence the consciously aware material, but as ´participant` conscious intervention can lend importance to material not necessarily with that status under natural conditions. For example, in Stage 12, the strongest features for the drinks would be the emotional values attached to them, hence conscious awareness would be that both drinks are liked. Since both give strong positive values so that the drinks cannot be differentiated, conscious intervention leads the choice to a lesser feature, the temperature, in order that the task is brought to a satisfactory conclusion. In this way, consciousness as ´participant` plays an active role in the processes taking place at that time.

   Therefore, it can be summarised that the fourteen-stage scenario has shown that consciousness is a real-time ´effect` of two levels, normal and heightened that can play two roles: as ´observer` with a single, ´inner experience` reflecting the internal or external environment; and as ´participant` with the appearance of  multiple, ´inner experiences` with internally sourced direction occurring in response to real-time tasks. In order to investigate it further, we need to dig deeper into the various components and modules that are linked to it and are shared with brain memory and this is shown later. Before we do that though, discussion follows on two topics that relate to consciousness as a ´whole` and these are the mind/body debate and functions.

does the scenario support dualism /dual-aspect theories?

   With respect to the mind/body debate, the investigation carried out here has provided a basic picture of what consciousness is in relation to a common situation involving brain memory and it supports the consensus that the monist views do not fully explain consciousness. It is clear that consciousness and cognition exists in not just a material world or a mental world, but a combination of the two that cannot be fully explained by current physiological/physical ideas. For example, attention and visual input can be explained by mapped-out physiological systems (the material world), but what about emotions and conscious thinking? Are emotions solely products of the physical or mental world? The emotional system described in ´Brain Memory: Outside the Box` (Salt, 2011) is physiologically based with the hippocampal and prefrontal cortical brain areas playing important roles, but emotions are expressions of a ´mental world` and both can affect each other. Therefore, the monist views of either a physical or mental world for consciousness cannot hold true. Alternatively, conscious thinking is an example of the mental world, but it is created from the brain`s complex physiology (physical world). This goes against James` neutral monism view that there is ´one kind of stuff in the world which is neither physical or mental, a world of sense data` (James, 1904). Also, philosophically it is clear that an individual exists not just in a mental world, since he exists in the same world as others. So, in answer to the statement everything exists in the mind and I can be where I want to, would I then choose a world where I am not rich or where I am sick? Philosophers can argue over personal challenges etc. but if the brain dictates what I see and what I am then, would I choose what I am and what I have and how is it if I describe the world I see it is the same as the world my neighbour sees? These types of philosophical questions dismiss the likelihood of the monist ideas of either a physical or mental world being valid and by looking at the brain memory two-drink scenario this view is supported.

   It must be said, however, that Stage 1 and 6 actually appear to support the monist theories in part. The individual is aware of the external event with no attachments to ´mind`/thoughts. Hence, it appears to be materialistic with perception only through the real-time actions of the visual system and verbal report given only of what is being experienced without personal opinion or reflection on past experiences. This sort of experience is common for example when someone is asked to describe a complex scene. Be that as it may, the other stages do not support the theories. For example, Stage 3 requires identification from sensory input using past experiences; Stage 9 shows that a mental decision needs to be made using physical information; and Stages 10-14 show how that decision is made using the PISCO problem solving method (De Bono, 1982) and internal mechanisms.

   The two-drink scenario also does not support epiphenomenalism, another concept linked with consciousness, where physical events lead to mental events, but mental events have no effects on physical events. Both brain memory and consciousness do not support this view since they result from physical events and they can influence directly the physical event and the experience of that physical event (the physical event is seen here as the external event). For example, in Stage 4 regarding brain memory there is a change in exploratory tactics instigated from information obtained in Stage 3 and this leads to a change in input of the external physical event. Conscious awareness of the dominating feature of the internal event leads to a change in the visual field and brings about the necessary change in visual input.

   This leads on to the theories of dualism and dual-aspect theory for consciousness. With regards to the two drink scenario described here, all stages support in principle dualism. For example, in Stage 1 dualism is  supported if aspects of the event are given some thought. During this stage, there is normal visual system flitting between events with verbal report without comment. The verbal report can become more ´detailed` when awareness is increased through either internal (memories/opinion) or external (from others) instruction. Stages 2-5 and 7-8 also support dualism with the extended stuff referring to the physical experience and the un-extended thinking stuff to the brain memory activation and real-time processing. In the case of Stage 9 dualism is supported by the information from the external environment plus re-activated stored information and thought since experience says that the individual has to make a choice in order that the situation is resolved satisfactorily. Although non-active decision-making is an option, in which case choose nearest etc, experience says this is not ideal. And the final Stages 10-14 also support dualism. The decision-making mechanism relies on information from the external environment, real-time internal processing and memory reactivation.

   The other type of dualism, property dualism in the form of dual-aspect theory is better received than its roots and it and the explanatory gap theory between physical and mental components is also apparent here with regards to the two-drink scenario. In Stage 2/3 the input of the visual information using the physiologically mapped visual system leads to recognition of some features and the acknowledgement that others are unknown. This requires the ´mind` aspect for conscious perception. In fact, all the stages between 2 and 5 support the theory since sensory information leads to activity greater than the information put in due to informational memory and emotional tag reactivation. These stages also demonstrate the dual-aspect nature of the components, attention and emotions. In Stage 2, attention is part of the brain aspect of the process (e.g. physiologically mapped, a tool in the brain memory mechanism that can be observed, adapted etc.) and part of the mind aspect (e.g. gives focus, awareness of conflict in Stage 3). In early Stage 3, the physiological functioning of the emotional system gives rise to the emotional state at the time (brain aspect) and also forms part of the mind aspect in the form of emotions expressed of the event due to the recall of previously stored experiences in response to the incoming real-time sources.

   Stage 9 also supports dual-aspect theory since the mind aspect recognises the fact that more information is needed in order to bring the situation to a satisfactory conclusion. Conscious awareness and thinking are associated with the realisation that the situation will not be resolved without intervention. This conscious intervention and hence ´mind` aspect plays an important role in the following and last stages, Stages 10-14, where a decision-making method is employed. Mind and body aspects work in unison to bring the scenario to an end.  

   Therefore, dual-aspect theory is supported by the findings of the two-drink scenario where physiological information and systems give rise to a cognitive, mental aspect, e.g. neuronal firing and physical connectivity between adjoining cells, but also hypothetical connectivity as seen in neuronal groupings representing an event and spread over many brain areas and consciousness.  

what does the scenario tell us about consciousness` cognitive function?

  Psychological theories give the general functions of consciousness as cognitive, survival-orientated or social. Cognitive functions are because the human species thinks and plans above and beyond his needs and real-time situations and McGovern and Baars (2007) listed nine cognitive functions of consciousness including learning and error detection that allow it to do so. For these cognitive functions, then consciousness is in the  ´form` of inner representations of real-time experience and this is observed in Stage 2 where there is conscious awareness of the mango and apple drink. Psychologist theories on these mental representations describe their properties, for example as being what is physically experienced (Humphrey, 1987), or current perceptual input on a mental screen (Crook, 1980) etc.

   Although cognitive functions for consciousness have been described, the two-drink scenario showed that conscious representations of the external experiences and inner workings were in general not necessary for correct cognitive functioning in the early stages. They did give, however, a first-person experience to non-conscious processing (the ´observer` role). However, in the later stages of the scenario, consciousness appeared more actively involved (the ´participant` role). In Stage 9, the aim of consciousness was to make the person aware that there is no simple path and that conscious intervention would be required to bring the situation to a satisfactory conclusion. In Stages 10-14, not only does consciousness have the same aim, but it also helps maintain focus on the problem, guide choices of information to be selected (points of access), aids construction of options and decision-making technique.  

   The formation of these conscious inner representations leads to another listed function of consciousness that of self-reflexive insight (McGovern and Baars, 2007 - reflection and self-monitoring). Self-reflexive insight involves the individual seeing himself not as physiological parts, but as a person exhibiting behaviour and emotions. This function is apparent in Stage 9 in the two-drink scenario where the individual knows he has further processing to do before a satisfactory conclusion is achieved. This comes from internal neuronal reactivations of past experiences which the individual sees as events and not features of the event. Insight and inner monitoring is also observed in the final stages of 5 and 14, where the individual uses self-assessment of information, action and feelings to gauge the success of the preceding scenario stages.

   Although it is clear that consciousness can have cognitive functions, as demonstrated by the later stages of the two-drink scenario described here, others have suggested that consciousness is only an illusion, e.g. Dennett`s zimbo (1991) a self-monitoring zombie, which can talk about its opinions, thoughts, intentions etc. To a limited extent this is supported by the role of consciousness in the first few stages of the two-drink scenario used here. In Stage 1 with its flitting sensory intake, consciousness has no particular functions since we are no more aware of one event than any other. Stage 2 onwards in this first part of the scenario shows consciousness to have a cognitive role as ´observer`, but its presence is not necessary since fast unconscious processing brings about both recognition and emotional opinion. In fact, consciousness probably lags behind the neuronal processing as described by Paulignan et al. 1990. A similar scenario is observed in the later stages of 8 and 9 where intuition that more action is required before a drink is chosen occurs before specific conscious awareness of the undecided situation.

   Therefore, consciousness as ´observer` is involved in the formation and maintenance of mental representations, thus ´pointing` and prioritising features and monitoring errors between what is observed and what is expected. This situation is seen in the early stages of the two-drink scenario. However, this ´observer` role soon gives way to consciousness acting as a ´participant` and hence having a more important role in cognition. Here, consciousness demonstrates various functions in addition to mental representation formation and maintenance such as self-reflexive insight and symbolic thought and brain memory recall mechanisms increase in complexity from recall without or with processing seen with consciousness in its ´observer` role to recall with further processing when consciousness is as a ´participant`.  

does the scenario support the concept of the SELF?

   Consciousness with its importance in cognitive functioning links in with the concept of the Self, which is defined as the ´experiencer` or the inner agent which is having the conscious experience. There is a discussion whether the Self is non-enduring and non-unified (supporters include the Bundle theories; Blackmore/James special thoughts, 2007) or in fact is continuous or has continuous elements (supporters include the Ego theories; Baars` self concept and self-system, 1997).  

   So, what can we conclude about the Self from the two-drink scenario used here to investigate consciousness? The first stages of the scenario actually support the proponents of the view that the Self is actually an illusion and does not exist. Advocates of this view include Blackmore (consciousness is only simply what is like to be me now, 2002) and Dennett (there is no observing self, 2005). Stage 1 with its flitting between events in the external environment actually provides supports for this view. Visual flitting occurs due to pre-determined visual system mechanisms such as priority of visual features and low level brain learning such as rote learning, search/exploratory tactics, conditioning. This type of visual input is also observed in other species said not to have consciousness. The real-time input and awareness of it confirms Blackmore`s idea of the Self as being only what is like to be me now (2002).  

   Stages 2-5 of this scenario also support Reductionism in that genetics and Dawkins memes (1976) could determine sensory systems and brain area functioning and variations in memories so that the drink is identified. In these stages, unconscious processing of sensory stimuli, recall without processing of the flavours collected from past experiences and recall with processing for the change in tactic to aid recognition can all occur without conscious intervention.

 

   However, we know we have conscious awareness during these stages and therefore, the ´experiencer` or Self exists. Consciousness takes on during this time the role of ´observer` - it is not necessary for cognitive functioning, but it is there. Even with the presence of two drinks and divided attention, consciousness still takes on this non-active role as dictated by past experiences. Conscious awareness may not be necessary during these initial stages, but grounds for its presence may fulfil more psychological reasons rather than informational. We may need awareness to feel a connection between our inner environment and the real-time external environment, or we may need to keep ´in touch with our inner self` e.g. Metzinger`s phenomenal self-model (2003, 2009), or perhaps just to be able to influence input or detect errors as given by McGovern and Baars (2007).  

   Therefore, it can be said that regarding cognitive functioning during these ´observer` stages, the Self mirrors brain memory and consists of two parts: a non-enduring part consisting of real-time neuronal firing representing real-time input, processing and reactivated brain memories and an enduring part consisting of the non-activated, stored memories representing past experiences of the individual. Although Stages 1-8 may be explainable by genetics and memes, and may be carried out without conscious intervention, Stage 9 onwards indicates that there must be more than just genetically programmed physiology. A Self has to be present, otherwise there would ever only be the less than satisfactory non-active decision-making option available for this type of scenario. The Stages 10-14 with PISCO, the problem-solving and decision-making mechanisms, have to be more than just following rules or flow diagrams.  

   The later stages of the two-drink scenario depend on both aspects of the Self: the non-enduring part consisting of the real-time neuronal firing representing real-time input, processing and reactivated brain memories and the enduring part consisting of the non-activated, stored memories representing past experiences of the individual. The enduring Self is important in Stage 8 since identification of the drinks needs to be made and in Stage 9, if there is no enduring Self then the individual does not know that a choice has to be made. Without James` enduring Self (1890), Baars self-concept (1988), Damasio`s autobiographical self (1999) and Blackmore`s Thought (2010) then the individual is more likely to use non-active decision-making and just take any drink. The continuity of Self means that from previous experience (´memory of method`) the individual knows that a decision is required and uses experiences from his past to solve the problem. This implies learning and implies something continuing longer than the actual experience itself.

   Enduring Self and non-enduring elements of the Self continue with Stages 10 -14 with the former representing memories, values and method and the latter the real-time firing of participating neuronal groups, e.g. sNCA and purpose tNCA. Regarding these stages, psychological theories can be interpreted as James` empirical self (1890) giving values, capabilities etc.; a stream of consciousness leading to Blackmore`s Thought (2010) - in this case the PISCO working memory process; Baars self-concept (1997) for the PISCO decision-making process and self-system for visual information; and Damasio`s autobiographical self (1999) giving values etc., and protoself and core self providing the working memory conditions and incoming information and purpose iNCA.

   Therefore, it can be concluded that the Self from a psychological stand-point with regards to cognitive functions is maintained through real-time physiology and processes (e.g. Baars` self-system, 1988 or Damasio`s protoself, 1999) and long-term values and opinions (Baars` self-concept, 1988 or Damasio`s autobiographical Self, 1999) and this can be demonstrated by most stages of the two-drink scenario. A further element of the Self will be discussed later when we look at subjectivity and emotions.

ATTENTION AND CONSCIOUSNESS  

INTRODUCTION

      The above section describes how the brain memory mechanism and consciousness accommodate in general to perform the functions required during the different stages of the two-drink scenario. In order to investigate consciousness further then the process is broken down (as the book title suggests, ´disassembled`) into the roles played in each stage by individual components associated with them. This section deals with attention which as far as psychologist theories go  either plays an important role in consciousness (Crick, 1994; Velmans, 2000), or has opinion more cautious (Baars, 1997; Damasio, 1999).

BRAIN MEMORY MECHANISM AND ATTENTION

general points

   A detailed description of attention and the brain memory mechanism can be obtained in my book, ´Brain Memory: Outside the Box`  (Salt, 2011), but the main points concerning consciousness are:

1) there are three attentional states: normal (for those relaxed conditions when learning is not required and attention ´flits` around the external environment; normal focused (when the focus lies on a deliberate object or location and learning may take place); and fear (when focus is on a specific event perceived to be ´dangerous` to the individual with unlike the other two states, a noradrenaline-based emotional system instead of the pleasure dominating dopamine-based one.

2) the attentional system plays three roles in the brain memory mechanism and these are: focusing input relating to selection of input and quality and quantity; matching and conflict monitoring involving the fear attentional system; and imposing a time constraint on tasks possibly linked to a number of different physiological timing systems (Salt, 2011).

3) the attentional system/state and emotional system/state are linked which explains why emotional state can affect how and what is observed and recorded.

4) both distraction and divided attention can play roles in the effectiveness of the mechanism.

attention changes during the two-drink scenario

   The two-drink scenario begins with the most relaxed stage regarding attention. In Stage 1, where the individual is just looking around, there is just normal attention corresponding to the sensory flitting. There is no focus on particular stimuli, no internal neuronal conflict is registered and there are no time constraints. This situation changes slightly in Stage 2, when attentional state goes from normal to normal focused. This corresponds to activation of the visual system responding to the visual stimuli in front of the individual, i.e. the fruit juice in a glass. Normal focused attention brings the object into the focus/centre of the visual and olfactory organs. Again, there is no internal neuronal firing conflict registered at this time, and no time constraint indicated. The result is that the temporary sensory stores are formed.

   Stage 3 continues at the beginning (Stage 3 early) with attention being in the normal focused state since it continues with the firing of the sensory system plus firing of the preformed memories (sNCA) associated with the glass, and other experiences of, for example drinks and science of fluids, drinks of similar colour and smell. The focus and input role of the attentional state at this stage leads to recall without processing taking place, electrical image formation and the recognition that a drink is placed in a glass before the individual. Although there is recognition of some components of the drink, e.g. similarity to apple through firing of the appropriate stored memory sNCA features, the normal focused attentional state shifts to the heightened one (Stage 3 late) on the acknowledgement that this event is not exactly like any previous event and hence, not all features of the drink are known. These unknown features lead to a change in tactic (recall with processing), a change instigated by the attentional system responding to conflict in the firing neuronal groups. Since it is known that recognition is not possible at this stage, a time constraint is also initiated so attention plays all three roles in Stage 3.

   In Stages 2 and 3 the amount of information taken in at any one time is defined by the perceptual load capacity theory (Lavie, 1985) of the attentional system. Since focus remains on the drink, a large amount of informational capacity relates to the event itself (attended information). There is still peripheral input and other senses, but this unattended information is less important whilst the recall without processing method dominates. The recognition of unknown features and conflict in the neuronal firing  shifts the brain memory mechanism to one of recall with processing and unattended information may become attended according to the changes in perceptual load capacity relating to the fear attentional state.

   The change in tactic initiated by the heightened attentional state in Stage 3 late leads to an automatic search for more information (recall with processing). A widened viewpoint/alternative view point is unlikely to bring relevant information, but engaging other senses may. Therefore, Stage 4 introduces tasting and smelling in order that new information is gathered and attention shifts to these features. During this stage a change in focus is seen, conflict is monitored and a time constraint placed on the process, all roles fulfilled by the attentional system. Although the attentional system during this stage is focused on the glass and the juice, it can be divided if other information in the external environment is important (e.g. listening to a conversation), or perceptual load capacity is not taken completely up by the drink and the drinking action itself. Therefore, just like the previous stages, there is likely to be attended and unattended information causing cortical neuronal firing.

   In this scenario, the change in tactic due to the heightened attentional system bringing about an alteration in recall method, leads to a satisfactory conclusion in that the juice is recognised (Stage 5) as mango and apple, two flavours encountered before. The attentional  system responds to the dissipation of the conflict and completion of the task by shifting back down to relaxed and the time constraint is lifted. 

   The second part of the scenario begins just like the first with sensory flitting and a normal attentional state (Stage 6). This time in Stage 7, normal focused attention steers input to the two drinks on the table and it is likely that focus shifts between the two as in divided attention. This leads to recall without processing for both drinks (Stage 8) and recognition of both drinks means no heightened attentional state at this point. No conflict is registered regarding the object information. However, it is likely that what is being recalled at this time, i.e. the sNCA, relates to not only the identification of the objects, but also ´memory of method` where previous experience says that under these conditions, further processing must be carried out before the task is complete. Therefore, a heightened awareness status may appear in the background. This is equivalent to intuition and therefore maybe individual- or even situation-dependent.  This intuitive feeling becomes more concrete in Stage 9, where there is a conscious realisation that there are two viable options and more has to be done before the situation is remedied. The result is a heightened attentional state. Attention is focused on the task ahead and a time constraint is put in place.

   Attentional state during the PISCO decision-making stages (De Bono 1982) follows the tasks at hand at each particular stage. In Stage 10, the purpose stage, attention is focused on the single task which is to define the goal of the PISCO stages. In this case, the purpose of the task may not be verbally defined, but it is known anyway because of experience. This experience of such a common situation means that there is no conflict at this stage, but there is a time constraint. Self-report shows that there is limited time available for this acknowledgement stage where one knows that you need to choose between available drinks.

   Stage 11, the input stage, is also carried out with normal focused attention even though there may be divided attention on both drink options and the purpose. All during this stage there is monitoring of conflict and monitoring of the imposed time constraint. The same can be said with Stage 12, the solutions stage, where options for the methods of choice are devised. Again the familiarity with the common situation means that no conflict is observed since the method is clear - temperature preference for the drink. Again, inputs for drink 1 and 2 are treated separately.

    The decision-making stage, Stage 13, brings about a shift in focus by the normal focused attentional state to emotional values. This is the method chosen to solve the problem in this particular scenario. In this stage there appears to be two levels of attentional state: one normal focused which concerns the operation of the task, i.e. comparing the purpose to drink 1, drink 2 and the second, a heightened state which looks at the values of the purpose and drink 1 and drink 2. (Decision-making is said to be a comparison of competing values, the nature of which depend on the method chosen - Salt, 2011.) In this case, there is a comparison of temperature feature for both drinks and therefore, conflict is monitored by this heightened state to both hot and cold features of each separate drink. The decision is based on emotional preference relative to purpose. This comparison has an imposed time constraint, just like the other PISCO stages, even though it is essentially a ´manufactured` heightened awareness situation.

   Successful decision-making leads to Stage 14 - the outcome stage where the drink is taken, outcome is monitored according to whether the goal was achieved and memories are formed of the experience if necessary. Attention remains normal focused on the success of task, remaining on the chosen option or flits to something else since the task is now completed.

   This concludes how attentional state relating to brain memory changes during the two-drink scenario. The next section describes how consciousness relates to these attentional state alterations.  

ATTENTION AND CONSCIOUSNESS  

scenario changes

   Changes in consciousness and attention can be seen tabulated in the book, ´Consciousness Disassembled` but are summarised as follows. In Stage 1, there is awareness of things in general, but of no specific event. There is also awareness of real-time, of existing and this corresponds to the normal attentional state linked with sensory flitting. This state shifts to normal focused attention in Stage 2 which results in the object (the drink) being brought into focus/centre of the visual organ/olfactory organ. Awareness then becomes more specific: of the event, since in it is in the centre of the visual field and the individual is not aware of other visual stimuli outside his field of vision, but can still hear sounds, smell etc.

   In Stage 3, normal focused attention leads to the heightened state on the acknowledgement that this scenario is not exactly like any previous event and hence, the drink is not completely identified. Awareness follows the uncertainty leading to a mild heightened level on the  ´novelty` of the event. This mild heightened level can be eased by doing something positive in Stage 4, i.e. by looking for more information by a familiar method, e.g. moving closer, picking up, smelling and tasting. Verbal report follows the actions, and since it is a known/accepted method for getting more information no explanation is needed. This verbal report may come later than the action since it is a standard technique. The heightened state at the presence of the unknown liquid leads to the automatic search for more information (recall with processing), but using the widened/alternative view point method for visual information is unlikely to bring any new relevant information. However, tasting and smelling does introduce new information and therefore, attention shifts to these features and a change in focus is seen. This change in tactic is successful and Stage 5 brings awareness of what the drink is and an easing of attentional state back to normal.

   The second part of the scenario begins in the same way as the first with a general awareness of what is around and a normal attentional state indicating no definitive focus on any outside event (Stage 6). This situation changes in Stage 7 when the table with two drinks on it is observed. Awareness of the drinks on the table means that they can be reported and this awareness is brought about by the normal focused attentional state steering focus towards the drinks. Divided attention allows both drinks to be identified (Stage 8) and awareness is similarly divided. However, memory of method may give an inkling of heightened awareness since this common situation has been seen before. This inkling turns into definite heightened conscious awareness in Stage 9 when there is a realisation that a decision has to be made. The individual is aware that action must be taken to resolve the situation and that there are two viable options, mango and apple drink or coffee. Attention and awareness is heightened to reflect the conflicting neuronal groups firing at this time.

   Awareness and attentional state follow the stages of the decision-making process. There is probably no conscious awareness of the process of the purpose stage (Stage 10) since it is a common situation and experience knows that a drink must be chosen. Attentional state remains normal and focused since it too is influenced by the familiarity of the situation. However, a time constraint is imposed on the task - another function of the attentional system. In Stage 11, the input stage, again there is conscious awareness of the drinks again and the task and the individual can report on both options. Attention is divided with focus on both drinks and the goal, and conflict level and time are monitored. Awareness can actually heighten here if panic sets in at the task ahead although this is probably unlikely in this case, because of the low importance of the task outcome.

   In Stage 12,  the solutions stage where the method of choosing is given, there is normal awareness and verbal report can describe the various options possible. Essentially in this case, there is an automatic choice of method relating to emotional values because of habit and experience. The fact that the emotional values pertaining to like/dislike are equal lends to the consideration of lesser features and the obvious one is drink temperature. Therefore, in this case the choice is clear-cut, but in other scenarios, a different method might be better and this might affect the level of attention and awareness at this stage. In this scenario, attention is normal focused if divided and so focus goes between attention on the method and on the task and a time constraint is still in place.  

   This normal focused attentional state appears to become one of two levels, normal focused and heightened, in Stage 13 where the decision which drink to take is made. The two levels reflect that attention has to be on the operation of the task (normal focused) and on the options available and the method chosen (focus, conflict monitoring, comparison, hence heightened). Awareness follows the emotional values of the drinks with verbal report on the like and dislike of hot and cold drinks at this time. A time constraint is still in place.

   The two-drink scenario ends with Stage 14,  where the outcome of the decision stages is evaluated. There is awareness of the success of the action and attention is on the task and both are at the normal level.

   Two variations to the two-drink scenario were devised and the consciousness and brain memory changes associated with these variations were determined. The first variation involved the two-drink problem being written down instead of personally being experienced and the second involved increasing the level of distraction during the running of the scenario. Full details about the two-drink scenario under both of these conditions can be seen in the book, ´Consciousness Disassembled`.  

conclusions  

attention and consciousness synonymous?

   The non-professional/layman view is in general that attention and consciousness are synonymous, e.g. if I pay attention to something I am conscious of it, and attention is known to play important roles in the brain memory mechanism and has positive links to consciousness (Crick, 1994; Mack and Rock, 1998; Velmans, 2000). So, what does ´disassembling` consciousness and the two-drink scenario tell us? The first conclusion is that consciousness and attention differ in their functional complexity. If we look at brain memory, then attention has three identified roles, i.e. sensory focus, monitoring conflict and timing. It is also linked to the emotional system and to effect these roles then there are three attentional states; normal (seen in Stage 1 or 6), normal focused (Stages 2, 7) and fear (Stage 4) and these are brought about by specific brain activity. Therefore, attention can be considered as a ´tool` in the brain memory mechanism.

   As far as consciousness is concerned, various consciousness ´situations` occur during the two-drink scenario and it plays one of two roles, i.e. as ´observer` or as ´participant`. In comparison to the attentional system which acts as a ´tool`,  consciousness as ´observer` can be regarded as more a ´blanket` effect with no direct influence on proceedings and this can be seen in the early stages of the scenario. Focus is on ´one thing at a time` independent of size, e.g. conscious awareness of my existence, that dog, that feeling and in that way is similar to the emotional state - conscious of an overall event, but not individual components of that event. However, in the latter stages of the scenario, consciousness takes on the role of ´participant` and conscious awareness of events and processing of those events occurs. In this role, consciousness plays a more active cognitive function.

   Are then attention and consciousness synonymous? Functional complexity assumes not since in its observer role, consciousness is only a ´blanket` effect (Stages 1-5) with conscious awareness composing of information, feelings, etc. in comparison to attention which has focus, conflict monitoring and timing roles. In its  participant role, consciousness appears as a reporting mechanism, secondary to the actual working that is going on. Therefore, consciousness and the attentional system appear not to be synonymous, a view also proposed by researchers looking at it from the consciousness position (e.g. attention itself is apparently not a sufficient mechanism for awareness - Libet, 1994; attention is not sufficient for consciousness and is not the same as consciousness - Damasio 1999).

   Even though not synonymous, we can use attention to elucidate consciousness and conclusions about it can be made using the results of the two-drink scenario. These results cover areas such as levels, content, control, and time appreciation.

consciousness levels

   When one talks about consciousness levels, one automatically assumes the broader definitions of being conscious or ´unconscious` in the form of sleep, coma, vegetative state etc. The discussion here is on the level of conscious awareness and the two-drink scenario shows that this demonstrates two levels which are defined according to how information from the external environment and thinking are performed. Normal consciousness level means that each aspect of the external event could be if requested described calmly without lingering, whereas in the heightened level there is more ´intensity` in the descriptions and the manner by which it is done. The two-drink scenario used here shows that consciousness levels follow to some extent the brain memory attentional states, e.g.

  • normal consciousness follows normal attention - evidence is Stage 1/6 where there is sensory flitting due to the normal attentional state and this is related to general awareness of what is around, i.e. we are conscious of what we are paying attention to.
  • normal consciousness follows normal focused attention - evidence for this relationship is Stage 2/7 where there is focus on specific objects in the environment and the individual is consciously aware of what is in his sensory field.
  • heightened consciousness follows heightened (fear) attentional state - evidence here is Stage 3 late to Stage 4 where the object in the visual field is not identified and Stage 9 where is conscious realisation of the conflict existing in the working memory due to the fact that further processing needs to be carried out.

   However, there are some exceptions and these relate to certain conditions in the working memory. For example:

1) Stage 8 and Stage 11 where there is a definitive normal consciousness level and a possible ´hidden` heightened consciousness level associated with the normal focused attentional state. The hidden heightening of consciousness may occur because intuition says that there is a ´task ahead` (Stage 8) or inner feelings of panic due to memories of similar past experiences (Stage 11). In Stage 8, this intuition or gut feeling lags behind the non-conscious processing and memory of method from previous experiences of this type that dictates the heightened attentional state. A delay between conscious awareness and cognitive processing is recognised (Libet, 1985). In Stage 11, the heightened feelings can be cancelled by verbal report or top-down control.

2) Stage 13 where there is normal consciousness, but both normal and heightened attention. This is due to the ´manufactured` situation where attention relates to the nature of the task (normal focused state) and to the comparison of the conflict related to the two options (heightened state).

   Apart from the exceptions which can be explained by special circumstances, the two-drink scenario shows that consciousness states follow attentional states and this is also demonstrated by the changes in attentional states causing alterations in the level of awareness. For example: in Stage 3 early there is normal focused attention giving input of the features of the drink. This leads to identification of the known ones, but the unknown ones lead to a heightened attentional state because of the conflict in the working memory between reactivation of the stored features and real-time input (Stage 3 late). This change in attentional state is followed by a change in consciousness from normal to heightened. Further examples are seen by varying the scenario, e.g. in the two-drink scenario performed with a high level of distractions in the external environment the normal awareness and normal focused attentional levels observed in the control are in this situation absent. Although the individual can compartmentalise the task, it is still difficult to disregard the irrelevant input.

   Therefore, by disassembling` consciousness the two-drink scenario provides some indication of the nature of it. This simple scenario shows that conscious awareness occurs not just at a single level, but can heighten according to the situation being experienced at the time. This level matches to some extent the attentional state.

visual content of awareness  

   Does attention define what we are visually conscious of or vice versa? This scenario seems to be in favour of the former as we are conscious of what attention has brought forward internally. This is observed in all stages of the scenario and not the other way round. Verbal report of the content comes after attention ´action`. This is because the attentional system defines what we perceive, beginning with its root functions of selection (four types of Treisman, 1983) and quality and quantity of ´input` (Lavie, 1995). Perception comes from using visual rules to interpret this input; rules such as Gibson`s theory of direct perception (Gibson, 1950), Gestalt Laws on perceptual organisation (Salt, 2011), and Marr`s representational theory (1982). In this way, the multiple firing cells of the working memory become an inner representation (´electrical image`-  Salt, 2011) of the object in the external environment and this is what we are conscious of, albeit in maybe not to the same extent as the processing brain.   Therefore, for example when recognition occurs in Stage 5 and Stage 7, the inner representations are of the drinks and that is what we are conscious of. We are conscious of the results and not the processing carried out to bring about these inner representations and neither does being conscious of it cause a change. Hence, it is good to remember that verbal report, the acknowledged sign of conscious awareness, is just that, a report of what is in the conscious awareness and not further processing or thinking of the information involved.

   The level of detail that an individual is consciously aware of probably does not match that of what the brain is processing or what is available at the time and this is demonstrated by hypnosis for example, revealing previously non-conscious information and even in the two-drink scenario with Stage 4 where more information is sought after and Stages 12 and 13 where lesser details are used. We know that unconscious processing is also occurring according to perceptual load capacity rules and that there can be shifts from unattended to attended and vice versa if required. For example in Stage 2 to 3 awareness will primarily be on the dominant features of the drink, but there will also be a level of activation relating to the details of the event. These are likely to remain non-conscious until given priority. As far as consciousness is concerned, then non-conscious features even if fully processed by the brain will not be reported and hence, the individual has no conscious awareness of them. The topic of unconscious/unattended information is important because it highlights one of the differences between mind and brain consciousness and is considered important in brain memory theory, particularly procedural learning (Salt, 2011), but its role in consciousness is the subject of debate depending on the consciousness theory advocated.

   From a functional view-point, unattended or unconscious processing is thought to be fast, automatic, inflexible, effortless and dependent on context in comparison to the other type involving conscious processing, which is slow, requires effort, controlled, flexible and involving working memory. This is evident when we consider problem-solving and learning. Problem-solving requires conscious thought (Stages 10-14), although there is disagreement from some quarters where it is suggested that intelligence increases when a person thinks less (Claxton, 1997) and unconscious learning is more effective than conscious (Claxton, 1997). Many researchers have shown that trying to learn something explicitly can actually suppress implicit learning and this suppression is associated with right frontal lobe activation and the attenuation of learning with changes in medial temporal lobe and thalamus (Fletcher et al, 2005). Unconscious processing also forms the basis of intuition, where something is felt to be right or wrong well even if facts are lacking.

   Unconscious information and processing forms also the basis of many actions, e.g. those using procedural memory like riding a bike, or tying shoe-laces. From a psychological perspective, Carruthers (2007) said that the difference between actions performed consciously and those done unconsciously is that the former has higher order thought (HOTs) attached to them. The role of unconscious processing in movement is interesting because it provides evidence for a dissociation between consciousness and unconscious processing and action. Studies show that there is a disconnect between fast visual-motor control and conscious perception as observed by backward masking and monitoring fast actions like moving as an object is dropped (Paulignan et al, 1990).

   This dissociation is not considered valid when the major player in consciousness theory, Global Workspace Theory (Baars, 1988), is considered. In this theory non-conscious experiences are processed locally within separate regions of the brain like the visual cortex. The information only becomes conscious if it is broadcast to an assembly of neurons distributed across many different regions of the brain (the Global Workspace), which then reverberates in a flash of coordinated activity. The result is a mental interpretation of the world that has integrated all the senses into a single picture while filtering out conflicting pieces of information. Over the years Global Workspace Theory has developed, but the premise that all processing is unconscious before it becomes globally available and conscious remains. The distinction between conscious and unconscious processing was used define consciousness as variable (McGovern and Baars, 2007): sometimes on (conscious, mental functioning), sometimes off (unconscious) and in 2010, Franklin and Baars modified their definition of unconscious processing by reporting two types: preconscious and never-conscious.

   Global Workspace Theory (Baars, 1988) is not the only theory for consciousness, but it has dominated over the years. The original 1988 theory has been developed with time as with any scientific theory. In 2001, Dehaene and Naccache extended Baars` 1988 Global Workspace Theory with their neuronal global workspace theory by claiming that information can occur without conscious awareness and quoted examples of unconscious processing in for example blindsight, and achromatopsia. Also the requirement of attention in consciousness was cited (Simons and Chabris, 1999). It is important to the theory that processing involves specific dedicated modules like attention and that there is interconnectivity that can potentially link multiple specialised brain areas in a co-ordinated, but variable way. Therefore, there is also a control system, which makes some information conscious so it can be used in complex tasks. The control system suggested by Dehaene and Naccache (2001) is similar to Baddeley`s central executive (2000). Dehaene and Naccache (2001) also support the theory that the system functions by top-down attentional amplification and this temporarily mobilises the modular processes so that they become available in the global workspace and therefore become conscious. Hence, any given brain process may or may not contribute to the content of consciousness depending on whether or not it is connected to brain areas involved in the attentional processes. An implication of this is that conscious awareness can be associated with activity in numerous different brain areas not only linked to the conscious experience, but to the sensory system as well.

   Although there are other theories and extensions to the Global Workspace theory and it dominates theoretical consciousness, there is also evidence disputing its concept of conscious and unconscious processing. One such dispute was given in 1985 by Libet who showed readiness potential in the brain 350 milliseconds before conscious awareness. Physical hand movement was 200 milliseconds later. Hence, neuronal electrical activity was shown in the brain in for preparation for carrying out an act shortly before the intention of the act became conscious. This study relates to the two-drink scenario where in particular in Stage 9, conscious realisation that further processing needs to be undertaken lags behind unconscious awareness of the problem possibly seen in Stage 8.

   Therefore, according to the consciousness theory advocated by many the content of the conscious experience is not the full content of the sensory input being processed at the time. The attentional state will dictate (unless top-down control is exhibited) the material selected, its quality and quantity (dependent on the amount of relevant activation and binding of firing cells; amount of processing carried out; and the amount of irrelevant material) and perception rules will determine its identification. However, unconscious input and processing occurs too and is in fact described as the basis of the conscious experience according to Global Workspace Theory. This unconscious material can be included in brain memories as shown by remembering through hypnosis, but the individual will remain unaware of it. 

   This leads onto the topic of unity of consciousness. We have shown that conscious awareness consists of material from sensory systems or internal memories, but with multiple sources is the content of conscious awareness then unified? If we consider the brain memory mechanism, we can suppose that the resulting ´electrical image` which represents what we are conscious of is unified, since it is a group of firing cells (the neuronal cell assembly) whose very identity and strength relies on them being bound together. Synchronicity of firing means that they are also linked in time and hence, features and functions are bound together in a specific temporal unit. The result of this bound, identified neuronal grouping is action specific and appropriate to it.

   The conscious experience is also considered to be unified, consisting of neuronal cells firing together bound in time. Psychologist support for the unified conscious experience is well-documented and includes James (1890) and Libet (1985) describing unity as feeling like there is only one conscious mind although thousands of systems and neurons are activated at any one time and Metzinger (2009) saying that the individual ´always experiences the wholeness of reality now`. In order for the conscious experience to be considered unified, neuronal firing demonstrates binding and binding of this type of neuronal grouping is said to involve gamma oscillations (Crick and Koch, 1990) a view endorsed by brain memory studies such as Lewis, Hashimoto and Volk`s work (2005). The binding of these neuronal groupings representing specific event features means that it is temporally separated from other firing cells (Engel et. al. 1999). Binding of course can occur between many features of an event and the binding and firing has to reach a threshold before the event becomes conscious. The hypothesis of a threshold is known for neuronal firing and brain memory formation, e.g. phase locking and is relevant here, e.g. objective and subjective thresholds for visual information.

   The conscious experience also requires language which is also a ´unified` capability. Edelman and Tononi (2000) using their reentrant dynamic core theory distinguished two types of consciousness: a primary one which is common to many animals and involves the internal formation of scenes; and a higher order one which relies on language, short-term memory and other conceptual systems. Language forms here the basis of the definition of the conscious experience by the use of verbal report in accordance with Baars (1988).  The result of this unified conscious experience is a single action with the ´conscious` assembly taking priority for the conscious task. This gives another approach to the question of unity of consciousness with some psychologists preferring not to look at the neuronal firing aspect, but by thinking about actions instead. Cotterill (1995) suggested that unity of action should considered and Hurley (1998) and Humphrey (2002) the output of the conscious experience. 

   Therefore, the brain memory mechanism gives parallels to consciousness in that the conscious sensory experience and neuronal cell assembly formed are unified neuronal cell groupings. However, the complete sensory experience as explained above is not just the conscious percept, but also consists of unconscious processing. This is observed in Stages 2-4 where there is sensory input not only of the drink, but also the table, container and other background objects. If we consider unity of firing then we can split our unconscious processing into two types in relation to brain memory depending on whether or not the content could be identified if conditions were different and it was then perceived as being conscious. The first type, identifiable unconscious processing, concerns material inputted according to perceptual load capacity rules in terms of quantity and quality, and processed to the full if possible (evidence according to Deutsch and Deutsch, 1967 and the ability of hypnosis to bring about recall). Therefore, this possible identification implies that this type of unconscious processing is likely to be unified just like the conscious representation. The material is unified to the point of recognition and exhibits binding and group neural activity strength. Although this information is fully identified it does not form part of the conscious percept at this time. This component is important because it forms the basis of the conscious event according to Global Workspace Theory (Baars, 1988) and is shown by consciousness catch-up studies (Libet, 2004) and Zeki`s macroconsciousness and lower order consciousness (2007).  In contrast, the second type of unconscious processing refers to material that would never reach identification. Reasons for this could be that the material is not long enough in the sensory field due to switching between dominant features as neuronal firing naturally decays, there is not enough material in general, or it needs extra information or post-intake processing. This material is not unified and will never reach awareness unless conditions are changed.  Hence, the sensory experience can be considered as having three components: the conscious experience (unified), possible identifiable unconsciously processed material (unified) and unidentifiable unconsciously processed material (not unified). Support for such an observation comes from Dennett`s multiple drafts theory (1991) and the lower and higher order consciousness dictated by Edelman and Tononi`s reentrant dynamic core theory (2000). We know that both the conscious experience and the identifiable unconsciously processed material form neuronal groupings, bound together and of significant content that perception is possible. A possible difference between the two is the speed of production of ´images` in the sensory experience. We can presume that the identifiable unconsciously processed material would produce a percept faster than the conscious experience (this has already been described in terms of the conscious delay - Libet, 1985) which would be faster than unidentifiable unconscious processing. Therefore, we can suggest that even though two components produce unified groupings, the sensory experience as a whole should be considered as non-unified: certain components are unified as far as content goes, but not as far as time frames are concerned and the rest is constantly changing and incomplete.

   If we look at the various stages of the two-drink scenario we can see many examples of unified conscious experiences and non-unified sensory experience. In Stage 1, there is normal attention which brings about sensory flitting and the input of lots of non-unified, unconscious processing. The conscious experience of the drink in Stages 2 /3 and recognition in Stage 4 means that this experience is unified. Other visual information is also being inputted subject to perceptual load capacity rules, but the individual is not aware of this information - a situation that can change if conditions change, e.g. memories are evoked that cause lead to strong negative feelings.   In Stage 5, for example where identification of the drink is completed, the appropriate electrical image representing that drink can be considered unified, but incoming information representing the other events in the background makes the whole sensory experience non-unified. As described above, the level of incoming information is defined by perceptual load theory (Lavie, 1995). The role of the attentional system in unification of the conscious event is elicited through bringing about focus and monitoring conflict, hence eliminating non-unified features. The timing function is also important since it defines the time period during which the unified conscious event is experienced. 

   The later stages of the two-drink scenario introduce a development to the unity theory for consciousness because of the divided attention aspect to particular stages. In divided attention, there is attended/unattended information for one object and unattended/attended information for another object and focus switches between the options. This is observed in Stage 7 where attention flits between the two drinks, Stage 8 with recognition of both drinks, Stage 9 with attention on the reactivated memories of past experiences and the current situation and the decision-making Stages 11-13 (11 - input versus purpose; 12 - various solutions; 13 - flicking between the choices in order to make the decision). Therefore, the individual is conscious of what is in the sensory field and in ´working memory` (internal image, processing etc.). These are treated as separate entities, but exist as conscious and unconscious processing - unified and unified/non-unified.

   The switching between events for the later stages is attributed to divided attention seen in brain memory. In consciousness, we are  conscious of one thing one minute and something else the next and this leads to consciousness being described here as compartmentalised under these conditions. This allows us to switch awareness from one event to another and may provide an acceptable solution to the supposed non-unified processing observed in split brain or multiple personalities. With compartmentalisation, both events present a unified conscious representation and are fully processed (whether identified or not), but do not exist in the same time frame. There may be conscious and unconscious processing being undertaken simultaneously according to the brain memory model for multiple events, but each is compartmentalised in relation to awareness and only one is conscious. Just like divided attention and switching between events, consciousness can switch rapidly between the compartmentalised material. For example: in Stage 11, compartmentalisation means conscious awareness of the drinks input switching to conscious awareness of the goal; in Stage 12, compartmentalisation means conscious awareness of the different options available, and Stage 13 - compartmentalisation means conscious awareness can follow the process of divided attention, which leads to both options being regarded in turn.

    Compartmentalisation for consciousness may be guided by the same rules as for divided attention in that some senses may provide material that dominate awareness due to physiological supremacy (e.g. certain smells such as smoke may dominate over visual information; in split brain patients there may be domination of one hemisphere over the other) or that we have personal preferences for particular types of information as a result of past experiences.  In a way, this is a form of distraction. Distraction is focus on non-relevant material and processing can lead to a representation, and even action. The attentional system action produces input and processing first of the distracting event, then the individual becomes aware of it, hence unconscious processing occurs first then becomes conscious supporting the Global Workspace Theory (Baars, 1988). Compartmentalisation means that the distracting feature maintains priority and hence, the relevant material is likely to be neglected. A high level of external, distracting irrelevant features introduced into the two-drink scenario led to an increased occurrence of heightened attentional and consciousness states. The distractions made it difficult for the task to be executed (compartmentalisation of task and input) without the interjection of top-down control and suitable encouragement using language.  

summary of findings

   Therefore, looking at the roles of the attentional system in the two-drink scenario has intimated that consciousness possesses certain properties that are similar to attention, but proves that the two are not synonymous. For example, consciousness exists at two levels, one normal level seemingly equivalent to the normal or normal, focused attentional states and the other the heightened level, more comparable to the heightened fear attentional state. Since attentional state determines the selection, quality and quantity of information in the internal neuronal environment it is assumed to have the same function with regards to consciousness and this was proven by the two-drink scenario. However, the conscious experience differs from the brain memory neuronal groupings by excluding non-conscious material. Therefore, the sensory experience is described as being non-unified with three different components: a conscious, unified experience, an identifiable non-conscious part, and an un-identifiable non-conscious part. Whereas only the first forms the conscious experience, any memories formed can consist of all three parts providing the rules of perceptual load capacity are adhered to. The same rules applies to any event separated by time and hence, both consciousness and attention show compartmentalisation/divided attention which allows multiple events to be considered. This capability leads on to another role of the attentional system in the brain memory mechanism that should be considered with relation to consciousness and that is time.

consciousness and time

   The attentional system`s role in instigating time constraints in the brain memory mechanism is discussed in detail in the companion book, ´Brain Memory: Outside the Box`. It imposes time limits on the various processes and tasks so that energy is not wasted unnecessarily. As individuals, we are aware of our own feelings about time regarding this matter, e.g. time seems to expand in the absence of a task. One possible biochemical system giving the individual this feeling is the attentional system and evidence for its involvement comes from Williams (2006), who said that individuals appear to appreciate time, making sporadic checks on it. When attention is disengaged from the timing system then a sense of time being awry will ensue. In the book summarised here, ´Consciousness Disassembled`  we look at how the attentional system is involved in the awareness and monitoring of time and how certain stages and tasks of the two-drink scenario have a time constraint imposed on them. The link between consciousness and time has already been explored by psychologists, e.g. Harth (1995) said that consciousness has no sense of the past, present or future and Gray (2004) using the coloured moving dot illusion commented that it is impossible to allocate a precise time to a conscious experience. So, what does the two-drink scenario tell us about consciousness and time? A full description of time and the two-drink scenario can be seen in ´Consciousness Disassembled`, but a summary of the conclusions follows. We can see that:

1) in some stages/some circumstances there is no awareness of time passing. This is observed in the flitting stages of 1 and 6, the finished task stages of 5 and 14 and even the input stages of 2 and 6. Under these circumstances, the individual is unaware of time and this supports Harth (1995) who said that consciousness has no sense of the past, present or future.

2) in real-time, there can be phenomenal consciousness from visual input controlled by the attentional system with no time awareness (see point 1), but if the input becomes task-related then time awareness is instigated. This can be demonstrated by the differences between Stage 2, where there is the beginning of visual input to Stage 3, where there is extended visual input, which is task-related, i.e. to recognise the drink. The point where tasks become conscious is very difficult to ascertain in retrospect as given by Gray (2004) who used the coloured moving dot illusion.

3) there can be situations where there is mental appreciation of time passing, but there is no time pressure, e.g. Stage 8 after identification.

4) consciousness can be linked to situations where there is both physical and mental time appreciation components. For example, physical appreciation relates to neuronal firing and decay, saccades, the physiological functioning of conscious thinking etc. and mental appreciation, relates to the task, i.e. pressure to complete, length of task etc. These components are demonstrable in both Stages 3 and 4 for example.

5) there is a relationship between heightened consciousness and physical and mental appreciation of time and mental pressure. For example, the requirement to change tactic to resolve neuronal firing conflict puts a time pressure on the task, e.g. Stage 3 late, Stage 4. This time constraint is due to the functioning attentional system.

6) there are instances where conscious awareness follows instantaneous completion of tasks, e.g. Stage 8 with recognition of both drinks and instances where the task requires longer or several steps before completion, e.g. Stage 10-14 decision-making.

   Therefore, in general, we can conclude that there is no definitive link between consciousness and time function with sometimes mental appreciation occurring, sometimes mental pressure, but always physical appreciation due to neuronal firing etc. Consciousness means awareness of the situation and the ability to report it at that time. Time appreciation appears to be linked to whether the situation is task-related or not and this is the responsibility of the attentional system, which provides a cellular timing system and imposes time constraints on particular tasks to prevent energy wastage. Whether an event is conscious or not, appears not to be linked to time appreciation by this method.

EMOTIONS AND CONSCIOUSNESS

INTRODUCTION

   This section looks at another important ´disassembled` aspect of both consciousness and brain memory, that of emotions. Emotions are linked to consciousness and conscious state through the concept of ´what I feel, I am` and hence, are important for subjectivity and personal values. Regarding brain memory, they are recorded in association with the facts resulting information about how the individual should deal with the facts and giving the  memories personal value or worth. 

BRAIN MEMORY AND EMOTIONAL STATE

general points

   A detailed description can be found in the companion book, ´Brain Memory: Outside the Box` (Salt, 2011), but the main points about emotions and the brain memory mechanism are summarised below:

1) Just like the attentional sytem, the emotional system exists at two levels: normal, presumed ´happy, relaxed` state; and the fear state and there are cognitive differences  between the two, such as focus levels and decision-making methods.

2) The outward appearance of emotional state is brought about by the biology of the emotional system which relies on the actions in the brain of two physiological systems based on two neurotransmitters – dopamine and noradrenaline and the action of common and specific brain areas which I term, the ´hippocampal loop`. The balance of the two systems gives according to the theory explained in my book, ´Brain Memory: Outside the Box` (2011) the overall working level of the brain (OWL) which is hypothesised to be the natural level at which the brain works as a whole and is individually optimal for cognitive function.

3) Although emotions and the emotional state play a role in the memory process in ´real-time` it is clear that emotions and emotional state are also involved in the recall of previously stored information and therefore, it was suggested in the 2011 explanation of the brain memory mechanism that the emotional state (OWL) occurring at the time of information uptake is recorded and attached to the information stored at that time. This record of emotional state was termed the ´emotional tag` and it is thought to occur in the prefrontal cortex as a ´sliding switch` mechanism and alongside the recorded sensory information of the event at the iNCA level. It cannot however be stored alone. Activation of the emotional tag at a later date leads to recall of the emotional state, itself ´information`, recreating the physiological conditions associated with the sensory information and so in effect, tells the individual how to ´deal with` the information that is being recalled in the present (or ´real-time`). It also allows through the physiological grading of the responses the perceived value (worth) of an object/event to be recorded.

emotional changes during scenario

   The emotional state at the beginning of the two-drink scenario is probably ´happy and relaxed` attributed to the domination of the dopamine-based brain system. Although it can reflect inner physiological status, reactivation of unrelated memories, thoughts etc, it probably expresses the emotional status linked to the sensory flitting that it is occurring at this time, with no time pressure and no task to fulfil. Even in Stage 2, the emotional system remains with the dominant dopamine system since incoming visual information fires the visual pathways in a known manner and temporary sensory stores are formed. Early Stage 3 retains this dominant ´happy and relaxed` state since the continued firing of the sensory pathways leads to recognition of certain features of the drink set before the individual. However, the conflicting information and the acknowledgement that certain features are not known lead to a heightening of attentional state to remedy the situation and a corresponding change of the emotional state to that of ´fear` (late Stage 3). This heightened emotional state is probably expressed inwardly by the heart leaping, intake of breath etc. and the feeling of ´panic` of the unknown.

   Unattended information is also firing pathways in these early stages, but there is no conscious awareness of these other details and so the emotional state at this time is likely to reflect the attended real-time information and emotional tag reactivation related to it. However, this status is likely to change if the reactivated memories are associated with negative emotional tags. This would lead to a change from unattended to attended and awareness, conscious thinking, reporting etc. However, this is not the case in this scenario.

   Picking up the glass and tasting in Stage 4, directed by memory of method and the heightened attentional state induced change of tactic leads to further visual sensory input plus stimulation of the taste and olfactory sensory systems. Therefore, the emotional state remains in the fear state at the beginning because of the continued visual features processing, but is likely to change positively to the dopamine system reflecting its relaxation at the consideration of new informational sources linked to smell and taste. This emotional state continues in Stage 5 when recognition is complete and this stage ends with the formation of a new emotional tag indicating the personal opinion of the new drink tasted. This value is attached to the factual information relating to the drink. 

   Just like in Stage 1, Stage 6 begins with the emotional state dominated by the dopamine-based brain system and ´happy, relaxed` positive emotions expressed. This state corresponds to the normal attentional state linked to sensory flitting. The sight of the two drinks in Stage 7 and the switching between them also does not upset the emotional balance and incoming visual information fires the appropriate pathways relating to both drinks separately. In Stage 8, the incoming visual and olfactory information for drink 1 fires the appropriate pathways and the drink is recognised, e.g. mango and apple and also the associated emotional tag is also recalled so that the personal opinion of this drink is now known. By switching to the other drink, these appropriate visual and olfactory pathways are fired and drink 2 is recognised as coffee and also the associated emotional tag is recalled, so that the personal opinion of this drink is also known.

   An assumption is made at this point regarding this two-drink scenario and that is that the both drinks are considered equally pleasant. This assumption is made at this point, because if one drink is disliked or liked less than the other then it is clear that the scenario ends here with the lesser respected drink being ignored and the other drink taken. In order to make the scenario more interesting and complicated then the assumption has to be made that the drinks are equally liked and therefore, both could be chosen if taste was the determining factor. Just like with conscious awareness, the recall of past experiences of similar situations and the now necessary continuation of the process means that there may be a corresponding heightening of emotional status before the conscious realisation that this is required in Stage 9.

   In Stage 9, the true realisation that more processing is required before a satisfactory solution is achieved in the case of the two-drinks set before the individual substantiates the heightened emotional state attached to it. There is acknowledgement that there are two viable options because standing before him are two known beverages with equal personal values from a taste perspective. The sensory fields may be adjusted with head turning or eye swivelling so that the each option is dealt with separately again, but the outcome is the same: the individual is aware that he has to make a choice - he has two options and to quench his thirst he has to pick up just one. Therefore, negative emotions are expressed (e.g. slight panic/heart leap) relating to the required task ahead.

   The decision to enrol the PISCO technique (De Bono, 1982) to solve the dilemma leads to a relaxing of the emotional status at the start of Stage 10 and the establishment of purpose for an easy task often encountered and of minor importance with little associated risk maintains it. This continues through Stage 11 with the emotional state steady and relatively happy because the input of two drinks is recognised and the task already determined. However, the attentional system heightening at this point due to thinking about the task too carefully or deeply may lead to a corresponding heightening in emotional state, but this depends on the individual, his environment and his frame of mind at the time etc.

   Stage 12 is the first stage when the use of emotions and emotional values is important. This is the solutions stage, where options for choosing the correct solution are constructed. There are many different strategies for choosing (Salt, 2011) and people have their favourites or choose depending on the situation. In this case, because of the low importance of the task, it is likely that the most common method chosen relates to emotional values. However, since in this two-drink scenario both drinks have equally pleasant values associated with taste, lesser features of both drinks are a more suitable alternative. In this case, drink temperature is considered, i.e. does the individual prefer a cold (the juice) or a hot drink (the coffee). Even at this point, emotional state is relaxed since the solutions stage is clear cut and little pressure is placed on the individual.

   Stage 12 is quickly followed by Stage 13 where the decision-making occurs. In this case the most likely decision-making strategy is ´heart` based on personal opinion rather than on basic needs, drive and fact (Salt, 2011). This method is likely to be chosen since the drinking of juice or coffee is normally given a low priority, i.e. it is not important to the individual`s view of the world, behaviour etc. if one drink is chosen above the other; it may be inconvenient, not the best from a pleasure perspective, but not survival-threatening. (This is where some people place an inordinate sense of value to what others would call ´little things` and where personal perspective is apparent.)

   Decision-making is carried out based on the emotional values of the two options, i.e. which temperature is preferred at this time. This involves the running through of the sNCA for both options and a comparison of the two emotional tags. The one with the higher graded sliding switch value in the prefrontal cortex is the one chosen. The conflict situation is then relaxed and the individual picks the beverage up he has chosen and drinks.

   The examination of the emotional tag is not so simple as implied. One has an overall feeling about an object, but further examination can divide this into separate facets of ´like` or ´hate`. For example the overall ´pleasure vs hate` emotional status attached to each object as indicated by the recall of the sliding switch position may give a simple ´like juice, hate coffee` answer. Further investigation of the sNCA associated with fruit juice may indicate more pleasurable memories associated with drinking juice than coffee that justify this overall rating, e.g. favourite glass, time of day or company.

   As far as emotional status is concerned, then just like the attentional system, it shows divided values/compartmentalisation with the method being considered possible and rating a relaxed emotional status (dopamine-based system dominant) and the values of both drinks and the purpose registering the conflicting information and hence, registering the heightened status. Both parts can be considered separately.

   The two-drink scenario ends with Stage 14 and the evaluation of the PISCO process and outcome. Continual activation strengthens the storage NCA and adds new information pertaining to the event to the stored memory. It also reaffirms the emotional value attached to the drink taken or makes any changes if personal opinion has now changed. Hence, the emotional value and details of the drink are strengthened by monitoring the outcome and success of the task. Since this is only a reflective stage, then the emotional status remains relaxed and the optimal working level of the brain is maintained through the dominating dopamine-based brain system.

EMOTIONS AND CONSCIOUSNESS

scenario changes

   A full description of the consciousness and emotional changes during the two-drink scenario can be seen in ´Consciousness Disassembled`, but an edited version follows. In each stage, the individual answers the questions about how he feels and why he feels that way. In Stage 1, the looking around stage, awareness is of things in general, but of no specific event. There is a general verbalisation of ´nothing`, and emotionally the individual can report a feeling of happiness/relaxation consistent with the absence of a specific task, awareness with the external environment and with the internal environment (inner well-being). This continues in Stage 2 when the drink is seen. There is awareness of the event in the external environment and the individual can report a positive feeling relating to the incoming information and inner well-being.

   A general conclusion can be made even at this point about consciousness and the emotional system and this is that it is clear from the first two stages that conscious awareness consists of at least two separate components: the informational content as described in the previous section on attention; and an emotional aspect reported as describing the general overall feeling/well-being that an individual is experiencing at that time. This overall feeling can relate to at least one of three factors: the inner physiological functioning, emotions attached to specific information etc. and lastly, any feelings attached to the task being undertaken at the time.

   The continued engagement of visual stimuli in Stages 3 early and late means that there is awareness on the incoming information with recognition for some features, and non-identification of others which leads to a heightening of attention and consciousness. The emotional state follows this change by first a positive feeling relating to the identification of certain characteristics leading to a heightening with a negative feeling registering the lack of knowledge. At this point the emotional state is dominated by the failure to identify rather than the positive aspects of the partial recognition, inner well-being etc.

   During these two stages there is no awareness of unattended information, but we assume it is present to some extent according to the attentional perceptual load capacity rules (Lavie, 1995). If requested to report emotional feelings then this would remain with the overall effect, but if made to specify causes then it is likely it would be attributed to the conscious information and a general feeling of inner well-being attributed to ´gut` feeling. If any of the recognised information (attended or unattended) was associated with a negative emotional tag (not so in this example), then this negative emotion would be reported immediately and it would dominate the emotional feelings reported at this time.

   The heightened attentional state seen in Stage 3 late initiates a change in tactic in order to solve the identification problem and this is seen in Stage 4, where the drink is picked up and tasted. The emotional state follows the change in tactic with the heightened state at the beginning due to the lack of knowledge being followed by an easing of tension associated with the known exploratory method being chosen and the hope for a solution. Again, the focus of the emotional state appears to be task-related rather than informational. The success of the new tactic leads to the identification of the drink as mango and apple (Stage 5) and the emotional state remains relaxed, happy that the task is completed. A second function of the emotional system appears to take place in this stage with the determination of the personal value of the drink. This is recorded with the appropriate information in the form of the emotional tag. In this case, we have assumed that the individual rates the drink as pleasant and of equal worth to coffee.

   The second part of the scenario (Stage 6) begins with a situation similar to Stage 1, with normal attention leading to sensory flitting and awareness of things in general. The emotional state is happy/relaxed and reports a general well-being. In Stage 7, two drinks are seen on a table and incoming sensory information begins firing the appropriate complex neuronal groups in the cortex. The emotional state remains relaxed with focus on the incoming information even with divided attention and switching taking place and remains so even in Stage 8, when both drinks are identified. The emotional tags are also reactivated for both drinks in this stage and it is perceived that the drinks have equal personal value to the individual. Therefore, the reactivation of memory of method, or past experiences leads to a feeling that the situation is more complicated than it could be (i.e. if one drink is disliked). Just like with a possible heightening of consciousness, emotional state might also react to this subconscious knowledge and might also heighten and a ´hint of panic` may be reported. In this case, this ´gut` feeling dominates over the success of the recognition.

   The ´gut` feeling in Stage 8 is overtaken in Stage 9 by conscious realisation that action must be taken to bring about a successful conclusion. Therefore, the heightened consciousness and attentional state is reflected by the heightened emotional state observed at this time. The focus of the state is the feeling of general heightened awareness of the situation at this time. 

   The lack of a definitive choice at this stage means that the individual has to employ a decision-making method, PISCO (De Bono, 1982), to remedy the situation. In all five stages, the main emotional response is a positive one showing a domination of the dopamine-based brain system. This is because the individual is consciously aware that the method has been used before, the task is of low importance and the outcome will be favourable whatever since both drinks are liked taste-wise. In Stage 10, where the purpose is defined, then emotional state is attributed to this purpose and the ease at which it is decided, since it is dictated by previous experiences of this situation. Conscious awareness is composed of at least the goal and this positive emotional feeling.  The input stage, Stage 11, also shows conscious awareness of a positive emotional feeling attached to the incoming information and the recognised task. However, as consciousness heightens because of the slight panic at the task ahead, so might the emotional system with a shift in overall working level to the negative, noradrenaline-based system. At this point, the balance of emotional responses shifts towards the task ahead and not on the successful identification of the input.

   Stage 12 onwards is where the emotional system and personal values come to the fore. At this point, multiple methods of deciding something are considered, but there is instant awareness that comparison of emotional values is the best in this situation. Awareness is completely on the use of this method and the emotional system shows support for the decision by remaining positive.  This leads onto Stage 13 where the decision is actually made. The emotional system shows fast, order defined changes corresponding firstly to the comparison of the two drinks and secondly to the decision made. The first response is linked to the dislike/lower favouritism for one drink and like/higher favouritism for the other. The feature compared in this situation is the drink temperature. Therefore, the initial emotional response is heightened since conflict between the two firing groups representing the features of both drinks including temperature is being observed. This is quickly followed by a relaxation as the decision is made and hence, the emotional system here follows the dissolving of conflict and the conscious awareness of the chosen drink. The final stage, Stage 14, shows conscious awareness of the positive nature of the completed task. Awareness of the success of the action is supported by emotional awareness. Emotional awareness also centres on any change in emotional values for the drinks after this experience. For example, if the individual now changes his mind about liking the mango and apple juice then he will be aware of this change in opinion and the personal values will be amended accordingly.

   Two variations to the scenario were introduced to investigate how changes in emotional state could effect conscious awareness during the fourteen stages. The variations were: changing the overall background emotional state to one of continual fear or pain; and changing the assessment of the mango and apple juice to one of dislike. Full descriptions of the changes to the scenario under both conditions are described in detail in the book.

conclusions  

   The two-drink scenario elucidates to some extent consciousness and conscious awareness and by looking at the emotional side of the conscious experience certain conclusions could be made, e.g. there is an emotional component to it which exists in different levels and can be compartmentalised according to need. Further details are given below.

the emotional component

  The two-drink scenario showed that consciousness consists of at least two components just like brain memories, with a simultaneous representation of information and an associated emotional component. This is clear from self-report - an individual is consciously aware not only of information and facts, but also how he feels at that moment in time and what he feels about the event from past experiences if applicable. In brain memory, this emotional component is obtained by  the real-time functioning of the brain`s emotional system which is a balance of two neurotransmitter-based systems, one representing the emotion pleasure (the dopamine-based system) and the other fear (the noradrenaline-based system). Domination of either one gives the overall working level of the brain (OWL)  which affects the different cognitive functions. Simultaneous recording of this emotional state with the information in the form of an emotional tag (Salt, 2011) leads to a set of personal values for events that can be used in the future. It is assumed that the same systems provide the physiological make-up of the emotional component of the conscious experience.

   In the two-drink scenario, the emotional aspect of the conscious experience appeared to be the result of three factors: the state of the internal physiology, e.g. whether pain was being felt (observed by changing the background level of pain); the real-time informational content of the conscious experience; and the task being undertaken at the time. These three factors and the emotional component remain the same whether the individual is experiencing continual pain or whether it is the control situation, but the priority given to each factor appears to differ with Stage and situation and this will be discussed later.

    The emotional aspects to both the information and the task are clear. We can be aware of how we feel about the task we are doing and about the things we are mentally experiencing, but what about the third factor, the state of the internal physiology? From a self-report aspect, we have a general feeling how we are physiologically at any point in time, but this feeling is often subordinate to the other two emotional factors. Is it important for us to know that we are feeling generally tired or more how we feel about the object in our visual field? It is only when we are asked to or when we are experiencing a more extreme physiological status that this factor comes to the fore. This is supported by the function of the somatosensory cortex which appears to monitor the physiological condition and actions and work by Metzinger (2003, 2009) who described a phenomenal self model (PSM).

levels of emotional awareness

  The emotional element to the conscious experience appears to exist at two levels: normal and heightened and these are likely to correspond to the same levels experienced by consciousness and attention. For example:  

1) normal consciousness, normal attention and normal emotional state was observed in Stages 1 and 6 where there was sensory flitting and no specific task. The individual is aware of his emotional status and can report on it and the fact that he exists.

 2) normal consciousness, normal focused attention and normal emotional state was observed in many stages of the control situation. For example: Stage 2/Stage 7, Stage 3 early, Stage 5.

3) heightened consciousness, heightened attentional state and heightened emotional state was observed in the control situation, for example in Stage 3 late and Stage 9. Whereas emotional state mirrors the action of the attentional state and hence systems act appropriately to the task at hand, consciousness has no such affect. For example, verbal report is made about the heightened status, but only directed verbal report will bring about a change.  In the scenario where the individual is subjected to continual pain, this set of states was observed more readily than the control situation.

   Therefore, the two-drink scenario shows that the emotional element to the conscious experience follows the status of awareness and attentional state. This is supported by evidence from the psychology field for example Freud`s Ego, Super Id view (1949) and Damasio`s  theory of core/photo/autobiographical Self (1999).  

compartmentalisation of emotional aspect  

   In the control scenario, the capability of compartmentalisation was shown for consciousness, attentional state (divided attention) and emotional awareness. Emotional awareness could be reported for each of the three factors making up the emotional response, e.g. : inner physiological functioning and state  prompted by ´How do I feel.....?`; informational values prompted by ´How do I feel about this event or that event?; and current tasks by ´How do I feel about how this task is being done/progressing etc?` The  advantage of this compartmentalisation of emotional feeling for the conscious event is that the overall status can be changed by altering the priority of that event and this was demonstrated by for example, in Stage 4 where the heightened situation could be reduced to normal by focusing on the successful execution of the task instead of the lack of knowledge. It was even shown to occur in subconscious processing, for example in the control situation in Stage 8 where intuition/gut feeling results in a heightening of emotional state because of the non-conscious reactivation of previous experiences of this type showing that more processing will be required before the task is completed.

   Compartmentalisation is especially important in the case of the scenario played out in the presence of continual pain. In this situation, it allowed the ´mental  removal` of the background pain from the task so that the task and the incoming information could be at the centre of the cognitive focus. For example, in Stage 5 even though the task is complete, the heightened emotional state remains because of the continual pain, but compartmentalisation can also bring about relaxation and a positive feeling due to the satisfactory completion of the identification of the two drinks. Verbal report and language can help in the compartmentalisation process and maintenance of it.

    Investigation of compartmentalisation gave information on the priority or domination of the event with regards to conscious emotional response. It was found that all events eliciting a negative emotional response, i.e. domination of the noradrenaline-based system, were given priority, e.g. in Stage 3 late where  failure of the task to completely identify the mango and apple drink (heightened awareness) takes priority over the partial success of the task in recognising certain features. Events with a positive emotional state demonstrated a simple order of priority/domination - highest priority to lowest starting with conscious task; results of the conscious task; results of the unconscious task; and lastly by general feelings relating to input, inner physiological processing etc. This is demonstrated in many stages, for example in Stage 3 late where the task (identifying unknown drink features) takes a higher priority than the facts themselves (known features) with the internal physiological state having low importance at that time.

   What compartmentalisation also shows is the unity of the conscious emotional state, just like the informational component. This is demonstrated by the one overall value for the experience, or for each compartmentalised event. The unified emotion expressed relates to the strongest neuronal firing group representing the information and dissection of the individual components of the experience will give separate values dependent on the prefrontal cortex sliding switch position (Salt, 2011). Although the compartmentalised component can exhibit its own emotional state, it is likely that an emotional roller-coaster would be avoided and a blanket ´heightened` state would be given instead. This is shown in Stage 4 where focus on the task would give a relaxed emotional response compared to the change in tactic which is the result of the heightened state.

   Therefore, the emotional component of consciousness can be compartmentalised just like attention (divided attention) and awareness. The advantages of being able to do this means that the events can be separated so that each can be considered on its own merits, priority can be set and manipulation is possible.

personal values and subjectivity

   The two-drink scenario has stages where personal values for events are used (Stages 3/4, 13) and stages where they are formed (Stages 5, 14). They can be reported in answer to the direct question, ´What do I feel about.......?` and events with negative emotional values dominate over the positive ones, and the latter are graded according to the level of pleasure they give the individual. As far as brain memory is concerned, personal values lead to individuality. To human beings, a dog is more than just a biological entity with four legs and a wagging tail: it may be a pet, or have associated with it memories of childhood, cartoon characters etc. Therefore, seeing a dog is not just a visual event, but an experience and this experience is recorded not just as sensory information, but also has attached an emotional aspect in the form of appropriate emotional tag. Personal values are formed through the grading of these emotional tags representing their worth to the individual and therefore, for every event stored there is a wealth of factual information and associated feelings.

   Consciousness also appears to have this emotional aspect. We have seen how each conscious experience has an informational component and an emotional component and this organisation gives rise to what it termed subjectivity. Subjectivity, like the individuality elicited through the emotional tag and personal values, is an example of why humans regard themselves cognitively more advanced than other species and is a part of the ´hard problem` (Chalmers, 1995) of defining consciousness.  Psychology theories on the subject can be divided into two groups: those relating to the ´feel` of an event; and those that are system related. Regarding the former grouping, subjectivity is how the individual ´feels` about the event he is experiencing and reflects the ´quality` of the experience (qualia) and is difficult to describe from a first-person perspective and impossible to see from a third-person. But, scientifically we can attempt to characterise what we need to define the ´quality` of an experience.

   One characteristic is information-related - what we ´feel` about an event is linked to what we perceive and this exists as the inner representations of our conscious experience. Inner representations for the brain memory mechanism are clear cut. They exist as electrical images and represent what the sensory systems perceive, plus what we remember from reactivated past events and real-time processing. Quality of experience here appears to reflect more than just what these biochemical systems can give. Ramachandran and Hirstein (1997) described qualia and ´filling in` where motivation and emotions are connected with a choice of actions. Beaton (2009) suggested a more moderate definition of qualia including non specifiable properties and Block (2010) expanded the concept of ´mental paint` where perception is not the limit of our experience, but with awareness on roundness and redness for example.

   But, informational related ´feel` is not the only characteristic of subjectivity that we can biochemically look at - we also know that the quality of an experience relates to the emotional value of it. Emotions are an important part of consciousness (James, 1890; Damasio, 1999; and Greenfield, 2000) and as we have seen here, an important part of the brain memory mechanism as well. It is possibly that the emotional component is relevant when two cases of ´abnormal` subjectivity are considered: the absent of personal experience and qualia presents itself in the case of ´Mary, the colour scientist`;  and ´stripping` the experience back to just the sensory system perception, thus removing the quality of the event to the individual in the case of phenomenology (Gallagher, 2007).

   Whatever makes up the quality of any experience, there has to be a biochemical explanation for them. This leads on to the second group of theories relating to subjectivity and that is those relating to biological systems and mechanisms responsible for it. Chalmers (1995) defined two types of problems associated with consciousness: the easy problem giving an physiological explanation to it, e.g. the roles of  attention, working memory, central executive; and the hard problem giving an explanation as to why it exists. Subjectivity comes in the second category. Psychology theories relating to system-related subjectivity indicate the brain areas involved, for example Wundt (1862) with his theory of introspection based on objective elements and subjective elements and Bogen (1993) suggesting that researchers should look for a centre (possibly the intra-laminar nuclei in thalamus), which has widespread inward and outward connectivity.

   So, does the concept of subjectivity apply to the two-drink scenario? If we look at the different stages, the answer is yes since we can verify what we already know in that: the brain memory model encompasses information and the storage of information with an expression of real-time emotion and a stored emotional record of that state; and consciousness has an informational component and an emotional component. The emotional component relates to how we ´feel` about what is happening and hence provides the ´quality` aspect to the real-time event.

CONSCIOUS THINKING AND CONSCIOUSNESS

INTRODUCTION

definition of conscious thinking

   This book centres on the definition of consciousness as awareness that can be verbally reported and we have already seen that this definition is open to interpretation, i.e. there is a distinction between brain consciousness and mind consciousness that is dependent on the level and content of the verbally reported component. According to consciousness theories, an event requires a verbal report of it to be regarded as conscious and therefore, consciousness obviously has a language component. Even the brain memory mechanism supports a role for language with language being an extra source of information, influencing the attentional system, affecting the emotional system as well as being part of cognitive processing.

   In this book, this language dependent component is defined as being of two types: verbal report/thinking which relates to the report of, verbalisation of, description of facts and feelings of events and related events (directly associated material), and non-related events, e.g. irrelevant information, distant associations, concepts, and past events unrelated to present time; and conscious thinking, more deliberate than thinking, which includes processing of information, maybe involving the past, and is simply more than what is there present at the time. Conscious thinking is directed by the prefrontal cortex and can just like the lower level thinking be event or non-event related.

   Since language is a single physiological entity then, the language component of consciousness is either in the form of verbal report (thinking) or as conscious thinking. Therefore, just like the attentional or emotional components of consciousness, the language component can also be said to be compartmentalised. In one form, it just reports, in the other it processes as well.   As can be imagined, distinguishing experimentally between the two is difficult because there are fast automatic shifts between the two and the boundaries are difficult to ascertain (e.g. what is for one person only a repeat of a past experience is a completely new event in the eyes of another subject).  Even the language itself leads to difficulties with individual differences (language level, developmental stage) and even differences in the same person dependent on circumstances at the time. Also, the restrictions of language itself being the single physiological entity it is presents problems, e.g. although at any one time multiple stimuli are being perceived (the limit imposed by the attentional perceptual load capacity), processed and action taken as a result, consciousness as defined by verbal report appears to be focused on only one event at any one time. This probably demonstrates the restrictive nature of language itself rather than consciousness. For example, I can report that I hear music, see a drummer play and smell the barbecue, but each item is reported consecutively even though the events are taking place simultaneously and I am consciously aware of them occurring simultaneously.

   However, in this study, consciousness is defined as awareness with verbal report and thinking and relates to events being experienced without embellishment and conscious thinking means that the event undergoes internal processing of one kind or another. This definition allows us to explore the two-drink scenario from a language perspective.

what does conscious thinking do

   In this book, conscious thinking is related to the brain memory mechanism and is dependent on past experience and current input, but also additional factors such as real-time processing in the working memory (Salt, 2011). The dominance /priority of the content which is consciously thought about is believed to be dependent on strength of neuronal firing (single cells or groupings), familiarity of firing events, and is of low emotional risk.

   Conscious thinking can be either positive, i.e. advantageous to the individual or negative, detrimental to the individual. Positive advantages are, for example strengthening current and past experiences and helping to deal with new situations. The result of the advantages is the individuality of the subject. The subject can with his skills and extended skills interpret his own environment, orchestrate his own actions and record his own version of events. The same is said of consciousness which also has cognitive functions. Cognitive functions (McGovern and Baars, 2007) are because the human species thinks and plans above and beyond his needs and real-time situations. This was even given as a reason for the development of consciousness with Humphrey (1987) hypothesising that it probably evolved because the human species needed an internal representation of what it was physically experiencing. Velmans (2000) supported the argument by describing the conscious representations of internal and external events as being sufficient to allow a fairly accurate understanding of what is happening in our lives. However, conscious thinking can also be disadvantageous to the individual, even if emotionally satisfying, e.g. revenge can be more destructive than constructive and constant mulling over of facts can lead to procrastination rather than required action. Negative conscious thinking goes mostly against experience, against emotional advantage and against external advice.

   In the two-drink scenario, conscious thinking is considered advantageous in the stages it is used, but it must be said that the scenario could be carried out without it, e.g. non-active decision-making methods used instead of the deliberate decision-making stages of PISCO (Salt, 2011).

BRAIN MEMORY, CONSCIOUSNESS AND CONSCIOUS THINKING

scenario changes

   This section describes the affects of conscious thinking during the two-drink scenario from both the brain memory and consciousness perspectives since conscious thinking is an extended form of the language used in verbal report which is required for an event to be regarded as conscious. Stage 1 would probably not be the stage chosen to describe conscious thinking if given a free choice because Stage 1 is the ´flitting` stage, where there is general verbalisation of ´nothing` due to the normal attentional state failing to keep focus on any event in the external environment. There may be perhaps a quick report of the internal environment and thoughts, or external events and a general report of the feeling that the individual is ´alive`/here in the now, but there is a lack of conscious thinking about anything specific to the current event. There can be conscious thinking about unrelated topics however, but this is also likely to be sporadic and not sustainable.

   This lack of conscious thinking could change in Stage 2 when the drink is seen. Normally, the visual mechanisms activated at this time occur in the absence of conscious processing. They are automatic as a result of sensory system physiology and current attentional state. In this way, the quality (priority of features, amount of detail etc.) and quantity of information (perceptual load capacity, unattended versus attended information, for example) is unconsciously regulated. Conscious awareness follows this informational input and verbal report would give all details if requested. Conscious thinking would not normally need to be applied in this stage because of the unconscious processing nature of the stage, but it can be. Conscious thinking if retaining the focus on the same event as chosen unconsciously will have a positive effect, e.g. strengthening the firing appropriate to the incoming information through adding the language element (essentially verbal report/thinking and not conscious thinking), and maintaining control and focus on the event by ignoring distractions. Awareness will also be more intent on the features of the event.

   In contrast, conscious thinking applied now can influence input in an unnatural way. Deliberate focus on a particular event characteristic for example through desire, links to past experiences, an alternative un-real task, or irrelevant attention grabbing features for example will change the focus of the inputted information. Posner`s alerting, orienting and central executive selection mechanism (1980), plus attentional perceptual load capacity rules still apply, but the focus may now be deliberately steered by top-down control to another drink feature, i.e. a form of mental distraction. We are all familiar with this type of experience. We should be looking at one thing, but a sudden thought will direct attention elsewhere. If this sudden thought is from the internal environment through reactivation of stored memories, then in this case, unconscious processing of the visual information carries on. It is only when conscious thinking changes focus of the element in the external environment that the subsequent scenario stages could be affected. Therefore, in Stage 2 consciousness is an observer, with the natural state having the language component as just reporting real-time events. However, it does allow wandering of the conscious thought if desired and this case the strongest firing groups win and these dominate awareness.

    The early Stage 3 follows the consciousness and conscious thinking activity dictated for Stage 2. This stage consists of unconscious processing with recall without processing of certain known drink characteristics, and hence their identification. Awareness and verbal report follows this firing train and the overall level of consciousness is normal. Any conscious thought applied at this time can take, just like Stage 2, one of two paths - strengthening the priority of the known features by bringing to mind related associations and steering focus to these known features for example, or by giving non-related facts, e.g. as a form of distraction. Strongest firing groups dominate with the priority of frequency, similarity, emotional strength (negative first, high positive).

   But Stage 3 develops into a stage (Stage 3 late) with heightened awareness because it is clear that the drink is not like any previously encountered. Whereas some features are recognised, others are unknown. Awareness is at this stage on what it is and what it does and also that it is not just like previous events. This results in the mild heightened awareness state. Again, conscious thought can intervene at this time, but differs from Stage 2 that it remains on the event at hand. Its purpose is to strengthen firing by repeating and concentrating on features already known. This is a logical process with the individual hoping to get new associations, needing to explore more of the event to solve the mystery of the drink and is a conscious effect to give the event, the drink, priority. Strong features and related emotional tag appear in conscious thought dominating over weaker firing groups. This presence of conscious thinking gives a biochemical advantage by sustaining firing of the appropriate sensory pathways - ´holding` by repetition (Salt, 2011). The level of neuronal firing conflict activates the working memory and top-down related processing of past memories, searching, matching of similar and dissimilar features all occurs. It is unlikely that conscious thinking at this time would be on topics unrelated to the real-time event. Awareness is just like Stage 3 early with the consciousness ´catch-up` through automatic processing leading the way. Awareness, verbal report and conscious thought if applicable all keep the event to hand and it is unlikely that unrelated topics distract.

   A quick note about unattended information in Stages 2 and 3 relating to conscious thought is that it can only be thought about or aware of if it is attended and as soon as its reported or thought about, it is not unattended anymore. Stages 2 and 3 rely on unattended information and automatic processing naturally, but information can become attended by for example, becoming the dominate feature, movement, loudness, associated negative emotional tag or, associated negative emotional response for example. As seen in the previous section,  information is not the only constituent of conscious awareness, there is also an emotional component. In Stages 2 and 3, verbal report can give information about the emotional response to the incoming material and its emotional value from previous encounters. Emotional awareness can be either normal or heightened and conscious thinking can guide the emotional balance, e.g. by use of inner speech and hence, informational and emotional tag content can also be affected.

   The heightened emotional awareness associated with fear or pain has affects on information (quality and quantity) and is likely to shift conscious awareness and thinking to the task and real-time information. The heightened status of Stage 3 late shifts the unconscious processing to recall with processing (Stage 4) to remedy the identification situation. Recall with processing involves the working memory state to be induced due to conflict between information. Conflict means heightened awareness, hence it is unlikely that from this point that the process is carried out without conscious awareness. The change in tactic in order to solve the mystery of the drink involves picking up and tasting the drink, trying to re-establish recall without processing and therefore employing tactics such as widening the scope (filling in), accidental frame change, both initiated through the attentional system. The mild ´heightened` awareness is possibly eased by doing something positive, i.e. looking for more information by using a familiar method, such as moving closer, picking up, smelling and tasting it and in fact the individual is probably already picking up the drink before he has even thought about it. There is of course verbal report on the actions, on why he is moving closer, picking up, examining for sight, taste, smell etc. but since this is a known method/accepted method for getting more information, no explanation is really necessary. The verbal report may actually come later than the initial exploratory action since the technique is so common.

   The use of the standard exploratory method however does not mean that conscious thinking does not take place. Although it is not required, it can however, just like in Stage 3 strengthen the incoming information which is in this case the new material relating to the smell and taste of the drink. This may aid recognition by providing associations to lesser important facts. The change in tactic leads to full identification of the mango and apple drink in Stage 5. It also leads to the storage of memories for this experience in the form of the storage  neuronal cell assemblies, sNCA. Storage may be an exact representation of the event (´as is` storage) or include associations with previous experiences (variable storage). Awareness follows the unconscious processing in that the individual knows that the drink is familiar and then recognises it as mango and apple, two flavours he has previously encountered. This identification can be verbally reported and includes also what the individual feels about the drink, and any relevant associations he has with the drink, for example.

   So, what role does conscious thinking play in this final stage of the first part of the scenario? Conscious thinking can centre on knowing what the result of the operation is, i.e. he knows what the drink is, because there is no conscious thinking/processing etc. required on the recognition process itself, but there may also be conscious thinking on any associations with the drink etc. These take the form of categorisation, for example, which forms the basis of variable storage, storing the event with all its associations ready for the next encounter. There also may be conscious thinking of the value attached to the drink with references to previous experiences for example, or similar drinks.  However, it is also likely that since the task is completed then the mind will wander and therefore, conscious thinking can be hijacked by anything that is present in either the external or internal environments.

   Continuation of the two-stage scenario leads to Stage 6, which is similar to Stage 1 described above with sensory flitting and a general verbalisation of the ´nothing` situation. This leads onto Stage 7 where the two drinks are seen on the table. There is unconscious processing of the incoming information and the attentional state is divided between the two drinks. Information is not consciously selected, but attended or unattended (as well as quantity and quality) according to perceptual load capacity rules and placement in sensory fields. The awareness state is normal and there can be verbal report of the presence of both drinks and features of both drinks (divided attention).  Unconscious processing and sensory input means that there is no need for conscious processing at this stage. However, it can be applied and in this stage can strengthen the firing of the two events themselves by giving focus or adding to the real-time information by including thinking relating to associated material. Distraction is also possible by consciously thinking about non-related events and it can be assumed that divided attention means a split between thinking relating to the task and that related to the non-event. This situation is common such as non-conscious thinking tasks (i.e. automatic processing), e.g. riding a bike whilst simultaneously a conscious thinking task, e.g. speaking is being carried out and forms the basis of multi-tasking.  Attention in this case flips between those tasks. However, conscious thinking applied on multiple tasks means that those tasks have to be carried out in series. If one becomes subconscious, then the mental capacity can concentrate on the other more demanding task. This is the advantage of automatic processing.

   The unconscious processing of Stage 7  leads to the next stage, Stage 8, where both drinks are identified. Recall without processing leads to recognition of the first drink as mango and apple and by flitting to the second drink (divided attention mechanism), recall without processing of that sensory information leads to the recognition of this drink as coffee. There is awareness of both and each can be the subject of the verbal report of the situation. Conscious processing is essentially not required since the individual knows immediately what both drinks are and that both are drinkable, however it can be applied with priority given to event-related associations and awareness would adjust accordingly.  However, the recall processes carried out in this stage lead to a second part where there is awareness that action is necessary. The individual knows from experience that more processing is required for a successful conclusion to be reached. Hence, there may be a heightening of awareness with domination of the perceived demand for further action and conscious thinking would reflect on past experiences (memory of method). This use of language may actually cloud the issue, since conscious thinking would bring the realisation that the situation cannot be remedied without further processing  earlier than it would occur naturally (i.e. in Stage 9).

   Again, the question of unattended information versus attended in Stages 7 and 8 is answered by the definition of awareness. Verbal report of the two drinks and identification of the two drinks means that this information is attended. It is possible to report on other material, e.g. voices, smells in the environment, but this is unlikely in this case since the focus remains on the task at hand and ahead. If requested then verbal report can shift to other sensory information, but then the focus is away from the primary task that of identification of the drinks. In the case of conscious thinking, then something can only be consciously thought about if it is attended and therefore, conscious thought on the event itself strengthens the event by shifting material from unattended to attended and if on non-related material will lead to distraction. Unattended information is likely to be ignored unless it is dominant enough to surpass the task or incoming information related to the event.

   The second part of Stage 8 gives the individual a subconscious ´warning` through intuition that further action is required to bring the situation to a satisfactory conclusion and that ´feeling` is brought to the fore in Stage 9 where there is conscious realisation of the problem. This is the first stage of the scenario where conscious thinking is a requirement and that there is no distraction, just concentration on the task. Consciousness in this stage plays a ´participant` role and awareness is heightened and verbal report can give details of the two viable options and the need to take further steps in order to resolve the situation. This conscious realisation leads to the decision-making stages, 10-14, which utilise the PISCO method (De Bono, 1982) and recall with further processing to solve this type of problem. It involves conscious and sub-conscious processes and by name itself is not capable of being performed without conscious thinking in some stages. The problem solving sequence begins with Stage 10 where the purpose of the task is defined. There appears to be no conscious thinking at this stage in this scenario because previous experiences show that the task here is to choose one of the two drinks. However, this lack of conscious input is only because of the familiarity of the situation, less well-known scenarios would demonstrate the conscious thinking requirement. Conscious thinking, awareness (normal), verbal report all relate to the task and its goal and it is unlikely that conscious thinking would be distracted on unrelated topics. It requires the working memory state and demonstrates new processing and use of previously stored memories (e.g. memory of method). Awareness naturally is fully concentrated on the purpose even if the route to defining that purpose is not appreciated. 

   Once the goal of the task is defined, the next stage is to see where the individual is on the path to achieving it. Stage 11 requires input of the two drinks. Although there is conscious thinking centering on the sensory input of the two drinks and the purpose (demonstrating that conscious thinking can multi-task), with awareness to match, thinking can be distracted - hijacked by other events in the internal or external environment as already described by the heightening of awareness level when the enormity of the task is considered. No new cognitive processing is carried out in this stage, with conscious thinking relying on real-time input and reactivated past memories. Stage 11 is followed by  Stage 12, the solutions stage, which is another stage where consciousness plays a ´participant` role and conscious thinking is key to its success. In this stage, possible solutions for solving the two-drink situation are constructed using new processing and past experiences. Owing to the enormity of the task it is unlikely that conscious thinking is distracted by non-related events, remaining focused on its task even if divided (possible solution and goal, purpose tNCA) and this is supported by  compartmentalised awareness. Conscious thought has to determine which method of choosing is best and in this case, it is obvious that the emotional worth of both drinks is the optimal (and quickest) method. Such a choice comes from experience, habit, rating of task importance etc.

   Once the method of choosing is decided, then the decision-making stage quickly follows. Stage 13 is also a stage where consciousness plays a ´participant` role, where conscious thinking and awareness are divided and where verbal report follows the logical thinking of the processing. In this stage, comparisons of the emotional values of the mango-apple drink and coffee are made to the goal. This is carried out consciously thought through with full awareness on the task. Both demonstrate their ability to divide so that everything is compared equally. Since this scenario uses emotional values for the lesser feature of drink temperature then positioning of the prefrontal cortex sliding switch becomes the deciding factor and the drink with the most positive is chosen. In this way, there is new processing being carried out (the two drinks have not been compared before) and reactivated past memories used (emotional tag values).

   The final stage of the two-drink scenario (Stage 14) is the action and the judgement of whether the choice of drink made was in the individual`s opinion good or bad. This stage can be carried out with consciousness playing its ´observer` role or its ´participant` role. With the former, memory formation occurs automatically (´as is` storage) both informationally and emotionally and awareness would be centred on the result of the task and verbal reports would be restricted to this content only. Distraction both physically and mentally are likely in this case.  However, having put in the effort to make a decision, then it is more likely that if time and circumstance allow, the outcome of the PISCO stages would be assessed logically. This involves conscious thinking and there is conscious acknowledgement and awareness of the correctness of the decision, features of the chosen drink, the emotional value of the drink in light of this new encounter, association with previous experiences etc. Variable storage takes place with new processing and incorporating the new information obtained from this latest encounter. Therefore, just like the beginning of the scenario, the involvement of conscious thinking in this stage is dependent not on the task, but on circumstance and the will of the individual.

conclusions

general points

    In the case of consciousness, conscious thinking presents a problem because both verbal report needed to confirm conscious awareness and conscious thinking require the same ´system`, that of language. In doing so, it is difficult to distinguish between the two and this leads to hypotheses that consciousness is conscious thinking, e.g. cognitive functioning theories where consciousness content, verbal report (thinking) and conscious thinking all have the same content. An individual can only think about something if it is attended, and hence awareness is present and verbal report possible. Unattended material is not thought about unless it shifts to being attended and this shift can be brought about by movement, having a dominating feature, having a negative emotional tag etc. The same can be said for methods too and this is demonstrated by Stage 8 where the two drinks are recognised with equal emotional value and the individual is sub-consciously aware that further processing is needed before the task is brought to a satisfactory conclusion. This is a learnt response based on previous experience and therefore, conscious awareness comes later than the unconscious processing. The other problem with language is its speed. We are all aware that if we have to relate our actions verbally it is much slower than just carrying them out. This may be one explanation for the delay reported between consciousness and action (Libet, 1985).

   The two-drink scenario showed possible situations relating to conscious thinking and consciousness and these are:

1) No conscious thinking is required. Normal consciousness level attributed to sensory flitting so awareness general and continually changing because of lack of focus. This is observed in Stages 1 and 6.

2) No conscious thinking is required, but it is possible in strengthening the information of the event and it also possible that it is hijacked by unrelated events. No new processing is being carried out. Consciousness is at a normal level. This situation is seen in several stages: Stage 2, Stage 3 early, Stage 5, Stage 7 (divided attention), Stage 8 early (divided attention) and finally the non-active outcome Stage 14.

3) No conscious thinking is required, but strengthening of the information of the event is likely and it is unlikely that hijacking of the conscious thinking by unrelated events takes place. No new processing is being carried out. Consciousness in this case is at the heightened level. This situation is observed in Stage 3 late, Stage 4 and Stage 11 late.

4) Conscious thinking is required and is likely to strengthen the information relating to the current event. It is unlikely that hijacking of it takes place. No new processing is being carried out. Consciousness is at a heightened level. This situation is observed in Stages 8 late and Stage 9.

5) Like (4) but with two changes. Here conscious thinking is required and is likely to strengthen the information relating to the current event, with hijacking unlikely to take place. However, new processing is carried out and consciousness level remains normal. This situation occurs in Stages 10, 11 (divided attention), 13 (divided attention) and 14 active outcome.

6) Conscious thinking is required and is likely to strengthen the information relating to the current event. Hijacking is possible and no new processing is being carried out. Consciousness is at a normal level. This situation is observed in Stage 11 early.

   So, what conclusions can be made about consciousness and conscious thinking from our two-drink scenario investigation? We can conclude that consciousness and conscious thinking are separate entities and the ´observer/participant` roles of consciousness cannot be attributed to any definitive thinking level.  The two-drink scenario shows that consciousness and conscious thinking are separate entities, for example: normal consciousness can be observed when no conscious thinking is required, but it can help strengthen, and can be hijacked, (no new processing), or when conscious thinking is required, and is likely to strengthen the information relating to the current event, but hijacking is unlikely to take place. New processing is carried out in this situation. Consciousness can be observed at a heightened level when no conscious thinking is required, but it may help in strengthening, and hijacking is possible, or when conscious thinking is required, strengthening may take place and there is unlikely that hijacking takes place. In this case no new processing is observed. Therefore, a comparison of the consciousness situations and conscious thinking in the brain memory mechanism results in the overwhelming conclusion that they are separate entities. Like attention, conscious thinking is a tool in relation to the brain memory mechanism and consciousness is an ´effect`. Language is also a tool, used to report what is experienced and used to process and this supports the role of language in the brain memory mechanism (Salt, 2011). This view receives support from the psychologist theories on consciousness, e.g.  that there are two types of processing in the brain: one fast and one slow.

   The other conclusion is that the observer and participant roles of consciousness cannot be attributed to any conscious thinking level.    The ´observer` role of consciousness matches the non-requirement of conscious thinking in Stages 2-5. This is where physiology and the brain memory mechanisms of sensory input, recall without processing, ´as is` storage all take part so it is possible to recognise something without thinking about it, and store those memories without conscious intervention. The mechanisms rely on unconscious processing from real-time input and past experience recall. In another scenario, this would also include procedural memory where the individual can do something without being conscious of it. In its ´observer` role, consciousness merely reports what it is there, what it is presented with and therefore, cognitive functioning relies on unconscious input and processing. Support for the ´observer`  role of consciousness linked to this non-requirement of conscious thinking can be seen from for example, Velmans (2000) dual-aspect theory and consciousness ´catch-up` experimentation.

   However, even the simple scenario described in this book shows that consciousness plays more than an observer role. The ´participant` role is likely to be linked with conscious thinking (Stages 8-14) and this supports the view of the exultation of the human species through intelligence and the brain versus mind consciousness arguments. In this scenario, the participant consciousness and conscious thinking provide the cognitive functioning that allows the problem-solving stages to be undertaken - a view supported by the functions for consciousness given by McGovern and Baars (2007), such as definition and context setting, adaptation and learning and prioritising and access control. The question whether problem-solving can take place without consciousness is probably best answered by looking at where conscious thinking can alter the various stages. It is clear that a simple decisions based on emotional values of strong, key features can be undertaken effectively ´non-consciously`, as can those based on overwhelming ´strength of firing` for one option based on frequency or familiarity of the event.  However, looking at different points of access (input stage), different options (solutions stage) for example require more than just the comparison of neuronal firing groups.

   With regards to brain memory, it may be that this indicates the difference between first person and third party experiences. It is only important for the individual (the first person) to get the decision the optimal one possible - a decision based on lesser principles may still be acceptable when viewed from outside (third party) because they are unaware of the knowledge base or capability of the individual. Therefore, it is difficult to calculate from the third party perspective what would be the most optimal solution for an individual. This could explain McGovern and Baars view that from a third person perspective the same functions operating to the same specification could be performed by a non-conscious machine. Therefore, it is difficult to comprehend where the advantage is of actually experiencing something. Of course, from the first person perspective life without consciousness would be nothing.

   The observation that consciousness is required as participant for certain functions involving brain memory and not required, merely as observer for others, lead me to make these statements about it and conscious thinking:  Consciousness is an indication that an individual has the ability to make deliberate choices, actions whether positive or negative if desired. It is an indication that the individual  can impose his ´will´ on the working of real-time events whether internally or externally sourced. It is an indication that the individual can ask, ´Is this what I want?` These statements explains why consciousness, although not a requirement, is advantageous to individuals and opens the debate of free will. 

free will?

   Bearing in mind the statement given above, if consciousness allows us to choose according to the results obtained from this scenario, are the psychology theories on consciousness and free will supported?    Psychologist theories are split between determinism (no free will) and free will. The view after considering the brain memory case and the two-drink scenario in particular is more compatibilist, i.e. both are correct -  determinism can be true, but free will remains. As described in the previous sections with defining consciousness states, we can see that the individual can impose his will on the processing and learning of events by interjecting his past experiences and set of values on the current information and task in the direction he desires. What we see in the early stages to the point when a decision has to be made (i.e. Stage 1 - 9)  is that determinism occurs through bottom up control (e.g. sensory systems, neuronal physiological systems, attended and unattended information processing) and also top-down control (e.g.  past experiences recorded in factual memory and in ´memory of methods`. On the other hand, free will can also exert an influence in these early stages, for example by deliberately choosing not to look at the drink (Stages 2, and then 6, 7). However, the later stages, Stages 10-14, involve the decision-making stages and these require consciousness to act as ´participant`.  A link between decision-making and consciousness is known, e.g. McGovern and Baars` (2007) functions of consciousness include the decision-making executive control or Johnson-Laird`s (1983) hierarchy of subsystems that can account for decision-making.

   With regards to the brain memory mechanism, it has a clear decision-making option, PISCO (De Bono, 1982) described in Salt (2011) for recall with further processing, although there is a possibility of choosing a non-active decision-making method if the individual wishes.  Therefore, how does determinism and free will fit in with the decision-making processes shown here in recall with further processing? Determinism can exist only to the point where a simple decision-making process is made, i.e. the comparison of two options through brain memory reactivation. The option is chosen by strength, similarity or risk assessment (emotional value) of the appropriate neuronal firing, with strongest firing dominating. However, free will is more since it can allow the choice of whether to partake in the decision-making process at all, since the individual has the option of choosing a non-active decision-making method. (Even that is a misnomer since a decision may have to be made to decide which non-decision making method to use.) Once we consider the decision-making stages themselves, free will can be demonstrated in each stage, e.g. in the purpose stage with deliberate purpose formulation shown by choosing the less than perfect goal for example or input stage by the selection of more obscure features as input rather than those to suit the task. 

   This raises the question, ´Is free will then choosing what is logically the best solution or is free will actually going against it?` Certainly, it is possible from a brain memory mechanism perspective to deliberately go against the best method/best solution as determined by strength/familiarity/risk, or choose second  best, or ignore choosing altogether and pick randomly, e.g. non-active decision-making. This type of action is seen in revenge, boredom, disobedience etc. What does this type of action mean for consciousness? Unconscious processing, following beaten paths, does not demonstrate the concept of free will, but the best path, default position derived from previous experiences. This is essentially recall without processing or with processing if unconscious changes in recall tactic are included and this can be seen in programming robots or even procedural memory. It does not even demonstrate the concept of ´participant` consciousness as when absent, the handling of stimuli will follow that of previous experiences. In this case, the brain memory mechanism is applied and recall follows rules dictated by physiology. This supports the Reductionist theories with no Self, only genes and memes. The attentional system without the restrictive nature of consciousness and awareness probably would be quicker and this is essentially why there is push to move repeated processes to be learnt sufficiently to become automatic. Sensory input would also be affected, assuming no top-down control, no head steering and no effect of past information. It would be  dependent on the features in real-time, hence high priority characteristics will dominate. And as far as emotions  are concerned, in the absent of ´participant` consciousness then the handling of the stimuli will follow that of previous experience, and will follow the emotional responses of the past events and certain decision-making practices would be lost.   In comparison, when consciousness is present, we have seen that attended information means awareness and deliberately going against something raises this awareness. Hence, free will, if defined as the ability to choose against something that is logical as defined by past experience, and consciousness/awareness will go hand in hand and this is demonstrated by the ´participant` role of consciousness and top-down controlled conscious thinking.

   The above example is where deliberate choosing is linked with conscious thinking and consciousness, but this is not the only case where this happens. There is already an internal, evolutionary, physiological system in place that primes ´free will` to promote a path that goes against previous experience and that is the emotional system. The emotional system mechanism dictates that continual usage of the same path, i.e. continually following past experiences without change, results in boredom, dissatisfaction, disillusionment etc. The value of the event in the eyes of the individual is diminished as it is often repeated. Therefore, the individual strives to maintain a balanced emotional system and strives not to repeat a particular experience too frequently or uses new experiences to ´kick start` brain functioning. Hence, conscious awareness is constantly needed. This means that although decision-making and brain memory can function without awareness and without free will, it is these features that keep it searching for new experiences and keeps cognitive functioning optimal. This gives a reason for its existence.

NEURAL MECHANISMS AND CONSCIOUSNESS

INTRODUCTION  

   The dualism/dual aspect theories amongst other consciousness investigations have given rise to what is known as the explanatory gap which was described by Levine (1983) as the metaphysical gap between physical phenomena and conscious experience. This theme has been carried on by others, for example by Blackmore (2010) stating that it is difficult to see how the objective world gives rise to the subjective world. Whatever effect consciousness has on learning and other cognitive functions, it must have a physiology and appropriate biochemical functioning and these have been termed as the neural correlates of consciousness (Chalmers, 2000), i.e. the biological mechanisms that allow information to be captured, perceived and interpreted and become conscious. This is of course also the view of someone, me, who has worked in the biochemical field and who believes that everything can be ultimately explained by science. Others are not so sure, believing in its ´magic` and saying consciousness will never be understood independent of whatever scientific knowledge and techniques we have. However, this is a science-based study and so we must attempt to explain our findings biologically. Previous sections have looked at the modules and processing involved in consciousness and this section looks at the more physical aspects as far as possible. The section begins with a look at the responsible ´body` (Salt, 2011), followed by investigations into brain activity and concluding with an examination of the mechanisms at the cellular level. A note of caution though - although most physiological and biochemical aspects are well-documented and researched above scientific reproach, some are more hypothetical and a degree of latitude is required if they are to be linked to cognition and even consciousness. However, consciousness is itself not beyond scientific debate so in this context, this type of discussion should be allowed. The section begins with one such topic - the physiological ´body` versus the ´mind`.

PHYSIOLOGICAL BODY VERSUS MIND

   In 2011, in my book, ´Brain Memory: Outside the Box`  I described individuality as arising from three ´bodies` associated with ourselves: the physiological body, the electrical body and the ´mind`. (A list of characteristics, similarities and differences between the three is given in detail in that book.) From the three I concluded that the third, the ´mind` was the one that is of most interest to brain researchers, backed up with the physiological evidence from the first. I suggested (Salt, 2011) that the mind consists of three components important to the individual: cognitive processing, brain memory and emotions and put consciousness as one of the features of the former. But none of the three bodies stands alone,  as studies for example on brain memory have shown. Although a component of the ´mind`, brain memory relies on the physiological body and cannot exist independently of it, but is demonstrated by the electrical body. The same can be said of consciousness and this relationship causes a problem since the brain and certain components and features of the mind are so different - one, the brain, well researched and experimentally verifiable, objective, and the other, the mind components such as consciousness, feelings, requiring indirect measures, unknown or unverified physics, and are subjective. Brain memory for example has parts of its mechanism substantiated by physical observations and others hypothetical. For example in the case of emotions, there is a verifiable physical aspect through brain area activity in areas such as the hippocampus, amygdala etc. whereas the ´mind` aspect relates to emotional feelings (e.g. in Stage 5 where the emotional tag is formed representing the value for drink to the individual) which are subjective and dependent on verbal report. 

   Independent of whatever we observe between these ´bodies`, we can conclude that the functional ´mental` elements of brain memory arise from the physiological body and this is what is hypothesised for consciousness too. This supports the dualism/dual aspect theories for consciousness and is in disagreement with the monist standpoint. It is clear that there is not just a material world, but  also a mental world that exists that cannot be completely explained by current physiological/physical ideas, e.g. thoughts, emotions. Stages 9-14 in the two-drink scenario are proof that the mental world of conscious thinking is required for the decision-making stages and this cannot be carried out without disregarding information or ignoring the choice altogether.

   So, just like brain memory, consciousness exists as ´two aspects, one entity` as described by dualism/dual-aspect theories from Spinoza and pan-psychism ´brain is something that is conscious` to  Minsky (1986), ´minds are simply what brains do` and Velmans (2000) suggested why ´two aspects, one entity` was viable saying that consciousness representations of internal and external events allow sufficiently well a fairly accurate understanding of what is happening in our lives.  And just like brain memory, changes observed in one can be dictated by the other. In brain memory, perception and feelings influence the physical processes of visual input for example.  With regards to consciousness, Descartes Cartesian dualism (1641) described a world consisting of two kinds of ´stuff` - the extended stuff of which physical bodies are made and the un-extended thinking stuff of which minds are made and in this world, physical stuff leads to mental stuff, e.g. thoughts/feelings and vice versa. Popper and Eccles (1977) detailed in their Theory of Dualist Interactionism that the critical processes in the synapses of the brain are so finely poised that they can be influenced by a non-physical thinking and feeling Self, for example as observed in the placebo effect.

   Therefore, brain memory and consciousness have physical components which are the responsibility of the physiological body and and ´mind` components. The former is measurable, visible even capable of isolation and the latter more difficult to ascertain - can experience it, see its effects, know how caused, manipulate it, but not ´see` it directly from a third party perspective, e.g. the procedural memory for brain memory without action and the conscious experience relating to consciousness without verbal report.

BRAIN ACTIVITY

area functionality  

  From the non-specific body, we specialise further to see which biological systems are required for consciousness and using the links between it and brain memory we look at this cognitive function first. There is a vast amount of evidence from brain imaging, actions, self-report etc. that link memory to activity in the brain.  Brain areas activated are physiologically the same (excluding size) for different, normal individuals and are task or activity dependent, e.g. some of the brain areas active in learning for example are different to those active during remembering. Location of function, distributed control and plasticity, mass action and equipotentiality are all theories that apply function to brain areas. Individuality can be seen with brain area physiology, function and the level of functioning,  e.g. the pulvinar nucleus area of the thalamus is smaller in schizophrenia sufferers than non-sufferers (Marshall, 2006). Owing to the importance of brain area function, the brain has a number of inbuilt safety mechanisms to help cope with any detrimental changes in physiology (Salt, 2011) and these are divided into four categories: physical adaptability (e.g. plasticity, cognitive reserve); processing flexibility (e.g. ´shut-down` during coma, divided attention); organisational flexibility (e.g. the use of multiple associations to establish recall); and lastly, time-frame adjustment (e.g. repression of the past to prevent emotional lows). Therefore, the brain memory mechanism has physiology and functioning to cover its needs and give optimal performance. 

   What about consciousness? Consciousness is defined as a mental faculty and the word ´mental` applied to it implies that the brain is a necessary requirement for its existence and this organ needs to be functioning in ´real-time`, hence a living organism is required. The monist theories described mental states identical to physical states and epiphenonemonalism where physical events gives rise to mental events, but not vice versa. Dualism and dual aspect theory described two aspects/one entity. These apply to the ´mind` which we have seen relies on brain activity. Psychologist support for this link is wide, e.g. Minsky (1986) with minds being simply what brains do; Claxton (1994) with the mind as the designer language for the functions that the brain carries out; and Greenfield (2000) with the mind being the personalisation of the physical brain. But, like all hypothesises there are contrary arguments, e.g. Noë (2009) who said that consciousness does not happen in the brain, but these views are outweighed by the quantity of brain imaging evidence.

   With the link between brain activity and consciousness established, is consciousness related to particular area stimulation? Consciousness is said to be associated with activity in many areas including parietal cortical areas, prefrontal cortex and cingulated cortex. Descartes (1641) said that the pineal gland was the seat of the soul whereas Cotterill (1995) viewed the anterior cingulate cortex as the site of consciousness. Ramachandran and Blakesee (1999) named temporal areas (e.g. amygdala, hypothalamus, septum and insular cortex) and the frontal area, cingulate gyrus as responsible instead. Others took another approach and discovered that certain regions of the Global Workspace were seen to be active even when the individual was at rest or not concentrating on any task in particular, thus these areas were defined as the Default Mode Network. Activity of this group was seen to be greatest for healthy individuals and much less in minimally conscious ones as expected (Laureys, 2005). Studies with people with locked-in syndrome produced the same default mode network activity for healthy people, thus opening a question about treatment of these patients (Laureys, 2005).

   My own personal opinion about which brain areas are necessary for consciousness is based on the view that consciousness is elicited by a certain level of ´real-time` neuronal activity in the cortical brain areas dependent on the task/activity undertaken at the time. If we consider the brain memory mechanism, we know that we have awareness/consciousness at the beginning and end of the process (sensory stimuli and ´electrical image`), plus if applicable any conflict situations (as observed for example, in variable storage and the more complicated recall processes). Therefore, brain areas active at these times are appropriate to the task/activity at hand, e.g. the sensory pathways as well as those required for assisting systems such as attention and head movement. This creates in the cortex an overall widespread electrical representation of all events occurring at that time and this results in consciousness. Therefore, for example, consciousness, verbal report, awareness relate to activity in areas related to attention (e.g. focus on objects verbally reported); areas related to planning (e.g. verbal report of the next stage); and areas related to the emotional system (e.g. verbal report of how I feel).

   Why do I think the cortical areas are important? These areas are linked to planning, emotions, and reasoning. Greenfield (2000) said that a single brain area is not responsible for consciousness, but consciousness exists as a single entity, therefore neurons must have other functions. The physical manifestation of consciousness must be something that happens in/to ordinary brain cells at certain times but not others. With regards to sensory input and the conscious awareness of it, brain area activity at the lower levels, e.g. sensory organs, thalamus is required in humans before higher level activity takes place. However, consciousness is not linked just to brain area activity at the lower levels, proven by looking at sensory input (e.g. unattended information, information input in sleep, or in other species) and therefore brain areas at these lower levels are ruled out as the source of consciousness. There may be an indirect requirement of activity in these areas, but the source is likely to be ´higher`. Evidence from psychological theories for the involvement of the cortex is plentiful, e.g. Freeman`s  dynamical systems approach (2004) where global plane transitions occur over multiple areas of cortex and network theories such as Edelman and Tononi (2000).

   The connectivity between the thalamus and cortex is also considered by some as playing a major role in creating the conditions for the conscious experience. Theories supporting this are: the Searchlight theory of Crick (1984) and Crick and Koch (1990). This link between the thalamus and the cortex is also important in brain memory, e.g. sensory input comes in and is channelled through it and the emotional system and its physiological effects are also determined by its activity. Therefore, such connections are thought also important for consciousness, but it is more likely that the value of the thalamo-cortical link is probably more indirect in that it provides the conditions for consciousness, but is not its source. This is likely to be in the areas of the cortex.

area organisation

   The functional and structural organisation of modules with relation to brain memory is the same for all individuals. There may be subtleties in the level of functioning that lead to individuality for example, but on the whole the organisation remains the same for healthy individuals. In brain memory, the organisation represents the optimal way in which a task or activity can be dealt with and includes the lower level brain areas, e.g. those responsible for sensory input or head movements and higher level areas, e.g. those responsible for processing and storage. Therefore, the default brain memory organisational structure corresponds to: externally sourced stimuli capture, processing and storage; internally sourced stimuli processing and storage; movement pathways, attention modules and emotional pathway modules. Activation is consistent with task or activity and control can be bottom-up or top-down and the areas are from an organisational point of view ´joined` together either physically or hypothetically. Physical binding of modules is as its name suggests reliant on physical connectivity through proximity, neuronal firing mechanisms or other signalling mechanisms for example. Hypothetical connectivity is more esoteric and less well substantiated with suggestions of tunnelling nanotubes (Ananthaswamy, 2008) or quantum physics playing a role, e.g strings and string-nets (Merali, 2007).

   The most common and accepted description of brain area and modular organisation relating to consciousness is the Global Workspace Theory from Baars (1988) and this demonstrates similarities and differences to the brain memory mechanism which can be seen in detail in the book, ´Consciousness Disassembled`.   Although Global Workspace Theory (Baars, 1988) is the favoured structural and functional model for consciousness and is well-researched and well-supported, there are however variations, extensions and alternatives and these include Johnson-Laird`s Operating System Model of Consciousness (1988) and Shallice`s Supervisory System Model of Conscious Processing (1988).

´STATES`

general points

   The word ´state` applies to brain memory and consciousness, because in both there are physical internal ´conditions` (states) occurring which represent the external or internal stimuli and their inner workings. In brain memory, there is a dependency on neuronal firing for this state, on action potentials and routes capable of carrying electrical flow between one source and another. A ´state` is a condition involving more than one cell and perhaps more than one area and represents basically group activity in a specific period of time. In brain memory there are particular examples of what can be termed ´states`, for example: the emotional state - a ´real` state representing the activity of the emotional system, given by the expression of emotions; the attentional state - a ´real` state representing the activity of the attentional system; and two examples of hypothetical  ´states`: working memory state or working memory (Baddeley and Hitch, 1974), which is said to be the result of conflicting active neuronal groups equivalent to the incoming information and firing of cells part of the recorded version of the previous experience;  and the the electrical image (Salt, 2011), which is the internal electrical representation induced by the real-time stimulus and is the result of neuronal firing from sensory pathways or internal groupings.

   With regards to consciousness, Velmans (2000) described the mental state of consciousness and physical brain activity forming two sides of a single underlying process according to dual-aspect theory and Libet (2004) proposed that a non-physical  ´conscious mental field` is responsible for the unity and continuity of the subjective experience and for free will. It emerges from brain activity, but can then communicate within the cerebral cortex without using the neural connections and pathways.

   There are many suggestions as to what composes this state. Physiologically, unconscious processing of the stimuli leads to the conscious experience, which is physiologically represented by the ´state` of firing cells at the time, but psychologists suggest that the state is made up of, for example: a bundle or collection of different perceptions which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity (Hume, 1739); internal and external elements fused together to form complexes of experience which is seen as consciousness (Wundt, 1862); or neural patterns which make up the protoself and map the state of the organism moment by moment (Damasio, 1999). The neural patterns and inner representation views of the psychologists is supported here by the results of the two-drink scenario, which has allowed the determination of an informational component and emotional component making up the overall conscious state. 

 

consciousness and specific memory states

  The study summarised here looked at the question whether consciousness was equivalent to one of the two hypothetical states linked to brain memory: working memory and electrical image. The former, working memory has been linked on many occasions to consciousness, e.g. Baddeley´s Early and late Models of Working Memory (1974–2000) stated that consciousness resides in transactions between the central executive and episodic buffer; and McGovern and Baars (2007) in their examination of consciousness theories stated that a common theme was the relation between conscious content and working memory. Hypotheses on the brain memory mechanism describe the working memory state as resulting from incoming neuronal firing representing the external event and re-activated cells representing the stored memory in the sNCA. Based on Baddeley and Hitch`s (1974) working memory theory, the working memory state in this version appears in variable memory storage and in recall stages with lower levels and higher levels of processing, e.g. Stage 4 and Stages 10-14. It is not present in cases of sensory input (Stage 2, 3 early), ´as is` storage (Stage 5) and recall without processing (Stage 7,8). However, conscious awareness is present in all of these stages and hence, it can be said that consciousness cannot be said to be the same as working memory. 

   The other state said to be involved in brain memory is the electrical image, which is a hypothetical state (Salt, 2011) formed as a result of sensory input, perception, brain memory re-activation or working memory state processing. It is an inner representation of the strongest firing groups at any particular time and appears many times in the two-drink scenario. It represents that feeling ´I know what this is` (object recognition) or ´I know what to do now` for example (procedural memory). Considering this function, then it is clear that consciousness cannot be the same as ´electrical image`, since the ´electrical image` is highly specific for the event at hand consisting of information and an emotional component, appears in the recall stage or end stage and does not ´heighten`. It may appear that the unity of the electrical image is equivalent to the conscious awareness of one event through its content, but consciousness is more a ´blanket-effect` independent of event, is involved in all stages of the brain memory mechanism and two-drink scenario and can appear ´heightened` in fear situations. Therefore, the electrical image relates to information whether factual or emotional, whereas consciousness is more a state.

NEURONAL FIRING

firing mechanism

   Neuronal firing involved in brain memory mechanisms is well-researched and therefore, using this knowledge assumptions and deductions can be made about the firing mechanisms relating to consciousness. We can assume that the neuronal firing mechanisms used for brain memory are generally the same for consciousness, e.g. depolarisation and hyperpolarisation, electrical transmission, neurotransmitter-based firing and long-term potentiation (LTP), and NMDA synapse roles. This assumption can be made because the standard fundamental biochemical processes are the product of genetically controlled, development-dependent systems which satisfy the Reductionist theories of consciousness.

   In their views on eliminative materialism, Churchland (2002) equate conscious experiences with physical brain activity and this physical activity relates to neuronal firing. In 1866, Helmholz reported the first measurement of the speed of conduction of nerve signals, which was known as the velocity of thought. Investigations over the years has shown, consistent with the Global Workspace theory, a 270millisecond/300millisecond burst of activity then an explosion representing the point when the experience becomes global. Prefrontal cortex damage in multiple sclerosis sufferers showed an 18 millisecond delay in this explosion consistent with the role of this brain area in the conscious experience (work by Gaillard - Ananthaswamy, 2009). Neural correlates of consciousness theories show that there is likely to be distributed activity involving many different processing systems handling data from many modules to form the conscious experience and this may also be demonstrated by Llinas and colleagues` 40HZ oscillations (1998) or electromagnetic field changes (Lehmann et al, 1998; Pockett, 2000).  The conscious event showed that there was firing of many regions, including frontal and parietal areas.    

    However, firing does not immediately bring conscious awareness as shown by Libet`s study (1985) where electrical brain activity in preparation for carrying out an act was detected shortly before the intention of act appears in consciousness. In our own two-drink scenario described here we have two cases of the same delay - Stage 3 late before Stage 4; and more verbally, Stage 8 intuition against Stage 9 conscious realisation. In any visual input experiment there are well-reported delays between visual input and action and conscious awareness and verbal report e.g. catching a falling book and the reporting of the action.  Libet investigated the delay further in what became known as his ´half-second delay theory` (McCrone, 1999), which said that events only become conscious when the neurons involved in the somatosensory cortex have been firing for a sufficient length of time (half a second). The majority of neural activity remains unconscious because it is too fleeting (needs at least 0.5 sec according to Libet) or too unstable for neuronal adequacy. Sensory stimuli normally produce an evoked potential 10-20millisecs later in the relevant area of cortex. A single pulse applied direct to the thalamus took the same amount of time, but never produced conscious experience regardless of intensity, thus proving that although the thalamo-cortical interconnectivity is important the global experience is sourced in other modules. Libet concluded that it is the sufficient duration per se of appropriate neuronal activities that gives rise to the emergent phenomenon of subjective experience. However, unconscious processing or activity with a shorter duration than 0.5 millisecs can still be involved in an unconscious process or converted by sustained activation to a conscious one. He suggested that attention may work by increasing the excitability of certain areas so as to lengthen the duration of activity and so achieve the time-on for consciousness. This agrees with the brain memory mechanism advocated here (Salt, 2011) where the attentional system is required for sustained activation and ´holding`. Libet disagrees with Milner and Goodale`s view (1995) that location determines consciousness instead he advocates the view that the duration of firing is instead important.

   Related to the topic of delay is the study technique of antedating which is when the individual subjectively refers back to the actual time the stimulus happens. It was found that individuals could not accurately assess the point at which a stimulus occurred. This was further advanced with backward masking experiments such as the red-green light flash exchange. If according to Libet, 0.5 millisecs of activity is required for the conscious experience, then Dennett (1991) argued that the idea that there is a precise moment when something becomes conscious is wrong or misleading. He gave two options for those believing in a precise moment of conscious awareness, that of the Orwellian explanation where the new stimulus wipes out the old and the Stalinesque explanation where the individual says things happened which did not. As far as brain memory is concerned, can it be said that there is a precise point when something is recognised? Since most processing is being carried out unconsciously, then subliminal perception can give light on the subject. In this case, visual stimuli with a speed of around 16 millisecs were not perceived consciously with the subjective experience being between 30 and 50 millisecs slower.  

grouping and unity

   We can assume that neuronal firing is organised according to that described above with sensory pathways and cortical areas for brain memory; Global Workspace Theory and thalamo-cortical firing for consciousness and that neuronal groupings are formed as a result. These are seen with brain memory in the form of neuronal cell assemblies, electrical images, working memory, purpose tNCA etc. (Salt, 2011) and also appear in consciousness theories. Examples of work carried out on neuronal grouping observed in consciousness include Calvin (1996) who believed that all objects, actions, ideas are categorised under the term ´cerebral code` and that the brain may not contain ideas, but some kind of unit organisation, ´mind units`, realised in the physical assemblies of neurons. Reentrant dynamic core theory from Edelman and Tononi (2000) also used the idea of neuronal grouping. In this theory, consciousness results from the mechanism of re-entry amongst distant groups of neurons within the dynamic core of thalamo-cortical connections. Groups of neurons constantly compete and modulate each other, with the creation and alteration of synaptic links important. The victorious assembly (Crick and Koch´s coalition) leads to consciousness for a few seconds (brain memory`s electrical image) until a new coalition of neurons bypass it. Greenfield also supports the idea of neuronal groupings and stated in 2000 that consciousness involves large groupings of brain cells working together as vast active assemblies. Activation of these cells leads to levels of consciousness similar to a  ´dimmer switch`. Groupings have even been constructed in the form of a computer model. Aleksander and Morton (2007) used an artificial neural network, MAGNUS (Multi-Automata General Neural Unit Structure),  to study how real neurons in the brain operate.

   As far as the two-drink scenario goes, neuronal groupings represent the conscious experience at any one time and consists of an informational element and an emotional element in a way similar to brain memory. We can also assume that within neuronal firing groupings, connectivity (physical and/or hypothetical) is demonstrated that is similar for both brain memory and consciousness. In brain memory, both types of connectivity are observed. Physical connectivity is responsible for firing paths, is likely to be genetically controlled, formed and maintained (associated with suprachiasmatic nucleus, thalamus and hippocampus activity) and exists between brain areas, within brain areas and within neuronal groupings themselves. Brain memory formation is likely to involve the creation of connections or strengthening pre-existing ones between actively firing neurons within groups. These hypothetical connections described in brain memory depend on the individual, i.e. within the neuronal cell assemblies and are connections that link characteristics of an event specific to an individual and the individuals perceiving and processing equipment. Are these hypothetical connections more ´fluid` than physical ones? If we look at the dreaming state in sleep we see weird connections in the brain between events and pieces of information. This suggests that this type of connectivity is changeable, but these connections do not remain since on waking the connectivity between events goes back to that available in the awake state. This may be indicative of the brain memory system, e.g. sustained activation must occur before something is learnt (not achieved in sleep state), or ´electrical image` formation (the electrical image is formed when details of an event are stimulated, details form through the strength of firing, categorisation etc.).

   With regards to consciousness, the conscious experience shows connectivity for its features and this is termed as a unified experience, a view well supported in the literature, e.g. Dennett`s Multiple Drafts theory (1991), Edelman and Tononi`s Reentrant Dynamic Core Theory (2000). According to this study, although the conscious experience is unified the sensory experience is considered as being non-unified due to it consisting of three components: the conscious experience - unified; possible identifiable unconsciously processed material - unified; and unidentifiable, unconsciously processed material - non-unified. Differences in speed of neuronal production probably cause the sensory experience as a whole to be non-unified. Certain components are unified as far as content goes, but not as far as time frames are concerned and the rest is constantly changing and incomplete.

   The study also introduced the topic of  divided attention to particular stages, compartmentalisation in terms of consciousness. In divided attention or compartmentalisation, there is attended/unattended (conscious/non-conscious) information for one object and attended/unattended (conscious/non-conscious)  information for another object and focus or awareness switches between the options. Switching probably involves those mechanisms required for Posner`s orienting control network (1980) with activity in many brain areas such as the pulvinar nucleus of the thalamus, superior colliculus, superior parietal lobe and superior temporal lobe a requirement.

  In neuronal firing terms, Crick and Koch (1995) investigated the binding of features and consciousness and found associated oscillations of 35-75 HZ referred to as gamma oscillations and Llinas and colleagues (1998) described 40 HZ oscillations. Crick suggested that these might be the neural correlate of visual awareness. He suggested that the thalamus controls attention by selecting the features to be bound together by synchronisation of firing. Later, in 2003, this view was changed saying that 40HZ oscillations were not a sufficient condition for the neural correlates of consciousness and instead argued that the primary role of synchrony is to assist one nascent coalition in its competition with others. The features of one single object or event are bound together when they form one part of one coalition and that coalition may involve neurons widely distributed over the brain.

    As far as brain areas go, cortex and thalamus interconnectivity was cited as important for consciousness and a self-regulating feedback circuit which binds the processes of the brain (Baars, 1988). This theme is continued in the Edelman and Tononi (2000) Reentrant Dynamic Core Theory which suggested that the interconnectivity was important for binding and unity of the conscious experience. In this theory consciousness results from the mechanism of reentry amongst distant groups of neurons within the dynamic core of thalamo-cortical connections. The spatiotemporal coordination provided by reentry allows binding of several elements into a single coherent object or even providing a solution to the binding problem. 

   My own view on connectivity within the neuronal grouping representing the conscious experience is that the same physical and hypothetical mechanisms that serve the neuronal groupings present in brain memory apply here. Since the conscious experience was neither the working memory state nor the electrical image because both are informationally more extensive and lack the capability to heighten their levels, the characteristics however of both link with the conscious experience and therefore, it is likely that the biochemical mechanisms do as well.

timing  

   We can assume that the neural firing mechanisms involved in consciousness demonstrate an appreciation of time similar to brain memory. All three time frames exist in the use of memories with memory itself implying past time and this is seen on a neuronal firing basis as long-term potentiation (LTP) of the cells bound together in the relevant neuronal cell groupings. The present time is involved in all three stages and is represented by neuronal firing mechanisms such as cell firing through depolarisation/hyperpolarisation as well as firing decay and refractory periods. Two situations can remove brain memory processing from physical time even if order determined by physiological systems remains and these are top-down processing (e.g. by conscious thinking, self-control) and bottom-up control such as that observed in ´holding` in the fear situation. In this later case, this is the responsibility of the attentional system. Future time linked to brain memory function occurs in the individual`s ability to project forward using past experiences and present time processing.

   Time and timing is not just the enforcement of firing restrictions, but also implies synchronicity between features of the same event and this is observed in the electrical image and the working memory state. Synchronicity of firing in brain memory activity implies time and time-frames. It is demonstrated by brain waves and sequences (includes stimulus-action sequences such as conditioning, procedural memory as well as sequences of information such as music, language).

   Unlike brain memory which has a relationship to all three time frames, consciousness can be said to purely ´exist` in ´real-time`. There is no memory of consciousness, hence it has no past and an individual cannot predict consciousness, hence it has no future. In this way it is similar to attention, which exists in real-time although it is recorded indirectly through the emotional tag. This view is supported by psychologist theories such as Blackmore (2005) with consciousness not doing anything, only simply what it is like to be the individual now, the teletransporter experiment of Parfit (1984) where at any one time there are snapshots of awareness, Damasio`s (1999) neural patterns of the protoself mapping the current state of the organism, Dennett`s narratives in the multiple draft theory (1991) and other non-enduring consciousness theories such as the bundle theories.  This ´real-time` consciousness probably corresponds in part to the physical mechanisms involved in it, i.e. the neuronal firing plus a physical appreciation of time (e.g. firing order, saccades, refractory period, firing decay). If we look at conscious awareness of visual features, we see real-time input using the physiological visual pathway and a conversion of information from the external environment into the internal one. This input takes place in real-time since it responds to the neuronal firing timing mechanisms in the form of threshold (there is a threshold at which visual input is perceived or not and leads to whether the information is considered attended or unattended) and refractory period. Stage 2 of the two-drink scenario is an example of this. Visual input can be stored in the form of memories (not real-time), but re-activation of memories will bring the information back into the present time, e.g. Stage 4, at which point the features will be accessible again. According to neuronal firing rules, the visual experience will decay if not sustained due to the refractory period attributed to the firing. This corresponds to the psychologist theories on visual experience where one conscious event is taken over by another stronger one, e.g. Dennett`s multiple drafts (1991).  Other processes relying on real-time neuronal firing include conscious thinking even if it draws on information from previous experiences, the monitoring of conflict by the attentional system and the overall working level (OWL) for the emotional component of both brain memory (emotional tag) and consciousness.

   So far, we have seen time and timing as a characteristic of neuronal firing, but the brain memory and consciousness systems are more than just hard, physiological processing with regards to this topic. There are also ´feelings about time` and an appreciation of time. This highlights one of the differences between the two concepts of consciousness with mental consciousness having no time appreciation supported by Harth (1995) who said that consciousness has no sense of the past, present and future and brain consciousness having it. In this case, Humphrey (2006) reported that the existence of consciousness has something to do with what he called temporal thickness.  Appreciation of time is important in this scenario as an awareness of task performance through pressure to complete and actual length of time spent on the task. In some stages, there is no awareness of time passing, e.g. Stage 1, Stage 5, in some there is mental appreciation of time passing, but no time pressure, e.g. Stage 8 after identification of the two drinks and some where there is both physical and mental time appreciation components, e.g. Stage 3 and 4. But, from the results from the scenario I concluded that there is no definitive link between consciousness and time function with sometimes there being mental appreciation, sometimes mental pressure, but always physical appreciation due to neuronal firing etc.

CELLULAR ASPECTS  

   This section describes my own personal view of the neural correlates of consciousness at the cellular level. We know that the brain memory mechanism relies on appropriate physiological structure and function of brain areas from the lower levels to the higher cortical levels. We can ask the same question of consciousness: is it because of brain physiology that consciousness occurs, or is it because of what humans can do (e.g. memory capability, cognitive functions like decision-making) that consciousness exists? The previous sections describe how and when consciousness occurs, the content of the conscious experience and what affects it and this section shows how these are brought about physiologically and biochemically from brain area activity to neuronal firing. This section looks at the neural correlates of consciousness at the cellular level.

   If we look at a schematic view of consciousness then consciousness (or the mind) is normally depicted as occurring outside the head. We are familiar with the picture of the person thinking with the big question mark in the bubble placed above. In reality, of course, consciousness actually occurs within the head either completely, or diagrammatically like a ´cloud` inside the head and a small field around it, e.g. aura, Kirilian photography. Proof is of course that electrodes need to be placed on the head to see it functioning (e.g. imaging, brain waves), and if consciousness existed outside the brain we would constantly be affected by others consciousness` if standing close, e.g. if we stood in a queue for example thinking would be a shared action rather than something private. The physical interpretation of consciousness therefore should be more like  a solid container with a definitive shape given by the skull and all cognitive effects drawn within. The cellular basis therefore for consciousness, just like for memory, comes from the physiology within the brain. The brain has unusual physiological features such as the need for glucose as energy source, the sensitivity to pH with the lunar cycle causing changes in the blood system. It must be assumed that these unusual features plus the cellular physiology in some way are important for cognitive functioning including consciousness. Physiological factors possibly involved in consciousness could be: the capability of the brain to function as a network, appropriate cell genetics and development, the importance of cell membranes, the possible importance of cell spacing, the importance of cytoplasm (including water properties) and the formation of waves, currents and fields due to activity (including electrical and magnetic and the more hypothetical, chi energy). More detailed discussion is given in the book, ´Consciousness Disassembled`. 

DISCUSSION

   The views expressed here and in the book, ´Consciousness Disassembled`  are my own based on the research, studies, opinions and thoughts of others and the results of looking at consciousness using a simple, common example of every day behaviour.  The book begins with consciousness viewed as a ´whole`, or ´assembled` and then continues by disassembling it into the modules and capabilities described as playing parts in it and seeing how they are affected during the fourteen stages of the scenario. This discussion section ´reassembles` consciousness again and looks at it from two perspectives: the ´hard` science, i.e. the biochemical pathways, scientific observations, psychological studies (the neural correlates of consciousness); and the more what could be termed the ´touchy-feely` side of consciousness relating to personal opinions, individual observations and decisions, and a reliance on first-hand report.

    From the ´hard` science side, then the physiology of consciousness is discussed relying on information from the brain memory mechanism. Topics such as brain area activity, organisation, as well as neuronal firing and cellular mechanisms are included. Also the results of this physiology and functioning such as the conscious experience itself content-wise or from a timing perspective, unity and compartmentalisation are discussed.

    The second part of the consciousness discussion relates to the ´touchy-feely` side, by which I mean the more subjective and personal experience aspect and discussion centres on answering the questions, ´Who am I?` and ´What makes my actions unique?` The former leads to looking at ´I, the experiencer` and looks at what defines the quality of my experiences, not just by investigating what determines what I experience, but also by looking at what I ignore. The latter means the route to my actions through thought, problem solving and decision-making. Discussion centres around how I make decisions and whether or not I am in control of what I decide or whether my path is pre-determined.

   The full discussion of both aspects can be read in the book, ´Consciousness Disassembled`.