Convergence: Connecting Levels of Analysis in Psychological Science
 In the past, our field harbored distinct, and often competing, schools of thought that tackled different problems and produced findings that often appeared to diverge. Today, investigators attack shared problems at complementary levels of analysis and produce results that converge. Studies of people in a social world; mental systems of cognition and emotion; and biological mechanisms of the genome and the nervous system interconnect and yield an integrated psychological science. The APS 23rd Annual Convention displays, and celebrates, these advances in our field.

Consciousness: From Neural Systems to Phenomenological Experience

An Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness

Friday, May 27, 2011, 2:00 PM - 2:45 PM
International Ballroom West

Giulio Tononi

Giulio Tononi
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Over the past decades, studies have investigated the neural correlates of consciousness with increasing precision. However, why experience is generated by the cortex and not the cerebellum, why it fades during certain stages of sleep and returns in others, or why some cortical areas endow experience with colors and others with sound, remains unexplained. Moreover, key questions remain unanswered. For example, how much consciousness is there when only a few brain 'islands' remain active? How much is there during sleepwalking or psychomotor seizures? Are newborns conscious, and to what extent? Are animals conscious, how much, and which way? Can a conscious machine be built? To address such questions, researchers need to complement empirical observations with a principled theoretical approach. The information integration theory (IIT) posits that i) the quantity of consciousness corresponds to the amount of information generated by a complex of elements above and beyond its parts, and ii) the quality of experience is specified by the informational relationships within that complex. The IIT not only accounts for several neurobiological observations, it specifies how the quantity of consciousness can be measured as the amount of integrated information (ɸ) generated by a system.

This is part of the Consciousness: From Neural Systems to Phenomenological Experience Theme Program. Additional Speakers

Giulio Tononi in the news: The New York Times (Sept 20, 2010), AltriMondi (Oct 19, 2010), and OGGI (Nov 5, 2010).

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