The biological function of consciousness

Brian Leonard Earl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This research is an investigation of whether consciousness-one s ongoing experience-influences one s behavior and, if so, how. Analysis of the components, structure, properties, and temporal sequences of consciousness has established that, (1) contrary to one s intuitive understanding, consciousness does not have an active, executive role in determining behavior (2) consciousness does have a biological function; and (3) consciousness is solely information in various forms. Consciousness is associated with a flexible response mechanism (FRM) for decision-making, planning, and generally responding in nonautomatic ways. The FRM generates responses by manipulating information and, to function effectively, its data input must be restricted to task-relevant information. The properties of consciousness correspond to the various input requirements of the FRM; and when important information is missing from consciousness, functions of the FRM are adversely affected; both of which indicate that consciousness is the input data to the FRM. Qualitative and quantitative information (shape, size, location, etc.) are incorporated into the input data by a qualia array of colors, sounds, and so on, which makes the input conscious. This view of the biological function of consciousness provides an explanation why we have experiences; why we have emotional and other feelings, and why their loss is associated with poor decision-making; why blindsight patients do not spontaneously initiate responses to events in their blind field; why counter-habitual actions are only possible when the intended action is in mind; and the reason for inattentional blindness
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 18
Number of pages18
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume5
Issue number(Art. No: 697)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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