Higher-Order Memory Schema and Conscious Experience

Cognitive Neuropsychology 37 (3-4):213-215 (2020)
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In the interesting and thought-provoking article Grazziano and colleagues argue for their Attention Schema Theory (AST) of consciousness. They present AST as a unification of Global Workspace Theory (GWT), Illusionism, and the Higher-Order Thought (HOT) theory. We argue it is a mistake to equate 'subjective experience,' ad related terms, with dualism. They simply denote experience. Also, as presented, AST does not accurately capture the essence of HOT for two reasons. HOT is presented as a version of strong illusionism, which it isn't, and HOT requires that one be aware of one's mental life, and postulates that his consists in a re-representation of what is occurring at at the lower-order levels. However, the authors deny that AST involves re-representing visual stimuli. We close by proposing an alternative unification: GWT and AST provide crucial accounts of how lower-order states are assembled and maintained, but higher-order theory provides the account of subjective experience.

Author Profiles

Richard Brown
LaGuardia Community College (CUNY)
Joseph LeDoux
New York University


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