The Misunderstood Higher-Order Approach to Consciousness

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Critics have often misunderstood the higher-order theory (HOT) of consciousness. Here we clarify its position on several issues, and distinguish it from other views such as the global workspace theory (GWT) and early sensory models, such as first-order local recurrency theory. The criticism that HOT over- intellectualizes conscious experience is inaccurate because in reality the theory assumes minimal cognitive functions for consciousness; in this sense it is an intermediate position between GWT and early sensory views, and plausibly accounts for shortcomings of both. Further, compared to other existing theories, HOT can more readily account for complex everyday experiences, such as of emotions and episodic memories, and make HOT potentially useful as a framework for conceptualizing pathological mental states.
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