Consciousness, Attention, and the Motivation-Affect System

Journal of Consciousness Studies 30 (7):139-163 (2023)
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It is an important feature of creatures like us that our various motivations compete for control over our behaviour, including mental behaviour such as imagining and attending. In large part, this competition is adjudicated by the stimulation of affect — the intrinsically pleasant or unpleasant aspects of experience. In this paper I argue that the motivation-affect system controls a sub-type of attention called 'alerting attention' to bring various goals and stimuli to consciousness and thereby prioritize those contents for action. This view allows me to flesh out the global workspace theory of consciousness, as well as some of the phenomenal characteristics of conscious experience.

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Tom Cochrane
Flinders University


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