Anesthesia and Consciousess

Journal of Cognition and Neuroethics 5 (1):49-69 (2018)
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For patients under anesthesia, it is extremely important to be able to ascertain from a scientific, third person point of view to what extent consciousness is correlated with specific areas of brain activity. Errors in accurately determining when a patient is having conscious states, such as conscious perceptions or pains, can have catastrophic results. Here, I argue that the effects of (at least some kinds of) anesthesia lend support to the notion that neither basic sensory areas nor the prefrontal cortex (PFC) is sufficient to produce conscious states. I also argue that it this is consistent with and supportive of the higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness. I therefore disagree in some ways with Mehta and Mashour (2013), who argue that evidence from anesthesia mainly favors a first-order representational (FOR) theory, as opposed to HOT theory (and many other theories, for that matter).

Author's Profile

Rocco J. Gennaro
University of Southern Indiana


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