AVOIDING NEUROSCIENCE’S PROBLEMS WITH VISUAL IMAGES: EVIDENCE THAT RETINAS ARE CONSCIOUS

Abstract

Neuroscience hasn’t shown how quite similar sensory circuits encode quite different colors and other qualia, nor how the unified pictorial form of images is encoded, nor how these codes yield conscious images. Neuroscience’s fixation here on cortical codes may be the culprit. Treating conscious images partly as retinal substances may avoid these problems. The evidence for conscious retinal images is that (a) the cortical codes for images are quite problematic, (b) injecting retinas with certain genes turns dichromats into trichromats without cortical help, (c) retinas can discern colors by themselves without cortex, (d) retinal distortions appear in images but cortical distortions don’t, (e) retinal detectors support finely detailed colors, but V4 detectors don’t, due to their big receptive fields, (f) retinal activity has pictorial form, but viable cortical codes for pictorial form don’t exist. So, the colors and unified pictorial form of images arguably arise mainly across arrays of retinal detectors—not from abstract cortical codes. Images may be hidden in retinal activity beyond what EEGs show of it (cf. Strawson’s monism). Also, cortex refines these retinal images but cortical impairment (anesthesia, lesions, etc.) blocks awareness of them, for they’re no longer accessible to the mind’s subject-centered consciousness, resident in cortex. This proposal is largely testable and based in recent evidence. It avoids neuroscience’s elusive, problematic coded images and enigmatic explanations of how they become conscious.

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Mostyn W. Jones
University of Manchester (PhD)

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2024-05-13

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