Conscious Perception and the Prefrontal Cortex A Review

Journal of Consciousness Studies 29 (7-8):115-157 (2022)
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Is perceptual processing in dedicated sensory areas sufficient for conscious perception? Localists say ‘Yes—given some background conditions.’ Prefrontalists say ‘No: conscious perceptual experience requires the involvement of prefrontal structures.’ I review the evidence for prefrontalism. I start by presenting correlational evidence. In doing so, I answer the ‘report argument’, according to which the apparent involvement of the prefrontal cortex in consciousness stems from the requirement for reports. I then review causal evidence for prefrontalism and answer the ‘lesion argument’, which purports to show that prefrontalism is wrong because lesions to the prefrontal cortex do not abolish consciousness. I conclude that multiple sources of evidence converge toward the view that the prefrontal cortex plays a significant role in consciousness.

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Matthias Michel
New York University


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