Consciousness as Recursive, Spatiotemporal Self Location

Psychological Research (2010)
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Abstract

At the phenomenal level, consciousness can be described as a singular, unified field of recursive self-awareness, consistently coherent in a particualr way; that of a subject located both spatially and temporally in an egocentrically-extended domain, such that conscious self-awareness is explicitly characterized by I-ness, now-ness and here-ness. The psychological mechanism underwriting this spatiotemporal self-locatedness and its recursive processing style involves an evolutionary elaboration of the basic orientative reference frame which consistently structures ongoing spatiotemporal self-location computations as i-here-now. Cognition computes action-output in the midst of ongoing movement, and consequently requires a constant self-locating spatiotemporal reference frame as basis for these computations. Over time, constant evolutionary pressures for energy efficiency have encouraged both the proliferation of anticipative feedforward processing mechansims, and the elaboration, at the apex of the sensorimotor processing hierarchy, of self-activating, highly attenuated recursively-feedforward circuitry processing the basic orientational schema independent of external action output. As the primary reference frame of active waking cognition, this recursive i-here-now processing generates a zone of subjective self-awareness in terms of which it feels like something to be oneself here and now. This is consciousness.

Author's Profile

Frederic Peters
University of New England (United States)

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