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Theme issue of Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B

A Theme issue compiled and edited by Morten Overgaard and Peter Fazekas has just been published in Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B. Title: Perceptual consciousness and cognitive access

Perceptual consciousness and cognitive access

The question of how our subjective experiences (colours as we see them; sounds as we hear them; tastes as we feel them, etc.) can be accounted for in terms of brain processes is regarded as one of the biggest unsolved problems in science. One of the most pressing questions is whether the neural basis of this ‘perceptual consciousness’ is independent of the neural basis of cognitive access mechanisms that make reporting and reflecting on conscious experiences possible. Subjective experiences are directly available only to the individual having them, so subjective reports seem to be the only measure of being conscious. However, if perceptual consciousness is independent of the access mechanisms underlying subjective reports, then the neural correlates of reporting will confound experiments relying on subjective reports to measure the presence of conscious experiences.

This theme issue focuses on this central problem of consciousness research by bringing together a cohort of international experts to tackle this question from neural, behavioural and theoretical perspectives. The papers critically discuss state-of-the-art empirical findings, identify methodological problems and propose novel approaches.


  • Introduction Perceptual consciousness and cognitive access Peter Fazekas and Morten Overgaard
  • Why and how access consciousness can account for phenomenal consciousness Lionel Naccache
  • Challenges for theories of consciousness: seeing or knowing, the missing ingredient and how to deal with panpsychism Victor AF Lamme
  • The offline stream of conscious representations Claire Sergent
  • Phenomenal consciousness and cognitive access Morten Overgaard
  • Downgraded phenomenology: how conscious overflow lost its richness Emily J Ward
  • Consciousness without report: insights from summary statistics and inattention ‘blindness’ Marius Usher, Zohar Z Bronfman, Shiri Talmor, Hilla Jacobson and Baruch Eitam
  • Inflation versus filling-in: why we feel we see more than we actually do in peripheral vision Brian Odegaard, Min Yu Chang, Hakwan Lau and Sing-Hang Cheung
  • The methodological puzzle of phenomenal consciousness Ian Phillips
  • Partial report is the wrong paradigm James Stazicker
  • Conscious access in the near absence of attention: critical extensions on the dual-task paradigm Julian Matthews, Pia Schröder, Lisandro Kaunitz, Jeroen JA van Boxtel and Naotsugu Tsuchiya
  • The relationship between attention and consciousness: an expanded taxonomy and implications for ‘no-report’ paradigms Michael A Pitts, Lydia A Lutsyshyna and Steven A Hillyard
  • Perceptual consciousness and cognitive access from the perspective of capacity-unlimited working memory Steven Gross
  • Dream experiences and the neural correlates of perceptual consciousness and cognitive access Peter Fazekas and Georgina Nemeth
  • Reorganization of the connectivity between elementary functions as a common mechanism of phenomenal consciousness and working memory: from functions to strategies Jesper Mogensen and Morten Overgaard
  • Facing up to the hard question of consciousness Daniel C Dennett
  • If perception is probabilistic, why does it not seem probabilistic? Ned Block

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