Criteria for consciousness in humans and other animals
Topics:Theory of Consciousness
Keywords:Accurate report; Brain physiology; Criteria; Mammals; Thalamocortical system
Deposited by:Dr Anil Seth
Date of Issue:2005
Journal/Publication Title:Consciousness and Cognition
Abstract:The standard behavioral index for human consciousness is the ability to report events with accuracy. While this method is routinely used for scientific and medical applications in humans, it is not easy to generalize to other species. Brain evidence may lend itself more easily to comparative testing. Human consciousness involves widespread, relatively fast low-amplitude interactions in the thalamocortical core of the brain, driven by current tasks and conditions. These features have also been found in other mammals, which suggests that consciousness is a major biological adaptation in mammals. We suggest more than a dozen additional properties of human consciousness that may be used to test comparative predictions. Such homologies are necessarily more remote in non-mammals, which do not share the thalamocortical complex. However, as we learn more we may be able to make â€œdeeperâ€ predictions that apply to some birds, reptiles, large-brained invertebrates, and perhaps other species.