The 4th annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC 4)

The Unity of Consciousness: Binding, Integration and Dissociation

June 29 - July 2, 2000

Brussels, the Université Libre de Bruxelles

Consciousness has many elements, from sensory experiences such as vision, audition, and bodily sensation, to nonsensory aspects such as volition, emotion, memory, and thought. The apparent unity of these elements is striking: all are presented to us as experiences of a single subject, and all seem to be contained within a unified field of experience. But this apparent unity raises many questions. How do diverse systems in the brain co-operate to produce a unified experience? Are there conditions under which this unity breaks down? And is conscious experience really unified at all?

In recent years, these questions have been addressed by researchers in many fields. Neurophysiologists and computational modelers have investigated the mechanisms by which binding and integration of disparate information may take place in the brain, producing a unified experience. Neuropsychological research has documented a large variety of dissociation disorders in which damage to specific brain regions leads to dissociated experiences, suggesting the apparent disintegration of a unified subject. Cognitive psychologists have investigated the role of attention and learning in the integration of information, and have examined conditions under which perception and action, or subjective experience and behavior, can become dissociated. Some cognitive modelers have suggested that unity is a mere illusion, while others have emphasized the role of a central unifying system in integrating sensory and motor experience. And philosophers have analyzed just what the unity of consciousness comes to, and whether we have reason to believe that it exists.

The fourth ASSC conference will bring together researchers from numerous disciplines to discuss these issues. Topics that will be addressed include:

  • the role of synchronous oscillations in binding and integration
  • other neurophysiological mechanisms for integration of information
  • computational models of binding, integration, and unity
  • neuropsychological disorders with dissociation of experience
  • the role of attention and learning in unification of experience
  • dissociations between perception, thought, and action
  • implicit vs. explicit aspects of knowledge and learning
  • dissociations between perceptual systems
  • the relationship between information integration and unified experience
  • analysis of the concept of unity
  • unification of consciousness and self across time
  • the existence or nonexistence of unified consciousness


ASSC4 is sponsored by: