The architecture of consciousness

  • Bayne, Timothy (PI)

Project Details


The nature of consciousness is one of the great unsolved mysteries of science. Although the global research effort dedicated to explaining how consciousness arises from neural and cognitive activity is now more than two decades old, as yet there is no widely accepted theory of consciousness. One reason for why no adequate theory of consciousness has yet been found is that there is a lack of clarity about what exactly a theory of consciousness needs to explain. What is needed is thus a model of the general features of consciousness — a model of the ‘architecture’ of consciousness — that will systematise the structural differences between conscious states, processes and creatures on the one hand and unconscious states, processes and creatures on the other. The aim of this project is to remove one of the central impediments to the progress of the science of consciousness by constructing such a model.

A great many of the data required for this task already exist, but these data concern different aspects of consciousness and are distributed across many disciplines. As a result, there have been few attempts to develop a truly comprehensive model of the architecture of consciousness. This project will overcome the limitations of previous work by drawing on research in philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, and cognitive neuroscience to develop a model of the architecture of consciousness that is structured around five of its core features: its subjectivity, its temporality, its unity, its selectivity, and its dimensionality (that is, the relationship between the levels of consciousness and the contents of consciousness). By providing a comprehensive characterization of what a theory of consciousness needs to explain, this project will provide a crucial piece of the puzzle of consciousness, enabling future generations of researchers to bridge the gap between raw data on the one hand and a full-blown theory of consciousness on the other.

Project Acronym: Archofcon
Short titleR:HSP Archofcon
Effective start/end date1/03/1328/02/18


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