For decades, neuroscientists have been trying to find a plausible explanation for how our subjective experience could emerge from processes in the brain. Early work by Christof Koch and Francis Crick on the neural basis of consciousness argued that consciousness can be approached empirically by identifying the neural correlates of consciousness (NCCs). Past experiments attempted to identify the NCCs using common manipulations like backward masking to interfere with conscious perception. Although the use of this method suggests many different candidate NCCs, in theory, using any one manipulation alone to identify the neural processes that define consciousness is limited. It becomes difficult to determine which candidate NCCs are specific to the manipulation, and which are general properties of consciousness. The primary aim of this project is to identify more generalizable NCCs, by using a different and more innovative approach: the “triangulation” method. Using electro-encephalography (EEG) to record brain data, this approach will compare the results of three different manipulations of visual perception: backward masking, dichoptic color fusion, and inattentional blindness. With these contrasting manipulations, we will assess the overlap in putative correlates in response to the very same visual stimuli and in the same human subjects. By triangulating across the three manipulations, we will be focusing on the commonalities in their results, with the goal of isolating NCCs that can generalize across experiments. Using data-driven machine-learning analyses, the triangulation approach may lead us one step closer to identifying the genuine neural correlates of conscious visual experience.
Quach, Sarah, "Triangulating Neural Correlates of Consciousness" (2023). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 581.
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