Towards a true neural stance on consciousness

Trends Cogn Sci. 2006 Nov;10(11):494-501. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2006.09.001. Epub 2006 Sep 25.


Consciousness is traditionally defined in mental or psychological terms. In trying to find its neural basis, introspective or behavioral observations are considered the gold standard, to which neural measures should be fitted. I argue that this poses serious problems for understanding the mind-brain relationship. To solve these problems, neural and behavioral measures should be put on an equal footing. I illustrate this by an example from visual neuroscience, in which both neural and behavioral arguments converge towards a coherent scientific definition of visual consciousness. However, to accept this definition, we need to let go of our intuitive or psychological notions of conscious experience and let the neuroscience arguments have their way. Only by moving our notion of mind towards that of brain can progress be made.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Behavior / physiology
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Consciousness / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Split-Brain Procedure