Neurodynamics of mind: the arrow illusion of conscious intentionality as downward causation

Integr Psychol Behav Sci. 2010 Jun;44(2):127-43. doi: 10.1007/s12124-010-9117-8. Epub 2010 Mar 27.


In cognitive neuroscience, the reissue of the notion of emergence and downward causation has been used as an interlevel model of mind-brain interactions from different perspectives. Within this perspective, intentionality has been interpreted as global to local determination (downward causation) on the neurophysiological level. Consciousness would act as the large-scale, global activity of the system that governs or constrains local interactions of neurons. This argument seems to solve several difficulties with regard to descriptions of consciousness on a neurophysiological and mental level. Nevertheless, the inconsistencies of this argument are shown, and a contextual and pragmatic explanation of the downward causation of consciousness is given.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology
  • Causality*
  • Consciousness
  • Humans
  • Mental Processes / physiology*