"The only way we get certainty or stability in the world is to start from what we know, and gradually move to what we don't know."
- Bernard Baars, PhD, originator of the Global Workspace Theory, a theory of cognitive architecture and consciousness.
Episode 13: "Thinking About Animal Consciousness"
The question of whether some non-human animals are capable of awareness has vexed psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers of mind for many decades. In the final episode of Season One of The Podcast On Consciousness, Bernard Baars and David Edelman attempt to demystify animal consciousness. They suggest a comparative framework for investigating subjectivity that considers the human case as a benchmark, but at the same time emphasizes a kind of behavioral output as a form of report, akin to the language-based reports used in studies of human consciousness.
0:04 – Intro
1:38 – Where in the brain is consciousness located?
7:44 – Consciousness in non-mammalian animals
11:00 – The visual cortex
17:15 – How is consciousness defined?
25:01 - Behaviors as markers for subjectivity
30:02 –Sensory consciousness and higher order self-awareness
34:14 – Do cephalopods belong to the big C-club?
40:22 – The awareness of the self
David Edelman, PhD: A neuroscientist and currently Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, David has taught neuroscience at the University of San Diego and UCSD. He was Professor of Neuroscience at Bennington College until 2014 and visiting professor in the Department of Psychology, CUNY Brooklyn College from 2015-2017.
He has conducted research in a wide range of areas, including mechanisms of gene regulation, the relationship between mitochondrial transport and brain activity, and visual perception in the octopus. A longstanding interest in the neural basis of consciousness led him to consider the importance—and challenge—of disseminating a more global view of brain function to a broad audience.
Bernard Baars is best known as the originator of global workspace theory and global workspace dynamics,a theory of human cognitive architecture, the cortex and consciousness. Bernie is a former Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Editor in Chief of the Society for MindBrain Sciences. He is author of many scientific papers, articles, essays, chapters, and acclaimed books and textbooks.
Bernie is the recipient of the 2019 Hermann von Helmholtz Life Contribution Award by the International Neural Network Society, which recognizes work in perception proven to be paradigm changing and long-lasting.
He teaches science. It keeps him out of trouble.
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