Go to Publication »

Should a Few Null Findings Falsify Prefrontal Theories of Conscious Perception?

J Neurosci. 2017 Oct 04;37(40):9593-9602

Authors: Odegaard B, Knight RT, Lau H

Is activity in prefrontal cortex (PFC) critical for conscious perception? Major theories of consciousness make distinct predictions about the role of PFC, providing an opportunity to arbitrate between these views empirically. Here we address three common misconceptions: (1) PFC lesions do not affect subjective perception; (2) PFC activity does not reflect specific perceptual content; and (3) PFC involvement in studies of perceptual awareness is solely driven by the need to make reports required by the experimental tasks rather than subjective experience per se. These claims are incompatible with empirical findings, unless one focuses only on studies using methods with limited sensitivity. The literature highlights PFC’s essential role in enabling the subjective experience in perception, contra the objective capacity to perform visual tasks; conflating the two can also be a source of confusion.Dual Perspectives Companion Paper: Are the Neural Correlates of Consciousness in the Front or in the Back of the Cerebral Cortex? Clinical and Neuroimaging Evidence, by Melanie Boly, Marcello Massimini, Naotsugu Tsuchiya, Bradley R. Postle, Christof Koch, and Giulio Tononi.

PMID: 28978696 [PubMed – in process]