Deciding to Report: Consciousness as a Social Affordance

Mar 06, 2020 12:00pm


Michael Shadlen
Columbia University


Sage Center, Psychology 1312


Building on the foundation of the previous lecture, I will shape the window on cognition into a lens through which seemingly elusive problems may be rendered conspicuous. I will present experimental evidence that the transition from non-conscious mental processing to conscious awareness is in essence a decision. The experiment uses Libet’s mental chronometry, so it also touches on the topic of free will and responsibility. I will expand on the intentional—as opposed to representational—framework for the brain’s computational architecture, introduced in Lecture 1, to sketch a view of knowledge and phenomenology as affordance, focusing mainly on the parietal cortex. Further, all experiences afford the possibility of reporting to another agent or oneself in the future. I will explain why this special ‘reporting affordance’ brings consciousness into focus.





Research Area

Cognition, Perception, and Cognitive Neuroscience