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Why Neural Synchrony Fails to Explain the Unity of Visual Consciousness

Eric LaRock
Behavior and Philosophy
Vol. 34 (2006), pp. 39-58
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27759519
Page Count: 20
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Why Neural Synchrony Fails to Explain the Unity of Visual Consciousness
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Abstract

A central issue in philosophy and neuroscience is the problem of unified visual consciousness. This problem has arisen because we now know that an object's stimulus features (e.g., its color, texture, shape, etc.) generate activity in separate areas of the visual cortex (Felleman & Van Essen, 1991). For example, recent evidence indicates that there are very few, if any, neural connections between specific visual areas, such as those that correlate with color and motion (Bartels & Zeki, 2006; Zeki, 2003). So how do unified objects arise in visual consciousness? Some neuroscientists propose that neural synchrony is the mechanism that binds an object's features into a unity (e.g., see Crick, 1994; Crick & Koch, 1990; Engel, 2003; Roelfsema, 1998; Singer, 1996; von der Malsburg, 1996, 1999). I argue, on both empirical and philosophical grounds, that neural synchrony fails to explain the unity of visual consciousness.

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