consciousness

4E Cognition Group in the ASSC’s 23 annual meeting

We are glad to announce that the work of group member Ana Lucía Valencia and coordinator Tom Froese has been selected as a poster for the 23rd annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC), which will be held in London Ontario, Canada on June 25th-28th, 2019.

The ASSC is an academic society that promotes rigorous research and coordinates annual conferences directed toward understanding the nature, function, and underlying mechanisms of consciousness. The ASSC includes members working in the fields of cognitive science, medicine, neuroscience, philosophy, and other relevant disciplines in the sciences and humanities.

(For further information about the ASSC, visit: https://theassc.org/)

Poster abstract:

Could the neural basis of consciousness be interactively extended? From intrabrain to interbrain large-scale synchrony

Ana Lucia Valencia and Tom Froese

The realization of a cognitive act involves the integration of widely distributed regions of the brain. This large-scale neural integration can be explained in terms of transient patterns of functional connectivity, mediated by phase synchrony across low and high frequency bands. Authors such as Cleeremans, Engel, and Varela have proposed that this mechanism of neural synchrony could form the neural basis of the unity of consciousness, i.e. of the integrated flow of first-person experience. Intriguingly, a growing number of EEG hyperscanning studies reveal that comparable patterns of neural synchrony also appear across brains during social interaction. Initial research demonstrated interbrain phase coherence in predominantly lower frequency bands, such as alpha-mu/phi complex, whereas the faster gamma band, which has been associated with cognitive integration and conscious awareness, was largely absent. Nevertheless, more recent studies have found evidence of interbrain gamma synchrony, and, moreover, found it to be associated with subjective reports of social connectedness. We interpret these findings in the context of theories of consciousness that allow its basis to be interactively extended, and as particularly consistent with dynamical, enactive approaches to cognitive science. Although proponents of the extended mind hypothesis like Clark had raised doubts about the possibility of extended consciousness, because it requires operations on such a fast temporal scale that these can only be achieved by neural activity inside a brain, we argue that current evidence has removed this potential limitation. We hypothesize that experience can be integrated by functional networks extended across two brains during social interaction, precisely by the same neural mechanisms that integrate it within a single brain, thereby giving rise to a genuine second-person perspective or we-intentionality. If this is on the right track, it casts doubt on the traditional assumption that all aspects of consciousness are necessarily private and first-person singular.

PHD SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SUSSEX

PHD SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SUSSEX: FROM SENSATION AND PERCEPTION TO AWARENESS

Corresponding author: Anil Seth (A.K.Seth@sussex.ac.uk)

We are delighted to invite applications for the second round of the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme in ‘From Sensation and Perception to Awareness’, hosted across multiple Schools at the University of Sussex. Up to **eight** fully funded positions will be awarded (for UK/EU applicants), starting Sep 2019. The aim of the programme is to bring together doctoral researchers from different disciplines to advance our understanding of the interactions between sensing, perception, and awareness in humans, animals, and machines. Applicants can select from a range of projects or propose their own. Pre-specified projects are divided into three main themes: (i) Human-computer interaction and digital arts, (ii) human cognitive neuroscience and computational neuroscience, and (iii) sensory neuroscience.

For more details and for how to apply please see https://www.findaphd.com/search/PhdDetails.aspx?CAID=3783 and https://www.sussex.ac.uk/sensation/applications. For more on the Programme please visit https://www.sussex.ac.uk/sensation/, and follow us on Twitter @SensationSussex. Email enquiries to Leverhulme@sussex.ac.uk. Application deadline is **31st January 2019**. The programme is co-directed by Anil Seth (Engineering and Informatics) and Jamie Ward (Psychology).

Modelling Consciousness: A workshop on formal approaches to the mind-body problem

This workshop brings together researchers from all disciplines who have a deep interest in questions related to the scientific study of consciousness as well as a background in mathematics or physics in order to discuss and develop formal models of the mind-matter relation.

In contrast to typical conferences, the workshop centers on discussions in small groups to bridge the gap between critical thinking and creative brainstorming. Each discussion session is dedicated to a specific topic centered around:

  • Discussing existing models of consciousness, evaluating merits as well as drawbacks on a philosophical and on a technical level
  • Working out possible applications or variations of these models, both concerning theoretical and experimental notions
  • Offering creative space so as to invite ideas and intuitions which are directed at developing new models of consciousness
  • Exploring new ways of thinking about the mind-matter relation more generally

Date: Saturday, March 23 – Saturday, March 30, 2019
Place: Mountain Cabin, Dorfgastein, Austria
Participants: 18
Workshop fee: 350 Euros (includes accommodation, shuttle to the cabin, all meals, and nonalcoholic beverages; financial support for both workshop fee and travel expenses is available**)

Deadline for applications is Sunday, January 13, 2019 AoE. (more…)

How Music Connects: Social Sensory Consciousness in Musical Ritual

Collective coupling and coordinated joint action in musical ritual settings are core elements of human cultural practices around the world.

Studies of ritual and social cognition have paid increasing attention to the rich embodied, temporal, and sensorial dimensions of social coupling during ritual practice.

In this paper, Ximena González-Grandón explore inclusive perspectives which believe that to take embodied and experimental aspects of synchronized movement seriously it is necessary to include the activation of the entire motor body and peripheral nervous system.

Successful social and musical coupling relies upon the transient synchronization of distinct frecuency oscilations throughout the entire body, and this synchronization allows for brief temporal windows of social communication sustained by special kinds of shared bodily consciousness.

Link to the full article: How Music Connects: Social Sensory Consciousness in Musical Ritual

CFP: DFG Priority Programme “The Active Self”

Call for Proposals No. 24, 18 May 2017

Priority Programme „The Active Self“ (SPP 2134)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has established a new Priority Programme entitled “The Active Self” (SPP 2134). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the first three-year funding period.

The Priority Programme brings together cognitive and behavioural scientists from various disciplines, including psychology and robotics, to study the sensorimotor grounding of the human minimal self – a concept that relates to a person’s phenomenal experience in the here and now and to the question of how we perceive ourselves to be in a particular situation. While this experience is likely to be dominated by information delivered by the senses, i.e., by self-perception in a literal, immediate sense, humans also have knowledge about themselves, amassed over years, and a sense of understanding how their self relates to others.

The relatively recent increasing interest in the self is fueled by important methodological improvements, such as the availability of virtual-reality techniques and affordable robots with humanoid characteristics, and the development of noninvasive methods to study cognition in infants, but also by converging lines of theoretical thinking related to ideomotor processes on the one hand and embodied cognition on the other. The programme will seek to unravel the degree to which our self-representation is plastic and sensitive to immediate experience, to which degree it is constrained by past experience, how it integrates experiences of agency and action-ownership, how it affects other cognitive processes, and to what degree self-representation can be established in artificial agents.

New micro-phenomenology website

I just received an announcement of this new website from Claire Petitmengin. The content should be of interest to members of this group, especially those working with human participants.

http://www.microphenomenology.com/home

In particular, note that there is information on training and workshops, which could be quite useful indeed.

Special issue on the enactive approach

THE ENACTIVE APPROACH TO QUALITATIVE ONTOLOGY: IN SEARCH OF NEW CATEGORIES


edited by

Roberta Lanfredini
Nicola Liberati
Andrea Pace Giannotta
Elena Pagni

ISSUE 31 – DECEMBER 2016

This Special Issue is dedicated to building a bridge between different disciplines concerned in the investigation of the qualitative dimension of experience and reality. The two main objectives of the Issue can be summarized as follows:

  • to elucidate the need for a revision of categories to account for the qualitative dimension in various disciplines (that include, for example, the cognitive sciences, neurosciences, biology, linguistics, informatics, artificial intelligence, robotics, newly emerging computer technologies) in order to develop an ontology that can better account for the qualitative, dynamic and relational aspects of different domains of reality;
  • to explore the implications of the enactivist view for a relational and ecological account of the qualitative dimensions of life and cognition;