Morsella 2

E. Morsella’s theory (here) continued from the last post:

…it is no longer useful to claim that conscious processes are simply more complex, controllable, planned, decision-like, or action-like than unconscious ones. Nor is it useful to propose, as suggested by the integration hypothesis, that unconscious processes are incapable of integrating different kinds of information, for … various kinds of interactions can occur unconsciously. Why can interactions occur unconsciously for the ventriloquism effect, binocular rivalry, the McGurk effect, and the other phenomena … but not for conflicts involving tissue damage, air intake, or consummatory behavior? As explained in the theory presented below, it is because the latter conflicts require information-processing structures having different, high-level concerns, an anthropomorphic term that warrants a precise definition.

…what distinguishes conscious from unconscious concerns reflects not the nature of the sensory afference, predictive capacity, or memory demands involved, but rather the nature of the effectors involved: A common property of the response tendencies presented is that they can all be realized in terms of skeletal muscles plans… supramodular response systems are unique in that their outputs may potentially conflict with each other regarding skeletal muscle plans. …phenomenal states cull simultaneously activated response tendencies to yeild a single, adaptive skeleomotor action… in evolutionary terms, conscious processes served to mediate large-scale skeletomotor conflicts caused by structures in the brain with different agendas, behavioral tendencies and phylogenetic origins… This view is consistent with Lashley’s provocative statement that ‘no activity of mind is ever conscious’ meaning that one is aware only of the products of cognitive processes, not of the processes themselves.

Consciousness in this theory is the way that those ‘products of cognitive processes’ can be melded together into single actions rather than competing ones. Although the predictive nature of consciousness is not mentioned by Morsella, it fits nicely with his theory.

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