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Rethinking Consciousness

A Scientific Theory of Subjective Experience

Michael S A Graziano



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05 November 2019
Focusing attention can help an animal find food or flee a predator. It also may have led to consciousness. Tracing evolution over millions of years, Michael S. A. Graziano shows how neurons first allowed animals to develop simple forms of attention: taking in messages from the environment, prioritizing them, and responding as necessary. Then covert attention evolved- a roving, mental focus separate from where the senses are pointed. To monitor and control covert attention, Graziano posits in his attention schema theory, the brain evolved a simplified model of it- a cartoonish self- description depicting an internal essence with a capacity for knowledge and experience. In other words, consciousness. That self model not only gives us our intuitions about consciousness, but makes us empathetic social beings as we attribute it to others. The theory also implies that uploading the data structure of consciousness into machines will someday be possible, and he discusses what artificial consciousness will mean for our evolutionary future.
By:   Michael S A Graziano
Imprint:   Norton
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 244mm,  Width: 165mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   480g
ISBN:   9780393652611
ISBN 10:   0393652610
Pages:   256
Publication Date:   05 November 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Michael S. A. Graziano is professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton University, where he teaches and heads a lab. The author of four previous neuroscience books, he has written for the Atlantic, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and Aeon, and lives in Princeton, New Jersey. His hobbies include writing fiction, composing music, and ventriloquism.

Reviews for Rethinking Consciousness: A Scientific Theory of Subjective Experience

Graziano's attention schema theory marks a milestone by offering a plausible, mechanistic answer to the hard problem [of consciousness]. -- Aaron Schurger - Science

  • Long-listed for PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award 2020

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