Consciousness and the structure of neuronal representations. Singer, W. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B, 353(1377):1829-40, Nov, 1998.
abstract   bibtex   
The hypothesis is defended that brains expressing phenomenal awareness are capable of generating metarepresentations of their cognitive processes, these metarepresentations resulting from an iteration of self-similar cortical operations. Search for the neuronal substrate of awareness therefore converges with the search for the nature of neuronal representations. It is proposed that evolved brains use two complementary representational strategies. One consists of the generation of neurons responding selectively to a particular constellation of features and is based on selective recombination of inputs in hierarchically structured feedforward architectures. The other relies on the dynamic association of feature-specific cells into functionally coherent cell assemblies that, as a whole, represent the constellation of features defining a particular perceptual object. Arguments are presented that favour the notion that the metarepresentations supporting awareness are established in accordance with the second strategy. Experimental data are reviewed that are compatible with the hypothesis that evolved brains use assembly codes for the representation of contents and that these assemblies become organized through transient synchronization of the discharges of associated neurons. It is argued that central states favouring the formation of assembly-based representations are similar to those favouring awareness.
@article{ Singer98,
  author = {Singer, W.},
  title = {Consciousness and the structure of neuronal representations},
  journal = {Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B},
  year = {1998},
  volume = {353},
  pages = {1829-40},
  number = {1377},
  month = {Nov},
  abstract = {The hypothesis is defended that brains expressing phenomenal awareness
	are capable of generating metarepresentations of their cognitive
	processes, these metarepresentations resulting from an iteration
	of self-similar cortical operations. Search for the neuronal substrate
	of awareness therefore converges with the search for the nature of
	neuronal representations. It is proposed that evolved brains use
	two complementary representational strategies. One consists of the
	generation of neurons responding selectively to a particular constellation
	of features and is based on selective recombination of inputs in
	hierarchically structured feedforward architectures. The other relies
	on the dynamic association of feature-specific cells into functionally
	coherent cell assemblies that, as a whole, represent the constellation
	of features defining a particular perceptual object. Arguments are
	presented that favour the notion that the metarepresentations supporting
	awareness are established in accordance with the second strategy.
	Experimental data are reviewed that are compatible with the hypothesis
	that evolved brains use assembly codes for the representation of
	contents and that these assemblies become organized through transient
	synchronization of the discharges of associated neurons. It is argued
	that central states favouring the formation of assembly-based representations
	are similar to those favouring awareness.}
}

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