Title : Neural abnormalities, psychopathologies, and the unity of consciousness
In this talk I first review several different notions of the “unity of consciousness” such as subject unity, object unity, spatial unity, and perhaps most common “phenomenal unity” which is the general notion that, from the first-person point of view, we experience the world and its objects in an integrated way. I then show how various neural abnormalities and psychopathologies cause what we might understand as “disunities” (or breakdowns) in the unity of consciousness. Some of the phenomena to be discussed are hemispatial neglect, agnosia, schizophrenia, amnesia, somatoparaphrenia, akinetopsia, simultanagnosia, and synesthesia. A brief discussion of the related persistent neuroscientific puzzle known as the “binding problem,” the problem of just how different regions of the brain integrate the information processed in those different areas, is also included.
Audience Take Away
- The audience will better understand how specific brain damage affects various specific conscious mental abilities in rather strange ways and, in turn, perhaps how to understand and treat various disorders
- Attendees can be helped in terms of their teaching and research by becoming more aware of how neural abnormalities bear on the nature of consciousness and personal identity
- It can also help one to think about the philosophical implications of some brain research, e.g. to what extent unified conscious mental activity can be maintained after brain injury or damage