Atoms of Mind pp 223-282 | Cite as

On the Nature of Consciousness

  • W. R. KlemmEmail author


The “Holy Grail” of neuroscience is to figure out how the human brain makes itself consciously aware of the feelings, ideas, intentions, decisions and plans that are being generated in its circuits. This has historically been treated as a kind of metaphysical, philosophical, or religious question, and dozens of books have been written about it. One of the philosopher giants in this area, Daniel Dennett (2005) says he has 78 books in his own personal library on consciousness published before February 2004. I have a couple of shelves of such books myself.


Mirror Neuron Conscious Awareness Conscious Decision Conscious Thought Conscious Mind 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy. The exercise of control. New York: W. H. Freeman & Co.Google Scholar
  2. Baumeister, R. F., Masicampo, E. J., & DeWall, C. N. (2009). Prosocial benefits of feeling free: Disbelief in free will increases aggression and reduces helpfulness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 260–268.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bayne, T. (2009). Phenomenology and the feeling of doing: Wegner on the conscious will. In S. Pockett, W. P. Banks, & S. Gallaher (Eds.), Does consciousness cause behavior (pp. 169–185). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  4. Caggiano, V., et al. (2009). Mirror neurons differentially encode the peripersonal and extrapersonal space of monkeys. Science, 324, 403–406.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Christophel, T., & Haynes, J. D. (2009). Single trial time-frequency decoding of early choice related EEG signals. Further evidence for non-conscious determinants of “free” decisions. Program No. 194.19 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. Chicago: Society for Neuroscience [Online].Google Scholar
  6. Churchland, P. S. (2002). Self-representation in nervous systems. Science, 296, 308–310.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cowan, N. (2005). Working memory capacity. New York: Psychology/Taylor & Francis.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Czisch, M., et al. (2002). Altered processing of acoustic stimuli during sleep: Reduced auditory activation and visual deactivation detected by a combined fMRI/EEG study. Neuroimage, 16(1), 251–258.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dalal, S. S., et al. (2010). Intrinsic coupling between gamma oscillations, neuronal discharges, and slow cortical oscillations during human slow-wave sleep. The Journal of Neuroscience, 30(4), 14285–14287.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Danquah, A. N., et al. (2008). Biases in the subjective timing of perceptual evens: Libet et al. (1983) revisited. Consciousness and Cognition, 17 (3): 616–627.Google Scholar
  11. Dennett, D. C. (2005). Sweet dreams. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  12. Desmurget, M., et al. (2009). Movement intention after parietal cortex stimulation in humans. Science, 324, 811–813.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Edelman, G. M. (1989). The remembered present: A biological theory of consciousness. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  14. Edelman, G. M. (1992). Bright air, brilliant fire. On the matter of the mind. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  15. Gazzaniga, M. S. (1998). The mind’s past. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  16. Grill-Spector, K., & Kanwisher, N. (2005). Visual recognition. As soon as you know it is there, you know what it is. Psychological Science, 16(2), 152–160.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hobson, J. A., & McCarley, R. (1977). The brain as a dream state generator: An activation-synthesis hypothesis of the dream process. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 134, 1335–1348.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Jaeggi, S. M., et al. (2008). Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(19), 6829–6833. Scholar
  19. Jaynes, J. (1976). The origin of consciousness and the breakdown of the bicameral mind. New York: Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  20. Jeannerod, M. (2009). Consciousness of action as an embodied consciousness. In S. Pockett, W. P. Banks, & S. Gallaher (Eds.), Does consciousness cause behavior (pp. 25–38). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  21. Joordens, S., et al. (2002). When timing the mind one should also mind the timing: Biases in the measurement o voluntary actions. Consciousness and Cognition, 11, 231–240.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kane, R. (2004). Agency, responsibility, and indeterminism: Reflections on libertarian theories of free will. In J. Campbell, M. O’Rourke, & D. Shier (Eds.), Freedom and determination (pp. 70–88). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  23. Kasanetz, F., et al. (2010). Transition to addiction is associated with a persistent impairment in synaptic plasticity. Science, 328, 1709–1712.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Klein, S. (2002). Libet’s temporal anomalies: A reassessment of the data. Consciousness and Cognition, 11(2), 198–214.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Klemm, W. R. (1990). The behavioral readiness response. In W. R. Klemm & R. P. Vertes (Eds.), Brainstem mechanisms of behavior. New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  26. Klemm, W. R. (2010). Free will debates: Simple experiments are not so simple. Advances in Cognitive Psychology, 6, 47–65.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Klemm, W. R., Li, T. H., & Hernandez, J. L. (2000). Coherent EEG indicators of cognitive binding during ambiguous figure tasks. Consciousness and Cognition, 9, 66  –  85.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lau, H. C., et al. (2004). Attention to intention. Science, 303, 1208–1210.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lau, H. C., Rogers, R. D., & Passingham, R. E. (2006). On measuring the perceived onsets of spontaneous actions. The Journal of Neuroscience, 26(27), 7265–7271.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lauer, C., et al. (1997). A polysomnographic study on drug-naive patients. Neuropsychophar­macology, 16, 51–60.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lee, B. (1998). The power principle. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  32. Lee, D. (2004). Behavioral context and coherent oscillations in the supplementary motor area. The Journal of Neuroscience, 24(18), 4453–4459.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Libet, B., & Commentators (1985). Non-conscious cerebral initiative and the role of conscious will in voluntary action. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 8: 529–566.Google Scholar
  34. Lipton, B. (2005). The biology of belief. Santa Barbara: Mountain of Love/Elite Books.Google Scholar
  35. Makeig, S., Jung, T.-P., & Sejnowski, T. T. (1998). Multiple coherent oscillatory components of the human electroencephalogram (EEG) differentially modulated by cognitive events. Society of Neuroscience Abstracts, 24(1), 507.Google Scholar
  36. Mele, A. R. (2009). Free will: Theories, analysis, and data. In S. Pockett, W. P. Banks, & S. Gallaher (Eds.), Does consciousness cause behavior (pp. 187–205). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  37. Musallam, S., et al. (2004). Cognitive control signals for neural prosthetics. Science, 305, 258–262.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nijhawan, R., & Kirschfeld, K. (2003). Analogous mechanisms compensate for neural delays in the sensory and the motor pathways. Current Biology, 13(9), 749–753.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Obhi, S. S., & Haggard, P. (2004). Free will and free won’t. American Scientist, 92, 358–365.Google Scholar
  40. Ono, F., & Kawahara, J.-I. (2005). The effect of non-conscious priming on temporal production. Consciousness and Cognition, 14(5), 474–482.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pockett, S., Banks, W. P., & Gallagher, S. (Eds.). (2009). Does consciousness cause behavior? Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  42. Povinelli, D. J., & Giambrone, S. (2001). Reasoning about beliefs: A human specialization? Child Development, 72, 691–695.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Robertson, E. M., Press, D. Z., & Pascual-Leone, A. (2005). Off-line learning and the primary motor cortex. The Journal of Neuroscience, 25(27), 6372–6378.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sarrazin, J.-C., et al. (2008). How do we know what we are doing? Time, intention and awareness of action. Consciousness and Cognition, 17(3), 602–615.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Shrager, Y., et al. (2008). Working memory and the organization of brain systems. The Journal of Neuroscience, 28(18), 4818–4822.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Singer, W. (2007). Binding by synchrony. Scholarpedia, 2(12), 1657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Singer, W., & Engel, K. (2001). Temporal binding and the neural correlates of awareness. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 5(1), 16–25.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sommers, T. (2007). The illusion of freedom evolves. In D. Ross et al. (Eds.), Distributed cognition and the will (p. 73). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  49. Soon, C. S., et al. (2008). Non-conscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain. Nature Neuroscience, 11, 543–545. doi:10.1038/nn.2112.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Stillman, T. F., et al. (2010). Personal philosophy and personal achievement: Belief in free will predicts better job performance. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1, 43. doi:10.1177/1948550609351600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Swartz, K. B. (2003). Self-reflection, a review of the book. The face in the mirror: The search for the origins of consciousness, by Julian Keenan with Gordon Gallup (278 pp). Ecco/Harper Collins. In American Scientist, Vol. 91, pp. 574–575.Google Scholar
  52. Takehara-Nishiuchi, K., & McNaughton, B. L. (2008). Spontaneous changes of neocortical code for associative memory during consolidation. Science, 322, 960–963.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tancredi, L. (2005). Hardwired behavior. What neuroscience reveals about morality. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ulrich, R., Nitschke, J., & Rammsayer, T. (2006). Perceived duration of expected and unexpected stimuli. Psychological Research, 70, 77–87.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Vertes, R. P. (1986). A life-sustaining function for REM sleep: A theory. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 10, 371–376.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Vohs, K. D., & Schooler, J. (2008). The value of believing in free will: Encouraging a belief in determinism increases cheating. Psychological Science, 19, 49–54.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Walter, H. (2001). Neurophilosophy of free will. From libertarian illusions to a concept of natural autonomy. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  58. Warrington, E., & Weiskrantz, L. (1968). A study of learning and retention in amnesic patients. Neuropsychologia, 6(3), 283–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Webb, W. B., & Agnew, H. W., Jr. (1971). Stage 4 sleep: Influence of time course variables. Science, 174, 1354–1356.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wegner, D. M. (2002). The illusion of conscious will. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  61. Yoo, S., et al. (2007). A deficit in the ability to form new human memories without sleep. Nature Neuroscience, 10, 385–392.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Veterinary Medicine and BiomeCollege StationUSA

Personalised recommendations