Introduction to Volume 3

Velmans, Max. 2018. Introduction to Volume 3. In: M Velmans, ed. Consciousness (Critical Concepts in Psychology) Volume 3: Cognitive and Neuropsychological Approaches, Part 2. 3 Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 1-16. ISBN 9781138848665 [Book Section]

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This introduction and the associated readings in Consciousness (Critical Concepts in Psychology) Volume 3 introduce major phases and findings in the search for the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC) starting with the time it takes for these to form and the wider research program that might lead to their discovery. This includes the search for mechanisms responsible for “neural binding”—how widely dispersed neural activities support integrated conscious experiences, and the search for neural markers of consciousness that can serve to distinguish conscious from preconscious and unconscious activities in the brain. We then turn to global disorders of consciousness that indirectly reveal the conditions that support consciousness by establishing what abolishes it or impairs it, and conclude this section with reviews of the major challenges in the search for NCCs that still remain. This survey then continues with research on the divided brain with cerebral commissurotomy patients, which proved to be very useful in determining the respective functions of the left and right halves of the brain. It also raised philosophical questions. Could consciousness itself be divided by this operation? And, if so, would such patients have a distinct left-brain and right-brain consciousness? Philosophical issues also combine with methodological and experimental developments in the following sections on the reintroduction of first-person methods and how to combine these with complementary, third-person methods in neurophenomenology and experiential neuroscience—two well-developed research programs for both investigating consciousness and understanding its functions. The introduction (and associated readings) then conclude with a survey of research on free will, covering both the major findings arising from neuropsychological research and a way to understand these that is consistent with a natural understanding of volition, ethics, and legal responsibility.

As with the other Volumes in this collection there is an online Companion that has many links to background resources and to the selected readings themselves.

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This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Consciousness (Critical Concepts in Psychology) Volume 3: Cognitive and Neuropsychological Approaches, Part 2 on 30April 2019, available online:

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30 April 2018Published

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Date Deposited:

20 Mar 2019 14:38

Last Modified:

14 Jun 2021 10:23


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