Physiology and phylogeny of consciousness

Desmedt, J. E.
Brain Research Unit -CP 630, University of Brussels, Belgium

Consciousness represents for the neurosciences a major challenge which cannot be resolved by molecular biology, but requires novel research designs targeted at intrinsic physiological brain processes. Conscious brain mechanisms emerging many millenia ago enabled choice between alternative behavioral scenarios, thereby endowing organisms such as early mammals with decisive flexibilities in hostile environments. Consciousness did not appear by any magic stroke as a non-biological mind, and is not an epiphenomenon (as viewed in black-box functionalism). Conscious physiological mechanisms have survival value and evolved through natural selection. The fairly continuous consciousness in waking includes affectives processes and items or events that can be in the focus or at the periphery of attention.