Consciousness

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Are we underestimating the richness of visual experience?

Recall the experiment with the letter grids we did in class (Sperling), and how I criticised Block’s idea of a rich phenomenology that was “overflowing” access, instead suggesting a more constructivist idea whereby the brain, based on piecemeal information, continuously predicts and creates a conscious experience of the world?

Well, it’s all a pendulum in science, and in this recent short opinion piece “Are we underestimating the richness of visual experience?”, Andrew Haun, Giulio Tononi, Christof Koch, and Naotsugu Tsuchiya suggest that perhaps consciousness *is* in fact much richer than we measure:

It has been argued that the bandwidth of perceptual experience is low—that the richness of experience is illusory and that the amount of visual information observers can perceive and remember is extremely limited. However, the evidence suggests that this postulated poverty of experiential content is illusory and that visual phenomenology is immensely rich. To properly estimate perceptual content, experimentalists must move beyond the limitations of binary alternative-forced choice procedures and analyze reports of experience more broadly. This will open our eyes to the true richness of experience and to its neuronal substrates.


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