Signatures of Conscious Processing in the Human Brain

author: Stanislas Dehaene, Collège de France
published: Jan. 17, 2013,   recorded: December 2012,   views: 5368


Related Open Educational Resources

Related content

Report a problem or upload files

If you have found a problem with this lecture or would like to send us extra material, articles, exercises, etc., please use our ticket system to describe your request and upload the data.
Enter your e-mail into the 'Cc' field, and we will keep you updated with your request's status.
Lecture popularity: You need to login to cast your vote.


Understanding how brain activity leads to a conscious experience remains a major experimental challenge. I will describe a series of experiments that probe the signatures of conscious processing. In these experiments, my colleagues and I ask whether a specific type of brain activity can be detected when a person suddenly becomes aware of a piece of information. We create minimal contrasts whereby the very same visual stimulus is sometimes undetected, and sometimes consciously seen. We then use time-resolved methods of electro- and magnetoencephalography to follow the time course of brain activity. The results show that conscious access relates to a global burst of late synchronized activity (a cortical “ignition”), distributed through many cortical areas. We propose a theory of a global neuronal workspace, according to which what we experience as a consciousness is the global availability of information in a large-scale network of pyramidal neurons with long-distance axons. This knowledge is now being applied to the monitoring of conscious states in non-communicating patients. Using real-time signal processing techniques, we believe that a few minutes of testing with simple sounds and two recording electrodes might suffice to determine whether a person is conscious.

See Also:

Download slides icon Download slides: nips2012_dehaene_brain_01.pdf (5.4 MB)

Help icon Streaming Video Help

Link this page

Would you like to put a link to this lecture on your homepage?
Go ahead! Copy the HTML snippet !

Write your own review or comment:

make sure you have javascript enabled or clear this field: