Animal Consciousness

Scientists have developed a new theory to explain consciousness in animals and humans…

Researchers have long been exploring the nature of consciousness, the question of how and where the brain generates consciousness, and whether animals also have consciousness. The new theory describes consciousness as a state that is tied to complex cognitive operations — and not as a passive basic state that automatically prevails when we are awake–that explains how animals have a sense of consciousness.

The platform theory in detail

“The complex cognitive operations that, according to platform theory, are associated with consciousness are applied to mental representations that are maintained and processed. They can include perceptions, emotions, sensations, memories, imaginations and associations. Conscious cognitive operations are necessary, for example, in situations where learned behavior or habits are no longer sufficient for coping. People don’t necessarily need consciousness to drive a car or take a shower. But when something unexpected happens, conscious cognitive actions are required to resolve the situation. They are also necessary to predict future events or problems and to develop suitable coping strategies. Most importantly, conscious cognitive operations are at the basis for adaptive and flexible behavior that enables humans and animals to adapt to new environmental conditions.

According to the new theory, conscious cognitive actions take place on the basis of a so-called online platform, a kind of central executive that controls subordinate platforms. The subordinate platforms can act, for example, as storage media for knowledge or activities.”

Click the DOI on the journal reference below to learn more about this theory.

Journal reference: Armin Zlomuzica, Ekrem Dere. Towards an animal model of consciousness based on the platform theory. Behavioural Brain Research, 2022; 419: 113695

DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2021.113695

Adrian J