Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CONSCIOUSNESS (Towards a neural and cognitive architecture of consciousness)
Reporting period: 2018-11-01 to 2020-04-30
This ERC project consists of three subprojects. In project 1, existing theories of consciousness will be validated and refined by isolating system-level neural correlates of consciousness. In project 2, we are testing the hypothesis that NMDA receptors play a crucial role in “recurrent processing”, the dynamic information exchange between brain regions, thought to give rise to consciousness. We will also test the hypothesis that rapid fluctuations in spontaneous network activity (modulating arousal levels), which are controlled by noradrenaline and acetylcholine neuromodulatory systems, determine the likelihood of sensory evoked recurrent processing, and hence consciousness, to occur. In project 3, we will test the hypothesis that recurrent processing provides the possibility for prolonged and flexible information processing, which could represent a potential function of consciousness.
In summary, the proposed research has the potential to gain fundamental insights in the neural mechanisms of human consciousness. In so doing, the work will advance scientific understanding of the long-debated functional significance of consciousness for human cognition and behavior. This fundamental work may potentially benefit the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of patients with disorders of consciousness in the future.