Abstract Details

Nested NOWs  Jonathan W. Schooler (Department of Psychology, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA )   PL4

In this talk I discuss the Nested Observer Window (NOW) framework that posits that consciousness corresponds to hierarchically organized information processing modules that are integrated through nested rhythms. As a visual metaphor, consider the example of mosaic prints- images that are themselves comprised of smaller images. Artists renditions typically entail just two levels, but one can envision images constituted of images, constituted of images... One can further imagine that the images at each level are rhythmically pulsing and changing- with the lower levels fluctuating at faster rates than the higher ones. In the nested observer window framework, each evolving image corresponds to a dynamically alternating observer window that is integrating information from lower levels, and serving as a pixel for the next level up. This metaphor serves as a foundation for conceiving of the relationship between systems and subsystems within brain. Evidence in support of this basic view comes from a host of sources including neural rhythms and time perception. A key outstanding question is how far down the hierarchical chain consciousness goes. Three alternatives will be considered: global emergentism- consciousness arises only at the highest level of the global works-space, intermediate emergentism- there are a multiplicity of conscious streams that emerge somewhere along the hierarchy, and panpsychism- nested windows have subjectivity all the way down. Future directions that might bear on these alternatives will be discussed along with consideration of the implications of this approach for the binding and homunculus problems.