Cellular mechanisms of conscious processing
Affiliation: University of Tartu
Recent breakthroughs in neurobiology indicate that time is ripe to
understand the cellular-level mechanisms of conscious experience.
Accordingly, we have recently proposed that conscious processing depends
on the integration between top-down and bottom-up information streams and
that there exists a specific cellular mechanism that gates this
I will first describe this cellular mechanism and demonstrate how it
controls signal propagation within the thalamocortical system. Then I will
show how this cellular-level mechanism provides a natural explanation for
why conscious experience is modulated by top-down processing. Besides
shining new light on the neural basis of consciousness, this perspective
unravels the mechanisms of internally generated perception, such as
dreams, imagery, and hallucinations.