The neural subjective frame: from bodily signals to perceptual consciousness

Author: Hyeong-Dong Park1, Catherine Tallon-Baudry
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, INSERM-ENS, , 29 rue d&#39;Ulm, Paris, France.
Conference/Journal: Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci
Date published: 2014 Mar 17
Other: Volume ID: 369 , Issue ID: 1641 , Pages: 20130208 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0208. , Word Count: 208

The report 'I saw the stimulus' operationally defines visual consciousness, but where does the 'I' come from? To account for the subjective dimension of perceptual experience, we introduce the concept of the neural subjective frame. The neural subjective frame would be based on the constantly updated neural maps of the internal state of the body and constitute a neural referential from which first person experience can be created. We propose to root the neural subjective frame in the neural representation of visceral information which is transmitted through multiple anatomical pathways to a number of target sites, including posterior insula, ventral anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala and somatosensory cortex. We review existing experimental evidence showing that the processing of external stimuli can interact with visceral function. The neural subjective frame is a low-level building block of subjective experience which is not explicitly experienced by itself which is necessary but not sufficient for perceptual experience. It could also underlie other types of subjective experiences such as self-consciousness and emotional feelings. Because the neural subjective frame is tightly linked to homeostatic regulations involved in vigilance, it could also make a link between state and content consciousness.

Keywords: brain–body interactions; emotion; feeling; perceptual awareness; self-consciousness; subjective experience.

PMID: 24639580 PMCID: PMC3965163 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0208