When we pay attention to things in the world, the way we experience them changes: colors look brighter, objects appear to be moving faster or to be closer to us, and even shapes look more defined. On the contrary, when we are not paying attention to some parts of our environment, our experience from these regions seems to be comparatively poorer, less detailed or less articulated.
Since attention seems to be tightly connected with the quality of our experiences in these ways, should we think that attention is required for consciously experiencing the world?
Moreover, we might also entertain a bolder hypothesis: what if attention was the factor that gives raise to the transition between unconscious processing of information and conscious experiences of things?
This project explores the relations between different ways of allocating attention and different ways of experiencing the world, as well as the overall role of attention in the emergence of conscious experience.
A central role is assigned to the way the brain processes attended information and conscious information, and the ways both kinds of processing interact with each other. But the overall approach is interdisciplinary, bringing together resources from philosophy, cognitive psychology and the neurosciences.

At this stage we are:

1. Assessing the effects of attention on the precision and determinacy of the way objects are represented in conscious experience

2. Spelling out the role that different brain-based and cognitive theories of consciousness assign to attention, including:

  • Global Workspace theory
  • Attended Intermediate Representations
  • Recurrent Processing theory
  • Integrated Information theory
  • Predictive Coding theory
  • Temporo-spatial Theory of Consciousness
Azenet Lopez

Project Lead