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On the brain-basis of visual consciousness: A sensorimotor account

(from the chapter) Much work on the brain basis of vision and visual consciousness rests on the idea that for every conscious state of seeing (for every visual experience), a neural substrate exists whose activation is sufficient to produce it. It is widely supposed, in addition, that the function of this neural substrate is to produce sensory experience by generating a representation of what is experienced. This chapter proposes a very different conception of what vision is and of the role of the brain in vision. According to this "sensorimotor" approach, vision is not a process in the brain. Though the brain is necessary for vision, neural processes are not, in themselves, sufficient to produce seeing. Instead, it is argued that seeing is an exploratory activity mediated by the animal's mastery of sensorimotor contingencies, dependent on patterns of interaction between the perceiver and the environment. A further consequence of this approach to seeing is that it allows for development of a new framework for thinking about the qualitative character of experience. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved)