||How rich is consciousness? The partial awareness hypothesis.
Current theories of consciousness posit a dissociation between 'phenomenal' consciousness (rich) and 'access' consciousness (limited). Here, we argue that the empirical evidence for phenomenal consciousness without access is equivocal, resulting either from a confusion between phenomenal and unconscious contents, or from an impression of phenomenally rich experiences arising from illusory contents. We propose a refined account of access that relies on a hierarchy of representational levels and on the notion of partial awareness, whereby lower and higher levels are accessed independently. Reframing of the issue of dissociable forms of consciousness into dissociable levels of access provides a more parsimonious account of the existing evidence. In addition, the rich phenomenology illusion can be studied and described in terms of testable cognitive mechanisms. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)