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The Unity of Consciousness$
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Tim Bayne

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199215386

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199215386.001.0001

The Split-Brain Syndrome

Chapter:
(p.189) 9 The Split-Brain Syndrome
Source:
The Unity of Consciousness
Author(s):

Tim Bayne (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199215386.003.0009

The received view within psychology and philosophy is that the split‐brain (commissurotomy) procedure leads to a breakdown in the unity of consciousness. Disunity models of the split‐brain can be divided into two classes: two‐streams models, according to which patients have two streams of consciousness, and partial unity models, according to which patients have a merely partially unified consciousness. Both models are motivated by the cognitive and behavioural disunities that patients exhibit in certain laboratory conditions, but they struggle to account for the cognitive and behavioural unity that patients demonstrate in everyday life. Preferable to disunity models is a full unity ‘switch’ model, according to which consciousness in the split‐brain rapidly switches between hemispheres. It is argued that only the switch model can account for both the behavioural disunities that split‐brain patients exhibit under experimental conditions and the behavioural unities that they exhibit outside of such contexts.

Keywords:   commissurotomy, split‐brain, representational disunity, access disunity, inter‐hemispheric switching, two‐streams model, partial unity

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