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Behavioral Methods in Consciousness Research$
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Morten Overgaard

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199688890

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199688890.001.0001

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How can we measure awareness? An overview of current methods

How can we measure awareness? An overview of current methods

(p.21) Chapter 3 How can we measure awareness? An overview of current methods
Behavioral Methods in Consciousness Research

Bert Timmermans

Axel Cleeremans

Oxford University Press

The study of consciousness requires a solution to the following fundamental problem: How can we measure consciousness? While there has been substantial progress in measuring the level of awareness, and researchers have made steady progress delineating the neural correlates of consciousness, it remains impossible to measure the contents of awareness directly and link a person’s subjective experience to an objective state of the world or the person. In a historical overview this chapter highlights how research has moved from a strict dissociation logic and the search for subjective and objective thresholds for awareness to more graded approaches in which conscious and unconscious processes are recognized to contribute to all measurements. Subsequently, it delineates the most important challenges to behavioral methods such as exhaustiveness, exclusiveness, and sensitivity. In particular it focuses on the risk of confounding awareness and metacognition, and the tension between exclusiveness of a measure and the information criterion.

Keywords:   consciousness, objective threshold, subjective threshold, dissociation logic, exhaustiveness, exclusiveness, sensitivity, information criterion, metacognition

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