Elective course - The Feeling of Being: Theoretical and Empirical Approaches to the Neuroscientific Study of Human Consciousness

Course content

This course introduces the main theoretical models and the empirical methods employed to explain and measure consciousness. Students are offered the opportunity to learn about the neurobiological mechanisms possibly underlying the emergence of consciousness and to grasp why science needs to embrace also conceptual and philosophical levels of analysis. The course outlines the multi-faceted nature of consciousness by discussing different aspects of the phenomenon in normal as well as in abnormal conditions. Students are encouraged throughout the course to actively participate in discussions and to make critical thinking regarding the current state of knowledge about how the brain relates to the mind.

The following topics will be covered during the course:

Theme 1: Framing consciousness

  • What do we mean by ‘conscious’?
  • The hard vs. the easy problem
  • Mapping different aspects of consciousness
  • Consciousness and Accessibility

 

Theme 2: Theoretical Approaches to the study of consciousness

  • Globalist vs. localist models
  • Theories: Baars; Damasio; Zeki; Tononi; Lamme; Edelman; Carrara-Augustenborg
  • The emergence of consciousness and the problem of binding
  • Understanding consciousness from the social psychology perspective

 

Theme 3: Methodological challenges

  • Objective and Subjective assessments of consciousness
  • Consciousness and Emotions
  • Disorders of consciousness: coma, vegetative states, locked-in syndrome
  • Anesthesia and brain default network

 

Theme 4: Consciousness applied (selected topics)

  • Schizophrenia
  • Somnambulism and Crime
  • Non-human consciousness
Learning outcome

Course Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  •  Appreciate the multi-faceted nature of consciousness
  •  Identify the conceptual and methodological problems in studying consciousness
  •  Discuss some of the key approaches to consciousness
  •  Recognize the strengths and weakness of current methodologies
  • Trace the neurobiological mechanisms possibly underlying the emergence of consciousness

     

     

 

Not relevant
ECTS
10 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free written assignment submitted in Digital Eksamen according to the exam schedule.
The exam paper can be written in groups of maximum 3 students.
1 student max 12 pages, 2 students max 15 pages and 3 students max 18 pages
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 30
  • English
  • 30