The mind and brain sciences began with consciousness as a central concern. But for much of the 20th century, ideological and methodological concerns relegated its empirical study to the margins. Since the 1990s, studying consciousness has regained a legitimacy and momentum befitting its status as the primary feature of our mental lives. Nowadays, consciousness science encompasses a rich interdisciplinary mixture drawing together philosophical, theoretical, computational, experimental, and clinical perspectives, with neuroscience its central discipline. Researchers have learned a great deal about the neural mechanisms underlying global states of consciousness, distinctions between conscious and unconscious perception, and self-consciousness. Further progress will depend on specifying closer explanatory mappings between (first-person subjective) phenomenological descriptions and (third-person objective) descriptions of (embodied and embedded) neuronal mechanisms. Such progress will help reframe our understanding of our place in nature and accelerate clinical approaches to a wide range of psychiatric and neurological disorders.
Consciousness: The last 50 years (and the next)
Anil K. Seth
Brain and Neuroscience Advances