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Previous Programs

2020 Consciousness in the Physical World
Awardees

2019 Intelligence in the Physical World
Awardees

2019 Information as Fuel
Awardees

2018 Agency in the Physical World
Awardees; RFP download

2016 Physics of the Observer
Awardees; RFP download

2015 The Physics of What Happens
Awardees; RFP download

2013 Physics of Information
Awardees; RFP download

2010 The Nature of Time
Awardees; RFP download

2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

Doris Y. Tsao
California Institute of Technology

Janis K. Hesse
California Institute of Technology



Project Title

Neural construction of conscious perception

Project Summary

How does the brain construct conscious perception? Is there a part of the brain that is the source of all conscious percepts or does the brain act as a whole to generate the reality we experience? After rigorously determining which parts of the brain encode specific conscious percepts, we want to advance the field beyond studying correlates and uncover the mechanisms by which the brain generates new conscious percepts. Through the use of new techniques enabling the recording of hundreds of neurons at the same time, we will ask which part of the brain shows changes in activity first when a new conscious percept is emerges. We will then ask what happens if you stimulate or inactivate this source of conscious percept generation. What will be the effects on behavior and neural processes in other parts of the brain? Throughout these experiments, we will show images that can be interpreted in more than one way, so that the conscious percept changes while physical input is fixed. We believe these experiments will yield critical insights for understanding how the brain constructs an interpretation of an ambiguous world as the reality we consciously perceive.



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