The debate on how to describe consciousness is lively in the research community. A recent paper in Neuroscience of Consciousness develops an analytical comparison between a clinical tool for assessing residual conscious activity, the so-called Perturbational Complexity Index, and a theoretical model of consciousness that is different from the one that inspired it, the Global Neuronal Workspace Theory, showing that they are compatible for a number of theoretical and empirical reasons.
The Perturbational Complexity Index (PCI) is a clinical tool that was introduced within the framework of a specific theory of consciousness, known as the Integrated Information Theory. This is currently one of the most popular theories to explain consciousness. The paper compares PCI to another very popular theory: the Global Neuronal Workspace Theory (GNWT), that was introduced by Jean-Pierre Changeux together with Stanislas Dehaene and Michel Kerszberg in 1998.
The paper is written by Michele Farisco from Uppsala University, together with Jean-Pierre Changeux, from the Institut Pasteur. According to Michele Farsisco, the paper provides a first ever direct analytical comparison between PCI and GNWT, something that has long been considered an important task to develop.
In addition, the authors have also developed an indirect comparison between IIT and GNWT, which will serve as an important contribution to an ongoing discussion about suitable theoretical frameworks and models in research on consciousness.
According to Michele Farisco & Jean-Pierre Changeux, the GNWT and PCI are indeed compatible on a fundamental level. The paper takes its starting point in a description of brain complexity, a notion that is crucial for PCI. This, they argue, is compatible with the main principle behind GNWT: a conscious process that depends on a long-range connection between different cortical regions, and more specifically on the amplification, global propagation, and integration of brain signals.
Want to read the paper?
Michele Farisco , Jean-Pierre Changeux, About the compatibility between the perturbational complexity index and the global neuronal workspace theory of consciousness, Neuroscience of Consciousness, Volume 2023, Issue 1, 2023, niad016, https://doi.org/10.1093/nc/niad016