Consciousness is undoubtedly one of the last remaining scientific mysteries and hence one of the greatest contemporary scientific challenges. How does the brain's activity result in the rich phenomenology that characterizes our waking life? Are animals conscious? Why did consciousness evolve? How does science proceed to answer such questions? Can we define what consciousness is? Can we measure it? Can we use experimental results to further our understanding of disorders of consciousness, such as those seen in schizophrenia, delirium, or altered states of consciousness?
These questions are at the heart of contemporary research in the domain. Answering them requires a fundamentally interdisciplinary approach that engages not only philosophers, but also neuroscientists and psychologists in a joint effort to develop novel approaches that reflect both the stunning recent advances in imaging methods as well as the continuing refinement of our concepts of consciousness.
In this light, the Oxford Companion to Consciousness is the most complete authoritative survey of contemporary research on consciousness. Five years in the making and including over 250 concise entries written by leaders in the field, the volume covers both fundamental knowledge as well as more recent advances in this rapidly changing domain. Structured as an easy-to-use dictionary and extensively cross-referenced, the Companion offers contributions from philosophy of mind to neuroscience, from experimental psychology to clinical findings, so reflecting the profoundly interdisciplinary nature of the domain. Particular care has been taken to ensure that each of the entries is accessible to the general reader and that the overall volume represents a comprehensive snapshot of the contemporary study of consciousness. The result is a unique compendium that will prove indispensable to anyone interested in consciousness, from beginning students wishing to clarify a concept to professional consciousness researchers looking for the best characterization of a particular phenomenon.
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Tim Bayne, Ph.D. (University of Arizona 2003), is University Lecturer in the Philosophy of Mind at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St. Catherine's College. He has published a number of articles in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, with a particular focus on delusions, the phenomenology of agency, and the unity of consciousness. He has co-edited Delusion and Self-Deception: Affective and Motivational Influences on Belief Formation (Psychology Press, 2008), Cognitive Phenomenology (Oxford University Press, forthcoming), and is the author of The Unity of Consciousness, forthcoming with Oxford University Press.
Axel Cleeremans, Ph.D. (Carnegie Mellon 1991), is a Research Director with the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique and a professor of cognitive psychology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, where he heads the Consciousness, Cognition and Computation (CO3) Group. His research is dedicated to exploring the differences between information processing with and without consciousness, particularly in the domain of learning and memory. He is a past president of the Belgian Association of Psychological Science, and is currently a member of the board of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness and president of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology.
Patrick Wilken, Ph.D. (University of Melbourne, 2001) is the founder and former director of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, as well as founder of the electronic interdisciplinary consciousness studies journal Psyche. As a vision scientist he worked on developing novel models of visual short-term memory with his collaborator Weiji Ma, first in the laboratory of Christof Koch at the California Institute of Technology, and subsequently at the University of Magdeburg with Jochen Braun. After a period time employed as an editor for the journals Trends in Cognitive Science, Trends in Neuroscience and Neuron, he is now working for the School of Mind and Brain at Humboldt University in Berlin.
"This compendium provides a first-rate overview of the burgeoning field of consciousness studies. Highly Recommended" --CHOICE
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