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0. Workshop Description

In this workshop we explore how one's body, and especially motor behavior, shapes conscious experience. To what extent, and in what precise way is the body present in perceptual experience? Is it possible to have a non-perceptual present awareness of one's body? To what extent does the unity of perceptual consciousness depend on the phenomenological transparency of the body? How does motoric behavior, much of which is not conscious, affect conscious experience? What is the relationship between consciousness and gestural movement? We address these issues from several perspectives, including:

Outline of workshop:

  1. Phenomenological description of normal bodily experience. Awareness of the body during intentional action. Perceptual and non-perceptual awareness of the body. The status of proprioception. The distinction between body image and body schema. Questions and Discussion.

  2. Empirical evidence for the distinction between body image and body schema. The case of unilateral neglect. Loss of body image. The case of deafferentation: IW. The effects of a loss of proprioception and touch from the neck down. Loss of body schema. Difficulties with motor control; the visual and cognitive monitoring of movement. Questions and Discussion.

  3. Results of magnetic stimulation studies of IW. Visual and imaginative control as replacement for proprioceptive body schema. Task: small movement of thumb; superimposed magnetic stimulation. Evidence against perception of movement based on central corollary discharge. Questions and Discussion.

  4. Results of PET scans of IW. The experiment involved a simple sequential finger/thumb apposition task. Four conditions of movement were investigated:
    (a) Self-movement and visual monitoring
    (b) Self-movement without visual monitoring
    (c) No self-movement and visual perception of other's movement
    (d) No self-movement and no visual perception of movement

    By comparison of the patterns of activation within the brain for these conditions in IW and controls conclusions may be made about the brain areas involved in movement without peripheral feedback. The areas activated during visual control of movement and during movement without visual or peripheral feedback may be analysed and from this the roles of parietal cortex and cerebellum in corollary discharge considered. Questions and Discussion.

  5. Experiments on gesture. To what extent does gestural movement depend on conscious monitoring? What does the motor system contribute to language? Is it purely central or based on sensory feedback? Experiments with deaf unilateral neglect patients (Bellugi and Klima 1997) and with IW show to what extent and in what way embodiment is a necessary condition for linguistic behavior, and to what extent language transcends embodiment and shapes our thought.

  6. Conclusions: The phenomenology of neglect and deafferentation as well as the experimental results allow us to draw conclusions about the need for body awareness during various motor tasks. Work from PET studies suggest the brain areas involved in movements under visual control and those made without apparent feedback. We discuss the implications of the empirical data for the question of the unity of consciousness, and outline a distinction between the phenomenal unity and the prenoetic unity of consciousness.

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