Event-Related Brain Potentials in the Study of Consciousness

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Book Chapter

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P300 Amplitude, Conscious Experience, P300 Component, P300 Latency, Contingent Negative Variation

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The electrical activity of the brain has always tantalized investigators interested in developing a psychobiology of consciousness. Hans Berger had been driven to his pioneering studies of the human electroencephalogram (EEG) by his interest in “psychic energy.” Jung (1975) reported that Berger “believed that the chemical energy of brain metabolism was transported into heat, electrical and ‘psychic’ energy, and he hoped to extrapolate the latter by measuring the heat production and electrical activity of the brain” (p. 484). The EEG, which Berger discovered, promised to allow insights into the mechanisms underlying consciousness. The rationale for this promise is evident. Because the phenomena of consciousness make themselves most readily available in the human, consciousness is best studied in the awake, alert, speaking individual. As electrical brain activity is one of the few means available for the observation of neural activity in the intact human, it is a natural object of interest to the student of consciousness.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Event-Related Brain Potentials in the Study of Consciousness, in R. Davidson, G. Schwartz & D. Shapiro (Eds.), Consciousness and Self Regulation, Plenum Press, p. 81-121