The negative neural correlates of consciousness


  • Marian Schneider Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University
  • Ingo Marquardt


For a long time, scientists and philosophers alike have been speculating about the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC). Although definitions differ, usually an NCC denotes neural events whose occurrence correlates with our phenomenal experiences. In this essay, we motivate the introduction of the concept of a 'negative neural correlate of consciousness' (NNCC). The NNCC can be conceptually understood as neural events whose occurrence inversely correlates with a given phenomenal experience. We wish to introduce this concept for two reasons. First, it is an elegant solution to the problem of sufficiency that so far has unduly neglected in the NCC debate. Secondly, based on the Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness, we argue that only by pairing each NCC with a corresponding NNCC will scientists ever be able to predict conscious experience from brain data. We discuss empirical implications of and potential objections to the suggested NNCC framework.