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The chemosensory brain requires a distributed cellular mechanism to harness information and resolve conflicts – is consciousness the forum?

  • Richard Lathe (a1) (a2) (a3)

Abstract

The central nervous system (CNS) evolved from a chemosensory epithelium, but a simple epithelium has limited means to resolve conflicts between early drives (e.g., approach vs. avoid). Understanding the role of “consciousness” as a resolution device, with specific focus on chemosensation and the olfactory system, is of appeal. I argue that consciousness is not the adjudicator, but is instead the forum that brings conflicting (conscious) inputs into a form that allows them to be (unconsciously) compared/contrasted, guiding rational action.

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