Split-brain syndrome and extended perceptual consciousness

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Colleges, School and Institutes


In this paper I argue that split-brain syndrome is best understood within an extended mind framework and, therefore, that its very existence provides support for an externalist account of conscious perception. I begin by outlining the experimental aberration model of split-brain syndrome and explain both: why this model provides the best account of split-brain syndrome; and, why it is commonly rejected. Then, I summarise Susan Hurley’s argument that split-brain subjects could unify their conscious perceptual field by using external factors to stand-in for the missing corpus callosum. I next provide an argument that split-brain subjects do unify their perceptual fields via external factors. Finally, I explain why my account provides one with an experimental aberration model which avoids the problems typically levelled at such views, and highlight some empirical predictions made by the account. The nature of split-brain syndrome has long been considered mysterious by proponents of internalist accounts of consciousness. However, in this paper I argue that externalist theories can provide a straightforward explanation of the condition. I therefore conclude that the ability of externalist accounts to explain split-brain syndrome gives us strong reason to prefer them over internalist rivals.


Original languageEnglish
JournalPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Early online date25 Nov 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Nov 2017