Bruce Bridgeman (1992) Planning to Plan: Iterative Brain Function . Psycoloquy: 3(53) Consciousness (28)
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Psycoloquy 3(53): Planning to Plan: Iterative Brain Function

Reply to McGovern/Baars on Bridgeman on Consciousness

Bruce Bridgeman
Department of Psychology
Kerr Hall UCSC
Santa Cruz, Ca. 95064


I defined a plan as an internally held image of an intended achievement. The plan can then control a sequence of actions to achieve a goal. This property of plans is not inconsistent with the definition. I also pointed out that plans motivate behavior. Again, there is no inconsistency, just an elaboration. McGovern and Baars ask whether we decide unconsciously which of several plans might be used to achieve a goal. The answer is, yes: plans pop into our heads like the "aha" phenomenon of Gestalt psychology. There is an iterative process, however, that can use internal speech to develop plans. If consciousness is a result of the planning mechanisms at work, then the functions of consciousness are the functions of plans and planning. In my interpretation, the perception of sequences is handled not by the plan-executing (motor) mechanism, but by a separate plan-monitoring (sensory) mechanism that functions both to monitor one's own progress in a plan and to interpret sequences of outside events. Simpler perceptions become conscious to the degree that they engage the working memory needed to consolidate sensory events into interpreted experiences.


consciousness, language, plans, motivation, evolution, motor system