Abstract: In many theories and experiments, consciousness is conceived as an executive function, that distributes precise and detailed information guiding behavior. Indeed, the neural mechanisms correlated with consciousness share a number of similarities with those involved in executive functions such as attention, memory and control, e.g. amplification and selection, engagement of fronto-parietal regions, oscillatory synchrony. This apparent similarity has been challenged by a number of experimental evidence showing partial or full dissociations between the neural correlates of consciousness and the neural correlates of other cognitive functions. Those results suggests that, from a neural point of view, consciousness may be less executive than previously thought. The current brain-as-a-computer metaphor, with neural mechanisms designed to support goal-oriented behavior, may therefore be an insufficient framework to understand the biological mechanisms underlying consciousness.
Catherine Tallon-Baudry, C. (2011) On the Neural Mechanisms Subserving Consciousness and Attention Frontiers in Psychology 2: 397.