Scientific Understanding of Consciousness
Consciousness as an Emergent Property of Thalamocortical Activity

Perception--Action Cycle

(Joaquín Fuster; The Prefrontal Cortex, 360)




Flow of fiber connections between cortical regions participating in the perception—action cycle. Empty rhomboids stand for intermediate areas or sub-areas of adjacent labeled regions.

The hierarchical layers of the Perception—Action cycle are likely to be implemented by Bayesian inference networks.


The Bayesian networks will use reentry and recursion as indicated by the reciprocal arrows in the diagram.

Return to — Movement Control

Return to — Prefrontal Cortex

Fuster’s Perception-Action Cycle

The organization of behavior requires the continuous, orderly activation of networks of executive memory represented in the cortex of the frontal lobe and the lower structures of motor systems.  That recruitment of executive networks can only take place through the functional interplay of frontal and posterior cortices in the perception-action cycle. Fuster; Cortex and Mind, 140)

Cortical connectivity apparatus of the perception-action cycle is completed in both directions at every hierarchical level. (Fuster; Prefrontal Cortex, 360)

Both perceptual and executive networks receive inputs from, and send outputs to, a number of subcortical structures that exchange information with cortical networks. (Fuster; Prefrontal Cortex, 360)

Edelman’s Motor Programs

Motor programs are sets of muscle commands put together before the beginning of a movement sequence. (Edelman; Remembered Present, 133)

Through reentry, the frontal, parietal and temporal cortex may compare the activities of different combinations of brain regions, composing portions of global mappings. (Edelman; Remembered Present, 145)

Frontal cortex connections to basal ganglia and limbic system, establish relations among values and categorizations of sensory experience. (Edelman; Remembered Present, 145)

The brain functions for action, and output to the motor systems is required for two essential tasks.  (Edelman; Neural Darwinism, 63)

The first task is to aid in selecting appropriate inputs by altering the relationship of sensory systems to the surroundings by spontaneous or learned movement. (Edelman; Neural Darwinism, 63)

Motor systems must also verify and corroborate through actions the instantaneous and dynamic responses as well is the enhanced connectivities that result from the action of groups. (Edelman; Neural Darwinism, 63)

The back lobes of the brain are generally involved with sensory functions and details of perception.  The front lobes are generally involved with functions of action.  Wake-time neural activity has intense "ping-pong" signaling between the sensory areas and the action planning and execution areas. Action plans are continually generated recursively as movement control of the body produces actions, which are detected by the senses and then evaluated and revised by the brain's cognitive, emotional, and motivational networks.


Research study —  Parietal Cortex Decision-Making


Movement control includes the premotor and motor areas of the frontal lobes together with subcortical structures of the basal ganglia, cerebellum, brainstem and spinal cord.  Movement control generally involves a descending hierarchy of neural action patterns of stereotyped movements.  This Fixed Action Pattern (FAP) hierarchy is the result of a combination of genetic endowment together with a lifetime of learning stored synaptically in procedural memory.  This hierarchy of synaptic memory allows a concert violinist or pianist to perform a well-rehearsed concerto, concentrating on the emotional aspects of the performance, without the slightest thought about individual finger movements — thoughts of which finger to place where or which individual piano keys to strike.  All the mechanical details of the pianist or violinist performance are stored in synapses, a procedural memory ingrained and trained by countless hours of practice, practice, practice . . .


Prefrontal regions are reciprocally connected with temporal, parietal, and occipital cortices, where they receive higher-level visual, auditory, and somatosensory information. (Miller; Human Frontal Lobes, 49)


Perception-action cycle is a circular cybernetic flow of information processing between the organism and its environment in a sequence of goal-directed actions. An action of the organism causes an environmental change that will be processed by sensory systems, which will produce signals to inform the next action, and so on. Perception-action cycle is of prime importance for the adaptive success of a temporally extended gestalt of behavior, where each action is contingent on the effects of the previous one. Perception-action cycle operates at all levels of the central nervous system. Simple, automatic, and well rehearsed behaviors engage only the lower levels of the perception-action cycle, where, for sensorimotor integration, the cycle runs through the spinal cord and subcortical structures. (Fuster; Prefrontal Cortex, 382)