Commentary Type

Open Commentary


Reber’s theory of the cellular basis of consciousness (CBC) is right to emphasize that we should study consciousness (sentience) in its simplest form, taking its evolution into account. However, not enough evidence is presented to support CBC’s unorthodox claim that even simple, one-celled organisms are conscious. As pointed out by other commentators, the CBC seems to be based on outdated ideas about evolution and does not acknowledge that consciousness could be an evolutionary novel feature. Such emergent features are abundant in living organisms. We review our own emergentist solution, in which consciousness evolved in the elaborating nervous systems of the first vertebrates and arthropods.

Author Biography

Jon M. Mallatt is Clinical Associate Professor in the WWAMI Medical Education Program of the University of Washington at the University of Idaho. His research is on the origin of the major animal groups, especially vertebrates. He has worked with Todd Feinberg on the origin and nature of consciousness since 2013.

Todd E. Feinberg, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology in the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, is internationally recognized as a leading authority on how the neurobiology of the brain creates the individual's sense of identity. http://www.toddfeinberg.com