Nature Reviews Neuroscience 3, 261-270 (April 2002) | doi:10.1038/nrn783

Neural correlates of consciousness in humans

Geraint Rees1,2, Gabriel Kreiman3 & Christof Koch3,4  About the authors


The directness and vivid quality of conscious experience belies the complexity of the underlying neural mechanisms, which remain incompletely understood. Recent work has focused on identifying the brain structures and patterns of neural activity within the primate visual system that are correlated with the content of visual consciousness. Functional neuroimaging in humans and electrophysiology in awake mokeys indicate that there are important differences between striate and extrastriate visual cortex in how well neural activity correlates with consciousness. Moreover, recent neuroimaging studies indicate that, in addition to these ventral areas of visual cortex, dorsal prefrontal and parietal areas might contribute to conscious visual experience.

Author affiliations

  1. Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, Alexandra House, 17 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AR, UK.
  2. Wellcome Department of Cognitive Neurology, Institute of Neurology, 12 Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, UK.
  3. Division of Biology, 139-74, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.
  4. Division of Engineering, Applied Science, 139-74, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.

Correspondence to: Geraint Rees1,2 Email:

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