Consciousness is more than meets the eye: A call for a multisensory study of subjective experience

Nathan Faivre, Anat Arzi, Claudia Lunghi, Roy Salomon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Over the last 30 years, our understanding of the neurocognitive bases of consciousness has improved, mostly through studies employing vision. While studying consciousness in the visual modality presents clear advantages, we believe that a comprehensive scientific account of subjective experience must not neglect other exteroceptive and interoceptive signals as well as the role of multisensory interactions for perceptual and self-consciousness. Here, we briefly review four distinct lines of work which converge in documenting how multisensory signals are processed across several levels and contents of consciousness. Namely, how multisensory interactions occur when consciousness is prevented because of perceptual manipulations (i.e. subliminal stimuli) or because of low vigilance states (i.e. sleep, anesthesia), how interactions between exteroceptive and interoceptive signals give rise to bodily self-consciousness, and how multisensory signals are combined to form metacognitive judgments. By describing the interactions between multisensory signals at the perceptual, cognitive, and metacognitive levels, we illustrate how stepping out the visual comfort zone may help in deriving refined accounts of consciousness, and may allow cancelling out idiosyncrasies of each sense to delineate supramodal mechanisms involved during consciousness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalNeuroscience of Consciousness
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press.


N.F. was an EPFL fellow co-funded by Marie Skłodowska-Curie. C.L. was funded by the project ECSPLAIN (European Research Council under the Seventh Framework Programme, FPT/2007-2013, grant agreement no. 338866). A.A. was a Blavatnik fellow and a Royal society Kohn international fellow. We thank the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness for travel funding, and we are grateful to Liad Mudrik, Lavi Secundo, Andrés Canales-Johnson, and Ophelia Deroy for valuable discussions and helpful comments on the article.

FundersFunder number
Seventh Framework Programme338866
European Research Council
Seventh Framework Programme


    • Contents of consciousness
    • Metacognition
    • Self
    • States of consciousness
    • Unconscious processing


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