Cognitive Science

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Consciousness: from assessment to rehabilitation

In collaboration with Frontiers in Neuroscience, we are organizing a Research Topic titled "Consciousness: from assessment to rehabilitation”, hosted by Marta Olivetti Belardinelli, Giulio Lancioni, Thomas Huenefeldt, Steven Laureys. As host editor, I would like to encourage you to contribute to this topic.
The idea behind a research topic is to create an organized, comprehensive collection of several contributions, as well as a forum for discussion and debate. Contributions can be articles describing original research, methods, hypothesis & theory, opinions, etc.

We have created a homepage on the Frontiers website (section “Frontiers in Human Neuroscience”) where all articles will appear after peer-review and where participants in the topic will be able to hold relevant discussions:

Frontiers will also compile an e-book, as soon as all contributing articles are published, that can be used in classes, be sent to foundations that fund your research, to journalists and press agencies, or to any number of other organizations. Here the topic details:

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Topic TitleConsciousness: from assessment to rehabilitation
Topic Editor (s)Marta Olivetti Belardinelli, Giulio Lancioni, Thomas Huenefeldt, Steven Laureys
Suggested ByMarta Olivetti Belardinelli
Suggested On19 Apr 2013
Topic DescriptionContent reportability has often been considered as the principal access to phenomenal consciousness. However, in severe conditions such as aphasia and persistent vegetative state that preclude conventional reporting strategies, it is not possible to exclude some forms of conscious processing. The question invests both the antecedent problem of the assessment of consciousness and the consequent applicative task of rehabilitation possibilities. Researchers and clinicians are called to provide: 1) unambiguous definitions of consciousness (and of its minimal levels) also in relation to the different neuro-cognitive models; 2) proofs and indicators of phenomenal consciousness, from the neurological, to the behavioural, up to the neuroscience level; 3) modalities and types of stimulation programs to foster learning and responsiveness in the rehabilitation process.
1) Confusion on the definition of consciousness arises from the multiplicity of disciplines interested in this topic, concerning both living and artificial systems, and ranging from Philosophy, Psychology, Neurosciences, up to Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Robotics and Artificial Life. But agreement is lacking also with regard to which answer may be considered as a expression of consciousness, since different answers are connected to different levels of consciousness also in relation to different neurocognitive models. It is also possible that levels of consciousness are not distinct but arranged on a continuum (from vegetative state or minimal consciousness to full consciousness) along which many patients may be slowly moving, while clinicians are often required to categorize them according to a presence/absence dichotomy. Moreover the links among conscious experience and its neural correlates at the different levels of consciousness are not accounted for in current models of brain and behaviour.
2) As regards the second question about proofs and indicators of consciousness, behavioral, electrophysiological and neuroimaging assessment strategies have been developed, mostly based on cognitive accessibility and awareness, which replace the notion of reportability. Awareness is generally viewed as the ability to recognize/revisit a link between events previously experienced. Awareness may also be considered as the ability to acquire new links between events experienced in the context. In the former sense, neurological strategies may be invoked to check signs of these links. In the latter sense, neurological practices may be combined with the monitoring of behavioral signs of learning. The combination of the techniques or even the simple possibility to rely on behavioral signs and learning paradigms would allow new and challenging ways of checking the reliability of the persons’ behaviors as expressions of consciousness.
3) At present, three main behavioral, intervention strategies are available: (a) the use of music, in order to establish human contact, re-enact musical experiences and re-create emotions and related responsiveness; (b) the general sensory stimulation, at the scope of reducing the risk of sensory deprivation while promoting alertness; and (c) the use of learning programs in order to promote the acquisition and consolidation of simple responses and eventually ascertain choice behavior. Extended responding and choice could also be viewed as important rehabilitation objectives. Meanwhile today research is increasingly trying to develop rehabilitation techniques on a neurological basis, taking advantage of progresses in computer science, robotics and neuroscience.
To substantiate the interdisciplinary debate, together with a Cognitive Scientist (Marta Olivetti Belardinelli), a Philosopher (Thomas Huenefeldt), a Psychologist expert in behavioral rehabilitation (Giulio Lancioni) and a Neurologist (Steven Laureys) act as co-editors for this Frontiers Research Topic.
In preparation since03 May 2013
Online since06 May 2013
Submission Deadline31 Jul 2014

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Comment by Maria Laura Mele on September 3, 2015 at 9:08am

Professor Olivetti Belardinelli presents the history of 15 successful years of the International Conference on Spatial Cognition. 

Comment by Maria Laura Mele on September 9, 2014 at 2:10pm

Cognitive Processing -- International Quarterly of Cognitive Science is a peer-reviewed international journal with the aim to present the latest results obtained in psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy, artificial intelligence, cognitive anthropology, computer science and knowledge engineering, robotics and mathematics.

Find more information on:

Comment by Maria Laura Mele on January 11, 2014 at 3:34pm
The Interuniversity Center for Research on Cognitive Processing in Natural and Artificial Systems is pleased to announce you the 6th International Conference on Spatial Cognition.
The ICSC conference will be held on September 7-11th 2015 in Rome and will focus on Space and Situated Cognition.
More information soon.
Follow us on Twitter @ICSCRome and Facebook
Comment by Shweta Soni on June 13, 2013 at 5:11am


Since our emotions are derived from sub-cortical structure, my question is here that are the emotions free from conciousness as conciousness is commanded via cortex? Do the empathy, compassionate come from our subconciousness?

Comment by Maria Laura Mele on September 24, 2012 at 12:19pm

The ICSC scientific and organizing committee would like to thank all the conference participants, the keynote speakers, the sponsors and partners for making the 5th International Conference on Spatial Cognition a valuable scientific event with pleasant cultural and social moments.

To browse the welcome presentation with all the information on the past ICSC conferences, partecipants, keynotes lecturers and scientific and organizing committee, please visit

Comment by Brain Sciences Foundation on July 14, 2012 at 1:16pm

Our organization is looking for papers to publish in its newly launched journal. Our goal for the publication is to include a diverse range of perspectives on brain function. For more information, please check out our website at or email us at

Comment by Maria Laura Mele on February 19, 2012 at 11:54am
Online registration for the International Conference on Spatial Cognition 2012 is now open!
Early registration available till May 15, 2012.
For further information please go to
Comment by Maria Laura Mele on July 6, 2011 at 12:50pm
Cognitive Processing: 2010 Impact Factor out now!

Cognitive Processing -- International Quarterly of Cognitive Science is a peer-reviewed international journal that publishes innovative contributions in the multidisciplinary field of cognitive science.

We are happy to inform you that the Journal Citation Reports® 2010 have just been released by Thomson Reuters: Cognitive Processing has received its FIRST Impact Factor of: 1.030.
Comment by Maria Laura Mele on November 2, 2010 at 10:29am
The Interuniversity Center for Research on Cognitive Processing in Natural and Artificial Systems announces the 5th International Conference
on Spatial Cognition

The ICSC conference will be held on September 4-8th 2012 in Rome and will focus on Space and embodied cognition.

Comment by Otte Georges on July 23, 2010 at 3:46am
Did Koch's theory show further "sprouting" since this 2003 publication.

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