On the evolution of conscious attention
This paper aims to clarify the relationship between consciousness and attention through theoretical considerations about evolution. Specifically, we will argue that the empirical findings on attention and the basic considerations concerning the evolution of the different forms of attention demonstrate that consciousness and attention must be dissociated regardless of which definition of these terms one uses. To the best of our knowledge, no extant view on the relationship between consciousness and attention has this advantage. Because of this characteristic, this paper presents a principled and neutral way to settle debates concerning the relationship between consciousness and attention, without falling into disputes about the meaning of these terms. A decisive conclusion of this approach is that extreme views on the relationship between consciousness and attention must be rejected, including identity and full dissociation views. There is an overlap between the two within conscious attention, but developing a full understanding of this mechanism requires further empirical investigations.