Subjective Referral of the Timing for a Conscious Sensory Experience

A Functional Role for The Somatosensory Specific Projection System in Man
  • Benjamin Libet
  • Elwood W. WrightJr.
  • Bertram Feinstein
  • Dennis K. Pearl
Part of the Contemporary Neuroscientists book series (CN)


PREVIOUS studies had indicated that there is a substantial delay, up to about 0.5 s, before activity at cerebral levels achieves ‘neuronal adequacy’ for eliciting a conscious somatosensory experience (Libet, Alberts, Wright, Delattre, Levin and Feinstein, 1964; Libet, 1966). The delay appeared necessary not only with stimulation of medial lemniscus, ventrobasal thalamus, or postcentral cortex, but even when the stimulus was a single electrical pulse at the skin (Libet, Alberts, Wright, and Feinstein, 1967, 1972; Libet, 1973). The present investigation began with an experimental test of whether there is in fact also a subjective delay in the conscious experience for a peripheral sensory stimulus. That is, is there a delay in the subjective timing of the experience that would correspond to the presumed delay in achieving the neuronal state that ‘produces’ the experience? The results of that test led to a modified hypothesis ; this postulates (a) the existence of a subjective referral of the timing for a sensory experience, and (b) a role for the specific (lemniscal) projection system in mediating such a subjective referral of timing. Experimental tests of the new proposal were carried out and are reported here.


Sensory Experience Conscious Experience Peripheral Stimulus Stimulus Train Subjective Timing 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin Libet
  • Elwood W. WrightJr.
  • Bertram Feinstein
    • 1
  • Dennis K. Pearl
    • 1
  1. 1.the Neurological Institute, Department of NeuroscienceMount Zion HospitalSan FranciscoUSA

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