Conscious(ness) Realist

Publication Reviews and Commentaries
by Larissa Albantakis

About this blog

As a contributor to the field of consciousness science and its literature, I have found myself increasingly frustrated by the lack of a proper medium to publish short commentaries and corrections in reply to recent articles. Often, what needs to be said doesn't warrant the time and effort of submitting an article-length reply to an official journal, but also exceeds what can efficiently be transmitted by a tweet. Personal communication, in my experience, has been the most effective and collegial way to address this issue so far.

Recently, however, public debates about the nature of consciousness and the theories attempting to address it have become more frequent, dynamic, and heated. In particular the Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of consciousness gets a lot of flak in these discussions, as it is unique in its approach— starting from the essential properties of phenomenology itself— and it actually comes with a detailed mathematical formalism. As a long-term contributor to IIT and its formal framework, it is my impression that often clarifications of minor (and major) misunderstandings could go a long way to keep the discussion constructive and productive.

This blog is my attempt to contribute to the ongoing conversation about consciousness and its theories by providing a platform for constructive criticism and debate, as well as a repository of clarifications regarding IIT and its take on consciousness in particular.

Disclaimer: These are my starting points: Consciousness is subjective experience, or phenomenology (terms will be used equivalently) — not a function performed by the brain. Consciousness is real — doubting its existence doesn't make sense.

About me

Larissa Albantakis

Larissa Albantakis is an Assistant Professor of Computational Psychiatry at the Wisconsin Institute for Sleep and Consciousness, University of Wisconsin—Madison.

She obtained her Diploma in Physics from Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich in 2007, and her PhD in Computational Neuroscience from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona in 2011 under the supervision of Gustavo Deco. She has been at the University of Wisconsin since 2012, where she worked together with Giulio Tononi on Integrated Information Theory, as well as a principled account of causation and causal autonomy. In 2022, she started her own research group aimed at developing novel computational tools to analyze and model the origins, symptoms, and potential for interventions of mental disorders in a causal, mechanistic manner at the individual and group level.

Research Interests: Consciousness, Causation and Causal Analysis, Information, Complex System Science, (Artificial) Neural Networks, Computational Neuroscience, Cognition, Mental disorders, Decision-making, Artificial Life/Intelligence

You can find a complete list of my publications on Research Gate or Google Scholar.


This project was supported by grant number FQXi-MGB-2007 from the Foundational Questions Institute and Fetzer Franklin Fund, a donor advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation.