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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

Lecture 14: Consciousness: Core Issues What Is consciousness? - Scientists now try to talk about consciousness, everything is very interconnected - Doctors often talk about the state of being alert or awake (coma-not conscious) crude distinction. - they are interested in patients under anesthesia are still aware and awake and perceive whats going on in the operating room (doctors used to make fun of the patient while they were unconscious) - When doctors were negative, it took longer for patients to cure and recover, so do they hear you at some level? - Awake people are conscious yes, but an interacting person has this “consciousness” that sometimes is at play and sometimes is not so that some behaviours may reflect conscious processes, some may not (being aware of something, levels of consciousness) - Being self-aware, do you see yourself as an entity, with animals its very controversial (does the dog know itself as an entity) - Most psychologists believe, we are in control of our behaviour and sometimes we are not, it only makes sense to preach morality if you believe the person has the ability to control what they do - flip side of control is responsibility The Nature of Consciousness Intentionality: consciousness is directed toward something (always?).. - I can focus my mind on something I want to think about, how often to things enter your mind that you did not intend to think about it - consciousness has a mind of its own at times (came to psych class cause you wanted to have psych in your mind) Unity: consciousness is very hard to divide, conscious of one thing at a time.. - Why is a cellphone more dangerous than having a friend in the car, the person in the car can see whats going on as well. - People naturally shut up when the road gets tough, but the person on the phone does not know your situation, they know youre a jerk when you keep talking in the car, so they try to divide their consciousness on the road and on the phone, you’re just as impaired Selectivity: only certain aspects of stimuli are brought into consciousness Transience: It is difficult to keep consciousness from moving (fixed on one topic).. - Colleagues are very important - this is what makes consciousness so fun and difficult - its really hard to study scientifically, mind body problem - EX: Your boss hates you and you have this feeling you better not screw up or you’ll get fired, and if you get fired you’ll let your family down. you feel this every day - This is the same kind of threat as someone grabbing you by the shirt, except its prolonged - This is transcience is a prolonged one, this is what we call stress when sympathetic keeps acting, - But this is all psychological, you feel all these worries that your boss doesnt like you, you are then very prone to physical illness - Something about those thoughts affect your immune system, it is always trying to fight an invisible stress - How does this happen? What is the link between the mind and body The Challenges of Consciousness - When we think about consciousness, how do they emerge from a physical body - Are these consciously conscious thoughts relative to our behaviour? - No doubt that we have subjective/conscience experience - When you see a photo of a sad person, you feel sad for them( subjective phenomonology or what philosophers call qualia.. Relevant or epi-phenomenal? - Question many people have, do the thoughts and the qualia do anything? Do they actually affect our behaviour or just something we experience(epi-phenomenal) So is it even anything to be interested in - Joordens assumes every other human is conscious, so everyone has models in their brain, your friends have models about you in their brain (surprise birthday) you have to know a person to fool them, a model of them, this is called theory of the mind - To see if an organism has a conscious mind, they use theory of the mind - Monkey 2 is laughing that monkey 1 doesnt see human coming, this suggests a theory of mind, monkey 2 knows monkey 1 doesnt know human is there, they can model what it would be like to be monkey 1, this is also the source of empathy We have the ability to model a little girls mind, from her emotional expression we can feel what she feels Human/Animal Consciousness - guy named gordon gallop, phd student working with him, phd student was shaving one morning and was trying to figure out his thesis, and while looking in the mirror he realized, most animals never see their reflection, so he started hanging mirrors in all the cages, so it turns out it depended on the animal, - most animals acted like you introduced another member of their species to them. Killer whales gives fishes, some species will realize that the reflection doesnt do anything after a while, its habituant, so it will ignore it. - Dogs would bark at it first, but once they see it over and over again, it just ignores it. - Primates take another step, they will begin to examine things about themselves (self inspect) - This is suggested a measure of self awareness. They then allowed animals to get used to it for a while - Then they are anestisized, for dental work They were marked with red marks, and then the chimps would be put back in the mirror, and they touch that red mark way more, they have a concept of “my face” which suggests self awareness, which is the highest level of consciousness - Babies after a year and a half, they will do the same thing, around the same time they start to use pronouns, relatively late - So are chimps conscious? What about rats? - Hippocampus is important for conscious memory Unconscious (Freud vs. Cognitive) - From a freud perspective, we are aware of the conscious - People generally like to talk about themselves - We have this unconscious that we have goals and drives and desires that leak out in our behaviour in certain ways - Have to orchestrate all these behaviours when learning to drive standard - Once you get smooth, you don’t even think about it, it becomes unconscious, all happens without your awareness, but its not that the unconscious is upto anything, through repetition and practice is how you did it - This is how most psychologists think of unconscious behaviour More on Habits - When we are talking about habits, we are really talking about memory - This is a very conscious way for habit, when we are commanded - Sometimes habits come from rational conscious thought, but often they don’t, this is where the cognitive conscious can become more freud - Were born into an enviornment, so when youre surrounded by people with certain behaviours, the easy thing for you to do is do the same - Indoctrination, peer pressure (smoking) so you didnt choose the habit, you just did it because others are - When you see someone you dislike someone (michael jackson) see him drinking a pepsi, you stop reaching for pepsi everyday and instead drink coke. This is called oppositional context when your habits are pulling you one way and goals are pulling you the other Oppositional Contexts - Consciousness is very challenging to get at and study it in an empirical way, so it gets less real world, lets get more real world (michael jackson) - Oppositional position, when you have habit, this is called a captured behaviour - You may be able to overcome the habit if you say: no no I want the coke instead - So these two are battling, and in research those are the situations we try to create - Capture error, when your habit pushes you to do something against your current goals - If you saw spice, you must put some other ending to exclude and avoid using the one that was flashed briefly - We do believe unconscious representations in our mind can be primed and through habit, we are often behaving in the world in an unconscious way Back to Subliminal Perception Lecture 15: Altered States of Consciousness Altered States - Our previous discussion of consciousness was focused on the “normal” conscious experience of an awake, sober, self-controlled individual… but “normal” consciousness can be altered by..Sleep - Hypnosis, people give over their conscious control, they give that to the hypnotist - Drugs, messing with consciousness, does weird things - Sensory deprivation The Mystery of Sleep: Why? - we spend a third of our life, we sleep and were pathetic and defenseless, so this must be important - Evolution theories are flexible - Some people say, sleep must be a playing a critical function, if it wasnt, o
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