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May 17.doc

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University of Toronto St. George
Dax Urbszat

PSY100 May 17 th Consciousness Consciousness - William James (1890) o consciousness is a constantly moving stream of thoughts, feelings, and emotions - consciousness can be viewed as our subjective awareness of mental events - functions of consciousness: o monitoring mental events o control: consciousness allows us to formulate and reach goals - consciousness may have evolved to direct or control behaviour in adaptive ways Cortex and Consciousness - the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is activated during conscious control tasks o subjects asked to name the ink colour in the stroop task have difficulty when the word name and colour are different o this colour-naming task was associated with activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex Attention - our conscious awareness is limited in capacity and we are aware of only a small amount of the stimuli around us at any one time - attention refers to the process by which we focus our awareness - three functions of attentional process: o orienting function toward the environment o control of the content of consciousness  I will think about this issue but not that one… o maintaining alertness Subliminal Perception - notion that brief exposure to sub-threshold stimuli can influence awareness - study: subjects are shown aggressive (A) or positive (B) stimuli o and then rate a neutral stimulus (C) o subjects shown panel A first subsequently rated the boy in panel C more negatively Unconscious Cognitive Processes - information-processing view can be extended to analyses of unconscious processes - notion is that many brain mechanisms operate in parallel o some of these mechanisms operate outside of the level of consciousness - functional significance of unconscious mechanisms: o are efficient and rapid o can operate simultaneously o operate in the absence of consciousness Neurology of Consciousness - consciousness is distributed throughout the brain o hindbrain and midbrain are important for arousal and for sleep o damage to the reticular formati can lead to coma o prefrontal cortex is key for conscious control of information processing
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