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consciousness.doc

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSY1101
Professor
A L L
Semester
Fall

Description
Consciousness as a Processa StatePSY1101 Introduction to Experimental PsychologyProf K Campbell We drifted oer the harbourbarAnd I with sobs did prayO let me be awake my GodOr let me sleepalwaySamuelTaylorColeridgeTheRimeoftheAncientMariner1798IllustrationbyGustaveDor18702Introduction to Experimental PsychologyConsciousnessChapter3inMyersConsciousnessasaprocessThestudyofconsciousnesshasafrustratinglylonghistoryinPsychologyandformanycenturiesbeforethatinPhilosophyManyoftheproblemshavearisenbecausenoonecanseemtoagreeonjusthowtodefineconsciousnessAndasinanyscientificendeavourweneedtooperationallydefinewhatwehopetomeasureToadequatelydefineconsciousnesswouldrequirethatallofusagreethatwheneverweobserveaspecificconsciousactionbehaviourorperhapsabrainresponsewewouldallagreethatthisisconsistentwithconsciousnessThusanexperimentermightpresentatonethatsoundslikebeepEverytimeitispresentedavolunteerparticipantisaskedtopushabuttonAlmostallofuswillagreethatiftheparticipantdoesindeedpushthebuttonshehemusthavebeenconsciousofthetoneThebehaviourthepushingofabuttoncanthusbeusedasevidencethatthetonewasdetectedconsciouslybytheparticipantButwasthisactuallythecaseWastheparticipantactuallyconsciousofthetoneordidheshemerelydetectitorwasawareofitAlmostallagreethatdetectionandawarenessoftheoutsideexternalenvironmentortheinternalmentalenvironmentformpartofthedefinitionofwhatwecallconsciousnessHowevertheyarenotsufficientAcomputercandetectexternalsignalsAcomputercouldhavedetectedthetonethattheexperimenterpresentedButweallagreethatacomputerisnotconsciousHoweverifwedefinedconsciousnessastheabilitytodetectanexternalstimulusthenbythisdefinitionthecomputerisconsciousFewofuswouldagreethatacomputerisawareoftheoutsideworldbutmanyanimalsdoseemtobeawareofitatleasttoalimitedextentAreanimalsconsciousProbablyatleastmydogandcatseemtobeconsciousMosthoweveragreethatwhileanimalconsciousnessisdifferentfromcomputerconsciousnessitisalsoprobablydifferentfromhumanconsciousnessTheredoesseemtobesomethinguniqueabouthumanconsciousnessForonehumansdodemonstratewhatiscalledselfconsciousnessNotonlyisahumanconsciousitknowsitisconsciousNootheranimalseemstoshowthisformofconsciousnessOrdotheySomemonkeysandapesandmaybeevenelephantsseemtoshowsomeformofselfconsciousnessStillhumansjustseemtobemorethereButmorethereisarathervaguescientifictermHowismoretheredefinedWhattypeofconsciousnessdoweshowmoreofsorryaboutthedanglingprepositionWeseemtoexperienceourconsciousnessinwaysthatarenotavailabletootheranimalsUnfortunatelytermslikeselfconsciousnessmorethereandexperienceareevenmoredifficulttodefineAndevenifscientistscouldagreeonhowtodefineconsciousnesshowcoulditbemeasuredAndcomplicatingmattersevenmoreisthefactthattheabsenceofconsciousnessunconsciousnessalsoneedstobedefinedAsanexperimenterhowwouldyouknowthatyourvolunteerparticipantisnotconsciousIntheexampleabovesupposetheparticipantfailstorespondtotheoccasionalpresentationofthetoneDoesthisnecessarilymeanthatheshewasnotconsciousofthetoneAsaparticipanthowcouldyousignaltotheexperimenterthatyouareconscious3 Weshallconsiderconsciousnessintwowaysasastateandasaprocess ThesleepwakecycleisdividedintoawakingandasleepingstateInthealertandwakingstatetheobserverisawareoftheirenvironmentandisthussaidtobeinastateofconsciousnessDuringnaturalsleeptheobserverisnolongerapparentlyawareoftheirenvironmentandisthussaidtobeinastateofunconsciousnessSleepasastateofunconsciousnesswillbestudiedlaterinthissection WhileinthewakingstatetheobserveralthoughconsciousisnotconsciousofeverythingRatheritappearsthattheobservermustrestrictattentiontoonlyaverysmallportionoftheirenvironmentThisiscalledtheselectiveattentionprocessandpermitstheobservertobecomeconsciousofhighlyrelevantstimulusinputHoweverthiscomesatacostTheobserverwillnotbeconsciousoflessrelevantinput ConsciousnessinvolvesmorethansimplydetectingandbecomingawareofanexternalstimulusinputItalsoinvolvessomethingabstractcalledexperienceThisperceptualexperienceishighlypersonalandsubjectiveandcanthereforebeeasilyalteredWeshallalsodiscusshowvariousdrugscanalterourconsciousexperienceTheAttentionalProcessHowwebecomeconscious Howdowemanagetobecomeawareofstimulusinputthatisrelevantyetbanishfromawarenessthatwhichisnotrelevant OnemethodactiveattentionrequiresconsiderablecorticaleffortandconsiderablefocusinginordertodistinguishrelevantinputfromirrelevantinputTheobserverchoosestobecomeawareofthatwhichisrelevant AsecondmethodpassiveattentionrequiresnoeffortRathercertainhighlyprivilegedstimulusinputwillforcetheobservertoswitchattentionawayfromwhatevertheyweredoingandnowattendtotheprocessingofsomethingthatisdeemedtobemuchmorerelevantActiveSelectiveAttention ThepurposeofattentionistoensurethatonlythemostrelevantofstimulusinputattainsconsciousnessTheprocessingofthatwhichisirrelevantshouldbeinhibitedandthuspreventedfromattainingconsciousness TheselectivityoftheattentionalprocesswouldnotbenecessaryifourcognitiveprocessingsystemshadunlimitedcapacityTherealityisotherwiseInspiteoftheenormityandthecomplexityofthehumancortexwedoappeartohaveaverymuchlimitedcapacitytoprocessinformation
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