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Steve Joordens

CHAPTER 9: CONSCIOUSNESS CONSCIOUSNESS AS A SOCIAL PHENOMENON Can we Understand Consciousness Historically people taken three positions on consciousness: not natural phenomenon (miracoulous, not understandable by human mind), natural phenomenon we cant understand (exists because of nature of brain, but how is unknown), and thirdly people are conscious and its produced by brain activity, and it can be explained Hebb believed the third one The Adaptive Significance of Consciousness Consciousness is awareness of perceiving, remembering, thinking, not those itself Consciousness does not exist, humans exist with the ability to be conscious Consciousness is private experience, cannot be shared directly, we experience our own consciousness and infer others being conscious because they are like us and because they tell us they are conscious Consciousness is not general property of all parts of brain (not conscious of everything about ourselves or equally of one thing all the time) Blindsight: ability to interact behaviourally with objects while remaining consciously unaware of them Caused by damage to visual cortex or pathway leading to or from that area Able to reach for a cane and grab it although they are unable to be conscious of it being there Consciousness is primarily social phenomenon, awareness through communication, and selfawareness through inner speech Consciousness and the ability to Communicate Able to translate private events into symbolic expressions; brain mechanisms for communicating receive input from systems of brain involved in perceiving, thinking, remembering and so on Our words have effect on other peoples thoughts, perceptions, memories and behavior Ability to communicate with ourselves symbolically gives rise to consciousness Cheesman and Merikle presented people with word (prime) that was congruent or incongruent with a patch of color (target) and asked to name the color of the patch, which is difficult when prime is incongruent. If add mask immediately in front of prime, participants unconscious of the meaning of the prime, but it still affected the naming of the color if incongruent Tried where pretty much all congruent, but with mask, unable to predict which color would come up and name it Consciousness has this property: we become able to describe, and use, the psychological events that are private to ourselves Consciousness and the Control of Behaviour James suggests emotional awareness comes after a reaction, scared because we tremble, etc. Vertical crayon seems longer than horizontal but it does not affect our action to go grab them in terms from end to end Thus perceptual awareness of objects may be based on different visual system than the one we use for actions Ebbinghaus illusion same size coin surrounded by smaller or larger circles Introspective experiences tell us coin sizes are different, behaviour reflects otherwise Libet timed a hand motion while participants watch rapidly moving clock hand. They were to report where clock hand was at time they became aware of intention to move. Indicated electrical brain activity of motor cortex activated 7/10 of a second before the motion, and the intent to move was aware 3/10 of a second before motion, and then motion Obhi experiment: pressing on a keyboard un/intentionally, awareness of movement, even when intentional was based on sensory feedback from finger SELECTIVE ATTENTION Selective attention: process that controls our awareness of, and readiness to respond to, particular categories of stimuli or stimuli in a particular location Process determines what information we become conscious of Can be controlled automatically (loud sound catches attention), instructions, demands of particular task we are performing To enhance responsiveness to certain stimuli and ignore irrelevant info Broadbent we dont just process all info being gathered because brain mechanisms responsible for conscious processing are limited in capacity. Auditory Information Cherry devised dichotic listening: a task that requires a person to listen to one of two different messages being presented simultaneously, one to each ear, through headphones Asked to shadow (act of continuously repeating verbal material as soon as it is heard) one message, which ensures focus on one message People did not notice what the other ear message was or even if it switched to foreign The unattended sensory channel is not just turned off, people would still hear their name in an unattended ear or if there are sexually explicit words people tend to notice immediately This means even unattended info goes through verbal analysis, if filtered out, it is after they are analyzed as words
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