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School
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Psychology Chapter 9:
Consciousness
Consciousness as a Social Phenomenon:
Can We Understand Consciousness? :
-have taken three philosophical approaches about nature of consciousness:
1) Consciousness is not a natural phenomenon. Instead is supernatural and miraculous
2) We cannot understand consciousness. Exists due to human brain, but poorly
explained
3) We are conscious due to the human brain (studied by Donald Hebb)
The Adaptive Significance of Consciousness:
-It is not linked with perceiving, remembering, or thinking. It is the awareness of these
processes not the processes themselves
-consciousness is not a general property of all parts of the brain
-Blindsight: ability to interact behaviourally with objects while remaining consciously
unaware of them (caused by damage to visual cortex)
-An explanation for consciousness is language (symbolic communication). Provides us
with self-awareness which is built on inner speech
Consciousness and the Ability to Communicate:
-to express our needs, thoughts, perceptions, memories, intentions, and feelings to
other people we must be able to translate private events (symbolic expressions), and
our words must have an effect on the person listening with their needs, perceptions, etc.
-the ability to communicate with ourselves symbolically gives rise to consciousness
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-some primates have a concept of self-awareness
Consciousness and the Control of Behaviour:
-Ebbinghaus illusion -> when something small is enlarged
Selective Attention:
-we do not become conscious of all of the stimuli detected by our sensory organs
-Selective Attention: the process that controls our awareness of, and readiness to
respond to, particular categories of stimuli or stimuli in a particular location
-determines which events we become conscious of
-may be caused automatically, instructionally
-attention decides which info will be stored in short-term memory which then goes on
into long-term memory
-implicit memory does not require conscious attention
-selective attention is also known as the gatekeeper
Auditory Information:
-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
-Shadow: the act of continuously repeating verbal material as soon as it is heard
(ensures that they will only pay attention to that message)
-Cocktail Party Phenomenon: be able to distinguish someones voice in a crowd of
people (party)
Visual Information:
-selective attention can affect the detection of visual stimuli
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-neural circuits that detect a particular kind of stimulus are somehow sensitized so that
they can more easily detect that stimulus
-Change Blindness: failure to detect a change when vision is interrupted by a saccade
or an artificially produced obstruction
-Inattentional Blindness: failure to perceive an event when attention is diverted
elsewhere
Brain Mechanisms of Selective Attention:
-some components of the brains sensory system are temporarily sensitized, which
enhances ability to detect particular categories of stimuli
Consciousness and the Brain:
-If human consciousness is related to speech, then it is related to the brain mechanisms
that control comprehension and production of speech
Isolation Aphasia: A Case of Global Unawareness:
-Isolation Aphasia: a language disturbance that includes an inability to comprehend
speech or to produce meaningful speech without affecting the ability to repeat speech
and to learn new sequences of words; caused by brain damage that isolates the brains
speech mechanisms from other parts of the brain
-consciousness is not simply activity of the brains speech mechanisms; it is activity
prompted by information received from other parts of the brain concerning memories or
events presently occurring in the environment
Visual Agnosia: Lack of Awareness of Visual Perceptions:
-Visual Agnosia: the inability of a person who is not blind to recognize the identity of an
object visually; caused by damage to the visual association cortex
-In visual agnosia: visual system -> motor system -> hand acts out feeling for imaginary
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Document Summary

Have taken three philosophical approaches about nature of consciousness: consciousness is not a natural phenomenon. Instead is supernatural and miraculous: we cannot understand consciousness. Exists due to human brain, but poorly explained: we are conscious due to the human brain (studied by donald hebb) It is not linked with perceiving, remembering, or thinking. It is the awareness of these processes not the processes themselves. Consciousness is not a general property of all parts of the brain. Blindsight: ability to interact behaviourally with objects while remaining consciously unaware of them (caused by damage to visual cortex) An explanation for consciousness is language (symbolic communication). Provides us with self-awareness which is built on inner speech. To express our needs, thoughts, perceptions, memories, intentions, and feelings to other people we must be able to translate private events (symbolic expressions), and our words must have an effect on the person listening with their needs, perceptions, etc.

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