20 views6 pages
Chapter 9: Consciousness
Consciousness as a Social Phenomenon:
Can we Understand Consciousness?
three positions about the nature of consciousness:
(1) it is something supernatural and miraculous, not to be u7nderstood
by the human mind
(2) it is a natural phenomenon (subject to the laws of physics) but we
cannot understand it, or we lack the means to understand it
(3) consciousness is produced by the activity of the human brain, and
we should be optimistic about our ability to understand it
The Adaptive Significance of Consciousness
consciousness is the awareness of processes such as perceiving, remembering,
and thinking – it is not the process itself
“consciousness is a noun, but it is abstract (i.e. does not really exist)
consciousness is something that we experience, it is private
how do we know that other people are conscious too? – through language and
that’s why, like communication, consciousness is a social phenomenon
Consciousness and the Ability to Communicate
we can express our needs, thoughts, perceptions, memories, intentions, and
feelings to other people verbally
in order to do the above, we need to: be able to translate our private events
into expressions, and the other person must be able to listen and understand what
we are expressing
we can communicate with ourselves privately – we can make plans in words,
think about consequences in words, and use words to produce behaviours
thinking in words involves subvocal articulation
the brain mechanisms that permit us to understand words and produce speech
are the same ones that we use to think in words
apparently, we exercise our expressive language mechanisms as we think
our ability to communicate with ourselves gives rise to consciousness
humans are probably not the only living organisms that have self-awareness
studies looking at the behaviour of animals viewing mirror images suggest
that some primates may have a concept of self-awareness
Consciousness and Moral Reasoning
brain processes communicate symbolic expressions of right and wrong
ex. two individuals who suffered damage to prefrontal areas of their
brains before they were even 2 years old. As adults, both of them show
Unlock document

This preview shows pages 1-2 of the document.
Unlock all 6 pages and 3 million more documents.

Already have an account? Log in
poor social and moral behaviours. They can however, function
mentally and get on with their life. Does the damage to the frontal
lobes mean that symbolic information about right and wrong, about the
consequences of one’s actions o others, is not available to the parts of
the brain that control actions? Maybe but we don’t know yet
Selective Attention
Auditory Information
we do not become conscious of all 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 automatic
or we may be given instructions)
attention plays an important role in memory
not all of the information we do not pay attention to is lost
why do we not pay attention to and process all of the information that is being
gathered by our sensory receptors?
because our brain has limited capacity
we have two ears, and we take advantage of this when we perform
experiments to test selective attention for auditory information
Dichotic Listening: a task that requires a person to listen to two different
messages being presented simultaneously, one in each ear, through headphones
Shadowing: the act of continuously repeating verbal material as soon as it is
Broadbent asked his participants to undergo dichotic listening, and asked them
to shadow the message presented to one of the two ears (to repeat what the voice
was saying)
when asked about what they heard in the unshadowed ear, most
participants said they heard something but could not say what it was
suggests that a channel of sensory input can simply be turned off
however, some types of unattended information can make its way into our
minds unconsciously (ex. person’s name, or sexually explicit words)
this indicates that unattended information isfiltered out after the sounds are
identified as words
people can also follow a message that is being shadowed even if it switches
from one ear to the other. The switching occurs when the message stops making
sense. But while switching, a small part of the message is lost. That part must be
retrieved from memory right after the switch.
Cocktail-party Phenomenon: we try to listen to the person talking to us and
ignore the cross-conversations of the people around us
Visual Information
Unlock document

This preview shows pages 1-2 of the document.
Unlock all 6 pages and 3 million more documents.

Already have an account? Log in

Get access

Grade+20% OFF
$8 USD/m$10 USD/m
Billed $96 USD annually
Homework Help
Study Guides
Textbook Solutions
Class Notes
Textbook Notes
Booster Class
40 Verified Answers
$8 USD/m
Billed $96 USD annually
Homework Help
Study Guides
Textbook Solutions
Class Notes
Textbook Notes
Booster Class
30 Verified Answers