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Chapter 9

Chapter 9 Notes

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University of Toronto Scarborough

Consciousness Consciousness as a Social Phenomenon first position on consciousness is that it is not a natural phenomenon and that it is supernatural and miraculous not to be understood by human mind second position is tha consciousness is natural phenomenon but also that we cannot understand it for various reasons exists because of nature of human brain our brains cannot grasp concept do not have methods to study it yet poorly defined third position is that consciousness is produced by activity of brain and that we should be optimistic about our ability to understand it (Hebb) The Adaptive Significance of Consciousness consciousness is awareness of processesin brain, not processesthemselves consciousness does not exist humans have ability to be conscious most likley explanation for consciousness lies in its relation to deliberate, symbollic communicaion our ability to communicate (words, signs, other symbollic meaning) provides us with self-awareness --> social phenomenon (like communication) Consciousness and the Ability to Communicate through communicating symbolically we can express our needs, thoughts, perceptions, memories, intentions, and feelings to other people require 2 general capacities: must be able to translate private events (needs, thoughts, etc) into symbolic expressions brain mechanisms we use to communicate with others must receive input from systems of brain involved in perceiving, thinking , remembering, etc our symbols (words) must have effect on other person listening once words are decoded in listeners brain they must affect listeners own thoughts, perceptions, memories and behaviour having both of these capabilities allows us to communicate with ourselves thinking in words involves subvocal ariculation brain mechanisms that permit us to understand words and produce speech are same ones we use to think in words ability to communicate with ourselves symbolically gives rise to consciousness conscious of private events we can talk about to others or ourselves: our needs, perceptions, intentions, memories, and feelings people who are deaf sometimes think with their hands people mouth words to themselves experiment by Cheesman and Merikle presented people with word (primer) that was either congruent or incongruent with coloour of subsequent stimulus (target) and people were asked to name target; between primer and target on some trials there was random jumble of visual lines found that incongruent primers produced Stroop-like interference even when jumble www.notesolution.com interfered with ability to consciously identify word presented same experiment with many more congruent than incongruent primes so that by using primer people could predict what colour was about to come when primer was consciously perceivable people used it to predict target but when it was not consciously perceived people failed to use it consclusions: we become able to describe and thereby use psychological events tha are private to ourselves some animals are conscious dogs can learn to communicate with owner by communicating symbolically underlying brain mechanisms, such as those of explicit memory system may be present in species closely related to us behaviour of primates in mirror suggest they have concept of self-awareness computer could learn to communicate symbolically with itself and us Evaluating Scientific Issues: Does Conscious Thought Control Behaviour previously psychologists would not study consciousness because it was not observable behaviour Descartes thought human actions were controlled by non-material mind (dualism); William James thought emotional awareness came after reaction recent evidence from cognitive psychology and neuropsychology provides way of thinking about issue of conscious control of behaviour some evidence uses phenomenon of visual illusions 2 crayons horizontal looks shorter (top hat illusion - because it is often demonstrated using judgments about crown vs brim of hat) Ganel and Goodale compared perceptual judgments of object shape with ability to pick up object and showed people wooden block on table and asked them whether block was wider or narrow and repeated with different blocks easy to judge width if blocks are all same length but if length was different then task was difficult grasping actions was not affected by variation in length perceptual awareness of objects may be based on different visual system than one we use for actions Ebbinghau illusion circle surrounded by big circles looks smaller than circle surrounded by small circles but if you were to reach for them your behaviour would be unaffected by relative size introspective experiences would tell us that they were diferent in size but behaviour would reflect otherwise thought and action go together but is correlation could be third action of brain that causes action and thought Libet asked people to make hand motion while watching rapidly moving clock hand and were to report where clock hand was at time they became aware of an intention to move reports indicated that they experienced awareness of intention 310 of a second before motion also measured readiness potential - electrical brain activity of motor cortex prior to www.notesolution.com
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