Chapter 5: Consciousness

Two concepts of consciousness:
1. Consciousness as general state of arousal (sleep vs.
waking state)
2. Consciousness as focus of attention/awareness
(controlled vs. automatic processing)
Cognitive research on consciousness of focus of attn/aware
(2nd concept).
Unconscious priming: does occur, but with limitations
(conscious processing necessary to disambiguate terms)
Stem completion: again uncon influences, but within limits –
con processing necessary for inhibition of primed
completion (need to check 102 notes on these)
Cognitive Studies of consciousness: Priming
Word or non-word RT measure
FORK = word; DXMZ = non-word
SPOON – FORK (sig reduction in rt)
Unconscious priming? -- yes
Cognitive studies of consciousness: Exclusion task in
• Coconut…palm (tree or wrist?) cons: only
tree/uncon: either
• Hand…palm (tree or wrist?) cons: only
wrist/uncon: either
• Stem completion task: complete BUT_ _ _
(could be butter or butler). What happens
when one is presented earlier either
consciously or unconsciously?) But can only be
excluded consciously
• Research on Consciousness as general state of
awareness (2nd concept)
• Sleep vs. Waking state
• Stages of sleep based on brain wave patterns (REM
vs. NonREM)
• Stem completion studies and anecdotal evidence
indicates some limited awareness
• Altered states: meditative and mystical/religious
states – increased pain tolerance; loss of sense of
self; union with ‘absolute’
Sleep and Dreams: Stages of Sleep
• NREM (Non-Rapid-Eye-Movement) Sleep:
• Stage 1 (lightest sleep)
• Stage 2 (deeper sleep)
• Stages 3 and 4 (deepest sleep)
• REM (Rapid-Eye-Movement) Sleep:
• Light sleep (also called paradoxical sleep)
Sleep and Dreams:
Stages of Sleep in a Typical Night
Consciousness: Evolutionary Issues
• Mirror test suggests some
great apes have selfawareness, but monkeys
do not
• To what extent do apes
other than humans know
what other’s know?
Consciousness: Philosophical Issues
• Dualism: Mind and brain are separate
substances; consciousness independent of
physical matter/laws. Conforms with subjective
experience, but violates laws of physics
• Materialism: Mind is what brain does; rejects
mind as causally relevant; conforms with laws of
physics, but rejects subjective experience of
• Emergence: Mind is emergence property of brain;
depends on brain, but has own causal power.
Baar’s Global Workspace Theory of Consciousness
• 3 important elements
• 1. Unconscious experts: brain structures that carryout
various mental task – perceptual pattern recognition;
language processing; face recognition; implicit memory
processes, etc.
• 2. Global workspace: brain structure allows for wide
dissemination of a particular expert’s activity (may be
thalamic-cortical network)
• 3. Contextual biasing structures: activated schemas;
intentions; task-relevant programs, etc that bias the
competition for access to global workspace.
Baar’s Global Workspace

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