12/1/21, 12:43 PMConsciousness – PSYC 100: Principles of Psychology F211/2125. ConsciousnessOriginal chapter by Ken Paller and Saturo Suzukiadapted by the Queen’s University PsychologyDepartmentThis Open Access chapter was originally written for the NOBA project.Information on the NOBA project can be found below.We encourage students to use the “Three-Step Method” for support in theirlearning. Please ±nd our version of the Three-Step Method, created in collabo-ration with Queen’s Student Academic Success Services, at the following link:Consciousness is the ultimate mystery. What is it and why do we have it?These questions are dif±cult to answer, even though consciousness is so fun-
12/1/21, 12:43 PMConsciousness – PSYC 100: Principles of Psychology F212/21damental to our existence. Perhaps the natural world could exist largely as it iswithout human consciousness; but taking away consciousness would essen-tially take away our humanity. Psychological science has addressed questionsabout consciousness in part by distinguishing neurocognitive functions alliedwith conscious experience from those that transpire without conscious experi-ence. The continuing investigation of these sorts of distinctions is yielding anempirical basis for new hypotheses about the precursors of conscious experi-ence. Richer conceptualizations are thus being built, combining ±rst-personand third-person perspectives to provide new clues to the mystery ofconsciousness.Learning ObjectivesUnderstand scienti±c approaches to comprehending consciousness.Be familiar with evidence about human vision, memory, body awareness,and decision making relevant to the study of consciousness.Appreciate some contemporary theories about consciousness.Conscious ExperiencesContemplate the unique experience of being you at this moment! You, andonly you, have direct knowledge of your own conscious experiences. At thesame time, you cannot know consciousness from anyone else’s inside view.How can we begin to understand this fantastic ability to have private, con-scious experiences?In a sense, everything you know is from your own vantage point, with yourown consciousness at the center. Yet the scienti±c study of consciousnessconfronts the challenge of producing general understanding that goes be-yond what can be known from one individual’s perspective.To delve into this topic, some terminology must ±rst be considered. Thetermconsciousnesscan denote the ability of a person to generate a series of
12/1/21, 12:43 PMConsciousness – PSYC 100: Principles of Psychology F213/21At the most basic level all of conscious experienceis unique to each individual. [Image: Étienne LjóniPoisson, , CC BY-NC-SA 2.0,]conscious experiences one afteranother. Here we include expe-riences of feeling and under-standing sensory input, of atemporal sequence of autobio-graphical events, of imagina-tion, of emotions and moods, ofideas, of memories—the wholerange of mental contents opento an individual.