ch10 - consciousness the subjective experience of...

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- consciousness – the subjective experience of perceiving oneself and other entities o a series of changes in a brain o awareness of sensations – either current ones, remembered one, or imagined ones - brain activity and consciousness are inseparable - any new experience increases activity in some brain area, and stimulation of activity in any brain area alters one’s sensory experience - a decrease in brain activity accompanies a decrease or loss of consciousness - psychologists use the operational definition that you are conscious of something if you can report it in words - you are not conscious of something that you can’t report - silence does not necessarily mean unconsciousness o one year olds do not talk, but we don’t assume they are unconscious - brain recordings indicated that the stimuli activated the same areas of the visual cortex in both conditions, but produced greater activation on trials when people became conscious of the word - also, on those trials the activation spread from the visual cortex to more of the rest of the brain - these data imply that consciousness of a stimulus depends on the amount of brain activity - at any moment a variety of stimuli compete for your attention - you become conscious of something when its information takes over much of your brain’s activity - under normal conditions, the input coming from the left retina is almost the same as that coming from the right retina - green and black lines, red and black lines o you can’t see both at the same time in the same place bc your brain can’t see “greenish red” o so your brain alternates bw the 2 conscious perceptions o binocular rivalry – the alternation bw seeing the pattern in the left retina and the pattern in the right retina - a conscious perception controls the activity over a large portion of the brain - brain activity below a certain threshold is unconscious - above that threshold, it spreads, reverberates, occupies much of the brain, and becomes conscious - how did researchers present the same stimulus and let it become conscious on some trials and not others? researchers presented a stimulus, such as a word, for a small fraction of a second; when they simply presented the word, most people identified it consciously; in other cases researchers put interfering patterns before and after the stimulus, added a masking pattern to the stimulus, or used the attentional blink procedure to distract attention from the stimulus; in those cases people typically could not identify the stimulus consciously - what evidence suggests that consciousness is an all-or-none matter? participants viewed words under difficult conditions and reported how visible they were; people usually reported a word as either 0% or 100%$ visible; they rarely reported partial consciousness of a stimulus
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- - - consciousness as a construction - suppose a word flashes on the screen for 29 ms, with interfering stimuli before, after, or superimposed on the word, such that you are not aware of seeing any word o
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