16th - Mysteries of the Mind Your unconscious is making...

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Mysteries of the Mind Your unconscious is making your everyday decisions By Marianne Szegedy-Maszak 2/28/05 Related Links Your unconscious is making your everyday decisions The snap judgment. The song that constantly runs through your head whenever you close your office door. The desire to drink Coke rather than Pepsi or to drive a Mustang rather than a Prius. The expression on your spouse's face that inexplicably makes you feel either amorous or enraged. Or how about the now incomprehensible reasons you married your spouse in the first place? Welcome to evidence of your robust uncon Mental health. But unconscious processing is not just the stuff of compelling personal insight. For those with emotional disorders like anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, and others who suffer from traumatic brain injuries either from a stroke or an accident, peeling away the behavioral layers of their dysfunction has revealed fascinating activity out of conscious awareness that may eventually provide clues to more effective treatments. Recent research on minimally conscious patients, for example, shows language centers on fire when they hear personal stories recounted by a family member. Research on schizophrenia reveals that most who are afflicted have an impaired ability to smell, which researchers think may provide some clue to understanding why they have such difficulty perceiving social cues. Or consider the case of Sarah Scantlin, who was hit by a drunk driver and lay mute at the Golden Plains Health Care Center in Hutchinson, Kan., for 20 years. After the Sept. 22, 1984, crash, the doctor told her parents that it was a miracle she was even alive but that she would never talk or move again on her own. Last month she began to speak--a simple "OK" at first, then more words, even short sentences. How does this happen? What was going on all that time? How do we get some access to this thing called the unconscious? According to cognitive neuroscientists, we are conscious of only about 5 percent of our cognitive activity, so most of our decisions, actions, emotions, and behavior depends on the 95 percent of brain activity that goes beyond our conscious awareness. From the beating of our hearts to pushing the grocery cart and not smashing into the kitty litter, we rely on something that is called the adaptive unconscious, which is all the ways that our brains understand the world that the mind and the body must negotiate. The adaptive unconscious makes it possible for us to, say, turn a corner in our car without having to go through elaborate calculations to determine the precise angle of the turn, the velocity of the automobile, the steering radius of the car. It is what can make us understand the correct meaning of statements like "prostitutes appeal to pope" or "children make nourishing snacks" without believing that they mean that the pope has an illicit life and cannibals are munching on children. Consuming thoughts.
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16th - Mysteries of the Mind Your unconscious is making...

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