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Intro To Consciousness Notes

Psychology Notes > Intro to Biological and Cognitive Psych (1st year) Notes

This is an extract of our Intro To Consciousness document, which we sell as part of our Intro to Biological and Cognitive Psych (1st year) Notes collection written by the top tier of Durham University students.

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Who's in control?
Homonculus = little man in head
Social constrictions
Free will  myth?
Qualia = describes the experiences we have eg the unique experience of seeing, feeling, tasting
Cannot be communicated
Non-rational, invariant
Cannot be compared with the experience of another person
Directly apprehensible To experience the quale is to know all there is to be known about it
Philosophical Zombie: someone who presents every indication that they are conscious but lacks mental qualia
Mind-body problem:
Lag between brain waves and physical reaction


Consciousness is resistant to division only ever conscious of a fraction of what we could be at any given time
Content of consciousness is likely to change  not fixed

Choice blindness = if told to choose something (at random) we will justify a choice as if it were already decided
Change blindness: failure to notice an obvious change, even when it is in full view
Inattentional blindness: failure to notice existence of an unexpected item because attention is preoccupied

Multiple levels of Consciousness
Minimal consciousness: low level of consciousness that occurs when the mind experiences sensations and may output behaviour
Full consciousness: being able to know and report your mental state
 We fluctuate between these throughout the day
Self-consciousness: distinct level of consciousness in which attention is drawn to the self as an object
 Rouge test - if baby removes = aware it is them in mirror Consciousness

What are the contents of consciousness?
Eg family, health, flatmate, household, friends, dating: ie things relating to oneself
Daydreaming: state of consciousness in which a seemingly purposeless flow of thoughts come to mind
Mental Control: attempt to change conscious states of mind ie stopping oneself from daydreaming
Thought Suppression: conscious avoidance of a thought ie when you're specifically told not to think about something, you will do more = ironic processes of mental control

Selective Listening = only focus on 1 stream sound
Broadbent's Filter Model:

1. Inputs - attended and unattended message

2. Sensory Store

3. Selective Filter - based on physical properties (eg pitch/loudness) - unattended messages blocked

4. Higher level processing of attended material

5. Working Memory
Treisman's Attenuation Model:
Inputs  Sensory Store  Attenuating Filter (ie selective filter)  Hierarchy of Analysers  WM
Hierarchy of Analysers = syllables  words  grammar  semantics
Late Selection Model:
Sensory stores  WM   LTM
All stimuli is processed to the level of meaning, relevance determines further processing and action

Perceptual Load Theory:
Locus of selection varies with task difficulty
 If the task is easy, let more info in
 If the task is hard, block more info
 Eg really focused in a difficult exam - less likely to notice somebody walking by
Spatial Attention:
Directing attention to a location in space
Allows us to selectively process visual attention through prioritising an area with visual fields
Eg when driving
Posner Pradigm:
Cuing effects  looked for influence of attention  cued Ps to look at 1 side of screen Consciousness

Spatial Attention = not reliant on visual input
Attentional Shift = prior to any eye mvt

Why do we need Spatial attention?
Feature Conjunction = bind features in visual field
Illusory Conjunction = binding features of 2 objects  1 object

Descartes: many experiences of which we cannot be certain
Dynamic unconscious
Freudian Slip

Cognitive unconscious

Hidden memories, deepest instincts/desires, and inner struggle to balance these
Removes unacceptable thoughts/memories and buries them in the unconscious
Speech errors
Motley & Barras: Ps told they would receive an electric shock were more likely to read 'shad bock' as 'bad shock' than Ps not warned of shock
Mental processes that are not experienced but give rise to the person's thoughts, choices, emotions and behaviour

 Post-hoc
 Sharpshooter fallacy - Texan who fired several shots into the side of the barn and then drew a bullseye around them and claimed to be an expert shot

Subliminal Perception
= thought/behaviour is changed by exposure to info outside consciousness  advertising: small influence
Kihlstrom: unconscious is the factory that builds the products of conscious thought and behaviour
Strahan: brief exposure to thirst related words during a different task  SuperQuencher
BUT more noticeable if already thirsty and conscious perception produced the same effect
Dijksterhuis: processing capacity of conscious thinking is too limited to integrate info due to its unity 2004: 3 flatmates  choose who to share with, each had 12 +ve or -ve attributes
Either 4 minutes to make a decision, make immediate decision or were given a 4 min problemsolving task

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