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Consciouness

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Advanced
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psychology
School/University
NYU

About the document

Sylas S.
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documents in English
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research papers
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8 pages
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Advanced
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  1. Introduction
  2. Conscious awareness
  3. Misidentification syndromes
  4. A profound sense of discontinuity and confusion
  5. Thought, language and cognition
    1. The mental representation of some aspect of the world
    2. Psycholinguistics
    3. Modes of Processing
    4. Contrasting modes of processing
  6. The processing of emotion
  7. Discourse and narrative discourse
  8. Cognitive development
  9. Psychiatric disturbances in cognition
  10. Conceptualizing psychiatric disturbances
  11. Emotion
  12. Conclusion
  13. Basic references

The vast majority of mental processes are outside of conscious awareness. These processes can impact thinking, feeling, and behavior despite the lack of conscious awareness. Consciousness can be thought to include two elements: awareness and sentience, the quality of the experience. Each form of consciousness has intrigued philosophers and scientists for many years and various theories have been proposed to explain these phenomena. Little is known about the basic mechanisms that underlie the sentient experience of consciousness. Phenomenal awareness has been the focus of active research and has yielded some basic ideas about the role of consciousness in cognition. One essential issue is that the effective processing of mental representations does not require conscious awareness. However, the intentional, strategic alteration in patterns of processing may necessitate the involvement of consciousness in order to achieve a new outcome. Thus, consciousness is not required for most processes, but its involvement allows for a qualitatively different result in representational transformations. One example of this is in memory processing in which explicit memory requires focal, conscious attention or awareness in order to encode events into explicit form. Such representations are later available for conscious retrieval when they can be examined and transformed for intentional purposes, such as the recollection of facts or autobiographical knowledge.

[...] prefrontal cortex and its role in working memory. Working memory serves as the chalkboard of the mind and representational processes that become linked to the activity in this region are then a part of the attentional spotlight of conscious awareness. Based on a biological assessment of brain function, Gerald Edelman's theory describes two forms of consciousness that derive from the resonant interactions between groups of neurons. In his model primary consciousness stems from the interaction between perceptual categorizations and conceptual categorizations. [...]


[...] States of mind are the primary mechanism by which the brain organizes its activity. Healthy mental functioning may depend on a flow of states of mind through time that are adaptive to the ever-changing environment and allow the individual to draw freely from the learning from past experience. Chaos theory suggests that nonlinear complex systems must move continually towards maximizing the complexity of the system. Achieving such a goal requires a balance between the elements of continuity, familiarity, and predictability with those of flexibility, novelty, and uncertainty. [...]


[...] Mental models are unconscious, highly organized structural processes that are derived from past experiences, that aid in interpreting present stimuli, and that influence the direction of future behavior. Mental models exist for various situations. When a situation is appropriate for a given mental model, that model is activated or instantiated. The process, which regulates which model is activated at a given moment, helps to carry out the appropriate information processing and subsequent behavior. The regulation process depends on the accurate reading of the situation and the selection of the appropriate mental model. [...]

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