Archive for the ‘Psychology and consciousness’ Category

Personal traits

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Humans can look beyond immediate positive and negative experiences, and can additionally encode behavioural traits. Both learning from reward and learning from traits involve processing in the ventral striatum. Learning about traits allows another person to be valued in contexts other than the immediate one, and this can be important in social decision-taking.

Agency and reward

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This paper can be taken as suggesting that a sense of agency is part of the reward system, encouraging repetition or non-repetition of particular actions or behaviours.

Libet v. recent neuroscience

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A source of despair in consciousness studies is the way in which popular science writers continue to plough ahead making pronouncements that are flatly contradicted by the neuroscientific data of recent years. In particular, consciousness students might be forgiven for screaming every time Libet’s veteran 1980s experiment is trundled out. Halligan and Oakley writing in a recent issue of ‘New Scientist’ go down this predictable route. The brain prepares for actions such as reaching out prior to awareness of the intention to reach.

Difference between adult and infant minds

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Into the minds of babes :: Anil Ananthaswamy, based on Stanislas Dehaene, Sid Kouider & Robin Carhart-Harris :: New Scientist, 23 August 2014 Summary and review of the above article Stanislas Dehaene indicates that conscious perception arises through a two stage process. The first stage involves the unconscious processing of an image, and then after about 300 ms a network of brain regions, particularly in the frontal and parietal areas, supports the perception of a conscious image, which Read more […]

Marshmallow Test

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The Marshmallow Test by Walter Mischel Walter Mischel’s work is receiving considerable publicity at the moment. His marshmallow test involved leaving young children, typically about four years old, alone in a room with a marshmallow or other goodie. They were told that if they could resist eating it for 15 or so minutes, they could have two instead of one marshmallow. The progress of these children was checked later as young adults. It was found that those who could defer gratification Read more […]

Dehaene’s Consciousness and the Brain

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Consciousness and the Brain, Stanislas Dehaene (2014) Summary and review of the above book INTRODUCTION: On the basis of the brain research of recent years, Dehaene describes both the extent and limitations of unconscious processing. Such processing can extend to sophisticated levels of cortical processing, such as the meaning of words. However, unconscious signals are transient and decay rapidly in the brain, while conscious signals can persist long after the original stimuli. Decision taking Read more […]

Turing, Consciousness and Thought

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Stephen Baxter’s short article in the science magazine, Focus, highlights some of the problems that arise in dealing with consciousness in a scientific forum. Baxter suggests that Turing made a correct, or at least insightful decision, in deciding to aim at a test as to whether robots/computers could think like humans, while avoiding the possibly unscientific or undefined area of consciousness. This is not strictly speaking true. Turing appeared to have believed that having a robot/computer that Read more […]

Beliefs about consciousness

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Beliefs about consciousness Imants Baruss Kings University College, London, Ontario Journal of Consciousness Studies, 15, No. 10-11, 2008, pp. 277-92 http://ingentaconnect.com/journals/browse/imp/jcs The paper comprises a study that relates (1.) the degree to which people are rational in their approach to the world, (2.) the degree to which they are curious, and (3.) their score on conventional measures of intelligence, to three main categories of belief system. These are (1.) conventional Read more […]

Whitehead on the mind-body problem

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The mind-body problem and Whitehead’s non-reductive monism Anderson Weekes, City University, New York Journal of Consciousness Studies, 19, nos. 9-10, pp.40-66 Weekes takes the view that the basis of the problem with Cartesian thinking is that the two sides, mind and body, have no need of one another, at least in the form that they are often conceived of. The essential step is to understand that mind and body are not really distinct.  Alfred North Whitehead went beyond just saying that Read more […]

Conscious Mind

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Conscious Mind David Chalmers Oxford University Press (1996)  ISBN  0-19-510553-2 This book is perhaps most remembered for its attack on mainstream thinking on consciousness. However, the bulk of the work is taken up in trying to establish Chalmers own theory of consciousness, which after all turns out to be not that distant from conventional ideas, although characterised by a quirky view of the role of information. In the introduction, Chalmers coins the expression that this book has Read more […]