|Introduction: Treating Consciousness as a Variable: The Fading Taboo|
|Source: Baars, Banks & Newman - Essential Sources in the Scientific Study of Consciousness|
|Paper - Abstract|
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Metapsychology On-line Review Conscious Unconscious
In his comprehensive introduction (which in itself would serve as a useful set text for a wider audience) Baars argues for consciousness to be treated as a variable rather than as an absolute state. By this he means that consciousness can be measured as being more or less present in relation to other states, such as between wakefulness and sleep1, alertness and coma, new and habituated events, and so on. In this way, and in opposition to those who deny consciousness can be scientifically (that is, experimentally) studied at all, Baars and his colleagues propose that hard empirical data can be reliably gathered about the processes of consciousness, and thus contribute to the building of a coherent scientific theory of this most enigmatic of human attributes. The favored methodological approach seeks to correlate internal, subjective experiences with objective experimental techniques so that, as Baars says, "in modern science we are practicing a kind of verifiable phenomenology". (p. 8) Philosophical analyses continue to dominate the study of consciousness. Recent resurgence of interest in neuroscience study of consciousness and the interest shown by the other sciences reflect the contemporary concerns. Science and Consciousness Review, an upcoming forum highlighting these concerns would vouch for this trend. Section Headings
… G.C.Gupta, PhD.
Table 1.1: Some widely studied polarities between matched conscious and unconscious phenomena
1. Explicit cognition Implicit cognition 2. Immediate memory Longer term memory 3. Novel, informative, and significant events Routine, predictable, and nonsignificant events 4. Attended information Unattended information 5. Focal contents Fringe contents (e.g., familiarity) 6. Declarative memory (facts, etc.) Procedural memory (skills, etc.) 7. Supraliminal stimulation Subliminal stimulation 8. Effortful tasks Spontaneous/automatic tasks 9. Remembering (recall) Knowing (recognition) 10. Available memories Unavailable memories 11. Strategic control Automatic control 12. Grammatical strings Implicit underlying grammars 13. Intact reticular formation and bilateral intralaminar thalamic nuclei Lesioned reticular formation, or bilateral intralaminar nuclei 14. Rehearsed items in Working Memory Unrehearsed items 15. Wakefulness and dreams (cortical arousal) Deep sleep2, coma, sedation (cortical slow waves) 16. Explicit inferences Automatic inferences 17. Episodic memory (autobiographical) Semantic memory (conceptual knowledge) 18. Autonoetic memory Noetic memory 19. Intentional learning Incidental learning 20. Normal vision Blindsight (cortical blindness)
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