Essay on Unconscious Information Processing in Humans

Essay on Unconscious Information Processing in Humans

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Jeremy does not believe that there is such a thing as unconscious information processing in humans. "And even if there was", he says, "there is no way we could know about it, because it is unconscious." You are about to apply, when he adds, "And I don't see the point in anything being unconscious anyway, because it doesn't have any affect on us and it is of no use to anybody."

The terms conscious and unconscious are used in everyday conversation but their scientific meaning is often unclear. In lay terms most people are aware of being aware (conscious) but have experienced occasions whereby they are still somehow aware of something without realising they are aware (unconscious). Many believe that consciousness and an ability to communicate go hand in hand (Carlson 2001a). Therefore without consciousness there would be no communication, so there would be little point for humans, as Jeremy indicates. However there are situations where there is awareness that can be communicated, but there is a complete absence of consciousness of this awareness. These include subliminal messages and the phenomenon of blindsight, both of which are discussed below, following a brief review of the psychological understanding of consciousness.
The psychological understanding of consciousness
The renowned psychologist Sigmund Freud believed that speech errors (?Freudian slips?) provide a window into the unconscious processing occurring in an individuals brain (Parkin 1996b). Thus, if an individual makes a mistake in their normal language, this indicates that there is an unconscious element to what they are thinking about or saying, of which they are unaware. Despite this lack of awareness the unconscious processing impacts the ...

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Farah, M.J., O'Reilly, R.C. & Vecera, S.P. 1993, "Dissociated overt and covert recognition as an emergent property of a lesioned neural network", Psychological review, vol. 100, no. 4, pp. 571-588.

Kelly, E.W. & Alvarado, C.S. 2005, "Frederic William Henry Myers, 1843-1901", American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 162, no. 1, pp. 34.

Parkin, A.J. 1996a, "Blindsight" in Explorations in Cognitive neuropsychology, ed. A.J. Parkin, 1st edn, Psychology Press, Hove, East Sussex, pp. 24-37.

Parkin, A.J. 1996b, "Spoken language impairments" in Explorations in Cognitive neuropsychology, ed. A.J. Parkin, 1st edn, Psychology Press, Hove, East Sussex, pp. 129-153.

Toates, F. 2006, "Introduction to brains, mind and consciousness" in From cells to consciousness, eds. S. Datta, I. Lyon & B. MacKintosh, et al, 2nd edn, The Open University, Milton Keynes, pp. 1-42.

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