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Consciousness and Action Control

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889193158 Year: Pages: 198 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-315-8 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Psychology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2016-02-05 17:24:33
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Abstract

The basic nuts and bolts underlying human behavior remain mysterious from a scientific point of view. Everyday acts - naming an object, suppressing the urge to say something, or grabbing a waiter’s attention with a “cappuccino, please” - remain difficult to understand from a mechanistic standpoint. Despite these challenges, research has begun to illuminate, not only the basic processes underlying human action production, but the role of conscious processing in the control of behavior. This Research Topic, “Consciousness and the Control of Action,” is devoted to surveying and synthesizing these developments from disparate fields of study.

Transitions Between Consciousness and Unconsciousness

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889454310 Year: Pages: 219 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88945-431-0 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Science (General) --- Psychology
Added to DOAB on : 2018-11-16 17:17:57
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Over the last years, a large body of experimental data have been generated in the attempt to understand consciousness and its neural underpinnings. In this respect, particular interest has been paid to the attempt to distinguish between conscious experience and unconscious states which however may still be considered as mental states (e.g., in virtue of their representational nature). This is of course not without reason. A deep understanding of that which specifically characterizes conscious states, including neural correlates and cognitive functions, may crucially inform the ambition of understanding the relation between experience and the physical world. Nevertheless, the question has historically been challenged by the fact that consciousness is available in the first person only – not to other people, including scientists. Different methodological traditions and choices have led to quite different understandings of how conscious and unconscious states relate, and diverse empirical work has been inspired and guided by various cognitive and neurobiological theories of consciousness. The very diverse viewpoints include such different positions as the idea that unconscious states are associated with the very same functional characteristics as conscious states, and the idea that no informational state that is available for action can be completely unconscious. The Research Topic “Transitions between consciousness and unconsciousness” is therefore devoted to this particular question, how to understand the relation and transition between consciousness and unconsciousness. We hope that the reader will find the collected articles both informative and thought-provoking, and that this Research Topic will stimulate the scientific debate.

Invisible, but how? The depth of unconscious processing as inferred from different suppression techniques

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889194209 Year: Pages: 143 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-420-9 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Psychology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2016-01-19 14:05:46
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To what level are invisible stimuli processed by the brain in the absence of conscious awareness? It is widely accepted that simple visual properties of invisible stimuli are processed; however, the existence of higher-level unconscious processing (e.g., involving semantic or executive functions) remains a matter of debate. Several methodological factors may underlie the discrepancies found in the literature, such as different levels of conservativeness in the definition of “unconscious” or different dependent measures of unconscious processing. In this research topic, we are particularly interested in yet another factor: inherent differences in the amount of information let through by different suppression techniques. In the same conditions of well-controlled, conservatively established invisibility, can we show that some of the techniques in the “psychophysical magic” arsenal (e.g., masking, but also visual crowding, attentional blink, etc.) reliably lead to higher-level unconscious processing than others (e.g., interocular suppression)? Some authors have started investigating this question, using multiple techniques in similar settings . We argue that this approach should be extended and refined. Indeed, in order to delineate the frontiers of the unconscious mind using a contrastive method, one has to disentangle the limits attributable to unawareness itself, and those attributable to the technique inducing unawareness. The scope of this research topic is to provide a platform for scientists to contribute insights and further experiments addressing this fundamental question.

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