In this new volume in the Oxford Psychology Series, the author presents a highly readable account of the cognitive unconscious, focusing in particular on the problem of implicit learning. Implicit learning is defined as the acquisition of knowledge that takes place independently of the conscious attempts to learn and largely in the absence of explicit knowledge about what was acquired. One of the core assumptions of this argument is that implicit learning is a fundamental, "root" process, one that lies (...) at the very heart of the adaptive behavioral repertoire of every complex organism. The author's goals are to outline the essential features of implicit learning that have emerged from the many studies that have been carried out in a variety of experimental laboratories over the past several decades; to present the various alternative perspectives on this issue that have been proposed by other researchers and to try to accommodate these views with his own; to structure the literature so that it can be seen in the context of standard heuristics of evolutionary biology; to present the material within a functionalist approach and to try to show why the experimental data should be seen as entailing particular epistemological perspectives; and to present implicit processing as encompassing a general and ubiquitous set of operations that have wide currency and several possible applications. Chapter 1 begins with the core problem under consideration in this book, a characterization of "implicit learning" as it has come to be used in the literature. Reber puts this seemingly specialized topic into a general framework and suggests a theoretical model based on standard heuristics of evolutionary biology. In his account, Reber weaves a capsule history of interest in and work on the cognitive unconscious. Chapter 2 turns to a detailed overview of the experimental work on the acquisition of implicit knowledge, which currently is of great interest. Chapter 3 develops the evolutionary model within which one can see learning and cognition as richly intertwining issues and not as two distinct fields with one dominating the other. Finally, Chapter 4 explores a variety of entailments and speculations concerning implicit cognitive processes and their general role in the larger scope of human performance. (shrink)
A clarification of Husserl's changing conceptions of imaginary consciousness ( phantasy ) and memory, especially at the level of auto-affective time-consciousness, suggests an interpretation of Freud's concept of the Unconscious. Phenomenology of consciousness can show how it is possible that consciousness can bring to present appearance something unconscious, that is, something foreign or absent to consciousness, without incorporating it into or subordinating it to the conscious present. This phenomenological analysis of Freud's concept of the Unconscious leads to (...) a partial critique of Freud's metapsychological determination of the Unconscious as a simple, internally unperceived representational consciousness. It also suggests an account of how a reproductive inner consciousness can free the subject from the experience of anxiety by allowing for possibilities of self-distanciation and symbolic self-representation that protect the subject from traumatic affection by and through its own instinctual drives. (shrink)
The Anna Karenina Theory says: all conscious states are alike; each unconscious state is unconscious in its own way. This note argues that many components have to function properly to produce consciousness, but failure in any one of many different ones can yield an unconscious state in different ways. In that sense the Anna Karenina theory is true. But in another respect it is false: kinds of unconsciousness depend on kinds of consciousness.
Since the seventies, it has been customary to assume that intentionality is independent of consciousness. Recently, a number of philosophers have rejected this assumption, claiming intentionality is closely tied to consciousness, inasmuch as non- conscious intentionality in some sense depends upon conscious intentionality. Within this alternative framework, the question arises of how to account for unconscious intentionality, and different authors have offered different accounts. In this paper, I compare and contrast four possible accounts of unconscious intentionality, which I (...) call potentialism, inferentialism, eliminativism, and interpretivism. The first three are the leading accounts in the existing literature, while the fourth is my own proposal, which I argue to be superior. I then argue that an upshot of interpretivism is that all unconscious intentionality is ultimately grounded is a specific kind of cognitive phenomenology. (shrink)
The common assimilation of Wittgenstein’s philosophical procedure to Freud’s psychoanalytic method is a mistake. The concurrence of Freudian analysands is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition of their unconscious thoughts having been detected. There are several sources of this error. One is the equivocal role Freud assign the patient’s recognition of the correctness of his interpretation and in particular the part played by ‘paradoxical reminiscence’: another, the surreptitious banalisation of Freud’s procedure by followers—the reinvention of psychoanalysis as a (...) phenomenological enterprise; still another, the appeal of the activity of giving fuller expression to one’s tantalisingly vague and inexplicit thoughts and suspicions. This activity has its own intrinsic value though it ought not to be permitted to usurp the place of empirical investigation, as futile as this often is. And yet both plausible hypotheses and felicitous ‘further descriptions’ must yield in desirability to the attainment of a state of reconciliation to the person one has become however this was caused and whatever this is suspected to be. (shrink)
Motivationally unconscious (M-unconscious) states are unconscious states that can directly motivate a subject’s behavior and whose unconscious character typically results from a form of repression. The basic argument for M-unconscious states claims that they provide the best explanation to some seemingly non rational behaviors, like akrasia, impulsivity or apparent self-deception. This basic argument has been challenged on theoretical, empirical and conceptual grounds. Drawing on recent works on apparent self-deception and on the ‘cognitive unconscious’ I (...) assess those objections. I argue that (i) even if there is a good theoretical argument for its existence, (ii) most empirical vindications of the M-unconscious miss their target. (iii) As for the conceptual objections, they compel us to modify the classical picture of the M-unconscious. I conclude that M-unconscious states and processes must be affective states and processes that the subject really feels and experiences —and which are in this sense conscious— even though they are not, or not well, cognitively accessible to him. Dual process psychology and the literature on cold-hot empathy gaps partly support the existence of such M-unconscious states. (shrink)
David Milner and Melvyn Goodale’s dissociation hypothesis is commonly taken to state that there are two functionally specialized cortical streams of visual processing originating in striate (V1) cortex: a dorsal, action-related “unconscious” stream and a ventral, perception-related “conscious” stream. As Milner and Goodale acknowledge, findings from blindsight studies suggest a more sophisticated picture that replaces the distinction between unconscious vision for action and conscious vision for perception with a tripartite division between unconscious vision for action, conscious vision (...) for perception, and unconscious vision for perception. The combination excluded by the tripartite division is the possibility of conscious vision for action. But are there good grounds for concluding that there is no conscious vision for action? There is now overwhelming evidence that illusions and perceived size can have a significant effect on action (Bruno & Franz, 2009; Dassonville & Bala, 2004; Franz & Gegenfurtner, 2008; McIntosh & Lashley, 2008). There is also suggestive evidence that any sophisticated visual behavior requires collaboration between the two visual streams at every stage of the process (Schenk & McIntosh, 2010). I nonetheless want to make a case for the tripartite division between unconscious vision for action, conscious vision for perception, and unconscious vision for perception. My aim here is not to refute the evidence showing that conscious vision can affect action but rather to argue (a) that we cannot gain cognitive access to action-guiding dorsal stream representations, and (b) that these representations do not correlate with phenomenal consciousness. This vindicates the semi-conservative view that the dissociation hypothesis is best understood as a tripartite division. (shrink)
This paper explores the psychoanalytic conception of the unconscious and critiques it from a phenomenlogical perspective, especially Sartre and Heidegger, with a view to conceptualizing the unconscious from an ontological rather than psychological mindset.
The concept of unconscious knowledge is fundamental for an understanding of human thought processes and mentation in general; however, the psychological community at large is not familiar with it. This paper offers a survey of the main psychological research currently being carried out into cognitive processes, and examines pathways that can be integrated into a discipline of unconscious knowledge. It shows that the field has already a defined history and discusses some of the features that all kinds of (...)unconscious knowledge seem to share at a deeper level. With the aim of promoting further research, we discuss the main challenges which the postulation of unconscious cognition faces within the psychological community. (shrink)
This paper argues against the view that the Freudian unconscious can be understood as an extension of ordinary belief-desire psychology. The paper argues that Freud’s picture of the mind challenges the paradigm of folk psychology, as it is understood by much contemporary philosophy of psychology and cognitive science. The dynamic unconscious postulated by psychoanalysis operates according to rules and principles which are distinct in kind from those rules that organise rational and conscious thought. Psychoanalysis offers us a radical (...) reconception of our ordinary way of thinking about our own minds. (shrink)
Multiple drug resistant strains of HIV and continuing difficulties with vaccine development highlight the importance of psychologi- cal interventions which aim to in uence the psychosocial and emo- tional factors empirically demonstrated to be significant predictors of immunity, illness progression and AIDS mortality in seropositive persons. Such data have profound implications for psychological interventions designed to modify psychosocial factors predictive of enhanced risk of exposure to HIV as well as the neuroendocrine and immune mechanisms mediating the impact of such factors (...) on disease progression. Many of these factors can be construed as unconscious mental ones, and psychoanalytic self-psychology may be a useful framework for conceptualizing psychic and immune de- fence as well as bodily and self-integration in HIV infection. Al- though further prospective studies and cross-cultural validation of research are necessary, existing data suggest that psychoanalytic insights may be useful both in therapeutic interventions and evaluative research which would require an underlying epistemology of the complementarity of mind and matter. (shrink)
In his book The rediscovery of the mind John Searle claims that unconscious mental states (1) have first-person "aspectual shape", but (2) that their ontology is purely third-person. He attempts to eliminate the obvious inconsistency by arguing that the aspectual shape of unconscious mental states consists in their ability to cause conscious first-person states. However, I show that this attempted solution fails insofar as it covertly acknowledges that unconscious states lack the aspectual shape required for them to (...) play a role in psychological explanation. (shrink)
In recent years, a number of contemporary proponents of psychoanalysis have sought to derive support for their conjectures about the _dynamic_ unconscious from the empirical evidence in favor of the _cognitive_ unconscious. It is our contention, however, that far from supporting the dynamic unconscious, recent work in cognitive science suggests that the time has come to dispense with this concept altogether. In this paper we defend this claim in two ways. First, we argue that any attempt to (...) shore up the dynamic unconscious with the cognitive unconscious is bound to fail, simply because the latter, as it is understood in contemporary cognitive science, is incompatible with the former, as it is traditionally conceived by psychoanalytic theory. Second, we show how psychological phenomena traditionally cited as evidence for the operation of a dynamic unconscious can be accommodated more parsimoniously by other means. (shrink)
This paper is an attempt to put the work of the past several decades on the problems of implicit learning and unconscious cognition into an evolutionary context. Implicit learning is an inductive process whereby knowledge of a complex environment is acquired and used largely independently of awareness of either the process of acquisition or the nature of that which has been learned. Characterized this way, implicit learning theory can be viewed as an attempt to come to grips with the (...) classic epistemological issues of knowledge acquisition, representation and use. The argument is made that the process, despite its seeming cognitive sophistication, is of considerable evolutionary antiquity and that it antedates awareness and the capacity for conscious control of mentation. Various classic heuristics from evolutionary biology are used to substantiate this claim and several specific entailments of this line of argument are outlined. (shrink)
According to Paul Ricoeur, the Freudian unconscious invalidates the ability of Husserlian phenomenology to explicate human psychology. The stumbling block is said to be the mechanism of repression, which can not only obviate conscious access to certain ideas and motives but also distort consciousness itself. The whole enterprise of phenomenology would seem to be at stake. But we must carefully distinguish being a conscious object from being a conscious process. By means of ?micro?phenomenology?, the reflective analysis of focal dynamics, (...) I shall try to reconstruct the so?called unconscious as certain conscious processes we are unable to reflect on as conscious objects. This reconstruction utilizes two motivational principles of attention, motive attraction and motive repulsion, which affect the manner in which attention addresses its object. The principles explain how reflective consciousness can be so repelled by certain directly conscious events that it withdraws with subliminal rapidity, leaving those events reflectively unconscious. Various sorts of evidence, including experimental results in subliminal psychology, can be used to support this phenomenological hypothesis. Though hypothetical, the theory at least demonstrates that the existence of unconscious processes is not an a priori basis for dismissing phenomenological methodology. (shrink)
This paper explores the psychoanalytic conception of the unconscious and critiques it from a phenomenlogical perspective, especially Sartre and Heidegger, with a view to conceptualizing the unconscious from an ontological rather than psychological mindset.
This paper addresses the unconscious dimension as articulated in Carl Jung's depth psychology and in Gilles Deleuze's philosophy. Jung's theory of the archetypes and Deleuze's pedagogy of the concept are two complementary resources that posit individuation as the goal of human development and self-education in practice. The paper asserts that educational theory should explore the role of the unconscious in learning, especially with regard to adult education in the process of learning from life-experiences. The integration of the (...) class='Hi'>unconscious into consciousness becomes a constitutive part of subject-formation and self-knowledge, which in turn serves as a basis for experiential self-education. (shrink)
In this article we explore the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious as it has taken shape within contemporary cognitive science - meaning by this term the mature cognitive science, which has fully incorporated the results of the neurosciences. In this framework we first compare the neurocognitive unconscious with the Freudian one, emphasizing the similarities and above all the differences between the two constructs. We then turn our attention to the implications of the centrality of unconscious processes (...) in cognitive science for the classical conception of the self. Our analysis will bring to light a bit of claustrophobic dialectic between an eliminative variety of naturalism and an anti-naturalistic form of hermeneutics. Hence we conclude by recommending the pursuit of a mediation between such extreme stances. (shrink)
The importance of unconscious cognition is seeping into popular consciousness. A number of recent books bridging the academic world and the reading public stress that at least a portion of decision-making depends not on conscious reasoning, but instead on cognition that occurs below awareness. However, these books provide a limited perspective on how the unconscious mind works and the potential power of intuition. This essay is an effort to expand the picture. It is structured around the book that (...) has garnered the most attention, Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink (2005), but it also considers Gut Feelings by Gerd Gigerenzer (2007) and How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman (2007). These books help deepen the .. (shrink)
It is common knowledge that the notion of the unconscious is an essential part of psychoanalytic theory. In recent years, however, Arthur Pap and A. C. MacIntyre have argued that Freud's theory of the unconscious is not explanatory. But a close examination of Pap's and MacIntyre's arguments reveals that they are invalid. If one wishes to show that the theory of the unconscious is unexplanatory, different arguments will be necessary.
To illustrate one way in which philosophy may be helpful rather than merely critical in the present state of psychoanalytic theorizing, an attempt is made to disentangle issues in controversies about the unconscious. Eleven questions are distinguished and discussed. Logical, linguistic, methodological, metaphysical, empirical, and pragmatic components are set apart. It is found that there are no logical barriers to a construct of the unconscious, that it is linguistically feasible, need violate no methodological concepts, nor foreclose a metaphysical (...) issue, nor have deleterious pragmatic effect. Feasibility and desirability of the construct in all these respects will depend on the character and extent of the scientific findings. Some issues are also raised concerning desirable types of models in the explanation of conduct, and concerning the relevance of recent studies of consciousness. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: In a recent article, D. H. Finkelstein offers a new proposal about the distinction between conscious and unconscious belief On his proposal, someone’s belief is conscious if he has an ability to express it simply by self-ascribing it; and someone’s belief is unconscious if he lacks such an ability. In this article, I argue that his proposal is inadequate, and then offer a somewhat different proposal. On my proposal, someone’s belief is conscious if he has self-ascribed this (...) belief without recourse to any evidence about his behaviour; and someone’s belief is unconscious if it is not conscious.RÉSUMÉ: Dans un récent article, D. H. Finkelstein propose une nouvelle distinction entre croyance consciente et inconsciente. Suivant cette proposition, la croyance de quelqu’un est consciente s’il a la capacité de l’exprimer tout simplement en se l’attribuant; sa croyance est inconsciente s’il n’en a pas la capacité. Dans cet article, je fais valoir que cette proposition est inadéquate, et je propose ensuite une nouvelledistinction. Suivant cette distinction, la croyance de quelqu’un est consciente s’il s’attribue cette croyance sans s’appuyer sur aucun élément de preuve au sujet de son comportement; sa croyance est inconsciente si elle n’est pas consciente. (shrink)
Ideas about child education are inevitably underpinned by particular views of children, including their nature and development. The purpose of this paper is to discuss C. G. Jung's account of child education in relation to his psychological theory and view of children. However, as Jung's theory predominantly concerns the psychological development of adults and not children, the current paper makes selective use of Jung's texts that focus on children, and examines what Jung calls ‘the other half’ of education that works (...) through the teacher's personality indirectly affecting the student's development of personality. From a close study of Jung's texts, the paper discusses the nature and the extent of children's involvement in ‘the other half’ of education and considers some problems with Jung's account of unconscious education. The paper identifies the active and autonomous roles played by children in unconscious education and suggests that Jung's account of ‘the other half of education’ could provide fresh insights about the meaning and quality of education. (shrink)
The traditional model of human cognition (TMHC) postulates an ontological and/or structural gap between conscious and unconscious mental representations. By and large, it sees higher-level mental processes as commonly conceptual or symbolic in nature and therefore conscious, whereas unconscious, lower-level representations are conceived as non-conceptual or sub-symbolic. However, experimental evidence belies this model, suggesting that higher-level mental processes can be, and often are, carried out in a wholly unconscious way and/or without conceptual representations, and that these can (...) be processed unconsciously. This entails that the TMHC, as well as the theories on mental representation it motivates and that in turn support it, is wrong. (shrink)
Abstract Having, in previous papers, distinguished at least three forms of consciousness (a first?order, information?processing state?called here ?C1'; a second?order, direct, non?inferential accessing of other conscious states?called here ?C2'; and a phenomenological state?called here ?CN'), I now further examine their differences. This examination has some surprising results. Having argued that neither C1 nor C2 is a phenomenological state?and so different from CN?I now show that CN itself is best thought of as a subclass of a larger state ('CS'?sensation consciousness). CS (...) is the set of image?representation states. CN is that set of CS states that we are also C2 about. I argue that CN states should be considered a subset of CS states because they share with other CS states imagistic representational powers as opposed to the sentential ones of C1 and C2. And I argue that there are good reasons to consider any state which utilises imagistic representation as a sensation. I then show that the notion of an unconscious sensation makes sense if we think of it as a CS state that is not C2. More radically, I conclude that either it makes sense to say that there are unfelt sensations or there are felt sensations (phenomenological states) we are not conscious about. While there are good reasons for saying one or the other of these surprising things, I argue that the second, more radical sounding, alternative is actually better motivated?and not quite so surprising as it sounds. (shrink)
Newell and Shanks (2012) argue that an explanation for blindsight need not appeal to unconscious brain processes, citing research indicating that the condition merely reflects degraded visual experience. We reply that other evidence suggests that blindsighters’ predictive behavior under forced choice reflects cognitive access to low-level visual information that does not correlate with visual consciousness. Thus, while we grant that visual consciousness may be required for full visual experience, we argue that it may not be needed for decision making (...) and judgment. (shrink)
Alasdair MacIntyre argues that Freud's conception of the unconscious is complicated by his tendency to use the term in two different ways. MacIntyre shows how Freud uses the term "unconscious" both as a straightforward description of psychological phenomena, and as an evaluative notion to explain the links between childhood events and adult behavior. This clarification helps to shed light on the many misunderstandings of psychoanalysis, and to separate out what is and what is not of lasting value in (...) Freud's account of the unconscious. This new edition includes a substantial new preface by the author, in which he discusses repression, determinism, transference, and "practical rationality," and offers a rare comparison of Aristotle and Lacan on the concept of desire. MacIntyre takes the opportunity to reflect both on the reviews and criticisms of the first edition and also on his own philosophical stance. (shrink)
Blindsight and vision for action seem to be exemplars of unconscious visual processes. However, researchers have recently argued that blindsight is not really a kind of uncon- scious vision but is rather severely degraded conscious vision. Morten Overgaard and col- leagues have recently developed new methods for measuring the visibility of visual stimuli. Studies using these methods show that reported clarity of visual stimuli correlates with accuracy in both normal individuals and blindsight patients. Vision for action has also come (...) under scrutiny. Recent ﬁndings seem to show that information processed by the dor- sal stream for online action contributes to visual awareness. Some interpret these results as showing that some dorsal stream processes are conscious visual processes (e.g., Gallese, 2007; Jacob & Jeannerod, 2003). The aim of this paper is to provide new support for the more traditional view that blindsight and vision for action are genuinely unconscious per- ceptual processes. I argue that individuals with blindsight do not have access to the kind of purely qualitative color and size information which normal individuals do. So, even though people with blindsight have a kind of cognitive consciousness, visual information process- ing in blindsight patients is not associated with a distinctly visual phenomenology. I argue further that while dorsal stream processing seems to contribute to visual awareness, only information processed by the early dorsal stream (V1, V2, and V3) is broadcast to working memory. Information processed by later parts of the dorsal stream (the parietal lobe) never reaches working memory and hence does not correlate with phenomenal awareness. I con- clude that both blindsight and vision for action are genuinely unconscious visual processes. (shrink)
Unconscious thought theory (UTT) states that all information is taken into account and the attributes are weighted optimally resulting in better decisions in complex decision problems during unconscious thought. Very few studies have investigated the actual amount of information processed in the unconscious thought condition. We hypothesized that only a small subset of information might be considered during unconscious thought (like conscious thought). To test this possibility and to explore the way attribute information is selected and (...) combined, we performed computer simulations on the datasets used by previous researchers. The simulations showed that considering a small subset (3-4) of attributes, yields results comparable to previous studies. There is no need to posit infinite capacity in the unconscious thought condition. The results also suggest that weight information is used for attribute selection that could potentially explain the difficulties in replicating the deliberation-without-attention effect. (shrink)
The representational nature of human cognition and thought in general has been a source of controversies. This is particularly so in the context of studies of unconscious cognition, in which representations tend to be ontologically and structurally segregated with regard to their conscious status. However, it appears evolutionarily and developmentally unwarranted to posit such segregations, as,otherwise, artifact structures and ontologies must be concocted to explain them from the viewpoint of the human cognitive architecture. Here, from a by-and-large Classical cognitivist (...) viewpoint, I show why this segregation is wrong, and elaborate on the need to postulate an ontological and structural continuity between unconscious and conscious representations. Specifically, I hypothesize that this continuity is to be found in the symbolic-based interplay between the syntax and the semantics of thought, and I propose a model of human information processing characterized by the integration of syntactic and semantic representations. (shrink)
This essay traces the interlinked origins of two concepts found in Charles Darwin's writings: "unconscious selection," and sexual selection as applied to humanity's anatomical race distinctions. Unconscious selection constituted a significant elaboration of Darwin's artificial selection analogy. As originally conceived in his theoretical notebooks, that analogy had focused exclusively on what Darwin later would call "methodical selection," the calculated production of desired changes in domestic breeds. By contrast, unconscious selection produced its results unintentionally and at a much (...) slower pace. Inspiration for this concept likely came from Darwin's early reading of works on both animal breeding and physical ethnology. Texts in these fields described the slow and unplanned divergence of anatomical types, whether animal or human, under the guidance of contrasting ideals of physical perfection. These readings, it is argued, also led Darwin to his theory of sexual selection as applied to race, a theme he discussed mainly in his book The Descent of Man (1871). There Darwin described how the racial version of sexual selection operated on the same principle as unconscious selection. He thereby effectively reunited these kindred concepts. (shrink)
This paper develops the ideas of rhetorical psychology by applying them to some basic Freudian concepts. In so doing, the paper considers whether there might be a âDialogic Unconsciousâ. So far rhetorical psychology has tended to concentrate upon conscious thought rather than on the unconscious. It has suggested that thinking is modelled on argument and dialogue, and that rhetoric provides the means of opening up matters for thought and discussion. However, rhetoric may also provide the means for closing down (...) topics and, thereby, provide the means of repression. It will be suggested that language is not merely expressive but it is also repressive. Moreover, the repressive aspects of language are built into the very practices of dialogue. In learning language, we learn the codes for socially appropriate ways of speaking. These must be acquired as habits, so that we learn to repress routinely the desire to transgress the codes of appropriate speech. Thus, the routine use of language provides the resources for repression. If language is repressive, then this applies equally to the language of psycho-analysis itself. Freud's famous case histories, such as that of Dora, can be re-examined, in order to see what Freud's own theory of repression was itself repressing. (shrink)
While the human agent must have the capacity for reflexivity, intentionality and consciousness, the same agent must also be affected by the social world in which she lives: herein lies the essence of the structure and agency dialectic. This paper argues that while some realists are in principle committed to a dialectical relationship between structure and agency, there is some dissonance between this commitment and the concepts of agency that they develop. I highlight the exclusion of the unconscious and (...) habit from realist notions of agency and argue that this oversight serves to unbalance the dialectic between structure and agency thereby leading to the over-empowerment of agency. The concepts of agency developed by Margaret Archer, Anthony Giddens and Pierre Bourdieu are discussed in this paper. Archer's concept of agency is argued to focus exclusively on reflexivity whilst neglecting to include the unconscious and habit. Giddens is shown to develop a much improved concept of agency, which includes the unconscious, however, his rejection of the independent causal powers of structure and agency problematises his commitment to the dialectic. A much improved approach to theorising agency, developed within a critical realist framework, is offered drawing on Bourdieu's concept of habitus. The paper concludes with a discussion of gender, and considers how the unconscious and habit can help to better understand the myriad ways in which gender functions in society. (shrink)
Unconscious knowing : psychoanalytic evidence in support of a radical epistemic view -- The limits of rationality : vagueness, a case study -- Agency "me"-ness in action -- The placebo effect : psychoanalytic theory can help explain the phenomenon -- Explanations and conclusions.
In the 80’s, the terms "cognitive unconscious" were invented to denominate a perspective on unconscious mental processes independent from the psychoanalytical views. For several reasons, the two approaches to unconscious are generally conceived as irreducible. Nowadays, we are witnessing a certain convergence between both fields. The aim of this paper consists in examining the four basic postulates of Freudian unconscious at the light of neurocognitive sciences. They posit: (1) the existence psychological processes unconsciously performed, (2) having (...) their own cognitive style, (3) setting out their own intentions and (4) leading to a conflicting organization of psyche. We show that each of the postulates is the subject of empirical and theoretical works. If the two fields refer to more or less similar mechanisms, we propose that their opposition rests on an epistemological misunderstanding. As a conclusion, we promote a conservative reunification of the two perspectives. (shrink)
Until recently, it has been thought that under interocular suppression high-level visual processing is strongly inhibited if not abolished. With the development of continuous flash suppression (CFS), a variant of binocular rivalry, this notion has now been challenged by a number of reports showing that even high-level aspects of visual stimuli, such as familiarity, affect the time stimuli need to overcome CFS and emerge into awareness. In this “breaking CFS” (b-CFS) paradigm, differential unconscious processing during suppression is inferred when (...) (a) speeded detection responses to initially invisible stimuli differ, and (b) no comparable differences are found in non-rivalrous control conditions supposed to measure general threshold differences between stimuli. To critically evaluate these assumptions was the aim of the present study. In six experiments we compared the time upright and inverted faces needed to be detected. We found that not only under CFS, but also in control conditions upright faces were detected faster and more accurately than inverted faces, although the effect was larger during CFS. However, reaction time (RT) distributions indicated critical differences between the CFS and the control condition. When RT distributions were matched, similar effect sizes were obtained in both conditions. Moreover, subjective ratings revealed that CFS and control conditions are not perceptually comparable. These findings cast doubt on the usefulness of non-rivalrous control conditions to rule out mere detection threshold differences as a cause of shorter detection latencies during CFS. In conclusion, we acknowledge that the b-CFS paradigm can be fruitfully applied as a highly sensitive device to probe differences between stimuli in their potency to gain access to awareness. However, our current findings suggest that such differences can not unequivocally be attributed to differential unconscious processing under interocular suppression. (shrink)
The capacity to be creative, to produce new concepts, ideas, inventions, objects or art, is perhaps the most important attribute of the human brain. We know very little, however, about the nature of creativity or its neural basis. Some important questions include how should we define creativity? How is it related (or unrelated) to high intelligence? What psychological processes or environmental circumstance cause creative insights to occur? How is it related to conscious and unconscious processes? What is happening at (...) the neural level during moments of creativity? How is it related to health or illness, and especially mental illness? This paper will review introspective accounts from highly creative individuals. These accounts suggest that unconscious processes play an important role in achieving creative insights. Neuroimaging studies of the brain during "REST" (random episodic silent thought, also referred to as the default state) suggest that the association cortices are the primary areas that are active during this state and that the brain is spontaneously reorganising and acting as a self-organising system. Neuroimaging studies also suggest that highly creative individuals have more intense activity in association cortices when performing tasks that challenge them to "make associations." Studies of creative individuals also indicate that they have a higher rate of mental illness than a noncreative comparison group, as well as a higher rate of both creativity and mental illness in their first-degree relatives. This raises interesting questions about the relationship between the nature of the unconscious, the unconscious and the predisposition to both creativity and mental illness. (shrink)
More often than not, theories of belief and of belief ascription restrict themselves to conscious beliefs, thus obliterating a vast part of our mental life and offering extremely incomplete, unrealistic theories. Indeed, conscious beliefs are the exception, not the rule, as far as human doxastic states are concerned, and a naturalistic, realistic theory of knowledge that aspires to completeness has to take unconscious beliefs into consideration. This paper is the elaboration of such a theory of belief.
Accumulating evidence indicates that control mechanisms are not tightly bound to conscious perception since both conscious and unconscious information can trigger control processes, probably through the activation of higher-order association areas like the prefrontal cortex. Studying the modulation of control-related prefrontal signals in a microscopic, neuronal level during conscious and unconscious neuronal processing and under control-free conditions could provide an elementary understanding of these interactions. Here we performed extracellular electrophysiological recordings in the macaque lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) during (...) monocular physical alternation (PA) and binocular flash suppression (BFS) and studied the local scale relationship between beta (15-30Hz) oscillations, a rhythmic signal believed to reflect the current sensory, motor or cognitive state (status-quo),and conscious or unconscious neuronal processing. First, we show that beta oscillations are observed in the LPFC during resting state. Both PA and BFS had a strong impact on the power of this spontaneous rhythm with the modulation pattern of beta power being identical across these two conditions. Specifically, both perceptual dominance and suppression of local neuronal populations in BFS were accompanied by a transient beta desynchronization followed by beta activity rebound, a pattern also observed when perception occurred without any underlying visual competition in PA. These results indicate that under control-free conditions, at least one rhythmic signal known to reflect control processes in the LPFC (i.e. beta oscillations) is not obstructed by local neuronal, and accordingly perceptual, suppression, thus being independent from temporally co-existing conscious and unconscious local neuronal representations. Future studies could reveal the additive effects of motor or cognitive control demands on prefrontal beta oscillations during conscious and unconscious processing. (shrink)
Anticipating where an event will occur enables us to instantaneously respond to events that occur at the expected location. Here we investigated if such spatial anticipations can be triggered by symbolic information that participants cannot consciously see. In two experiments involving a Posner cueing task and a visual search task, a central cue informed participants about the likely location of the next target stimulus. In half of the trials, this cue was rendered invisible by pattern masking. In both experiments, visible (...) cues led to cueing effects, that is, faster responses after valid compared to invalid cues. Importantly, even masked cues caused cueing effects, though to a lesser extent. Additionally, we analyzed effects on attention that persist from one trial to the subsequent trial. We found that spatial anticipations are able to interfere with newly formed spatial anticipations and influence orienting of attention in the subsequent trial. When the preceding cue was visible, the corresponding spatial anticipation persisted to an extent that prevented a noticeable effect of masked cues. The effects of visible cues were likewise modulated by previous spatial anticipations, but were strong enough to also exert an impact on attention themselves. Altogether, the results suggest that spatial anticipations can be formed on the basis of unconscious stimuli, but that interfering influences like still active spatial anticipations can suppress this effect. (shrink)
Attention is a key process used to conceptualize and define modes of thought, but we lack information on the role of specific attentional processes on preferential choice and memory in multi-attribute decision making. In this study, we examine the role of attention based on two dimensions, attentional scope and load on choice preference strength and memory using a paradigm that arguably elicits unconscious thought. Scope of attention was manipulated by using global or local processing during distraction (Experiment 1) and (...) before the information encoding stage (Experiment 2). Load was manipulated by using the n-back task in Experiment 1. Results from Experiment 1 show that global processing or distributed attention during distraction results in stronger preference irrespective of load but better memory only at low cognitive load. Task difficulty or load did not have any effect on preference or memory. In Experiment 2, distributed attention before attribute encoding facilitated only memory but did not influence preference. Results show that attentional processes at different stages of processing like distraction and information-encoding influence decision making processes. Scope of attention not only influences preference and memory but the manner in which attentional scope influences them depends on both load and stage of information processing. The results indicate the important role of attention in processes critical for decision making and calls for a re-evaluation of the unconscious thought theory (UTT) and the need for reconceptualizing the role of attention. (shrink)
Recent years have seen psychoanalysis move out of the clinical area into the arena of empirical social research. This article uses a case study from a psychoanalytically informed media research project to explore conceptual, ethical, and methodological implications in research design in the light of this shift. The ideas of unconscious communication between interviewer and interviewee, the role of the researcher's subjectivity, and the impact of unconscious defences on the generation and interpretation of data are explored. In addition (...) the free association narrative interviewing (FANI) method is evaluated. (shrink)
Research has shown that high vs. low value rewards improve cognitive task performance independent of whether they are perceived consciously or unconsciously. However, efficient performance in response to high value rewards also depends on whether or not rewards are attainable. This raises the question of whether unconscious reward processing enables people to take into account such attainability information. Building on a theoretical framework according to which conscious reward processing is required to enable higher level cognitive processing, the present research (...) tested the hypothesis that conscious but not unconscious reward processing enables integration of reward value with attainability information. In two behavioral experiments, participants were exposed to masked high and low value coins serving as rewards on a working memory task. The likelihood for conscious processing was manipulated by presenting the coins relatively briefly (17 ms) or long and clearly visible (300 ms). Crucially, rewards were expected to be attainable or unattainable. Requirements to integrate reward value with attainability information varied across experiments. Results showed that when integration of value and attainability was required (Experiment 1), long reward presentation led to efficient performance, i.e., selectively improved performance for high value attainable rewards. In contrast, in the short presentation condition, performance was increased for high value rewards even when these were unattainable. This difference between the effects of long and short presentation time disappeared when integration of value and attainability information was not required (Experiment 2). Together these findings suggest that unconsciously processed reward information is not integrated with attainability expectancies, causing inefficient effort investment. These findings are discussed in terms of a unique role of consciousness in efficient allocation of effort to cognitive control processes. (shrink)