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US Edition. Log in using your social network account. Please enter a valid password. Keep me logged in. What aspects of consciousness to researchers study? Topics such as sleep, dreams, hypnosis , hallucinations, meditation and the effects of psychoactive drugs are just a few of the major topics related to consciousness that psychologists study. For thousands of years, the study of human consciousness was largely done by philosophers.
French philosopher Rene Descartes introduced the concept of mind-body dualism or the idea that while the mind and body are separate, they do interact. Once psychology was established as a discipline separate from philosopher and biology, the study of the conscious experience was one of the first topics studied by early psychologists. Structuralists used a process known as introspection to analyze and report conscious sensations, thoughts, and experiences.
Trained observers would carefully inspect the contents of their own minds.
Obviously, this was a very subjective process, but it helped inspire further research on the scientific study of consciousness. American psychologist William James compared consciousness to a stream; unbroken and continuous despite constant shifts and changes. While the focus of much of the research in psychology shifted to purely observable behaviors during the first half of the twentieth century, research on human consciousness has grown tremendously since the s.
One of the problems with the study of consciousness is the lack of a universally accepted operational definition.
Consciousness is the state or quality of sentience or awareness of internal or external existence. It has been defined variously in terms of qualia, subjectivity, the. Consciousness is everything you experience. It is the tune stuck in your head, the sweetness of chocolate mousse, the throbbing pain of a.
If you can describe something you are experiencing in words, then it is part of your consciousness. In psychology, consciousness is occasionally confused with the conscience. It is important to note that while consciousness involves awareness of yourself and the world, your conscience is related to your morality and sense of right or wrong. Research on consciousness has focused on understanding the neuroscience behind our conscious experiences.
Scientists have even utilized brain scanning technology to seek out specific neurons that might be linked to different conscious events. Integrated information theory attempts to look at consciousness by learning more about the physical processes that underlie our conscious experiences.
The theory attempts to create a measure of the integrated information that forms consciousness. This theory tends to focus on whether something is conscious and to what degree it is conscious. The global workspace theory suggests that we have a memory bank from which the brain draws information to form the experience of conscious awareness.
While integrated information theory focuses more on identifying whether an organism is conscious, the global workspace theory offers a much broader approach to understanding how consciousness works.
While consciousness has intrigued philosophers and scientists for thousands of years, we clearly have a long way to go in our understanding the concept. Researchers continue to explore the different bases of consciousness including the physical, social, cultural and psychological influences that contribute to our conscious awareness. Have you ever wondered what your personality type means?