Consciousness: An Introduction, Edition 3

Routledge
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Is there a theory that explains the essence of consciousness?

Or is consciousness itself an illusion?

Am I conscious now?

Now considered the 'last great mystery of science', consciousness was once viewed with extreme scepticism and rejected by mainstream scientists. It is now a significant area of research, albeit a contentious one, as well as a rapidly expanding area of study for students of psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience.

This edition of Consciousness, revised by author team Susan Blackmore and Emily Troscianko, explores the key theories and evidence in consciousness studies ranging from neuroscience and psychology to quantum theories and philosophy. It examines why the term ‘consciousness’ has no recognised definition and provides an opportunity to delve into personal intuitions about the self, mind, and consciousness.

Featuring comprehensive coverage of all core topics in the field, this edition includes:

  • Why the problem of consciousness is so hard
  • Neuroscience and the neural correlates of consciousness
  • Why we might be mistaken about our own minds
  • The apparent difference between conscious and unconscious
  • Theories of attention, free will, and self and other
  • The evolution of consciousness in animals and machines
  • Altered states from meditation to drugs and dreaming

Complete with key concept boxes, profiles of well-known thinkers, and questions and activities suitable for both independent study and group work, Consciousness provides a complete introduction to this fascinating field. Additional resources are available on the accompanying companion website: www.routledge.com/cw/blackmore

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About the author

Susan Blackmore is a psychologist, TED lecturer, and writer researching consciousness, memes, meditation, and anomalous experiences, and is Visiting Professor in Psychology at the University of Plymouth. The Meme Machine (1999) has been translated into 16 languages; more recent books include Zen and the Art of Consciousness (2011) and Seeing Myself: The New Science of Out-of-BodyExperiences (2017).

Emily T. Troscianko

is a writer and researcher interested in mental health, readers’ responses to literature, and how the two might be linked – as well as what both have to do with human consciousness. She is a Research Associate at The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), University of Oxford, writes the blog 'A Hunger Artist' for Psychology Today, and has published a monograph, Kafka’s Cognitive Realism (2014), exploring the strange phenomenon we call the ‘Kafkaesque’.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Apr 27, 2018
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Pages
618
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ISBN
9781317625865
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Language
English
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Genres
Psychology / Cognitive Psychology & Cognition
Psychology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Consciousness seems to be an enigmatic phenomenon: it is difficult to imagine how our perceptions of the world and our inner thoughts, sensations and feelings could be related to the immensely complicated biological organ we call the brain. This volume presents the thoughts of some of the leading philosophers and cognitive scientists who have recently participated in the discussion of the status of consciousness in science. The focus of inquiry is the question: "Is it possible to incorporate consciousness into science?" Philosophers have suggested different alternatives -- some think that consciousness should be altogether eliminated from science because it is not a real phenomenon, others that consciousness is a real, higher-level physical or neurobiological phenomenon, and still others that consciousness is fundamentally mysterious and beyond the reach of science. At the same time, however, several models or theories of the role of conscious processing in the brain have been developed in the more empirical cognitive sciences. It has been suggested that non-conscious processes must be sharply separated from conscious ones, and that the necessity of this distinction is manifested in the curious behavior of certain brain-damaged patients.

This book demonstrates the dialogue between philosophical and empirical points of view. The writers present alternative solutions to the brain-consciousness problem and they discuss how the unification of biological and psychological sciences could thus become feasible. Covering a large ground, this book shows how the philosophical and empirical problems are closely interconnected. From this interdisciplinary exploration emerges the conviction that consciousness can and should be a natural part of our scientific world view.
This book brings together a cutting edge international team of contributors to critically review the current knowledge regarding the effectiveness of training interventions designed to improve cognitive functions in different target populations. There is substantial evidence that cognitive and physical training can improve cognitive performance, but these benefits seem to vary as a function of the type and the intensity of interventions and the way training-induced gains are measured and analyzed. This book further fulfills the need for clarification of the mechanisms underlying cognitive and neural changes occurring after training.
This book offers a comprehensive overview of empirical findings and methodological approaches of cognitive training research in different cognitive domains (memory, executive functions, etc.), types of training (working memory training, video game training, physical training, etc.), age groups (from children to young and older adults), target populations (children with developmental disorders, aging workers, MCI patients etc.), settings (laboratory-based studies, applied studies in clinical and educational settings), and methodological approaches (behavioral studies, neuroscientific studies). Chapters feature theoretical models that describe the mechanisms underlying training-induced cognitive and neural changes.
Cognitive Training: An Overview of Features and Applications will be of interest to researchers, practitioners, students, and professors in the fields of psychology and neuroscience.
"Cognitive psychology," "cognitive neuroscience," and "philosophy of mind" are names for three very different scientific fields, but they label aspects of the same scientific goal: to understand the nature of mental phenomena. Today, the three disciplines strongly overlap under the roof of the cognitive sciences. The book's purpose is to present views from the different disciplines on one of the central theories in cognitive science: the theory of mental models. Cognitive psychologists report their research on the representation and processing of mental models in human memory. Cognitive neuroscientists demonstrate how the brain processes visual and spatial mental models and which neural processes underlie visual and spatial thinking. Philosophers report their ideas about the role of mental models in relation to perception, emotion, representation, and intentionality. The single articles have different and mutually complementing goals: to introduce new empirical methods and approaches, to report new experimental results, and to locate competing approaches for their interpretation in the cross-disciplinary debate. The book is strongly interdisciplinary in character. It is especially addressed to researchers in any field related to mental models theory as both a reference book and an overview of present research on the topic in other disciplines. However, it is also an ideal reader for a specialized graduate course.Examines the theory of mental models from the perspectives of cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience and philosophy of the mindIntroduces new empirical methods, experimental results, and interdisciplinary yet complementary approachesServes as a reference book and an overview of current research
This is the last major work of Eugene N. Sokolov, Professor of Psychophysiology at Moscow State University from 1950 to 2008. It summarizes the contributions of a lifetime on the neural mechanism of consciousness. Working at the intersection of psychology, neurophysiology and mathematics, Sokolov early introduced the concept of quantifiable 'difference in neuronal activity' and 'cognitive distance' as corresponding metrics in the physical and mental models of reality. He demonstrated the power of multidimensional vector mathematics to represent the neural computations that mediate between the brain's neural model and the mind's mental model of reality. Sokolov and colleagues showed a mathematical commonality among the neuronal mechanisms that mediate the perception of basic features of visual stimuli including color, brightness, line orientation and motion. This led to a general vector model linking perceptual and memory processes to adaptive motor mechanisms. They extended the model to encompass broader, more complex functions, such as the perception of emotions in facial expressions, semantic differences in verbal stimuli and differential executive control mechanisms. Integrating evidence from human psychophysics, animal neurophysiology and vector mathematics they developed a unified model to characterize quantitatively many complex relations between objective and subjective aspects of reality. Sokolov's studies of neuronal mechanisms of mental phenomena led him to distinguish two categories of neurons: 'consciousness neurons' directly associated with awareness of perceptual, emotional and cognitive events, and neurons that are necessary for, but not directly involved in, conscious processes. The book integrates his findings with major themes shaping twenty-first century understanding of the brain-mind relationship. It relates the findings both to work of other Russian investigators, such as Pavlov, Luria, and Rusinov, and to work of many Western researchers, including von Bekesy, Eccles, Edelman, Ehrenstein, Grossberg, John, Koch and Crick, Ledoux, Llinas, Milner, Penfield, Penrose, Posner, and Schrödinger.
This volume presents a theoretical framework for understanding consciousness and learning. Drawing on work in cognitive psychology and philosophy, this framework begins with the observation that to be conscious is literally to have a point of view. From this starting point, the book develops a descriptive scheme that allows perceptual, symbolic, and emotional awareness to be discussed in common theoretical terms, compatible with a computational view of the mind. A central theme is our experience of ourselves as agents, consciously controlling activities situated in environments. In contrast to previous theories of consciousness, the experienced cognition framework emphasizes the changes in conscious control as individuals acquire skills.

The book is divided into four parts. The first introduces the central themes and places them in the context of information-processing theory and empirical research on cognitive skill. The second develops the theoretical framework, emphasizing the unity of perceptual, symbolic, and emotional awareness and the relation of conscious to nonconscious processes. The third applies the experienced cognition framework to a variety of topics in cognitive psychology, including working memory, problem solving, and reasoning. It also includes discussions of everyday action, skill, and expertise, focusing on changes in conscious control with increasing fluency. The last concludes the book by evaluating the recent debate on the "cognitive unconscious" and implicit cognition from the perspective of experienced cognition, and considering the prospects for a cognitive psychology focused on persons.

This book addresses many of the issues raised in philosophical treatments of consciousness from the point of view of empirical cognitive psychology. For example, the structure of conscious mental states is addressed by considering how to describe them in terms of variables suitable for information-processing theory. Understanding conscious states in this way also provides a basis for developing empirical hypotheses, for example, about the relation of emotion and cognition, about the apparent "mindlessness" of skilled activity, and about the nature and role of goals in guiding activity. Criticisms of the computational view of mind are addressed by showing that the role of first-person perspectives in cognition can be described and investigated in theoretical terms compatible with a broadly-conceived information-processing theory of cognition.
Major New York Times bestseller
Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award in 2012
Selected by the New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011
A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title
One of The Economist's 2011 Books of the Year
One of The Wall Street Journal's Best Nonfiction Books of the Year 2011
2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient
Kahneman's work with Amos Tversky is the subject of Michael Lewis's The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds

In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow is destined to be a classic.

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“One of the most important books I’ve ever read—an indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world.” – Bill Gates

“Hans Rosling tells the story of ‘the secret silent miracle of human progress’ as only he can. But Factfulness does much more than that. It also explains why progress is so often secret and silent and teaches readers how to see it clearly.” —Melinda Gates

"Factfulness by Hans Rosling, an outstanding international public health expert, is a hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases." - Former U.S. President Barack Obama

Factfulness: The stress-reducing habit of only carrying opinions for which you have strong supporting facts.

When asked simple questions about global trends—what percentage of the world’s population live in poverty; why the world’s population is increasing; how many girls finish school—we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess teachers, journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers.

In Factfulness, Professor of International Health and global TED phenomenon Hans Rosling, together with his two long-time collaborators, Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens. They reveal the ten instincts that distort our perspective—from our tendency to divide the world into two camps (usually some version of us and them) to the way we consume media (where fear rules) to how we perceive progress (believing that most things are getting worse).

Our problem is that we don’t know what we don’t know, and even our guesses are informed by unconscious and predictable biases.

It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think. That doesn’t mean there aren’t real concerns. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.

Inspiring and revelatory, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Factfulness is an urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world and empower you to respond to the crises and opportunities of the future.

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“This book is my last battle in my life-long mission to fight devastating ignorance...Previously I armed myself with huge data sets, eye-opening software, an energetic learning style and a Swedish bayonet for sword-swallowing. It wasn’t enough. But I hope this book will be.” Hans Rosling, February 2017.

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