Cutting Edge Psychology

Unconscious perception

Posted on September 2, 2014 at 1:40 AM

How real is the 'unconscious mind'? In 'The HIdden Psychology of Pain', i state that the brain is able to perceive an eight hairy-legged object moving in our peripheral field of vision and react to it with alarm, even if we have no conscious awareness of there being a large spider near us. This phenomenon demonstrates that much of what goes on within the brain occurs at a level for which there is no knowledge- some neuroscientists suggest that as much as 98% of brain functioning is largely unconscious. It appears that our conscious awareness is merely a very handy tool, devised over many eons of evolution in order to scan the environment for danger. It can be thought of as something like the light cast by a torch on a dark night. The focus of attention will be brought into high relief, however the rest of the night's darkness will remain un-illuminated. It is clear that at any one time, we are only consciously aware of a certain amount of stimuli which is hitting our sensory apparatus and creating an impact on our brain. Conscious awareness is no doubt an extremely handy tool, and if our ancestors didnt possess it, we wouldnt be sitting here now thinking about it. But, as evident from current neuroscience, we are much more than just our conscious awareness. It is somewhat ironic that our sense of self, what to me makes me 'me', is largely derived from this pretty handy tool, even though it is only a small portion of what is going on within us.

The following article discusses some of the current research which demonstrates how unconscious much of our perception is.

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