Thursday, November 27, 2008

Relationship Between The Conscious And The Unconscious Minds

Relationship Between The Conscious And The Unconscious Minds:

The unconscious part of the human brain can see and respond to things that it is not consciously aware that it is seeing. Recently, French and English scientists had volunteers play a simple game while undergoing a brain scan. The subjects held a handgrip while watching a computer screen. They were told to squeeze the handgrip whenever they saw a picture of money on the screen. The more they squeezed the more money they would win.

While some pictures stayed on the screen long enough to be identified, others raced by. Regardless, the image of a British pound caused the volunteers to squeeze harder than they did at the sight of a penny, even when it appeared so quickly that they were not consciously aware of what kind of money they were seeing. The researchers found that the same part of the brain became active whether the response was conscious or unconscious. This is a good example of how the conscious and unconscious are working together.

In another study subjects were shown pictures of human faces while the researchers scanned their brains. In some trials, the subjects chose two words to describe the expressions they saw on each face they viewed. This forced them to consciously reflect on the emotions that they saw. In other trials, subjects chose a name for each face, but no attention was drawn to the emotions that were being expressed.

When the subjects only chose a name for a face that was expressing an emotion, the amygdala region of the brain activated. The amygdala is part of our survival mechanism as it reacts unconsciously to emotional situations. In the subjects who used words to describe the faces, the amygdala remained quiet while an area involved with refection, reasoning, and self-control was activated.

This means that sometimes our unconscious mind will work even more effectively than our conscious mind to assist us in knowing what is going on in the world. At other times our unconscious mind won’t even be aware of what we are doing. The writer of this article felt that when the unconscious mind is not being triggered we have the conscious free will to decide what we want to be doing.
(Reported in Discover, Oct 2008)

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