What Are the Difficulties Encountered by Psychologists in Studying Consciousness? to What Extent Have Theory and Research in Cognitive Psychology Helped Overcome These Difficulties?

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What are the difficulties encountered by psychologists in studying consciousness? To what extent have theory and research in cognitive psychology helped overcome these difficulties? Consciousness is an umbrella term utilised to refer to a variety of mental phenomena. Cognitive psychologists have focused their efforts in understanding access consciousness, or how information carried in conscious mental states is available to different cognitive processes. This is linked to attention and working memory. However, consciousness is difficult to quantify and hence most pieces of research study consciousness by contrasting the characteristics between conscious and unconscious processes. Although with some limitations, research has provided…show more content…
reaching towards fast-moving stimuli (Zeki and ffytche, 1998). Likewise, damage to the fusiform face area causes prosopagnosia, although patients still demonstrate autonomic arousal when presented with a familiar face (Pike and Edgar, 2010). These and other studies of altered function following localised brain damage make ffytche (2000, as cited in Andrade, 2010) argue for the modularity of consciousness. Beyond theory building, these examples are essential tools for the study of the neural basis of visual awareness. Areas within the prefrontal, parietal and temporal cortex are typically active during conscious processing (Logothetis, 1998). Additionally, the relationship between attention and consciousness is an intimate one. Paying attention brings objects to consciousness whilst they fade away once attention shifts. This is why Naish (2010, p.59) states ‘attention is the process which gives rise to conscious awareness’. The need for attention in conscious processing is demonstrated in change blindness (changes in a viewed scene are not detected, e.g. Simons and Levine, 1998) or inattentional blindness (not being able to perceive things that are in plain sight, e.g. Simons and Chabris, 1999). Moreover, masking experiments are a powerful tool to study the relationship between consciousness and attention. Masking refers to the reduction of visibility of a target caused by presentation of a

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