Given the information below, define and describe:
- What Consciousness is. Note: that no credit will be given for the exact (or very similar) wording listed here or by your classmates (so you’ll want to read your colleagues postings prior to submitting your own).
- What Attention is. Note: that no credit will be given for the exact (or very similar) wording listed here or by your classmates (so you’ll want to read your colleagues postings prior to submitting your own).
- Do we have plenty of attention? (Note the definitions/descriptions below.) What does it mean when many famous cognitive psychologists (e.g., Neisser, 1967) have called attention”the bottleneck of conscious cognition”?
- What does your text (Robinson-Riegler & Robinson-Riegler, 2012) mean when it talks about “The Importance of Executive Attention”? How is attention related? What 3 brain structures/systems are most related to attention?
- What does it mean to say that attention is a skill? What is the difference between controlled processing and automatic processing? (i.e., What are the main criteria?) How is attention related?
- How might your understanding of consciousness and attention be important for you in your own life?
I. William James, 1890, 1892, On Consciousness
“Within each personal consciousness, thought is sensibly continuous. … Consciousness, then, does not appear to itself chopped up in bits. … It is nothing jointed; it flows. A ‘river’ or ‘stream’ are the metaphors by which it is most naturally described. In talking of it hereafter, let us call it the stream of thought, of consciousness, or of subjective life.” – James, William (1892). Psychology: The briefer course. Macmillan. p. 91, underscoring added “The stream of thought flows on; but most of its segments fall into the bottomless abyss of oblivion. Of some, no memory survives the instant of their passage. Of others, it is confined to a few moments, hours, or days. Others, again, leave vestiges which are indestructible, and by means of which they may be recalled as long as life endures. ” – James, William (1890). The Principles of Psychology. Holt. p. 644, underscoring added
Consciousness is “our awareness of internal and external events” (Your text – Robinson-Riegler & Robinson-Riegler, 2012)
II. William James, 1890, On Attention
“Attention … is the taking possession of the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seems several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. Focalization and concentration of consciousness are of its essence. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others, and is a condition which has a real opposite in the confused, dazed, and scatterbrained state which … is called distraction ” James, William (1890). The Principles of Psychology. Holt. pp. 403-404.
Too Simple Definitions or Descriptions of Attention
- Finite Mental Effort
- Limited Concentration
- Internal and External Monitoring (Your text – Robinson-Riegler & Robinson-Riegler, 2012)
- Limited Processing and Ordering of Information (Sternberg)
Optional consciousness and attention article (suggested by Bethany Grant):