Conscious thoughts from reflex-like processes: A new experimental paradigm for consciousness research

Consciousness and Cognition 22 (4):1318-1331 (2013)
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Abstract
The contents of our conscious mind can seem unpredictable, whimsical, and free from external control. When instructed to attend to a stimulus in a work setting, for example, one might find oneself thinking about household chores. Conscious content thus appears different in nature from reflex action. Under the appropriate conditions, reflexes occur predictably, reliably, and via external control. Despite these intuitions, theorists have proposed that, under certain conditions, conscious content resembles reflexes and arises reliably via external control. We introduce the Reflexive Imagery Task, a paradigm in which, as a function of external control, conscious content is triggered reliably and unintentionally: When instructed to not subvocalize the name of a stimulus object, participants reliably failed to suppress the set-related imagery. This stimulus-elicited content is considered ‘high-level’ content and, in terms of stages of processing, occurs late in the processing stream. We discuss the implications of this paradigm for consciousness research.
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Archival date: 2016-05-20
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References found in this work BETA
The Theory of Event Coding (TEC): A Framework for Perception and Action Planning.Hommel, Bernhard; Müsseler, Jochen; Aschersleben, Gisa & Prinz, Wolfgang

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Citations of this work BETA
Homing in on Consciousness in the Nervous System: An Action-Based Synthesis.Morsella, Ezequiel; Godwin, Christine A.; Jantz, Tiffany K.; Krieger, Stephen C. & Gazzaley, Adam
External Control of the Stream of Consciousness: Stimulus-Based Effects on Involuntary Thought Sequences.Merrick, Christina; Farnia, Melika; Jantz, Tiffany K.; Gazzaley, Adam & Morsella, Ezequiel
Involuntary Entry Into Consciousness From the Activation of Sets: Object Counting and Color Naming.Bhangal, Sabrina; Merrick, Christina; Cho, Hyein & Morsella, Ezequiel

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