Friday, January 25, 2013

Mind Time 2: Implications for Mental Functions 1

The second set of quotations from the ``Mind Time'', Chapter 3: Unconscious and Conscious Mental Functions.

Recall that in the time-on theory, the feature that adds awareness to an otherwise unconscious psychological function is a substantial increase in the duration (time-on) of the appropriate neuronal activities. The theory suggests or leads to the following views.
(1) Perhaps all conscious mental events actually begin unconsciously before any awareness appears. We already have the experimental evidence that this situation occurs in the case of a bodily sensation, and also for the internally generated awareness of the intention to perform a voluntary act (see Chapter 4). That is, to elicit any such awareness requires a substantial duration of cerebral activities. That means that unconscious, shorter-lasting cerebral activities have preceded the delayed conscious event. ...
Application of such a principle to internally generated thinking and emotional feelings introduces a very interesting attribute. Thoughts of various kinds, imaginations, attitudes, creative ideas, solving of problems, and so on initially develop unconsciously. Such unconscious thoughts only reach a person's conscious awareness if the appropriate brain activities last a long enough time.
(2) Vocalizing, speaking, and writing fall into the same category; that is, they are all likely to be initiated unconsciously. ... this means that the process to start speaking, and even the content of what is to be spoken, has been initiated and prepared unconsciously before the speaking begins. ...
In smoothly flowing speech, words are allowed to appear ``on their own,'' in other words, they are initiated unconsciously. ... there is the event recounted by Bertrand Russel after a late night talk with Lady Ottoline. Russel wrote, ``I did not know I loved you till I heard myself telling you so---for one instant I thought, `Good God, what have I said?' and then I knew it was the truth.'' ... And, there is the elegant statement by writer E. L. Doctorow, ``I love to have my mind flowing through sentences and making discoveries, to trust the gift of writing and see what it will deliver me in to.'' ...
(3) The playing of a musical instrument, like the piano or violin, or singing must also involve a similar unconscious performance of the actions. ... Smoothly expressed music with heartfelt and spiritual feelings, is produced when the performer allows the expression to arise without conscious specifications, in other words, to arise unconsciously. ...
(4) All quick behavioral, motor responses to a sensory signal are performed unconsciously. These are responses that can be made within 100-200 msec after the signal, well before awareness of the signal could be expected. Many actions in sports fall into this category. ...
I might even add that great athletes in general, are those who can let their unconscious mind take over without interference from the conscious mind. ...
(5) Unconscious mental functions can proceed at higher speed ... the effective time-one for neural activities in unconscious functions can be very short indeed---about 100 msec or less. This implies that the series of unconscious processes involved in solving a problem can proceed speedily, each brief process after another. ...
(6) The appearance of a conscious experience has an all-or-nothing character ... That is, there is no reportable conscious awareness of an event even if the appropriate neuronal activities persist for as much as 90 percent of the 500 msec required for actual threshold awareness. ... --- pp. 107--112, Mind Time

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