Unconscious Mental Processing

Many scientists and philosophers have recognized two different forms of consciousness. First is the state of not being aware or awake, and second is the state of being aware. The former is referred to as "core consciousness," whereas the latter is referred to as "extended consciousness." The bram stem, and the ascending activatmg system in particular, is the part of the bram most directly associated with core consciousness, or unconsciousness in the sense of not being awake. For instance, comas come from damage to this region of the bram stem and render a person unconscious. In contrast, bemg aware and able to reflect on one's knowledge and self is more a function of activity in the prefrontal cortex (the dorsal frontal cortex) (Solms, 2004; Sohns & Turnbull, 2002).

Moreover, a major theme of cognitive psychology over the last 20 years has been the phenomenon of nonconscious mental processmg, or what is referred to as "implicit," "nonconscious," or "automatic" thought and memory (Bargh & Char-trand, 1999; Schacter, 1987). By this, cognitive psychologists are referring to mental processes that are neither in awareness nor under intentional control, and thereby come close to Freud's definition of unconscious. Of course, Freud's concept of the unconscious was more dynamic, repressive, and inhibiting, but—as we see next— cognitive neuroscience is uncovering a similar kind of unconscious.

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