Foundations of Consciousness (Paperback) book cover

Foundations of Consciousness

By Antti Revonsuo

© 2018 – Routledge

172 pages

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About the Book

The conscious mind is life as we experienceit; we see the world, feel our emotions and think our thoughts thanks to consciousness. This book provides an easy introduction to the foundations of consciousness; how can subjective consciousness be measured scientifically? What happens to the conscious mind and self when the brain gets injured? How does consciousness, our subjective self or soul, arise from the activities of the brain?

Addressing the philosophical and historical roots of the problems alongside current scientific approaches to consciousness in psychology and neuroscience, Foundations of Consciousness examines key questions as well as delving deeper to look at altered and higher states of consciousness. Using student-friendly pedagogy throughout, the book discusses some of the most difficult to explain phenomena of consciousness, including dreaming, hypnosis, out-of-body experiences, and mystical experiences.

Foundations of Consciousness provides an essential introduction to the scientific and philosophical approaches to consciousness for students in psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science, and philosophy. It will also appeal to those interested in the nature of the human soul, giving an insight into the motivation behind scientist’s and philosopher’s attempts to understand our place as conscious beings in the physical world.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements. Preface: Consciousness – The Dark Energy of the Brain? Chapter 1: Psychology and the Scientific Study of Consciousness. Psychology Focuses on the Study of Psychological Reality. Early Psychology as the Science of the Conscious Mind. 20th Century Psychology as the Science of Behaviour, Cognition, and the Unconscious. Psychology without Consciousness: The Baby Was Thrown Out with the Bathwater. 21st Century Psychology Welcomes Consciousness Back. Three Modern Philosophical Problems: "What Is It Like", "The Explanatory Gap", and "The Hard Problem". Some Research Problems in the Science of Consciousness. How do we see? How does visual information processing in our eyes and in the brain turn into vivid, colorful visual experiences in consciousness?. How do all the streams of different types of sensory information processed by our senses and by the brain come to be unified into a single "picture" or a 3-D simulation of the perceptual world?. What happens to consciousness when we act in the "zombie mode"? Do we need consciousness to guide our behaviors at all?. Who is conscious anyway? And how do we know?. What happens to consciousness if the brain is injured?. What happens to consciousness during sleep?. Is hypnosis an altered state?. Can science explain mystical experiences?. Chapter Summary Chapter 2: What Is Consciousness?. The Concept of Consciousness. Phenomenal Consciousness. The structure of phenomenal consciousness. Reflective consciousness: the thinking conscious mind. Self-awareness. Summary: Three core concepts of consciousness. The state of being conscious and the particular contents of consciousness. Consciousness and Behavior: Zombies and Inverse Zombies. Confusing concepts. Consciousness as responsiveness to stimulation. Consciousness as the spotlight of attention. Consciousness as awareness of something. Consciousness and wakefulness. Chapter summary Chapter 3: The Philosophy of Consciousness. Philosophy Probes the Fundamental Questions About Consciousness. The Fundamental Nature of Consciousness. Dualism: The Ghost in the Machine. Monistic Materialism (Physicalism). Reductive materialism. Layers of reality: One or many?. Emergent materialism. Idealism. Neutral monism. Functionalism. The Philosophical Core of the Mind-Body Problem. The Hard Problem and the Explanatory Gap. Have we reached the Limits of Science?. Chapter Summary Chapter 4: The History of Consciousness in Psychological Science. Introduction. Before the Golden Age: A Science of Consciousness Shall Never Be. Prelude to Consciousness Science: The Scientific Measurement of Consciousness. Wilhelm Wundt: The Founding Father of Experimental Psychology. The Atoms of Consciousness: Titchener and Structuralism. Analytic Introspection: The Microscope of Consciousness Science. The Table of Conscious Elements Faces Problems. The Dynamic Stream and the Holistic Field of Consciousness. The Rise and Fall of the First Golden Age. Consciousness Driven to Exile by Behaviorism and Psychoanalysis. Why Psychology Should not be the Science of Consciousness: Part One: Freud and psychoanalysis Part Two: Watson and behaviorism. Cognitive Science: A Science of the Mind, Devoid of Consciousness. Towards the New Golden Age of Consciousness Science Chapter 5: Methods for the Scientific Study of Consciousness. How to Measure Consciousness Scientifically?. Subjective Verbal Reports: Dream Research. Problems with Descriptive Introspection. Content Analysis of Verbal Reports. Experience Sampling Methods. Thinking out Loud. Retrospective Questionnaires. Experimental Methods to Study Consciousness in the Laboratory. Subjective Report Scales. Change Blindness. Inattentional Blindness. Chapter Summary Chapter 6: Neuropsychology and Consciousness. Introduction. Neuropsychology and the Unity of Visual Consciousness. Colors and Visual Consciousness: The Case of Achromatopsia. Visual Agnosia: Loss of Coherent Visual Objects. Neglect: Loss of Phenomenal Space. Dissociations and Consciousness. Blindsight. Implicit Face Recognition in Prosopagnosia. Implicit Recognition of Words and Objects in Neglect. Summary. Deficits of Self-Awareness. Amnesia. Split-Brain. Chapter Summary Chapter 7: The Neural Correlates of Consciousness (NCC). Introduction. Methods in NCC research. NCCs of Consciousness as a State. Vegetative State and Other Global Disorders of Consciousness. NCCs of visual consciousness. Binocular Rivalry Studies. Visual Hallucinations. NCC of Visual Consciousness and the Ventral Stream. NCC of Visual Consciousness and Fronto-parietal Networks. EEG and MEG Experiments on Visual Consciousness. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Studies of Visual Consciousness. Chapter Summary Chapter 8: Dreaming. A Brief History of Dreaming and Consciousness. Hypnagogic and Hypnopompic Hallucinations. Sleep Paralysis. Sleep Mentation vs Dreaming. The Contents of Dreaming. Why do we Dream?. Lucid Dreaming. Bad Dreams and Nightmares. Night Terrors. Sleepwalking and Nocturnal Wandering. REM Sleep Behavior Disorder and Dreamwalking. Chapter Summary Chapter 9: Hypnosis. What is Hypnosis?. Brief History of Hypnosis. Hypnotic Induction and Different Types of Suggestion. Hypnotic Suggestibility. Is Hypnosis an Altered State of Consciousness?. What Happens to Consciousness under Hypnosis?. Theoretical Studies vs Clinical Applications of Hypnosis. Chapter Summary Chapter 10: Higher States of Consciousness. Introduction. Meditation. Optimal Experience and Flow. Runner’s High. Out-of-Body -Experiences (OBEs). Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). Mystical Experiences. Enlightenment: The Highest State of Consciousness?. Chapter Summary. Afterword. Glossary

About the Author

Antti Revonsuo is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Skövde, Sweden, and Professor of Psychology at the University of Turku, Finland. He has been conducting research on consciousness and the philosophical mind-brain -problem since the early 1990s, focusing on dreaming and consciousness and on the neural correlates of visual consciousness. He has published two books on consciousness, Inner Presence: Consciousness as a Biological Phenomenon (MIT Press, 2006) and Consciousness, The Science of Subjectivity (Psychology Press, 2010). Revonsuo is also known for his evolutionary-psychological theory of dreaming, the threat-simulation theory.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Cognitive Psychology