News ID: 120819
Published: 0346 GMT June 24, 2015

Consciousness has less control than believed

Consciousness has less control than believed

Consciousness — the internal dialogue that seems to govern one's thoughts and actions — is far less powerful than people believe, serving as a passive conduit rather than an active force that exerts control, according to a new theory.

Associate Professor of Psychology Ezequiel Morsella suggests that the conscious mind is like an interpreter helping speakers of different languages communicate, Medical Xpress said.

"The interpreter presents the information but is not the one making any arguments or acting upon the knowledge that is shared," Morsella said. "Similarly, the information we perceive in our consciousness is not created by conscious processes, nor is reacted to by conscious processes. Consciousness is the middle-man, and it doesn't do as much work as you think."

Consciousness, per Morsella's theory, is more reflexive and less purposeful than conventional wisdom would dictate. Because the human mind experiences its own consciousness as sifting through urges, thoughts, feelings and physical actions, people understand their consciousness to be in control of these myriad impulses. But in reality, Morsella argues, consciousness does the same simple task over and over, giving the impression that it is doing more than it actually is.

"We have long thought consciousness solved problems and had many moving parts, but it's much more basic and static," Morsella said. "This theory is very counterintuitive. It goes against our everyday way of thinking."

According to Morsella's framework, the free will that people typically attribute to their conscious mind — the idea that our consciousness, as a decider, guides us to a course of action — does not exist. Instead, consciousness only relays information to control voluntary action, or goal-oriented movement involving the skeletal muscle system.

 

 

   
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Resource: Medical Xpress
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