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The unconscious understands the abstract information learned.

Updated: May 29, 2022

(Cognitive science) In coaching, rewriting the unconscious is a powerful means of achieving the goal.

By studying "Study of Consciousness", I would like to think about my method and the coaching theory, such as unconscious rewriting.

This series of blog posts is my study note.


Last time, I analyzed information from patients with brain damage, which seems to separate consciousness and unconsciousness. This time is an experiment on a normal brain.

  • Is the normal brain still unknowingly processing images?

  • Does the cortex of the brain function without awareness?

  • Are advanced functions such as reading comprehension and calculations unknowingly performed?

Stanislas Duanne's lab used brain imaging to discover that invisible words and numbers reach deep into the cortex.

They can display the image for tens of milliseconds while being invisible to the subject by masking.

Masking is a method of displaying other shapes immediately before and after an essential item that you want to hide from your consciousness.

To what part of the brain does this masked image reach?

In Duanne's lab, we used a clever "fighting to prime" technique to confirm it.

The sub-threshold priming experiment proceeded as follows.

  • Immediately after flashing a word or picture (prime) below the threshold, the visible item (target) is displayed.

  • This experience has been tried several times, and the target may be the same as the prime or different.

  • For example, after flashing the word "house" invisible to the subject as a prime, display the word "radio" long enough to be conscious.

  • The subject is unaware of the hidden words and focuses only on the visible target.

  • Therefore, the research team decided to have the subject press one of the two keys to measure how long it would take to recognize the target.

We now know that priming information can be abstract.

Priming works even if you present the prime in lowercase (radio) and the target in uppercase (RADIO).

These two words are quite different in shape. I don't think you can understand it in a country that doesn't use the alphabet.

The lowercase "a" is not precisely like the uppercase "A".

In short, cultural conventions only recognize that these two shapes represent the same letter.

Experiments have shown that uppercase and lowercase letters indicate the same thing is unconscious and processed in the early stages of the visual system.

Despite the superficial changes in the shape of the letters, the brain can quickly recognize the identity of the letters at first glance.

It shows that you quickly understand the abstract information you have learned.

In addition, the laboratory has overturned the old way of thinking about the brain's pathways through which information is transmitted.

As a result of acquiring whole-brain images affected by subthreshold priming using fMRI,

They found that a large part of the ventral visual cortex was unknowingly activated.

Until this experiment was conducted, the classification of "ventral pathway = consciousness, dorsal pathway = unconsciousness" was standard. Still, the ventral visual cortex is also related to unconsciousness.

By showing that the ventral pathways involved in the identification of images and words can also function unknowingly, this experiment demonstrates that both neural circuits are capable of functioning sensibly. I did.

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