On Consciousness

15 04 2012

Consciousness is a very difficult concept to define, let alone study scientifically. It is often overlooked in introductory psychology classes, I think because discussing it quickly becomes a tangled briar of contradictions and confusion. It’s a shame because it is one of the most important concepts in human experience.

See this recent article in the New York TImes about consciousness and some scientific studies on it. One vexing thing about these studies is the questions of why, when the neocortical regions are inactivated, can participants understand the language used as commands to perform some function? If Wernicke’s area is inactivated by anesthetics, how is the language comprehended? The article does not provide any explanation of this.

The Romance of Neuroticism

1 04 2012

THis week in class we’ll be talking about the Big Five trait model of personality, and one trait is “neuroticism.” An article in today’s NY Times talks about neurosis and the decline of the use of the word neurotic. Check it out here.

Over all, scores on those kinds of questionnaires have not changed much in adults in the United States since the 1950s. But recent studies have found that, among college students, neuroticism levels have increased by as much as 20 percent over the same period.