/ Incoherent

Consciousness Threshold Stub

I know this is a week late. It's just this semester has been the work equivalent of being beaten very soundly by attack sparrows. Nothing particularly heavy has come along but there's enough, and it's consistent enough to turn my brain into divisive goo rather than a writer of pseudo-philosophical blog posts. The other night I was near tears over a poorly placed bracket in a perl script if that makes things clearer.

Today I'm going to write a stub on the consciousness threshold since it's a topic that has recently captured my fancy. For the uninitiated -- in psychology the consciousness threshold is the smallest detectable stimulus by a particular entity  -- alternatively the lowest intensity a stimulus can be at to register 50% of the time. As an experimental example, when an image is flashed to a person very quickly and they don't even really have time to register what they are seeing there is often an unconscious processing of these images so that later they can be identified even if the person doesn't recall seeing them consciously[1. Chessman, Jim; Merikle, Philip M. (1984). "Priming with and without awareness". Perception and Psychophysics 36 (4): 387–395.]. In less cumbersome language we're going to talk about subliminal stimuli [2. As much as I hate to use the word "subliminal" as it comes with a certain level of unavoidable cultural baggage].

As I understand it, when a brain processes things novelty is the name of the game. Change, movement, things in the foreground -- these draw our attention. Looking at the exact same thing for a very long time can produce a certain blindness to that thing[3. http://peace.saumag.edu/faculty/kardas/courses/GPWeiten/C4SandP/StimulusFactors.html]. Many psychologists believe this is an example of a sort of two-track mind wherein some tasks are accomplished consciously while others our minds take care of automatically -- however even when the brain automatically processes information we are still on some level aware that we know such things.

This, I think, analogizes well to computer science where we have higher level tasks running on top of lower level ones. An Operating System running on Machine Language etc. This is something I plan on writing about in the future. But since the content of my skull feels more like sludge then it does a thinking organ I figured I'd bring it up to keep the habit and leave it for another, more full post later.