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Subliminal 2: Senses Plus Mind Equals Reality

01/08/2013
The two-tier system of the brain. . . how you can see something without knowing it
There’s a brief intro to the forerunners of study into the subconscious mind, with people like William James and Freud of course, as well as some other lesser knowns.
A few pieces of evidence here might convince a skeptic of how significant the subconscious mind is to our lives, even though we pretty much never notice it. First, deep concentration increases the energy consumption of the brain by only 1 percent, which makes even heavy conscious thought seem less important a brain function than the many unconscious processes. Next, people who lose their conscious ability to see can still have “blindsight” which is basically a subconscious processing of visual data that is always “on,” but that no amount of introspection could discover.
What the rest of the chapter seems to prove is that even in normal minds, the visual picture that we all have is the result of a huge amount of subconscious processing that we are not able to perceive. Our eyes never stop moving back and forth (the microsaccades), and our vision is only any good in an area about the size of a thumbnail held at arms length. The raw data that comes in is very, very little, but our minds construct the general picture without our conscious knowledge.

 Kindle Notes:

it is the unconscious tier that is the more fundamental. It developed early in our evolution, to deal with the basic necessities of function and survival, sensing and safely responding to the external world. It is the standard infrastructure in all vertebrate brains, while the conscious can be considered an optional feature. In fact, while most nonhuman species of animals can and do survive with little or no capacity for conscious symbolic thought, no animal can exist without an unconscious (540).

Some scientists estimate that we are conscious of only about 5 percent of our cognitive function. The other 95 percent goes on beyond our awareness and exerts a huge influence on our lives—beginning with making our lives possible (562).

Note: Who?

Deep concentration causes the energy consumption in your brain to go up by only about 1 percent. No matter what you are doing with your conscious mind, it is your unconscious that dominates your mental activity—and therefore uses up most of the energy consumed by the brain (572).

In fact, if you hold your arm out and gaze at your thumbnail, the only part of your field of vision with good resolution will be the area within, and perhaps just bordering, your nail (784).

The blind spot, saccades, poor peripheral vision—all these issues should cause you severe problems (793).

The world we perceive is an artificially constructed environment whose character and properties are as much a result of unconscious mental processing as they are a product of real data. Nature helps us overcome gaps in information by supplying a brain that smooths over the imperfections, at an unconscious level, before we are even aware of any perception (839).

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