Spring 1998 Midterm Exam


Cognitive Science 102/Psychology 129

Scientific Studies of Consciousness


Spring 1998


Midterm Examination


Answer one (1) question within each of the following categories. This examination is worth 60 points total. Bear in mind that this is a midterm examination, and constrain your responses accordingly. You are not expected to write extensive essays, but do write complete sentences.


Category 1: Introduction (10 points)

1. Thomas Nagel (1979) has argued that there is something it is like to be conscious. What does he mean by this? Define each of the following three aspects of the phenomenal experience of consciousness, and give an example of what you mean by each: (1) mental faculty, (2) qualia, and (3) intentionality.

2. Owen Flanagan has given four reasons why cognitive psychology and cognitive science might get along perfectly well without taking any interest in consciousness at all: positivistic reserve, piecemeal approach, conscious inessentialism, and epiphenomenalist suspicion. Summarize each of these reasons.

3. Distinguish among the following definitions of consciousness: (1) as wakefulness, (2) as awareness, and (3) as executive control.




Category 2: Introspection (10 points)

1. Describe the classical method of analytical introspection. What is the stimulus error and why is it important to avoid it? James (1890) argued that all introspection is really retrospection: what did he mean by this?

2. James (1890) lists five characteristics of conscious thought: thought tends to personal form; within a person, thoughts belong together; thought is in constant change; within each personal consciousness, thought is sensibly continuous; thought deals with objects independent of itself. Briefly explain each of them.

3. Why do Nisbett and Wilson (1977) argue against introspective access to higher-level mental processes?




Category 3: The Mind-Body Problem (10 points)

1. Characterize each of the following forms of dualism: (1) substance dualism, (2) interactionist dualism, (3) property dualism (the dual-aspect theory), and (4) psychophysical parallelism.

2. Characterize each of the following forms of materialism (or materialistic monism): (1) epiphenomenalism, (2) behaviorism, (3) identity theory, and (4) eliminative materialism.




Category 4: Automaticity (10 Points)

1. Distinguish between the early-selection and late-selection models of attention. What experimental findings motivated each model? How do capacity theories of attention differ from filter theories?

2. What are the characteristics of automatic processing? Which features did Hasher and Zacks (1979) add to the concept as originally articulated by Posner & Snyder (1975), Schneider & Shiffrin (1977), et al? For each characteristic, give a definition or an example.

Category 5: Implicit Cognition (10 points)

1. What evidence led some theorists to propose an association between consciousness and hemispheric specialization? What is the nature of this association? Does the purported association stand up against the characteristics of consciousness implied in the questions of Category 1, above?

2. Distinguish between explicit and implicit expressions of memory, and give an example of each kind of memory task. What does it mean to say that explicit and implicit memory can be dissociated from each other? What evidence shows that these two expressions of memory can be dissociated?

3. Distinguish between explicit and implicit expressions of perception, and give an example of each kind of perceptual task. What is the difference between implicit perception and subliminal perception? What evidence shows that explicit and implicit perception can be dissociated?



Category 6: Sleep and Dreams (10 points)

1. What are the characteristics of daydreams, and how do these characteristics compare to the dreams experienced while asleep?

2. Describe each of the following hypotheses concerning the forgetting of dreams, and at least one piece of empirical evidence bearing on each: (1) interference, (2) salience, (3) repression, (4) state-dependency.

3. Briefly characterize the following theories of dreaming: (1) Hobson & McClarley's "activation-synthesis" theory, and (2) Foulkes's cognitive theory of dreaming. Describe one point on which the two theories differ.

4. Briefly describe the physiological characteristics, and the associated mental characteristics, of the various stages of sleep (wakefulness, drowsiness, Stages 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, Stage 4, and Stage REM).