[ CogSci Summaries home | UP | email ]

Allen, R. & Reber, A. S. (1999) Chapter 23: Unconscious intelligence. In A Companion to Cognitive Science, Bechtel, W. & Graham, G. (eds) Blackwell, Malden MA.

Author of the summary: Debajyoti Pati, 2000, gte811q@prism.gatech.edu

One of the main debates in regarding unconscious intelligence is in relation to whether such processes are routinized and inflexible, or otherwise. There is increasing evidence that smart processes are in several cases not accessible to consciousness. One such example is unconscious (subliminal) perception, where small but real effects have been revealed. One main finding is that subliminally perceived words are processes semantically, which has been demonstrated in the classic word-stem completion tasks. Subliminally presented messages have been shown to influence memory, and shape the states of perceptual and productive readiness. Moreover, the process also seems adaptive. Unconscious memory or implicit memory is another area demonstrating such smart processes. This has been demonstrated in stem-completion tasks, as well as in dissociation procedures.Unconscious memory acquired in hypnotic and anesthetized states, and experiences of hypermnesia are further evidence of this phenomenon. Implicit memories generally originate in explicit awareness. Learning curve for skills have shown that automatization of skills take place, which frees consciousness from the task of constant monitoring of action. Unconscious emotion and motivation also occur. This is demonstrated in areas of exposure effect. Further, unconscious learning has also been demonstrated. Language acquisition is a good example where people learn without knowing what they learn or how they do it. Artificial grammar learning is a classic example of such a phenomena. Other evidences are provided by serial reaction studies as well as from works with persons with amnesic syndrome.

The necessity of unconscious processes arises from the need for adaptive exploitation of the environment. Unconscious functions play a major role in anticipation, cognitive problem solving and insight; areas vital to survival, and intelligent functioning.

Back to the Cognitive Science Summaries homepage
Cognitive Science Summaries Webmaster:
JimDavies (jim@jimdavies.org)
Last modified: Wed Apr 26 09:49:06 EDT 2000