2
$\begingroup$

I've been wondering how a person would be affected if brain activity that is normally done automatically and unconsciously in a normal human being has to be done consciously by him, or vice versa.

For example, I have seen videos of mathematical savants where they describe their mental mathematical calculation process to be unconscious rather than conscious. They would say things like, "I see many colorful shapes and colors, then suddenly I know the answer to the equation." Whereas for the average person, calculating math mentally is a conscious activity.

What difference does it make if a thought is processed consciously or unconsciously? Would the brain scan look different?

Also, I'd like to read more on this topic, but don't know how to go about searching on the internet because I don't know what the topic is called. Would be very helpful if you could suggest readings or topics I can search for. Thank you!

$\endgroup$
6
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ There are examples of people whose automatic control of walking and other movements is destroyed, but who are consciously able to move their limbs. They stumble around quite a bit, because such a simple thing as walking is in fact so complex that the conscious mind is overtaxed by it. Conscious thinking is very uncomplex and linear compared to the complexities and multi-tasking of uncounscious "thinking". This becomes apparent also when you look at how people learn to drive a car: only when they no longer have to think about what they do, do they stop becoming a danger ... $\endgroup$
    – user3116
    Jul 26 '15 at 11:21
  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking also of types of thinking that can be done better consciously than unconsciously. For example if we fear something instinctively, we can override it consciously. $\endgroup$ Jul 26 '15 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer @what. I'm trying to think of more examples to illustrate my point, but can't seem to. I'll write back when I do think of more. $\endgroup$ Jul 26 '15 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting question! Thinking consciously or unconsciously, what type of differences you refer to? brain activities? If we use brain image technique, we may expect to see differences in data undergo these two thinking mechanisms. $\endgroup$
    – Sophy
    Aug 18 '15 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, exactly! I was wondering if the brain scan would be different. For the same task, would we use more of the brain if we do it unconsciously or consciously? I guess if we use more of the brain, the outcome should be better. $\endgroup$ Aug 19 '15 at 1:52