unconscious attention

kenneth paul collins KPCollins at postoffice.worldnet.att.net
Wed Nov 20 11:26:56 EST 1996

crosley at tcp.co.uk wrote:

>   Re "unconscious attention". A form of unconscious attention
>      is intention. Where attention refers to selection of input,
>      intention refers to selection of output. Thus many skilled
>      motor actions are controlled by a motor plan which intention
>      sets into effect. e.g. the golfer sets up his stance and then
>      for a good shot he allows his intention to take over. Too
>      much conscious attention to his shot results in a poor shot.
>      Accidents occur when intention inhibits attention. Thus the
>      motorist approaching a junction may observe that the other
>      road is clear and drive on, not perceiving that the car in
>      front is still stationary.
>      See my paper in press in J. Int. Psychophysiol. probably
>      published in December.

Nice touch: "See my paper in press in J. Int. Psychophysiol. probably 
published in December." Between now & December, I'll "unconsciously 
attend" to what you say about your paper being published :-).

On "intention": I agree with you. I once got sideways at speed on a 
motorcycle because my "intention" was split between two alternatives. 
I was on a favorite high-speed practice circuit, taking things out to 
the edge in this safe place in order to prepare my nervous system (in 
order to "learn") to make the necessarily-quick transitions that are 
required when folks look a motorcyclist right in the eye and still 
pull out in front of him (an example that is precisely in line with 
the stuff of your msg, and which, as any experienced motorcyclist 
knows, happens routinely).

Anyway, just as I was coming to a bifurcation point on this practice 
circuit - a point where I'd either practice a high-speed left or right 
turn, I overtook an extremely-slow vehicle that was proceding a bit 
irratically - like they were lost. There was a moment of "indicision", 
and wouldn't you know it? The course that I steered was precisely 
between the 2 corning routes. Shortly thereafter was when things got 
sideways a bit. Fortunately, my bike (Honda NT 650 GT "Hawk") was so 
well engineered that when my "intentional" decision was worked out, a 
tiny wrist motion brought the bike into a line beautifully. The bike 
went where one thought (except on oil-soaked pavement, but that's 
another story).

"Intentional" stuff =is= a form of "unconscious attention". Everything 
that eventually makes it into "consciousness" has neural underpinnings 
which has physical existence for easily-detectable periods =before= 
this or that arises in consciousness (all of this stands verified 
experimentally). In my example, above, such dynamics included 
preparations for turning. A motorcycle constitutes particularly- 
fertile grounds for a cognitive exploration of this stuff. If one 
turns one's "attention" inward while riding at speed in the twisties, 
one always "sees" immediately that one's body is "attending" to the 
riding task in myriad ways. Every muscle of the body is adjusted just 
so. The clearness of one's "consciousness" can only be described as 
something "fierce" - all knife-edged (one of the reasons riding a 
motorcycle is so rewarding). But when one looks "inward", one "sees" 
that there is all of this beautifully-orchestrated "unconscious 
attention" taking care of business, adjusting one's body posture in an 
elegant "dance" that's choreographed in a fashion sculpted in 
precision with respect to the meandering of the road, with respect to 
the undulation of the surface, always on guard for traces of sand, 
leaves, intruding vehicles, animals (there are no pedestrians on the 
ride-at-speed routes, which is the result of more "unconscious 
attention"). And throughout all of this, one's experiencing of the 
look-of-the land is oft-times, heightened - little snippets of this or 
that roadside scene are just burned into memory. I once came around a 
bend the Berkshires and encountered two Bald Eagles that were feeding 
on road kill. At my approach, one of them jumped hurriedly into 
flight. My speed carried me right under this eagle while it was still 
laboring to lift itself above my height. As I passed under it, it 
extended its legs and struck out at me, all talons-bristling. 

Throughout all of this, although I was at-speed, I'd adjusted my 
course (good bike :-) to avoid the feeding national treasures, and 
everything within me responded in the well-orchestrated way that was 
required if all three parties, there were to have a good day. All of 
this would have been flat-out impossible if it were not the case that 
my nervous system was "unconsciously attending" to the demands of 
riding at speed.

But one doesn't need a motorcycle to flat-out "see" "unconscious 
attention". Such shows up on PET scans with respect to all manner of 
cognitive functioning - typing at one's keyboard for instance. And 
when one looks, one finds that errors which will unfold are 
predetermined in the "subconscious" neural dynamics which precede 
incorrect behavioral manifestations (AoK, Ap5: "dynamic suborinate 
coupling" among sensory and motor mirror-image maps and "supersystem 
reconfiguration" deriving from TD E/I(up) "mismatches). The thing is 
settled =before= that which is referred to as "consciousness" happens. 
If the thing that happens prior is denied, then one is required to 
invoke some sort of nonsensical "magic" if one wishes to attempt to 
explain "consciousness" (not that "consciousness" is not Wonderful 

All of this discussion which treats "consciousness" as something 
that's, somehow, "disconnected" from the neural dynamics is "just" 
flat-out Ignorant of the neural dynamics.

As always, everything that's been discussed here reduces to WDB2T 
(what's described by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics).

[Sidebar arising from within my ongoing "unconscious attention": I 
suggest that Folks take a "minute" to consider how that which 
transpires in this newsgroup will be viewed by future workers. All of 
the "tests" will be "seen" for what they are. What are they? "Attend" 
to your "unconsciousnesses" a bit. "Listen" to TD E/I(up/down). The 
"tests" are hallmarks of Ignorance. And, after their weeping ceases, 
the future folks will be midnight amused at how willingly folks have 
trampled themselves... needlessly. I've been offering to lock myself 
in the Neuroscience stacks with any group of inquisitors who might be 
inclined to join me there. No takers. Just these "clever" "tests" 
which attempt to sustain the dictatorial "rule" of this or that 
merely-familiar Ignorant notion. ("PTOFA".) The best way is to procede 
forthrightly. Human beings are capable of conversation, and when 
there's something important to discuss, it's best to get together to 
discuss such in person, like people do. These online "tests" are 
futile because closure was achieved in DT the better part of two 
decades ago. All that's happening with all these "clever tests" is 
that the sad Truth is being writ large for the understanding of future 
generations. They will see how it was that folks entrusted with 
understanding chose to respond to such Trust in ways which only 
perpetuated Savagery. Hey! Maybe that's it. Perhaps the community of 
researchers decided a decade, or more, ago, to do a "Jamestown", 
taking the whole of Earth's population with it, rather than accept 
Forgiveness, and turn away from Ignorance? Yeah, that must be it. How 
else can the possibility of "Yugoslavia"-like dynamics, armed with the 
spill-over from the only-loosely-controlled "Soviet" nuclear arsenal 
be explained. The community of researchers is involved in a deadly 
Cover up. They are joined in it by "journalism", and steered into it 
by non-elected "government" cadres... the "intelligence" community. 
Gheesh. Looks like I'm going to die laughing... the "intelligence" 
community :-)

Enough satire. If there's anyone, anywhere who wants to write a 
different record for future folks to read, please, let's begin.] 

ken collins

People hate because they fear, and they fear because
they do not understand, and they do not understand 
because hating is less work than understanding.

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