[Neuroscience] Re: Conditioning and consciousness

Glen M. Sizemore via neur-sci%40net.bio.net (by gmsizemore2 from yahoo.com)
Fri Oct 27 05:12:41 EST 2006

MB: It is widely believed that implicit learning (including classical and 
operant conditioning) does not depend on conscious awareness.

GS: Since one meaning of "conscious" and "aware" is simply "behaves" or 
"responds to stimuli," this statement merely points up the conceptual 
confusion that constitutes mainstream psychology and cognitive "science."

MB: However, it seems that if an animal is to learn something through 
conditioning, it should be able to remember past events of the same 
kind--that is it needs retrieval of episodic memory which is not possible in 
the absence of consciousness.

GS: A minority of scientists think that the different kinds of memory ARE 
conditioning phenomena (I am one of them). That is, rather than needing 
"memory" to explain conditioning, the reverse is true. Relatedly, a minority 
of scientists believe that the notion that remembering is a matter of 
"retrieving stored memories" is a bunch of metphoical crap (I am one of 

MB: It follows that, in contrast to the widely held idea, associative 
conditioning requires conscious awareness and is not possible in unconscious 

GS: You are mixing up two different concepts. You can't anesthetize an 
animal and get conditioning (certainly not operant conditioning!), but that 
doesn't mean that conditioning requires "consciousness in the sense of 
self-aware." The Hefferline experiments of decades ago demonstrate 
convincingly that operant conditioning can proceed without "self-awareness" 
even in humans.

MB: If this argument is reasonable, why it is stated in neuroscience 
textbooks that implicit learning does not depend on conscious awareness?

GS: My opinion, again, I that the whole issue reflects the conceptual 
nonsense that is cognitive "science."

MB: Do you know any case of associative conditioning occurring in an 
unconscious animal?

GS: To respond discriminatively to aspects of the world is to "be aware" of 
that aspect. To respond to one's own behavior is to be "self-aware." These 
require two different sets of contingencies of reinforcement.

"Majid Beshkar" <majid.beshkar from yahoo.com> wrote in message 
news:mailman.231.1161916072.23274.neur-sci from net.bio.net...
> It is widely believed that implicit learning (including classical and 
> operant conditioning) does not depend on 

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