Thursday, April 19, 2007

The New Science of Consciousness By Laurie Nadel, Ph.D.

The term “new science” was first introduced in 1964 by the late Nobel neuroscientist Dr. Roger Sperry (1913 - 1994). It is based on the premise that your consciousness– your point of focus which can be compared to a cursor on your computer screen– can create physical effects in your brain as well as the other way around.

Like most great ideas, the core concept of the new science is simple, but its ramifications are staggeringly complex. Although as few as an estimated 5 percent of scientists accept its basic tenets, the new science is taking hold in the behavioral and social sciences, particularly in cognitive psychology, which emphasizes the importance of such abstract mental processes as intuition, insight, and visual intelligence over external behavior.

Whereas behaviorists believe that they can treat behavior without addressing the mental state, cognitive psychologists say that mental states organize and control behavior. Evolutionary theorists working in biology and related sciences are beginning to accept the new science, too. Because it believes that consciousness can cause physical change, the new science is also referred to as “the consciousness revolution.”

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