Behavioral relevance of consciousness for human action: explorations with the simon task paradigm

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2016
Gök, Selvi Elif
The motivation of this thesis is to investigate whether consciousness has an effect on human behaviors. To this aim an exploratory approach is adopted where an experimental design with two parts is developed. In the first part, participants are first presented objects moving to the left or to the right in accordance with a rule (i.e. familiarization phase), and then transferred to a subsequent two-choice stimulus-response task for stimuli presented at the center of the screen (i.e. Simon phase). Although the stimuli in the Simon phase are presented at the center of the screen, it turns into a Simon task depending on the associations between the rule-relevant features and the movement direction of the objects. Five pilot experiments were carried out in order to devise a viable paradigm in which rule-awareness could be facilitated or hindered. The results of Experiment 6 suggest that the perceptual and action associations formed in the familiarization phase have a behavioral effect on the subsequent Simon phase whereby the presence of this effect depends on the consciousness of the rule in the familiarization phase (as assessed by the verbal reports of the participants). However, the results of two follow-up experiments (Experiment 7-8) show that declarative knowledge of the rule is insufficient but consciousness of the rule must emerge through the active seeking of the rule and predicting of its outcomes, which enables the formation and transfer of short-term associations between the rule-relevant perceptual features and spatial response codes corresponding to the movement directions. 

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Citation Formats
S. E. Gök, “Behavioral relevance of consciousness for human action: explorations with the simon task paradigm,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2016.