(Marty) #1
Special Report

along multiple tracks. Compared with a computer, our
gray matter chugs along very slowly—but on many par-
allel levels. Researchers often distinguish between two
general strands, however. Nobel laureate in economics
Daniel Kahneman calls them System 1 and System 2.
Others speak of implicit and explicit or hot versus cold
processing. The first strand (System 1, implicit, hot)
refers to the rapid, automatic and uncontrollable work-
ings of the unconscious mind; the other strand (System
2, explicit, cold) describes the slow, more flexible con-
scious processes that are subject to volition. But what
is key in the predictive mind conception of mental
functioning is that these two strands always work in
tandem; in other words, our mind operates both uncon-
sciously and consciously.
The following sentences illustrate the truth of this
assertion: Veery nmoral sopern acn dpeciher eseth
drows. Talhoguh het telters rae ramscbled, ouy houlsd
vahe on ficudiflty unstanddering thaw si geibn dias.
Ouy anc od hist ecabuse fo het sursingpri mautoaticity
fo het brian! Most people will take only a fraction of a
second to become aware of what the next word must be.
The autopilot in our brain anticipates the words and
quickly sorts the scrambled letters.
A big riddle is what precisely distinguishes conscious
from unconscious processes at the neurophysiological
level—and how exactly they interact. According to phi-
losopher Peter Carruthers of the University of Maryland,
College Park, we are aware only of the material in our
working memory: the “user interface,” so to speak. But
working memory holds only a vanishingly small fraction
of the data we take in. We remain unconscious of most of
the input that floods the brain—and feeds System 1,
which processes it automatically and quickly.

What does the brain do with these data? It constantly
peers into the future, considering, What will happen
next? What stimuli are likely to come up? Anything dan-
gerous on the horizon? What are others up to? Such prog-
nostications relate not only to the outer world but to the
internal milieu of our bodies. Seen in this light, our desire
to eat is nothing more than the unconscious anticipation
of an impending loss of energy. Our unconscious aims to
maintain homeostasis, to keep our body (including the

balance of energy intake and use) in a steady state.

Mark Solms of the University of Cape Town in South
Africa, who is a strong proponent of the predictive
mind theory, has added other insights to the neurobio-
logical basis of unconscious and conscious functioning.
In contrast to Freud, he argues that our mind is not
seeking greater consciousness but rather the opposite—

In 1909 a delegation of psychoanalysts, including Sigmund Freud (bottom row, left) and Carl Gustav Jung (bottom row,
right), attended a conference at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., organized by Stanley Hall (bottom row, center). Freud
delivered five lectures.

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