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Researchers from San Francisco (SF) State University suggest that humans have less control over conscious thoughts than previously assumed.

A thought process in a human brain is often disturbed by certain things or other information including activities such as counting. Such information enters the subconscious brain and deviates one to think about something else, irrespective of the desire of the subject. These dispositions are called sets and Ezequiel Morsella, SF State associate professor of psychology examined how these sets influence human thought process. The research was conducted on 35 students who were informed beforehand to not count an array of objects presented to them. It was observed that students counted the objects involuntarily, in 90 percent of the trials. In the second trial, students were presented with differently colored geometric shapes. The students were asked to either name the colors or count the shapes. It was again observed that the students chose one over the other. Moreover, around 40 percent of the students thought about both sets.

According to Morsella, the brain always opts to process alternative plans while it is performing a desired action. Understanding the mechanism of sets could have implications for the process of absorbing information and the choice of decisions one makes regarding acting on a task. He further stated that conscious mind although insulated from the outside world, is more permeable than previously thought. The human conscious mind is a result of experience one gathers and acts as a ‘prime real estate’ in the cognitive apparatus. This influences both decision-making and action. The new study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology on June 21, 2018, demonstrated that it’s easier to activate sets in people and influence what occupies the brain’s prime real estate. Furthermore, thought processes are stimulated by the environment around the subject.

 

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