Recent Research: Dr. Ezequiel Morsella

Author: admin
April 13, 2016
Ezequiel Morsella

Study shows complex ideas can enter consciousness automatically

It's difficult to look at pictures of cars shown on a computer and then keep yourself from saying "car" inside your head the next time one shows up on the screen — even when someone tells you to avoid saying it. Now, a new study led by SF State researcher Ezequiel Morsella concludes that this same automatic effect can occur with much more complicated mental manipulations — for instance, transforming "car" to the pig latin "ar-cay" in your head after you've been told to avoid that transformation.

This surprising effect offers further evidence that the contents of our consciousness — the state of being awake and aware of our surroundings — are often generated involuntarily, said Morsella, an assistant professor of psychology. In fact, the study published in the journal Acta Psychologica provides the first demonstration that even a small amount of training can cause unintentional, high-level symbol manipulation.

"Symbol manipulations such as mentally rotating an object in space, rearranging words or musical notes, or performing math operations — these processes have been regarded as being more multifaceted, and as having more moving parts, in a sense, than the very different process of automatic memory retrieval," Morsella explained. "Our study reveals that unintentional, unconscious processes can be more sophisticated than what has been thought before."

Read the full article on SF State News