1 Consciousness

Experimental Psychology


  1. Ilya Farber PhD1,
  2. William P. Banks PhD2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop204001

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Farber, I. and Banks, W. P. 2012. Consciousness . Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 4:I:1.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Institute of High Performance Computing, Singapore

  2. 2

    Pomona College, Department of Psychology, Claremont, CA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


Attempts to study consciousness scientifically have historically faced unique challenges, but there has been a heartening acceleration of progress in recent decades. After briefly describing the philosophical problems posed by consciousness, we trace the history of scientific approaches within both psychology and neuroscience. The elusive nature of the target phenomena has made progress especially dependent on the development and justification of new experimental techniques, and so we devote special attention to the evolution of methodologies and to the arguments by which new methods have been justified. Specific topics covered include unconscious perception and priming, the construction of perception, volition, dissociative disorders, results from single-cell recording and neuroimaging studies, the neural structure of conscious sensory experience, the binding problem, self-representation, and theories about the neural dynamics and anatomy underlying consciousness. In closing, we discuss future challenges, and draw on a historical parallel to imagine what a fully scientific explanation of consciousness might look like.


  • consciousness;
  • priming;
  • perceptual construction;
  • binding problem;
  • neuronal synchrony;
  • neural correlates of consciousness