Psychiatry and Microstates of the Brain’s Electric Field: Towards the “Atoms of Thought and Emotion”
A primary characteristic of conscious private experiences is their sequential occurrence; one thought or idea is followed by the next one. The speed of this sequence varies and in extreme stages might become a hallmark of psychopathology. The apparent “size” of the momentary private experience, i.e., the magnitude (in terms of chunks of information, or better, in terms of topics) of what is being held in consciousness at a given moment in time appears to be limited. There are the famous 7 ± 2 items which can be held in short-term memory. One cannot pay full conscious attention to several things simultaneously (the “party conversation problem”). It thus appears that, in normal states, one cannot mentally treat several problems simultaneously. Aberrations from this rule, for instance coexistence of several hallucinatory experiences or coexistence of reality-induced and hallucinatory experiences, are recognized as typical of hypnagogic states at sleep onset (“synesthesia”) or as pathological.
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