Re-representing consciousness: dissociations between experience and meta-consciousness

Trends Cogn Sci. 2002 Aug 1;6(8):339-344. doi: 10.1016/s1364-6613(02)01949-6.


A distinction is drawn between non-conscious (unexperienced), conscious (experienced), and meta-conscious (re-represented) mental processes. There is evidence for two types of dissociations between consciousness and meta-consciousness, the latter being defined as the intermittent explicit re-representation of the contents of consciousness. Temporal dissociations occur when an individual, who previously lacked meta-consciousness about the contents of consciousness, directs meta-consciousness towards those contents; for example, catching one's mind wandering during reading. Once meta-consciousness is triggered, translation dissociations can occur if the re-representation process misrepresents the original experience, such as when one verbally reflects on non-verbal experiences or takes stock of subtle or ambiguous experiences.