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Lecture 7


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Simon Fraser University
PSYC 100
Sherri Atwood

1 States of Consciousness Consciousness – awareness of ourselves and our environment • Subjective/private – nobody knows what you feel • Dynamic – states of consciousness fluctuate/change throughout the day • Self-reflective – we are aware of ourselves • Selective attention – focus on X and not Y Studied by EEG (while you’re sleeping), self-report, and behavioural tasks Controlled or Effortful Processing – focus your attention; voluntary Versus Automatic Processing – little or no conscious effort; routines or well-learned tasks • Controlled is more flexible – more open to doing things other ways when learning You can divide your attention because of automatic processing • However, if 2 or more tasks require the same mental processes, we aren’t so good at either Circadian rhythms – daily biological cycles; bodily rhythm that occurs over a 24-hour period; the biological clock • Every 24 hours body temperature, certain hormones, and bodily functions undergo rhythmic change that affects mental alertness and gets us ready to sleep and wake • Regulated by the SCN in the hypothalamus; it responds to light and triggers the pineal gland to decrease melatonin ◦ SCN is the brain’s “clock” • During the day, SCN neurons are active and reduce melatonin production; at night, they’re inactive, allowing melatonin to increase • Environment helps to keep SCN neurons on a 24-hour clock Free running circadian rhythm is 24.2 – 24.8 hours • When this happens you tend to go to bed later each day Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – person experiences depression during the winter and an improvement of mood during spring • Treatments are phototherapy or exposure to fluorescent light ◦ Inconsistent findings related to effectiveness of treatments Forms of Consciousness: • Spontaneously (daydreaming, drowsiness, dreaming) • Physiologically induced (hallucination, orgasm, food or oxygen starvation) • Psychologically induced (sensory deprivation, hypnosis, meditation) Synchronises, coordinated brain activity is a sign that conscious activity is occurring • Activities that go over the threshold for conscious awareness – memory, language, attention Brain activity related to pushing a button happens before you’re aware of the decision to push the button Do you think before you act? Is “decision” an illusion? • Possible benefit of this is not having to think about everything we do all at once 2 States of Consciousness Is sleep a state of consciousness? We move in bed but don’t fall out, we incorporate real-world noises in our dreams, some noises wake us more easily than others Learning about sleep and dreams – monitoring EEG, muscle movements, expose sleeping person to noises, wake people to see which mental states goes with which body/brain state Why we sleep – Protective role in human evolution, brain restoration, repair of damaged neurons, store and rebuild memories of day’s experiences, promotes creative problem solving, encourages growth through pituitary gland secretion of growth hormone Sleep Stages – occurs in repeating 5-stage pattern that occurs over 90 minutes • AWAKE/ALERT – beta waves • RELAXED/DROWSY – alpha waves ◦ When you get more sleepy, alpha waves get more irregular and slower THETA WAVES increase • STAGE 1 – light sleep, theta waves present ◦ Just a few minutes in this stage, some people experience images and sudden body jerks • STAGE 2 – sleep is deepened – sleep spindles appear (periodic one or two second bursts of rapid brain-wave activity) ◦ Muscles relaxed, breathing and heart rate are slower, harder to wake • STAGE 3 – regular appearance of very slow, large delta waves; sleep is deeper than in stage 2 • STAGE 4 – delta waves dominate EEG pattern ◦ After 20-30mins, your EEG pattern changes when you go back to stages 2 and 3, spending a little time in each Stage 3 and 4 referred to as slow-wave sleep. Body is relaxed, activity in various parts of brain decreased, hard to wake 60-90mins of sleep and you will have completed a cycle of stages 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 3 – 2 • REM sleep – where dreams occur. First period lasts 10mins, each episode gets longer, and the last can last an hours. Brain waves similar to wakefulness. Combo of brain excitement and muscular immobility ◦ Heart rate rises, breathing becomes rapid ◦ Sleep paralysis – brain is active but body is not – brainstem is blocking motor cortex’s messages ◦ Genitals are aroused (stay this way even after REM is over) Dreams – Unfolding sequences of thoughts, perceptions, images, and emotions • 4 to 5 episodes per night; longest episodes occur during REM, typically early morning 3 States of Consciousness Sleep Over the Life Span: • Shorter sleep cycles in infancy; 17 hours sleep a day, 50% REM • At age 5, 90min sleep cycles emerge • Childhood to Adulthood,
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