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Consciousness - Lecture Notes

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Kenneth Campbell

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Consciousness - Chapter 3 (Myers) - Studied as a process or as a state - Vegetative state = unconscious Selective (active) attention: - Brain has limited capacity to process information - Observer must choose to become aware of that which is relevant - Requires considerable cortical effort and o Considerable focusing in order to distinguish relevant input from irrelevant input. - Active participation (requires concentration and viliangefatigue) we select the stimuli that impinge on our receptors that we wish to attend. If you do not choose information than = information overload (eg. Schizophrenia) - Also called active attention distinguish whats relevant and irrelevant o Central executive (frontal lobe) determines what is relevant/stores in memory When information matches what is relevant will be remembered (conscious of it) Passive Attention - A second method, passive attention, requires no effort o Certain stimulus force the observer switch attention away from whatever they are doing and now attend to the processing of something that is much more relevant (distraction) o Intrusion into consciousness - Ensures survival forces observer to become aware of potentially relevant input (especially auditory modality) o Intrude the consciousness signal change from the past (those are intense) Capacity Theory - Daniel Kahneman - We have a limited capacity to carry out cognitive tasks. This is because of limited resources (or capacity for processing). A central executive must determine how these resources will be divided. Controlled Processing - Requires effort, processing of one task affects performance on another. - Serial processing: processing of a secondary task cannot begin until the processing of the first task has been completed 1 o Example: Automatic processing detects color automatically whereas controlled processing would determine shapes (not automatically) Automatic Processing - Can cause problems... Might interfere with the processing of another task, without automatic processing performance = better. Multitasking - Parallel processing: more than one task can be carried out simultaneously at no cost (detriment in performance on any of the tasks)... if the resources are available o Also called divided attention - When resources arent available observer must decide which to progress - serial processing (doing multiple tasks, by switching attention from one task to another) o Eg. Generation of technology: texting/driving, studying/listening to music o An insufficient number of resources are being concentrated on the task. Consciousness as a State: Sleep & Wake States Definition of Consciousness: - As a process: process of becoming conscious, selective attention process - As a state: sleep-wake states, conscious waking state, ... Natural Sleep: The loss of consciousness - NREM: - REM (Rapid Eye Movement Sleep): - Sleep is rhythmic - Recording sleep in Humans o Electroencephalogram (EEG), (EMG muscle activity), (other activity respiration, heartbeat/pressure, temperature) to measure - Measuring consciousness o Overt behaviour subject signals awareness o Physiology: EEG, brains response to stimuli (evoked potentials) - EEG & Arousal o Smaller the amplitude the more conscious you are (beta, frequency 15 Hz+ = awake and alert) o Alpha (relaxed), theta (light sleep-drowsiness), delta (deep sleep; coma) - low frequency - Circadian Rhythms 2o Circa (around), di (day) = rhythm around a day, Circadian every 24h, Ultradian within 24h, Mentral every month... Sleep is a circadian rhythm. Sleep is largely biological controlled by detection of light-dark Suprachiasmatic nucleus: - Melatonin released by pineal gland (released during the night) o Administration of melatonin has been shown to decrease motor activity, induce fatigue, lower body temperature. Effects of constant light/darkness - Eg. In the lab, not knowing the time. o Normally sleep on a 24 hour schedule, regulated by light-dark cycle, the suprachiasmatic nucleas detects lightness-darkness and relays info to pineal gland, absence of light releases melatonin o Result: goes to sleep an hour later every time... when constant lightness/darkness - Destruction of suprachiasmatic nucleas would eliminate any type of routine of sleep. Stages of Sleep - Stage 1: lose consciousness and fall into sleep brief period (easily awakened) waking state? - Stage 2 light sleep- not conscious of the outside world - Stage 3-4: Slow Wave Sleep (
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