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Lecture 2

Psychology 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Circadian Clock, Circadian Rhythm, Visual Agnosia

Course Code
PSYCH 1000
Derek Quinlan

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Chapter 6 Psych 1000 Week 5
States of Consciousness
States of consciousness: pattern of subjective experience, a way of experiencing
internal and external events
Altered states of consciousness: variation from our normal waking state
The Puzzle of Consciousness
Consciousness: our moment-to-moment awareness of ourselves + environment
Consciousness is…
(1) Subjective and private
(2) Dynamic (ever-changing)
(3) Self-reflective and central to our sense of self (e.g., feeling itch)
(4) Intimately connected with the process of selective attention
o Focuses conscious awareness on some stimuli to the exclusion of
Measuring States of Consciousness
(1) Self-report
Most common
People describe their inner experiences
Most direct sight into person’s subjective experience
Not always verifiable
(2) Physiological measures
Establishes correspondence between bodily states and mental processes
Objective measure
Cannot tell us what a person is experiencing subjectively
(3) Behavioral measures
e.g., rouge test
Objective measure
However, must infer the person’s state
Levels of Consciousness: Psychodynamic & Cognitive Perspectives
Freud proposed human mind consists of three levels of awareness:
(1) Conscious
o Thoughts, perceptions, mental events we are currently aware of
(2) Preconscious
o Outside current awareness
o However, easily recalled under certain conditions
o e.g., thinking of a childhood friend/memory you never think about
(3) Unconscious
o Cannot be brought into conscious awareness under ordinary
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Chapter 6 Psych 1000 Week 5
o Kept out of conscious awareness because it would arouse anxiety,
guilt, or other negative emotions (e.g., sexual drives)
Non-conscious processes influence behavior (e.g., placebo effect)
The Cognitive Viewpoint
Conscious and unconscious life are complementary forms of info processing
Controlled vs. Automatic Processing
Controlled (effortful) processing: voluntary use of attention + conscious effort
e.g., planning a vacation
Automatic processing: activities performed with little/no conscious effort
Routine actions, well-learned tasks
e.g., typing
Disadvantage: reduces chances of finding new ways to approach problems
o Controlled = more flexible and open to change
Divided Attention
= Ability to perform more than one activity at a time
e.g., we can talk while we walk
Without divided attention, every task would require full attention
Has limits, and is more difficult when tasks require similar mental resources
e.g., simultaneous earphone message (Ch. 5)
Adaptive, but can have serious negative consequences is some situations
e.g., talking on phone while driving; accidents, speeding, etc.
The Emotional Unconscious
Emotional/motivation processes operate unconsciously and influence behavior
e.g., have you ever been in a bad/good mood w/o knowing why?
Influences by events in environment you were not consciously aware of
Study: subliminally presented students with nouns
o Strongly neg., mildly neg., mildly pos., strongly pos.
o Strongly neg. = displayed saddest mood
o Strongly pos. = displayed happiest mood
The Neural Basis of Consciousness
Windows to the Brain
Two disorders that impair conscious perception:
(1) Visual agnosia
(2) Blindsight
Visual agnosia: inability to visually recognize objects
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Chapter 6 Psych 1000 Week 5
Patient D.F.:
o CO accident, primary visual cortex severely damaged
o Cannot recognize faces of friend/relatives
o Cannot identify simple objects by sight
o Could recognize people’s voices and recognize objects by touch
o Hand correctly corresponds to grasp the object
Why can’t D.F. recognize objects and faces?
o A: there are multiple pathways for processing visual info in brain
o Path 1: carries info to support unconscious guidance of movement
o Path 2: info to support brain areas that perform tasks related to
perception, memory, emotion, etc., and this pathway is accessible
to conscious awareness
o Path 1 = intact, path 2 = damaged
People with visual agnosia are not blind
Blindsight: cannot see
Can respond to visual stimuli in special tests
Consciousness & the Modular Mind
Consciousness is not from one part of the brain; many modules working together
The modules process info in parallel; i.e., simultaneously and independently
There can be cross-talk between the modules
e.g., formula recalled from memory can become input for problem-solving
modules that allow you to compute answers during math exam
Another view: consciousness is global workspace
Represents the unified activity of many modules in different areas of brain
Subjectively, we experience consciousness as unitary
Do not experience it as patchwork of different modules and circuits
e.g., listening to a choir sing
Circadian Rhythms: Our Daily Biological Clock
= Every 24 hr., our body temperature, certain hormonal secretions, and other
bodily functions undergo a rhythmic change that affects our mental alertness and
readies our passage back and forth between states of wakefulness and sleep
Keeping Time: Brain & Environment
Suprachiasmatic nucleus: regulates circadian rhythms; in hypothalamus
The brain’s “clock”
Genetically programmed cycle of activity and inactivity
Link to pineal gland, which secretes melatonin
i.e., hormone that has a relaxing effect on the body
SCN neurons during daytime:
Become active
Reduce pineal gland’s secretion of melatonin
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