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Body Rhythms and Mental States.docx

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Lawrence Murphy

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Body Rhythms and Mental States Biological Rhythms  A periodic, more or less regular fluctuation in a biological system  Rhythms can be synchronized with external (entrainment) or internal cues (endogenous)  Influence effectiveness of medication, alertness, job performance Circadian Rhythms  Occur approx. every 24 hours (eg. Sleep-wake cycle)  Commonly entrained to external time cues  Endogenous rhythm averages around 24.3 hrs  Removed from cues about 10% of people have clocks running slower and 10% running faster  Increase in accidents at transition to Daylight Savings Time  Controlled by biological clock in suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) o Regulates levels of melatonin secreted by pineal gland Out of Sync?  Internal desynchronization o A state in which biological rhythms are not in phase (synchronized) with one another o Changes in your normal routines can cause desynchronization o May also occur in response to jet lag, rotating shift work, daylight savings time Moods & Long-Term Rhythms  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)  not a form of desynchronization o A disorder in which a person experiences depression during the winter and an improvement in the spring o Treatments may involve phototherapy or exposure to florescent light o Inconsistent findings with respect to prevalence (2-20%) and effectiveness of treatments Moods & Menstrual Cycles  “Premenstrual syndrome” (PMS) o Vague cluster of physical & emotional symptoms associated with the days preceding menstruation that was labeled as an ‘illness’ o Physical symptoms (eg. Cramps, water retention) are common o Emotional symptoms (eg. Irritability, depression) are rare Moods, PMS & Research  Estimates of prevalence range from 13% to “most women”  Expectations and beliefs may be related to PMS symptom reporting  Evidence research suggests it is a social construction The Rhythms of Sleep  During sleep, we cycle between periods of REM & non-REM sleep (~90 minutes) o Rapid eye movement (REM): characterized by eye movement, loss of muscle tone, and dreaming o NON-REM (NREM) sleep: characterized by fewer eye movements than in REM  Divided into 4 stages with different brain waves  Relaxed brain associated with alpha waves The Stages of Sleep  Stage 1 o Feel on the edge of consciousness; light sleep  Stage 2 o Presence of sleep spindles; minor noises won’t disturb you  Stage 3 o Delta waves begin; breathing & pulse have slowed down; hard to awaken  Stage 4 o Delta waves predominant; deep sleep; most likely stage for sleepwalking  REM sleep: increased eye movement, loss of muscle tone and dreaming  light sleep, not the only time we dream Why We Sleep  Exact function of sleep is unclear  Allows for certain processes to occur o Body eliminates waste products from muscles o Repairs cells o Conserves & replenishes energy stores o Strengthens immune system o Necessary for normal mental functioning Sleeplessness  Chronic sleep deprivation o Increases cortisol levels which can impair neurons involved in learning & memory  Chronic insomnia o Difficulty falling or staying asleep; about 3.3 million Canadian adults experience this  Daytime sleepiness linked to inadequate sleep during night, associated with decreased mental performance Sleep Disorders  Sleep apnea o Disorder in which breathing briefly stops during sleep, causing person to choke & gasp and momentarily awake  Narcolepsy o Disorder involving sudden & unpredictable daytime attacks of sleepiness or lapses into REM sleep  REM behaviour disorder o Muscle paralysis associated with REM sleep does not occur, and sleeper (mostly males) may “act out” their dreams Benefits of Sleep  Memory consolidation o Process by which the synaptic changes associated with recently stored memories become durable and stable, causing memory to become more reliable o Linked to REM & slow-wave sleep o May also enhance problem-solving abilities Exploring the Dream World  Most people dream, although may not be aware o Lucid dreams: dream in which the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming, may be able to exert some control over dream  Various theories proposed to explain the purpose of dreams o Psychoanalytic, problem-focused, cognitive, activation-synthesis Dreams as Unconscious Wishes  Psychoanalytic approach to dreaming (Freud)  Dreams provide insight into unconscious wishes & desires – “a royal road to the unconscious” o Manifest content: aspects of dreams that are consciously experienced; may involve “day residue” o Latent content: aspects of dream that are unconscious wishes being expressed symbolically Dreams as Problem-Solving  Problem-focused approach to dreams o Explanation in which the symbols and metaphors in a dream do not disguise its true meaning; they convey it o Dreams often contain material related to our current concerns (eg. Relationships, health) o May provide opportunities to resolve problems Dreams as Thinking  Cognitive approach to dreaming  Dreams reflect modifications of cognitive activity that goes on when we are awake o Eg. Most likely to dream about topics that occupy waking thoughts  Cuts off from sensory input and external feedback during dreaming Dreams as Brain Activity  Spontaneous firing of neurons in pons, cerebral cortex synthesizes signals  tries to interpret them (”I’m running through the woods”)  Activation-synthesis theory of dreaming o Dreaming results from cortical synthesis & interpretation of neural signals triggered by
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