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Variations in Consciousness - PS101 Lecture - October 21st and 24th 2011.docx

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Iuliana Baciu

st th Variations in Consciousness: October 21 and 24 2011:  Blue = Notes from Lecture Orally  Red = Additional Notes from Online Slides  Black = Notes from Lecture in Class (on Slide) Consciousness: Variations in awareness and Control:  Awareness of internal and external stimuli  Changes in the external state of functionality (some people may feel difference in glucose levels, your stomach grumbles when you are hungry) (including events, internal sensations, thoughts, ect.)  William James 1902– recognized that consciousness is always changing when he discussed the “stream of consciousness” (an endless flow of ideas) – factors that change your consciousness/what’s going on - how awake you are (stare of alertness), how hungry you are, how sick you are  Mind wandering  Controlled and automatic processes  Consciousness and brain activity  Sigmund Freud interested in consciousness – particularly what was going on just blew surface of stream. He was one on the 1 theorists to recognize that consciousness isn’t an all or none phenomenon, rather that there are levels of consciousness  Awareness and sleeping researchers also showed that awareness is diff. during sleep and dreaming, but mental processes occur that are quite similar to waking thought and surprisingly sophisticated Featured Study:  Background: People who differ in cognitive abilities sometimes differ in general life experiences;  What about the effects of differences in cognitive ability on people’s experience of their stream of consciousness?  Hypothesis: People low in working memory capacity (WMC) will experience higher frequency of wandering thoughts, as they are less able to regulate their thoughts and behaviour  Working Memory Capacity = limited memory where info is stored for a short period of time (20 sec); handles a variety of tasks, such as rehearsing auditory and visual info, deploying attention as needed, integrating info, and communicating with long term memory  Method:  Participants - 126 undergrad students  Measures – WMC – three measures, scores indexed as high or low  Procedure – Mind wandering frequency – one week, event sampling (writing answers on Q’s asked on personal digital assistants)  Results:  Mind Wandering – 33% of time, more frequently when participants were tired, stressed, or involved in boring activities  Low WMC participants experience mind wandering thoughts more frequently when activities required a lot of effort  Discussion:  WMC correlates with mind wandering, as hypothesized  WMC as executive control: low WMC means deficits in executive control (incapacity to switch attention when needed), which leads to less ability to sustain goal directed thought and behaviour when competing internal or external events occur The EEG: A Physiological Index of Consciousness:  EEG (electroencephalograph) – monitoring of brain electrical activity, it is an instrument used to measure brain activity (brain waves) across large areas of cerebral cortex. It’s basically a physiological index of consciousness  Brain-waves  Amplitude (height)  Frequency (cycles per second o Beta (13-24 cps) – awake, alert; REM sleep – when we have dreams, these are the same frequencies of being awake, these waves correlated with alertness and problem solving o Alpha (8-12 cps) – drowsy, awake, and relaxed - these waves correlated with resting and relaxation o Theta (4-7 cps) – stage 1 sleep – these waves correlated with low alertness and sleep o Delta (under 4 cps) – stage 3 and 4 sleep (deep NREM sleep) - these waves correlated with deep, dreamless sleep Circadian Rhythms Video:  Circadian rhythms are diff. from everyone else – goes to bed at 5:00 pm and wakes up at 2:00 am  Isolation for 28 days – didn’t have any external stimuli  Everyday seems shorter than it actually was (like an early bedtime)  Cause was mutation on circadian rhythm gene  Varying ability in the way that our Circadian Rhythms are formed Biological Rhythms and Sleep:  Circadian Rhythms – 24 hour biological cycles  Regulation of sleep/other body functions (regulation of temp., blood production, hormone production, and other bodily processes)  Circadian rhythms vary from person to person, and diff. people may have diff. optimal times to fall asleep, have a good night’s sleep, ect.  Physiological pathway of the biological clock:  Light levels to retina to suprachiasmatic nucleus of hypothalamus to pineal gland to secretion of melatonin (a hormone that adjusts biological clocks)  Melatonin and circadian rhythms  Melatonin supplements are sold in U.S. as nutritional supplements, but many researchers worry that people are taking too high doses of this substance, when long-term effects haven’t been tested  Melatonin is a regulated drug in Canada, Great Britain, and many other countries. Research shows that it may be helpful in treatment of jetlag, but timing is very important and hard to get right. Studies also show that melatonin may be useful as a mild sedative, more so in daytime than at night, when melatonin levels are naturally higher. Sleep/Waking Research:  Instruments:  Electroencephalograph – records brain electrical activity  Electromyograph – records muscle activity and tension  Electrooculograph – records eye movements  Other bodily functions also observed - They may also record body temperature, breathing rate, heart rate, ect. as well as videotape the person sleeping through a window – people get used to the wires after only 1 night The Stages of Sleep – Exercise:  Body is paralyzed in REM sleep  During night of sleep, you move through many cycles of slow-wave sleep and REM  How brain waves change: ….  1) A cat begins sleeping with its head upright and paws underneath. But soon the cat drops on its side and its head rests on the floor. What do you think is happening to cause the change in position?  2) you may be surprised to hear that sleep-waking, or somnambulism, … Sleep Stages: Cycles through Sleep:  Stage 1: brief, transitional light sleep (1-7 min.)  Alpha > Theta - EEG moves from predominately alpha waves, when the person is just about to fall asleep, to more theta activity  Hypnic jerks - Hypnic jerks, those brief muscle contractions that occur when one is falling asleep, occur in stage 1 sleep  Stage 2: sleep spindles (10-25 min.) - Stage 2 is characterized by more mixed brain wave activity with brief bursts of higher-frequency brain waves, called sleep spindles  Stages 3 and 4: slow-wave sleep (30 min.) - Stages 3 and 4 are characterized by low frequency delta waves. It takes about 30 minutes to reach stage 4, and usually people stay there for about 30 minutes. Then the cycle reverses. When stage 1 should be next in line in the cycle, something interesting happens…rapid eye movement (REM) sleep begins  Stage 5: REM, EEG similar to awake, vivid dreaming (initially a few minutes, progressively longer as cycle through the stages) - REM sleep is characterized by an EEG that looks awake and alert…and by rapidly moving eyes behind the lids, an irregular pulse and breathing rate, and loss of muscle tone. When someone is awakened from REM sleep, they report vivid dreaming  Developmental differences in REM sleep
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