Variations in Consciousness
What is Consciousness?
- Don’t mistake a definition with an explanation. (nominal fallacy)
- Awareness of internal and external stimuli
- Epiphenomenalism is the view that mental events are caused by physical events in the
brain, but have no effects upon any physical events. Behavior is caused by muscles that
contract upon receiving neural impulses, and neural impulses are generated by input
from other neurons or from sense organs. On the epiphenomenalist view, mental events
play no causal role in this process. Huxley (1874)
Variation in Levels of Awareness and Control:
William James: Stream of consciousness
Freud: influence of “unconscious” needs, wishes and conflicts.
Levels of awareness:
- Selective sensitivity: Stop responding to continuous sounds. Habituate. Can’t be
conscious or aware of everything. Need to select to function. Have a little bit of control
- Women will respond to babies crying much faster than men. Biological sensitivity. Even
in sleep, we’re somewhat in control.
- Wandering Mind: There are going to be times where you wander.
- 50-55 % of the time.
Sigmund Freud: might be a message what you really care about. Follow your dreams.
Unconscious Thought Effects:
- Sometimes we rely on unconscious thought to make quick decisions.
- Do what feels right. Gut level thinking. Making decisions in “blink of an eye”
Evolutionary roots of consciousness:
- A space. An area where the brain is allowed to make choices where logical thought can
Consciousness and Brain Activity: - Born out of the interplay of many different neural pathways. Brain activity can be
- Neurons fire electrical charges
- Summarizes the rhythm of cortical activity in the brain in terms of line tracings called
- Different patterns. Do not operate independently. Different states of consciousness.
- Correlation between patterns and activity patterns.
- Beta (13-24 cps): Normal waking thought, alert problem solving.
- Alpha (8-12 cps): Deep relaxation, blank mind, meditation.
- Theta (4-7 cps): Light sleep
- Delta (<4 cps): Deep sleep
Biological rhythms and sleep:
- Many rhythms. (Ovarian cycle, cycles of moon, biorhythms)
- Over a day. Go through a number of cycles. Related to levels of logic and attention.
- Sleep debt, body temperatures, shift work.
- Most people are alert during the afternoon.
- Growth hormone peaks during sleep.
- Fall asleep when our body temperature is colder.
- Melatonin: hormone secreted when exposed to light.
- At the end of the day, you have high levels of melatonin.
- Sold to make money.
- M.A.N: Morning-Afternoon-Night (shift work)
- Bad effects of not following Circadian Rhythms
Conducting Sleep Research: (Individual Assessment)
- Instructions: eat normal dinner, bring comfortable clothes and avoid caffeine after noon. - Sleep history: How long does it take you to fall asleep? Do you have trouble staying
asleep? Discomfort in your legs. Do you snore? Do you fall asleep unintentionally during
the day? (apnea restless leg syndrome)
- Hook up to: EMG (electromyography) and EOG (electrooculograph).
- Awake: Low-voltages, beta waves
- Drowsy: Alpha waves prominent
- Stage 1 sleep: Theta waves prominent
- Stage 2: Sleep spindles and mixed EEG activity
- Stage 3+4: Slow wave sleep. Progressively more delta waves.
- REM sleep: low voltage, high frequency waves.
- Everybody sleeps differently.
5 stages: 1-4 and REM stage
REM stage (Rapid Eye Movement sleep)
- Deep sleep (virtual paralysis)
- Correlated with reports of vivid and memorable dreams
- Beta waves. Similar to when awake and alert.
- Consolidation of memories in REM and non – REM sleep
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming (for PTSD)
- Elaine Sharpo: tend to dream when eyes are moving. Went for a walk in the woods. Felt
better after her walk. Might be useful to process and think about stuff in the past.
- Certain memories such as being abused. Suppressed but still there. Eyes going back
and forth would help the brain process like it does in sleep.
- Trouble in connecting ideas. Remember complicated stuff. Waking up in Stage 2. You
won’t perform well the next day.
Repeating the Cycle and Patterns:
- Repeat about 4 times