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Mind, Consciousness, and Alternate States

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PSY 101
Professor Berg

Mind, Consciousness, and Alternate States Tuesday, March 4, 2014 2:22 PM Mind, Consciousness, and Alternate States • What sets apart the activities of your mind that are conscious and those that are not? • What control- if any- do we have over our own consciousness? • Conscious thoughts refer to info that is part of your awareness • Consciousness includes things such as: o Thoughts and feelings o Memory search o Imagery o Operations of the mind that require dedicated attention • Consciousness aids survival by helping to: o Constrict the surplus of info that is available to your senses o Selectively store the info that will be most important later o Make decisions reflecting long-term goals Nonconscious Processes • Activities of the brain that rarely (if ever) become a part of your awareness are considered to be nonconscious • The brain is responsible for many activities (e.g. heart rate; breathing functions; etc.) that often go on without being noticed The Subconscious • Operations of the mind functioning below the level of consciousness that still affect behavior are considered to be subconscious • Freud viewed the subconscious as a series of latent drives or motivations that influence behavior, but that are not readily attended (e.g. social and sexual desires; survival efforts; etc.) Preconscious Memories • Memories become conscious once your attention is allocated in their recall or awareness • Preconscious memories are those that are not part of your attention, but are still stored in mind • For example… o What are the features of a basketball? o Where is your hometown? o How awful is it to have an eyelash stuck in your eye? Attention • Process of concentrating train of thought on specific features of external or internal states o …while excluding features of other aspects of environment or self • What do we know about attention? o Resources are limited • Performance suffers if you attend to too many things at once • Ex. Talking on the phone, applying eye-liner… and driving over a mailbox o We have some control over it • We have some choice in ur selection of what gets our attention • Ex. Ignore pencil tapping during lecture o It can be shared across some tasks • Typically, tasks will not overlap on modality • Ex. Playing an instrument and walking across a football field • Ex. Listen to lecture and text a friend about a weekend party o Attention must be maintained over time in states of arousal and vigilance • Watchkeeping activities: continuously monitor a situation in which significant, but usually infrequent or unpredictable, events may occur • Ex. Air-traffic controllers o Only partially conscious • We attend to a variety of info that we are not aware • May not have noticed it playing in grocery store, but later you're whistling to the song "stuck in your head" Unattended Information •There are plenty of stimuli in our environment that go unattended; in some cases, this info still makes it into the mind (e.g. messages in advertising; propaganda) Selective Attention •Ability to focus attention on one message, and ignore all others (concentration on some environmental stimulus or mental event) •You can avoid seeing things by looking away, but there's no such option for audition o …instead, we filter information when we do not intend to capture message •Some info makes it into system even when you try to focus your attention on some other stimulus or mental event •Cocktail party phenomenon is observed when listeners hear their own name spoken by someone who was not the focus of attention Sleep •1/3 of life spent sleeping •Your mind remains active; engaged in consolidation and restoration o Consolidate info learned o Restore resources that have been used •Follows a consistent, cyclical pattern (lasting 24 hours) from that reflects an internal, biological clock known as a circadian rhythm o Thought to rely heavily on sunlight exposure, but regulated by hypothalamus o Arousal levels and hormonal activity fluctuate with these rhythms o Other examples of biological rhythms are a women's menstrual cycle (monthly; lunar rhythm) as well as the beating of your heart (75-200 bpm) Sleep Cycle •Takes 90 mins to go through the first 4 stages of sleep cycle (non-R.E.M.) followed by 10mins of R.E.M. sleep •Successive cycles increase the amount of time in R.E.M. sleep •Awake and mentally alert: o 14 cycles/sec o Beta waves (fast, small, irregular waves) (Ex. using to pay attention in the lecture) •Drowsy or relaxed: o 8-12 cps o Alpha waves (slightly larger, slower waves) •Stage 1 o 3-7 cps; theta waves (very slow, large waves) o If you wake someone in this state, it is likely they will not be aware they had been asleep o Hypnagogic images • Experience of vivid visual events just moments after entering sleep- these are not considered dreams, but may influence dreams to come o Hypnic jerk • Relaxation of muscles as you drift off to sleep can produce a jerking movement as you teeter between alpha and beta waves • Stage 2 o 12-14 cps; still mostly theta waves o Body temp decreases; heart rate decreases o Breathing becomes shallow and irregular o Sleep spindles (bursts of activity) last only a couple of seconds, but happen frequently o If you wake someone in this state, it is likely that they will be aware that they had been asleep and will probably be tired • Stages 3 & 4 o 1/2-2 cps; delta waves (deep sleep; slowest, largest waves) o Body at low level of function; people may be very difficult to wake o Growth hormones released in the pituitary during Stage 4; children spend more time in deep sleep so that their bodies will grow (this may be why they are sometimes more difficult to wake than adults) • Rapid Eye Movement (R.E.M.) o Random and fast (much like when awake; resemble beta waves) o We dream in this state of sleep o Body temp increases; heart rate increases
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