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Western University
Psychology 1000

State of consciousness: a pattern of subjective experience, a way of experiencing internal and external events Altered state of consciousness: variations from the normal walking state -when psychology was first founded in the 1800s, its “Great Project” was to unravel the mysteries of consciousness; diminished during the time of Behaviourism, but the bringing up of cognitive and biological thinking caused people to rethink the original conceptions of the mind THE PUZZLE OF CONSCIOUSNESS Consciousness: our moment to moment awareness of ourselves and our environment. -consciousness is… -Subjective and private- other people cannot directly know what reality is for you -Dynamic (ever changing)- we drift in and out of various states throughout the day; Although the stimuli is constantly changing, we experience consciousness as continuously flowing rather than disjointed perceptions -Self reflective and central to our sense of self- the mind is aware of its own consciousness -Intimately connected with the process of selective attention- focuses conscious awareness on some stimuli to the exclusion of others MEASURING STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS: -Ways to define inner states in terms of measurable responses: 1) Self report Measures: -most common -people describe their inner experiences -the most direct insight into a person’s subjective experience, and is not always verifiable 2) Physiological Measures: -establish the correspondence between bodily states and mental processes (ex. EEG recordings of brain activity help identify different stages of sleep) -objective but cannot tell us what the person is experiencing subjectively 3) Behavioural Measures: -includes performance on a special task (ex. Rouge test- recognizing themselves in a mirror by a red mark) -objective but still can’t tell what is in the person’s state of mind LEVELS OF CONSCIOUSNESS: Sigmund Freud’s three levels of consciousness: 1) Conscious: thoughts, perceptions, and other mental events of which we are currently aware 2) Preconscious: outside current awareness, but can easily be recalled under certain conditions (ex. remembering a childhood friend when the name is brought up as an adult) 3) Unconscious: cannot be brought into conscious awareness under ordinary conditions (may be kept out of conscious awareness because it would arouse negative emotions)  Research strongly supports Freud’s general premise: Nonconscious processes influence behaviour (ex. placebo effects, split-brain patients, subliminal perception) The Cognitive Unconscious: - Cognitive psychologists view conscious and unconscious mental life as complementary forms of information processing (reject Freud’s idea that the unconscious mind is driven by repressed forces) 1) controlled (effortless) processing: -the voluntary use of attention and conscious effort -requires more effort and is slower, but if flexible and open to change 2) Automatic processing: -can be performed with little or no conscious effort -occurs most often when we carry out routine actions or well-learned tasks, particularly under constant or familiar circumstances (driving, eating, using a pencil) -disadvantage: reduces our chances of new ways to approach a problem -facilitates divided attention: -the ability to perform more than one activity at the same time -without the capacity to divide attention, every act would require full attention and would quickly overwhelm our mental capacity -it is more difficult when tasks require similar mental resources (ex. shadowing) **with practice, a task that was once controlled (learning to drive) will become more automatic The Emotional Unconscious: -emotional and motivational processes also operate unconsciously and influence behaviour (believed by cognitive, social, physiological, and clinical psychologists) -ex) an amnesia patient was initially pricked with a pin when the experimenter shook her hand. When he went in for a handshake later on, the woman quickly removed her hand even though she could not remember getting pricked… there was a Nonconscious memory of her experience that influenced her behaviour -ex) when you are in either a good or bad mood but you do not know the reason why; it is because you are influenced by the events in your environment The Modular Mind: -the mind is a collection of largely separate, but interacting modules. Modules: -information processing subsystems or”networks” within the brain that perform task -various modules process information in parallel (simultaneously and largely independently) -the output from one module can provide the input for another (ex. when information recalled from memory becomes input for problem solving) **our subjective experience of consciousness arises from the integrated activity of various modules  Many factors can influence the activity of these modules and in doing so alter the state of consciousness CIRCADIAN RHYTMS: Circadian rhythms: daily biological clocks (for humans, a 24 hour day and night cycle) Suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) -most circadian rhythms are regulated by this which is found in the brain’s hypothalamus -it is the brain’s clock  An experiment showed that when normal, healthy SCN neurons were transplanted into the hypothalamus of animals where their SCN neurons had been destroyed, their circadian rhythms were restored -its linked to the pineal gland which secretes melatonin (a hormone that has a relaxing effect on the body) -environmental factors such as the day-night cycle help keep SCN neurons on a 24 hour schedule  your eyes have a neural connection to the SCN; after a night sleep, the light of day increases SCN activity and helps reset the 24 hour clock During the day: -SCN neurons become more active and reduce the pineal gland’s secretion of melatonin -body temperature raises -more alert At Night: -SCN neurons are inactive, allowing melatonin levels to increase which promotes relaxation and sleepiness -body temperature decreases -become less alert Free running circadian rhythm: a longer “natural” cycle of about 24.2 to 24.8 hours that people drift into -theses cycles will occur if someone was in isolation or in a dark area for a long time; when removed, their free running circadian rhythm is desynchronized with the 24- hour day-night cycle and they therefore tend to go to bed and wake up later each day ex) blind children and adults insensitive to light may experience free running circadian rhythms -a “morning person” will go to bed earlier and wake up earlier as their body temperature, blood pressure, and alertness peak early in the day; more common in adults ENVIRONMENTAL DISRUPTIONS TO CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS Gradual and sudden environmental changes can disrupt circadian rhythms: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): -a cyclic tendency to become psychologically depressed during certain months of the year; symptoms begin in fall or winter when there is a shorter period of daylight, and ends in the spring -sufferers may be particularly sensitive to light, so since the sunrises later in the winter, the daily “onset” time of their circadian clocks may be pushed back and unusual degree Jet Lag: -a sudden circadian disruption caused by flying across several time zones in one day -flying east you “lose” hours from the day -flying west, the travel day becomes longer (“gain”) -may cause insomnia, decreased alertness, and poorer performance until the body readjusts -people adjust faster flying west because lengthening the day is compatible with our natural free-running circadian cycle Night shift: -work hard to readjust the circadian rhythms to the inverse times, but on days off they disrupt these adjustments by falling back to the normal day-night cycle -some adjust to night work, but some never do; overall, nightworkers who try and sleep during the day get a very little amount of sleep **job performance errors, fatal traffic accidents, and engineering and industrial disasters peak between midnight and 6 AM -smaller changes to our circadian rhythms can also have an impact to our behaviour and well being; research shows that during daylight savings time where we lose an hour of sleep, there was a short-lived increases in the likelihood of accidental death PSYCHOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS: Winter depression, jet lag, and night shiftwork disruptions Treating SAD: -phototherapy: properly timed exposure to bright, artificial light can shift circadian rhythms by as much as 2-3 hours a day -results of this treatment showed a reduction in SAD sufferers depression -dawn simulation: artificial light gradually intensifies to normal light levels over the course of 1-2 hours in the morning; helps to reset the circadian clock to an earlier time Reducing Jet Lag: -Flying east (falling behind)- exposure to outdoor light in the morning, and avoiding any light late at night, will move the circadian clock forward -Flying west (jumping ahead)- avoiding bright light in the morning and exposing to light in the afternoon and evening Adjusting to Nightwork: -circadian adjustments can be increased by having very bright indoor light in the workplace, keeping bedrooms dark, and maintaining the new schedule even on days off Melatonin Treatment: -melatonin doses in the brain can be manipulated directly by oral doses -doses of about 0.1 to 0.5 mg produces blood concentrations more typical of normal levels and are sufficient to produce circadian shifts Regulating Activity Schedules: -properly timed exercises can help shift the circadian clock -to reduce jet lag, you can synchronize your clock with the one in the new time zone by adjusting your eat and sleeping schedule by one hour before you leave -forward rotating shifts (moving from day to nightshifts) are easier because they take advantage of the free-running circadian rhythms (easier to extend the day than to compress it) SLEEP AND DREAMING -circadian rhythms do not regulate sleep; by decreasing nighttime alertness they promote a readiness for sleep and help determine the optimal period when we can sleep most soundly STAGES OF SLEEP: Awake: -pattern of beta waves -high frequency (15 to 30 cps); low amplitude Relaxed/Drowsy: -when you close your eyes -waves slow down and alpha waves occur at a frequency of 8 to 12 cps Stage 1: -brain wave pattern becomes more irregular and slower theta wave (3.5 to 7.5 cps) increase -a form of light sleep where you can easily be awakened -will spend a few minutes or less in stage 1 -some people experience images and sudden body jerks Stage 2: -indicated by sleep spindles (periodic 1-2 second bursts of rapid brain wave activity- 12 to 15 cps) -sleep is deeper, muscles are more relaxed, breathing and heart rate are slower, harder to be awaken Stage 3: -marked by the regular appearance of delta waves (very slow and large- 0.5 to 2 cps) -as time passes on, the delta waves occur more often Stage 4: -indicated when the delta waves dominate the EEG -spend 20 to 30 minutes in stage 4 **together, stage 3 and stage 4 are referred to as slow wave sleep; body relaxed, activity in various parts of the brain has decreased, and you are harder to waken *you then cycle back from stage 4 to 3, then 2 and then to REM REM: -Rapid Eye Movements: every half minute or so, bursts of muscular activity cause the sleepers eyeballs to vigorously move back and forth beneath their closed eyelids -where dreams occur -physiological arousal may increase to daytime levels; heart rate quickens, breathing becomes more rapid and irregular, brain wave activity represents that of active wakefulness -the brain sends signals making it more difficult for voluntary muscles to contract; muscles may twitch, but in effect you are “paralyzed”-this state is called sleep paralysis  Reason why REM sleep is sometimes called paradoxical sleep Non-REM sleep: -mental activity also happens here -when patients are awakened from non-REM sleep, they will often report some form of mental activity -the non REM dream is shorter than a REM dream -the non-REM dream is less story-like, lacking vivid sensory and motor experiences than a REM dream -non-REM mental activity resembles daytime thoughts except they are more simple and jumbled  Referred to as sleep thoughts because they closer resemble to daytime thinking than REM dreams **EACH CYCLE TAKES ABOUT 90 MINTUES (1-2-3-4-3-2-REM) *as the hours pass, the amount of time spent in stages 4 and 3 drop out and REM periods become longer BRAIN AND THE ENVIRONMENT: -different aspects of the sleep cycle, such as falling asleep, REM sleep, and slow-wave sleep, are controlled by different brain mechanisms Falling asleep: regulated by areas at the base of the forebrain (the basal forebrain) and within the brain stem REM sleeps: regulated by a different part of the brain stem where the reticular formation passes through the pons -contain “REM sleep on” neurons that periodically activate other brain systems, each controlling a different part of REM sleep (eye movements, muscular paralysis, genital arousal) -sleep is biologically regulated, but the environment plays a key role -Change of season affects sleep- go to bed earlier in the fall and winter -noise may increase our arousal and heart rate, decrease time in deep slow-wave sleep, increase our time in less restful light sleep HOW MUCH DO WE SLEEP? As we age: -we sleep less -REM sleep decreases dramatically during infancy and early childhood, but remains stable therefore after -time spent in stages 3 and 4 decline; by late adulthood we get relatively little slow-wave sleep -not everyone needs “eight hours of sleep a night” -although most people do not function well with little sleep, there are a few unusual people who do Ex) a healthy energetic 70 year old woman is able to sleep only an hour a night with no side effects -short and long sleepers do no differ consistently in personal characteristics -after surveys, identical twins have more similar sleep lengths, bedtimes, and sleep patterns than do fraternal twins; there genes affect sleep patterns -since there are some differences between twin’s sleep, sleep patterns are also influenced by the environment Ex) high pressure vs. low pressure lifestyle; noise vs. quiet environment SLEEP DEPRIVATION: -participants underwent short term total sleep deprivation (up to 45 hours without sleep), long term total sleep deprivation (more than 45 hours without sleep), partial deprivation (allowed sleep with no more than 5 hour a night) Results: -through self report measures, mental tasks, and physical tasks, the “average” sleep deprived person functioned only as well as someone in the bottom 9% of non-deprived patients -all three types of sleep deprivation had a negative impact on functioning; mood suffered most, followed cognitive and then physical performance -it takes several nights to recover from extended total sleep deprivation WHY DO WE SLEEP? Restoration model: -sleep recharges our run-down body and allows us to recover from physical and mental fatigue -mildly supported that increase daily wear on the body increases sleep Ex) we tend to sleep longer by about 10 minutes on days we exercised What gets restored in our body? Some researchers believe that the cellular waste produce adenosine as cells consume fuel; as adenosine accumulates, it influences brain systems that decrease alertness and promote sleep Evolutionary/circadian sleep model: -emphasize that sleep’s main purpose is to increase a species’ chances of survival in relation to its environmental demands -in the course of evolution, each species developed a circadian sleep-wake pattern that was adaptive in terms of whether it was a prey or a predator, its food requirements, and its methods of defense from attack  Small prey spending a lot of time asleep is adaptive  Large prey spending a lot of time asleep is hazardous -sleep may have evolved as a mechanism for conserving energy Do specific sleep stages have special functions?  When awakened only when you enter REM sleep (1) will need to awaken you more often because the brain is fighting back to get more REM sleep (2) REM-rebound effect- tendency to increase the amount of REM sleep after being deprived of it Therefore, we need to have REM sleep since it is for mental functioning, especially memory consolidation  High levels of brain activity produced in REM sleep may strengthen the neural circuits involved in remembering important information we learned that day SLEEP DISORDERS Insomnia: -refers to the chronic difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing a restful sleep -trouble falling asleep is most common in young adults; trouble staying asleep is most common in older adults -the most common sleep disorder -pseudoinsomniacs: complain of insomnia but sleep normally when examined -biological influence: people genetically predisposed to insomnia, mental disorders, medical conditions, -environmental influence: people who worry, stress at home, poor lifestyle habits, circadian disruptions -you can reduce insomnia with stimulus control (conditioning your body to associate the stimuli in your sleep environment with sleep) Narcolepsy: -involves extreme daytime sleepiness and sudden, uncontrollable sleep attacks that may last from less than a minute to an hour -they may go right into REM sleep and some have intense, dreamlike visual images and sounds -some may experience attacks of cataplexy Sudden loss of muscle tone often triggered by laughter, excitement, and other strong emotions; an abnormal version of the normal paralysis that takes place during REM sleep -what causes narcolepsy? -if one identical twin is narcoleptic, the other has a 30% chance of developing; a genetic predisposition combines with still unknown environmental factors to cause it -there is no cure; stimulant drugs can reduce daytime sleepiness, antidepressant drugs can decrease attacks of cataplexy REM- Sleep Behaviour Disorder: -the loss of muscle tone which causes normal REM paralysis to be absent -if awakened, RBD patients usually report dreams that correspond to their behaviour (movements) -some researchers propose that brain abnormalities may prevent signals that normally inhibit movement during REM from being sent; causes are unknown currently Sleep Apnea: -people repeatedly stop and restart breathing during sleep; usually lasts 20 to 40 seconds -causes by the obstruction in the upper airways, such as from saggy tissue as muscles lose tone during sleeping; the chest and abdomen keep moving, but no air gets to the lungs -stresses the heart and contributes to hypertension, and excessive daytime sleepiness Sleep Walking: -occurs during stages 3 and 4 of slow wave sleep -sleepwalkers have blank stares and are often unresponsive to other people, but seem vaguely conscious of their environment -they often return to bed without any memory of the event in the morning -if you did not sleepwalk as a kid, the tendencies are a lot less to sleepwalk as an adult -biological: a tendency to sleepwalk may be inherited -environmental: daytime stress, alcohol, certain illnesses, and medications increases sleepwalking Nightmares: -frightening dreams; often occur during REM sleep in the hours before arise -physiological arousal is similar to levels experienced during a pleasant dream Night Terrors: -more intense than a nightmare; the sleeper (usually a child) sits up and seems to awaken, but come morning, the person has no memory of the episode -if brought to full consciousness (which is hard to do) the person may report images or a vague sense of danger -more common during sleep stages 3 and 4 -involve greatly elevation physiological arousal; heart rate may double or triple THE NATURE OF DREAMS: When do we dream? -hypnagonic state: the transition state from wakefulness through early stage 2 sleep in when mental activity becomes more dreamlike -we dream most when our brain is most active; Therefore we dream most in REM sleep since brain activity is at it’s peak  Dream most in the final hours of sleep (both REM and non-REM) since our brain activity is higher (since our circadian sleep-wake cycles are preparing for us to rise) What do we dream about? -dreams are not nearly as strange as they are stereotyped to be; usually take place in a familiar setting with people that we know -only some dreams are bizarre, but they leave such a lasting impression that biases our perception of what most dreams are like Ex) dreams about flying are uncommon, but because they are so striking, people often recall having such a dream at least once -most dreams contain some negative content -women dream equally about male and female characters; two thirds of males dreamt only of male characters -our cultural background, life experiences, and current concerns shape our dream content Ex) pregnant women have dreams with pregnancy themes Why do we dream? Freud’s Psychoanalytic theory: -the main purpose of dreaming is wish fulfillment: the gratification of our unconscious needs and desires -include sexual and aggressive urges that are too unacceptable to be consciously acknowledged -manifest content: the surface story -latent content: the disguised psychological meaning -Dreamwork: the process by which dream’s latent content is translated into manifest content -occurs through symbols, and creating individual characters who combine the features of several people in real life -because they are disguised, the sleeper does not become anxious and can sleep peacefully -little evidence that dreams have disguised meaning; dream analysis is highly subjective as the same dream can be interpreted differently by the analyst’s point of view Activation-synthesis theory: When we are awake: -neural circuits in our brain are activated by sensory input (stimuli) the cerebral cortex interprets these patterns of neural activation, producing a meaningful perception During REM sleep: -brain stem bombards our higher brain centers with random neural activity (activation), because we are asleep, this neural activity does not match any sensory events, but our cerebral cortex continues to interpret it -it does this by creating a dream that “best fits” the particular pattern of activation (synthesis) -the brain is trying to make sense out of random neural activity  A dream is a byproduct of REM sleep -our memories and experiences can influence the stories that the brain develops -problem? -it overestimates the bizarreness of dreams (not that bizarre) -it ignores the fact that dreaming occurs in both REM and non-REM sleep Cognitive Approaches: Problem solving dream models: -dreams can help us find creative solutions to our problems and conflicts because they are constrained by reality Problem: just because a problem shows up in a dream, does not mean that the dream involved an attempt to solve it; we may think about our dream after awakening and it
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