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Chapter 5

Chapter 5: Consciousness

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PSYC 1001
Vessela Stamenova

Chapter 5: Consciousness Can We Understand Consciousness? 1. Consciousness is not a natural phenomenon 2. Consciousness is a natural phenomenon buy we cannot understand it 3. Consciousness is produced by the activity of the brain; thus, we can study it *Consciousness, a variable state, is a present activity of thought processes in some form and thought itself is an activity of the brain. What is Consciousness?  Difficult to define  NOT equal to our mental processes  Rather, it is our awareness of these mental processes Consciousness and Attention  Selective Attention: the process that controls our awareness, and readiness to respond to particular categories of stimuli in the environment o Determines which events we become conscious of o Control mechanisms: automatic, by instructions, or controlled by the demands of a task o Short-term memory: whatever you keep in mind at any particular time; tightly connected to selective attention because through S.A. it determines what ends up in your short-term memory o Dichotic Listening Tasks: listen to two pieces of information at the same time but in different ears; ignore one in one ear (shadowing), but pay attention to the other; people will remember what they paid attention to, but will say they don’t remember what they ignored  Thy didn’t hear what was said in the unattended ear, but on some level, even if they weren’t aware of it, they processed the information going into the unattended ear o Cocktail Party Phenomenon: following one conversation when other conversations are going on around us  Visual Selective Attention: two movies played at once, pay attention to one; unable to say what happened in movie they didn’t pay attention to  Corbetta et al. (1991): Look at coloured triangles; look for change in speed, colour, or shape Split Brain Patients  A patient who had undergone a surgical procedure which has severed the corpus callosum, thus disconnecting the two hemispheres  Use the olfactory system; if a smell enters your left nostril, it enters left hemisphere and vice versa (not like the other sensory systems) Hypnosis – Origins  Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815)  Claims from other practitioners that people under hypnosis can do things they could or couldn’t do otherwise  “Mesmerism” or mesmerized  Used magnets, but it was the way he spoke to people that hypnotized people Hypnosis  A social interaction in which one person suggests to another that certain perceptions, feelings, thoughts, or behaviours will spontaneously occur  Posthypnotic Suggestibility: a person is given instructions under hypnosis and follows them after he returns in to a non-hypnotized state  Posthypnotic Amnesia: things forgotten during hypnosis; suggested that they won’t remember anything while hypnotized  Can hypnosis force people to act against their will?  Will people under hypnosis behave in ways they normally wouldn’t?  Experiments with hypnotized vs. non-hypnotized participants  Not everyone can be hypnotized; power of the hypnosis is mainly in the participant, not the hypnotist Who Can Be Hypnotized?  Cognitive variables: o Imagery (vivid details) o Attention (ability to focus mind on one task) o Dream control o Tendency to fantasize o Tendency to imitate  Psychological Variables o Expectations towards yourself and hypnosis o Wickless and Kirsch (1989) o Hypnotic suggestion that they would see green, then red, then hear music o Two groups: control group received nothing, experimental group were presented with faint stimuli o Then gave them the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale o The scores of those in the experimental condition changed o They reported becoming more highly hypnotizable Can Hypnosis Be Therapeutic?  Medicine, dentistry, and psychotherapy  Reduction of nausea (e.g. cancer patients), smoking cessation Sleep  Not a state of unconsciousness  A state of altered consciousness  Spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping  Different stages of consciousness/brain activity – different levels of consciousness EEG  A device that monitors the electrical activity of the brain over time by means of recording electrodes attached to the surface of the scalp (neurons)  Creates line tracings called brain waves  Says which stage of sleep you’re in; different stages have different amount of brain activity  Brain waves measured in amplitude (height) and frequency (cycles per second/cps) o Beta (13-24 – fastest), Alpha (8-12), Theta (4-7), Delta (less than 4 – slowest) Study of Sleep  Researchers apply physiological methods to study sleep  Electromyograph (EMG) for muscle activity  Electroculograph (EOG) for movement of the eyes (REM)  Heart rate, body temperature, etc. to provide complete information about various stages during sleep Biological Rhythms  Periodic fluctuations in the human body (24)  Can be seasonal,  Circadian rhythms  Physiological pathway of the biological clock: o Light levels > retina > suprachiasmatic nucleus of hypothalamus > pineal gland > secretion of melatonin Stages of Sleep  In addition to a sleeping and waking cycle, there is also a biological rhythm during our sleep  Every 90 to 100 minutes we cycle through 5 stages of sleep  Stage 1 (1-7 minutes) o Theta waves  Stage 2 (10-25 minutes) o Mixed EEG  Stage 3&4 (delta waves)  REM sleep REM Sleep  High-frequency beta waves similar to those observed when we are awake  Dreaming physiological response  As the night progresses, Stage 4 sleep gets shorter and REM sleep lengthens  Non-REM sleep The Purpose of Sleep  Considering we will spend an average of 25 years sleeping, is it worth our time?  Reduces energy expenditure so our bodies can focus on tissue growth and repair  Important for the organization and consolidation of memories Neural Bases of Sleep  REM Sleep: pons  Sleep/Waking: o Medulla o Hypothalamus o Limbic System o Thalamus  Neurotransmitters: o Serotonin (inhibits REM sleep) and GABA (inhibition of nervous system) o Melatonin Reticular Formation  Maintains sleep/wake cycles  Regulates thalamus  Thalamus deceases sensitivity during sleep – regulated by activation through reticular formation Partial Sleep Deprivation (Sleep Restriction)  To be fully alert, most adults require 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, though it can depend on the person  Suppresses disease fighting immune system  Alters metabolic and hormonal functioning  Lack of awareness of deficits Effects of Sleep Deprivation  Daylight Savings Time o Accidents increase after “losing” one hour of sleep o Canada: 7% higher the Monday after the change o US: 17% more traffic-related death the Monday after  In Australia, 30% of highway deaths are the result of falling asleep behind the wheel (20% in the US) Selective Sleep Deprivation  REM Sleep Deprivation  Slow-wave sleep deprivation Sleep Disorders  Sleep disorder due to another mental disorder (anxiety, depression)  Sleep disorder due to general medical condition (bronchitis)  Substance-induced sleep disorder (drugs, like stimulants/cocaine)  Primary sleep disorder, in the absence of suffering from a mental disorder, medical condition, or substance abuse (dyssomnias and parasomnias) Dyssomnias  Primary insomnia (can’t fall asleep, or stay asleep – wake up often) and primary hypersomnia (opposite of insomnia – people get enough sleep, but they still feel sleepy during the day)  Narcolepsy – fall asleep sporadically during the day (cataplexy – sudden loss of muscle tone)  Breathing-related sleep disorders (sleep apnea)  Circadian rhythm sleep disorder (disruption with sleep/wake cycle – jet lag) Parasomnias  Nightmare disorder (REM sleep)  Sleep terror disorder  Sleepwalking disorder (deep stage of sleep, brain at 75% of activity, difficult to wake them up) Dreams
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