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Chapter 6

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PSYC 100
Russell Day

CHAPTER 6: STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS States of Consciousness – pattern of subjective experience – a way of experiencing internal and external events Altered State of Consciousness – variations from our normal working state - Ex: daydreaming or passing from wakefulness to sleep The Puzzle of Consciousness Consciousness – our moment-to-moment awareness of ourselves and our environment - 4 Characteristics: o 1) Subjective and Private – other people cannot directly know what reality is for you, nor can you enter directly into their experiences o 2) Dynamic (ever-changing) – We drift in and out of various states throughout each day. Although the stimuli of which we are aware constantly change, we typically experience consciousness as a continuously flowing ‘stream’ of mental activity, rather than a disjointed perceptions and thoughts o 3) Self-Reflective and Central to our Sense of Self – The mind is aware of its own consciousness  so no matter what your awareness is focused on you can reflect on the fact that ‘you’ are the one who is conscious of it o 4) It’s intimately connected with the process of selective attention Selective Attention – conscious awareness on some stimuli to the exclusion of others Measuring States of Consciousness Scientists must find a way to operationally define private inner states in terms of measurable responses Measures: 1) Self-Report – in which people describe their inner experiences a. Offers most direct insight into a person’s subjective experiences – but not always verifiable 2) Physiological Measures – Establish the correspondence between bodily states and mental processes a. Are objective but cannot tell us what a person is experiencing subjectively 3) Behavioural measures – includes performance on special tasks a. Are objective but we must still infer the person’s state of mind Levels of Consciousness: Psychodynamic and Cognitive Perspectives Freud – human mind consists of 3 levels of awareness: - The Conscious mind – contains thoughts, perceptions, and other mental events of which we are currently aware - The Preconscious – mental events that are outside current awareness, but can easily be recalled under certain conditions - Unconscious Mind – events that cannot be brought into conscious awareness under ordinary circumstances o Some unconscious content is kept out of conscious awareness because it would arouse anxiety, guilt, or other negative emotions Research supports Freud’s general premise: Non-conscious processes influence behaviour Processes that mental processes can affect our behaviour without conscious awareness: - Placebo effects, split-brain patients, subliminal perception The Cognitive Viewpoint Cognitive Psychologists reject that the unconscious mind is driven by instinctive urges and repressed conflicts - They view conscious and unconscious mental life as complementary forms of information processing Daniel Reisberg – unconscious mental activity is ‘not an adversary to the conscious mind. Rather, the cognitive unconscious functions as a sophisticated support service, working in harmony with our conscious thoughts’ Controlled Verses Automatic Processing Controlled (effortful) Processing – the voluntary use of attention and conscious effort - Activities like planning a vacation or studying - Is more flexible and open to change - With practice, performance becomes more automatic and brain areas involved in conscious thought become less active Automatic Processing – activities performed with little or no conscious effort - Occurs most often when we carry out routine actions or well-learned tasks - Key disadvantage: it can reduce our chances of finding new ways to approach problems - Offers speed and economy of effort, and in everyday life most actions may be processed this way Divided Attention Automatic processing also facilitates divided attention - Divided Attention – the ability to perform more than one activity at the same time o It has its limits, and is more difficult when tasks require similar mental resources - It can have serious negative consequences o Ex: collision rate triple or quadruple when talk on their phone while driving The Emotional Unconscious Some modern psychodynamic views incorporate information-processing concepts from cognitive psychology but strongly emphasize that emotion and motivational processes also operate unconsciously and influence behaviour Unconscious processes can have emotional and motivational flavour The Modular Mind Opposing views: 1) The mind is a collection of largely separate but interacting modules a. The modules are information-processing subsystems or ‘networks’ within the brain that perform tasks related to sensation, perception, memory, problem solving, emotion, motor behaviour, and so on b. The various modules process information in parallel (simultaneously and independently) c. But output from one module can provide input for another Circadian Rhythms: Our Daily Biological Clocks Circadian Rhythms – Every 24 hours, our body-temperature, certain hormonal secretions, and other bodily functions undergo a rhythmic change that affects our mental alertness and readies our passage back and forth between states of wakefulness and sleep - Daily biological cycles - Circa – around, dia – day Keeping Time: Brain and Environment Most circadian rhythms are regulated by the brain’s suprachiasmatic nuclei - Suprachiasmatic Nuclei (SCN) – located in the hypothalamus o is the brain’s clock o have a genetically programmed cycle of activity and inactivity – like a ‘biological clock’ o is linked to the tiny pineal gland, which secretes melatonin  melatonin – a hormone that has a relaxing effect on the body o SCN neurons become active during daytime and reduce the pineal gland’s secretion of melatonin, raising your body temperature and heightening alertness  At night SCN neurons are inactive, allowing melatonin levels to increase and promoting relaxation and sleepiness - Environmental factors (like the day-night cycle) help keep the SCN neurons on a 24-hour schedule - Eyes have a neural connections to the SCN o After a night’s sleep, the light of day increases SCN activity and helps to reset your 24 hour biological clock If you can’t see the sun, like in a underground cave without clocks – most people drift into a longer ‘natural’ cycle of 24.2 to 24.8 hours - Called free-running circadian rhythm o SCN neurons exhibit this longer cycle of firing even when they are surgically removed from the brain and kept alive in a dish containing nutrients o Blind children and adults whose eyes are completely insensitive to light may experience free-running circadian rhythms  When trying to force themselves into the 24 hour cycle, blind people often experience insomnia, other sleep problems, and daytime fatigue Early Birds and Night Owls Circadian rhythms influence our tendency to be a morning person or a night person Morning people go to bed and rise earlier and their body temperature, blood pressure, and alertness peak earlier in the day - Through study: ‘morningness’ is more common among older adults, whereas more night people are found among 18-to-30 year olds - Research: early birds tend to perform best on some mental tasks in the morning, whereas night owls perform best in the late afternoon or the evening Environmental Disruptions of Circadian Rhythms Gradual and sudden environmental changes can disrupt our circadian rhythms Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – a cyclic tendency to become psychologically depressed during certain months of the year - Symptoms typically begin in fall or winter, which usher in shorter periods of daylight, and then lift in spring - Circadian rhythms of SAD sufferers may be particularly sensitive to light Jet Lag – a sudden circadian disruption caused by flying across several time zones in one day - Often causes insomnia, decreased alertness, and poorer performance until the body readjusts - The body naturally adjusts about one hour or less per day to time zone changes - Typically, people adjust faster when flying west, presumably because lengthening the travel day is more compatible with our natural free-running circadian cycle Night Shiftwork – the most problematic circadian disruption for society - Makes it harder to reset biological clocks - Over time, fatigue, stress, and the likelihood of an accident increases - Biological Clocks promote sleepiness in the early-morning hours - Combined with fatigue from poor daytime sleep, this early morning sleepiness can be a recipe for disaster Rotating Shiftwork – a forward rotating work schedule that takes advantage of extending the ‘waking day rather than to compress it Sleep and Dreaming Circadian rhythms do not regulate sleep directly - It decreases nighttime alertness, and promotes a readiness for sleep and help to determine the optimal period when we can sleep most soundly Stages of Sleep Sleep involves different states of alertness and awareness Approximately every 90 minutes while asleep, we cycle through different stages in which our brain activity and other physiological responses change in a generally predictable way In research laboratory experiment of sleeping, a pattern of beta waves are released when you are awake and alert - Beta waves have a high frequency (of about 15 to 30 cycles per second, or cps) but a low ‘amplitude’ or height As you close your eyes, feeling relaxed and drowsy, your brain waves slow down and alpha waves occur at about 8-12 cycles per second Stage 1 through Stage 4 Stage 1 – As sleep begins, your brain-wave pattern becomes more irregular, ad slower theta waves (3.5- 7.5 cycles per second) increase - A form of light sleep from which you can easily be awakened - You will probably spend only a few minutes (or less) in stage 1 o During which time some people experience images and sudden body jerks As sleep becomes deeper, sleep spindles – periodic 1-2 second bursts of rapid brain-wave activity (12-15 cycles per second) – begin to appear Stage 2 – indicated by sleep spindles - Muscles are more relaxed, breathing and heart rate are slower, and you are harder to awaken Stage 3 – Sleep deepens as you move into this stage - Marked by the regular appearance of very slow (0.2-2 cycles per second) and large delta waves Stage 4 – As time passes, they occur more often, and when delta waves dominate the EEG pattern, you have reached this stage Together, stage 3 and stage 4, are often called slow-wave sleep Slow-Wave Sleep – Your body is relaxed, activity in various parts of your brain has decreased, and you are hard to awaken - After 20-30 minutes of stage 4 sleep, your EEG pattern changes as you go ‘back through’ stages 3 and 2, spending a little time in each. - So in 90 minutes you go through stages 1-2-3-4 REM Sleep Sleep Stage Every half minute or so, bursts of muscular activity caused the sleeper’s eyeballs to vigorously move back and forth beneath their closed eyelids - REM – Rapid Eye Movements In experiment, when researchers awakened sleepers from REM periods, they discovered that a dream was almost always reported During REM sleep, physiological arousal may increase to daytime levels - Heart rate quickens, breathing becomes more rapid and irregular, and bran-wave activity resembles that of active wakefulness - Men have penile erections and women experience vaginal lubrication – is not a response to sexual imagery - Brain also sends signals, making it more difficult for voluntary muscles to contract o As a result, muscles in the arms, legs, and torso lose tone and become relaxed o These muscles may twitch, but in effect you are ‘paralyzed’ and unable to move  This state is called REM Sleep Paralysis, and because of it, REM sleep is sometimes called paradoxical sleep: Your body is highly aroused, and yet it looks like you are sleeping peacefully because you move so little REM is thought to be the only sleep stage in which we dream or even experience mental activity – incorrect - We also experience mental activity during non-REM sleep - REM dreams have their well-known storylike quality, with vivid sensory and motor elements and the perception of reality When in a REM dream, you have the experience of sensing people, objects, and places, of moving and behaving, and of witnessing and participating in a series of real, if bizarre events When subjects are awakened from non-REM sleep, they often will report some type of mental activity The non-REM dream is shorter than a REM dream - Is also less storylike, lacking the vivid sensory and motor experiences of a REM dream - Is often fixed and unmoving, resembling a tableau more than a story with a plot Non-REM sleep have been referred to as sleep thoughts because of closer resemblance to daytime thinking than to REM dreams As hours pass in the sleep cycle, stage 4 and 3 drop out and REM periods become longer Getting a Night’s Sleep: Brain and Environment Different aspects of the sleep cycle are controlled by different brain mechanisms - Separate systems ‘turn on’ and actively promote sleep Areas at the base of the forebrain (called basal forebrain) and within the brain stem are particularly important in regulating our falling asleep A different brain stem area – where the reticular formation passes through the pons – plays a key role in initiating REM sleep - Region contains ‘REM-sleep On’ neurons that periodically activate other brain systems, each of which controls a different aspect of REM sleep o Like eye movements, muscular paralysis, and genital arousal How Much do we Sleep? There are substantial differences in how much people sleep at various ages Newborn infants – average 16 hours and much of their sleep time is in REM As we age 3 important changes occur: - We sleep less – on average 15- to 24-year olds average 8.5 hours of sleep per day and elderly adults average just under 6 - REM sleep decreases dramatically during infancy and early childhood, but remains relatively stable thereafter - Time spent in stages 3 and 4 declines – by late adulthood, we get relatively little slow-wave sleep How much sleep a person needs is influenced by genetic factors, work schedules, stress, age, lifestyle, and general health, among other factors, work schedules, stress, age, lifestyle, and general health, as well as other factors Sleep Deprivation Short-term total sleep deprivation – up to 45 hours without sleep Long-term total sleep deprivation – more than 45 hours without sleep Partial Deprivation – being allowed to sleep no more than 5 hours per night for one or more consecutive nights The ‘average’ sleep-deprived person functioned only as well as someone in the bottom 9% of non- deprived participants Asll 3 types of sleep deprivation had a negative impact on functioning Mood suffered most, followed by cognitive and then physical performance, although all three behaviours showed significant impairment from sleep loss It takes several nights to recover from extended total sleep deprivation Why do we Sleep? Restoration Model – sleep recharges our rundown bodies and allows us to recover from physical and mental fatigue - Sleep deprivation and night shiftwork studies strongly support this view - If this is model is correct, activities that increase daily wear on the body should increase sleep o Evidence is mildly supportive Biggest challenge: what ‘gets restored’ in our bodies while we sleep - Some researchers believe it is the cellular waste product called adenosine plays a role o As adenosine accumulate, it influences brain systems that decrease alertness and promote sleep, signalling the body to slow down because too much cellular fuel has been burned Evolutionary/Circadian Sleep Models – emphasizes that sleep’s main purpose is to increase a species’ chances of survival in relation to its environmental demands Finish second column page 204 Sleep Disorders Insomnia Insomnia – the chronic difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restful sleep - Trouble falling asleep is most common among young adults, and difficulty staying asleep is most common among older adults True insomniac’s sleep troubles are frequent and persistent Most common sleep disorder – affects 10-40% of population in various countries Pseudoinsomniacs – complain of insomnia, but sleep normally when examined in the laboratory - Some sleep soundly but in morning claim that they couldn’t sleep at all all night Has biological, psychological, and environmental causes - Some are genetically predisposed - Mental disorders (Anxiety, depression), and many drugs can disrupt sleep - Worrying, stress, poor lifestyle habits, and circadian disruptions (jetlag, night shift work) Insomnia Treatments: 1) Stimulus Control – based on learning principles a. Involves conditioning your body to associate the stimuli in your sleep environment (like your bed) with sleep, rather than with waking activities and sleeplessness Narcolepsy 1 of every 2000 people suffers from an inability to stay awake Narcolepsy – involves extreme daytime sleepiness and sudden, uncontrollable sleep attacks that may last from less than a minute to an hour - When sleep attack occurs, narcoleptics may go right into a REM stage, and some of these REM stages have intense, dreamlike visual images and sounds Narcoleptics may experience attacks of cataplexy  a sudden loss of muscle tone often triggered by laughter, excitement, and other strong emotions - In severe cases, the knees buckle and the person collapses, conscious but unable to move for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes - Cataplexy is an abnormal version of the normal muscular paralysis that takes place during nighttime REM sleep, and many experts view narcolepsy as a disorder in which REM sleep intrudes into waking consciousness Causes: - Genetic predisposition- if one twin is narcoleptic, the other is 30% chance of developing it There is no current cure but stimulant drug often reduce daytime sleepiness, and antidepressant drugs can decrease attacks of cataplexy REM-Sleep Behavi
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