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Arousal - Lecture 4, 5 and 6 - September 13, 18, 20 Textbook Notes

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University of Ottawa
Patrice Karn

Chapter 6 – Behaviour, Arousal and Affective Valence (p.139-157) AROUSAL AND PERFORMANCE - Physiological and psychological arousal accompanies behaviour - High arousal produces low performance Categories of Arousal - Arousal: refers to the mobilization or activation of energy that occurs in preparation or during actual behaviour - Physiological arousal: refers to those bodily changes that correspond to our feelings of being energized, such as sweaty palms, increased muscle tension, breathing and heart rate o Changes indicate that the body is getting ready for action o Controlled by the autonomic nervous system  Sympathetic nervous system: responsible for arousing or preparing the body for action  Stimulates the heart to pump blood more effectively  Causes glucose, epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) to be released in the bloodstream  Makes rapid breathing possible, which increases oxygen intake  Parasympathetic nervous system: concerned with conserving the body’s energy  Active during quiet periods, counteracts the arousing effects of the sympathetic system - Brain arousal: refers to the activation of the brain, ranging from deep sleep to wakefulness to alertness o Different areas of the brain are aroused depending on the operations being performed o Energy is in the form of glucose and oxygen o Two techniques for measuring brain activity – make use of the fact that energy consumption increases in areas of the brain  Positron emission tomography (PET scan): procedure that produces a three- dimensional picture indicating areas of the brain that are most active  Picture is obtained by measuring positrons – particles with a positive charge that are emitted by radioactive substance injected into a person’s bloodstream and carried to the brain  Radioactive particles concentrate in the brain areas that have the highest blood flow or highest utilization of glucose  Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI): used for obtaining high- resolution images of the brain from energy waves that are emitted from hydrogen atoms, which are released when the brain is surrounded by a strong magnetic field  Energy waves influenced by the amount of oxygen in the blood of brain tissue  Increased blood flow and oxygen are provided to the part of the brain that is doing the most work o Brain arousal is relevant for understanding subjective emotional experiences that emerge from groupings of activated neurons in the brain - Psychological arousal: refers to how subjectively aroused an individual feels o Theory of arousal that involves 2 dimensions – created by Thayer  Energetic arousal: a dimension characterized by a range of feelings from tiredness and sleepiness at the low end to alert and awake at the high end  High levels are associated with a positive effective tone and optimism ex. planning a vacation  Tense arousal: a dimension characterized by a range of feelings from calmness and stillness at the low end to tension and anxiety at the high end  High levels are associated with a negative affective tone ex. being scared of getting an answer wrong in public  Horror-movie goers: a mixture of tense and energetic arousal o Measuring arousal:  The energetic arousal and tense arousal scale  Activation-Deactivation Checklist Sources of Arousal - Stimuli: something that makes your respond, has an arousing and a cue function o Cue function: determines the type of response o Arousing function: determines the intensity of the response - Collective variables: refer collectively to stimulus characteristic that include novelty, complexity, and incongruity – also affect a person’s curiosity o Novel stimulus: one that is new and different from stimuli to which a person has become accustomed o Complexity variable: determined by the number of elements and the dissimilarity of those elements in a stimulus array o Incongruity variable: refers to the disparity between a single element in the stimulus array and other accompanying stimulus elements or previous elements - Tasks o Arousal has been linked to how much energy a person is willing to expend in order to successfully complete a task or attain an incentive o Degree of arousal or energization for getting ready to act is based on 3 factors:  The severity of the person’s need  The value of the task’s outcome  The likelihood of successful completion Arousal and Behaviour - Arousal-performance relationships: depends on the nature of the task that is being performed o Cognitive and bodily anxiety reactions are greater in the high-pressure than in low- pressure conditions – as arousal (anxiety) increases, performance declines o Greater amount of caffeine produced faster reaction times – as caffeine-induced arousal increases, reaction time decreases - Yerkes-Dodson Law: low arousal produces maximal performance on difficult tasks, and high arousal produces maximal performance on easy tasks o Above 2 experiments provide different conclusion regarding the effects of arousal on performance – increased arousal decreased performance and increased arousal increases performance o 2 hypotheses suggest reasoning for these results  Some arousal helps performance but too much arousal hinders it – describes an inverted-U arousal-performance relationships: as arousal increased, performance increases, levels off, and then decreases  The amount of arousal depends on the nature of the task – suggests that the optimal level of arousal changes with the nature of the task being performed, optimal level of arousal is not fixed but depends on the complexity or difficulty of the task being performed - Zones of Optimal Functioning o Zone of optimal functioning hypothesis: in sports psychology postulates individual inverted-u curves each with a one of optimal arousal where an athlete performs best, arousal below or above it zone leads to poorer performance  Zone applies to different psychological variables and has been tested more frequently with cognitive anxiety and somatic anxiety  Cognitive anxiety: refers to negative expectations and mental concerns about performance in a competitive situation  Somatic anxiety: refers to the self-perception of physiological arousal associated with nervousness and tension  Ex. athletic performance is better within the zone and worse below or above it THEORIES ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE – AROUSAL RELATIONSHIP - Hull-Spence Drive Theory: arousal magnifies the intensity of all responses o Drive: was a persistent internal stimulus or pushing action of a physiological need, the strong the drive, the greater the pushing action on all responses  Simple task: as drive increases, strength of the correct response increases and so does the difference between the correct and the wrong responses  Complex task: as drive increases, strength of the wrong responses increases, as does the difference between these responses and the correct one – the most dominant response is often not the correct one – for the correct response to occur in these situations, the incorrect response must be weakened and the correct one strengthened o Experiment: paring words together, a stimulus word cues the participant to say the associated response word  Simple paired task: words had similar meanings (empty and vacant) – increase in drive should make the occurrence of the dominant but correct response more likely and learning should be faster  Difficult paired task: involved non-associated words (quiet and double vs. serene and headstrong, where quiet and serene are the dominant response) – increase in drive should increase the likelihood of the dominant response, which is now the wrong response, this makes learning harder  Drive or arousal in this experiment was defined by the participant’s level of trait anxiety as measured by an anxiety scale  Participants low in trait anxiety: defined as low drive – learned the hard paired associate task faster  High in trait anxiety: defined as high drive – learned the easy paired associate task faster - Cusp Catastrophe Model – addresses arousal factors that determine athletic performance o Holds that there are 2 types of arousal: cognitive anxiety and physiological arousal (somatic anxiety) and that performance efficiency is based on the interaction between the two o Physiological arousal:  At low physiological arousal: increases in cognitive anxiety produce a slight improvement in athletic performance  At high physiological arousal: increases in cognitive anxiety produce a decline in performance o Cognitive anxiety  At low levels of cognitive anxiety: increases in physiological arousal lead to small gradual increases and then decreases in athletic performance resembling a flattened inverted-u curve  At mid-range or higher levels of cognitive anxiety: increases in physiological arousal lead to a cusp where performance is best, but beyond this cusp results are a sudden and dramatic drop in performance o Implication of the cusp catastrophe model – drop in performance can be so drastic that it is manifested as paralysis (individual ceases all behaviour)  Behavioural paralysis is known as tonic immobility, which marks the final reaction to extremely stressful or dangerous circumstances - Cue utilization hypothesis: holds that the number of cues or amount of information utilized by a person in any situation tends to decline with an increase in arousal o Use of peripheral and irrelevant cues is reduced o Use of central and relevant cues is maintained  Simple tasks: irrelevant cues are more likely to be excluded with increasing arousal – more attention can be given to task-relevant cues  Complex tasks: involve many cues, arousal excludes task-relevant cues and performance declines  Reason for the reduction in utilizing task-relevant cues comes from the attention grabbing nature of autonomic nervous system arousal o Ex. a study where students are asked to recall a traumatic event  Results: participants remember more central details than peripheral details  Central details: relevant and directly associated with the traumatic event  Peripheral details: neither relevant nor directly associated o Two memory systems – each in a different area of the brain  Cool memory system: localized in the hippocampus – serves the memory events occurring in space and time (remembering your address and where you parked your car)  Hot memory system – localized in the amygdala – serves as the memory of events that occur under high arousal (intrusive memories of individuals who have experience extremely traumatic events years earlier  Level of activation of these memory systems depends on the level of arousal  Degree of activation or efficiency of the cool system follows the inverted-u curve – as arousal increases, activation of this memory system increases, levels off, then decreases o System is more efficient at intermediate levels of arousal but inefficient at very high levels  Hot memory system shows increasing levels of activation wi
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