PSYA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Franz Mesmer, Visual Cortex, Anterograde Amnesia

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20 Apr 2012
Psychology-chapter 9 part 2
- Brain damage can alter human consciousness
- Example: chapter 8 and the anterograde amnesia caused by brain damage to the hippocampus
- Although people with this defect cannot form new verbal memories, they can learn tasks
- However they remain unaware that they have learned something, even when their behaviour says they have
- Brain damage does not prevent all kinds of learning but it does prevent conscious awareness of what has been
- If human consciousness is related to speech, then it is probably related to the brain mechanisms that control
comprehension and production of speech-suggests that for us to be aware of a piece of information, the
information must be transmitted to neural circuits in the brain responsible for our communicative behaviour
Isolation Aphasia: A Case of Global Unawareness:
- Geshwind, Quadfasey, Segarra: case of a women who had suffered severe brain damage from inhaling carbon
- Damage destroyed large areas of visual association cortex and isolated the speech mechanisms from other parts
of the brain
- Syndrome known as Isolation aphasia-a language disturbance that includes an inability to comprehend speech
or to produce meaningful speech, but also an ability to repeat and to learn sew sequences of words
- Women’s speech mechanisms received auditory input and could control the muscles used for speech, received
no information from other senses or from neural circuits that contain memories and meaning of words
- Made few movements with her eyes, able to follow moving objects, could not recognize objects or people,
didn’t answer any questions or any sign that she understood what other people ment, she was not conscious of
anything that was going on
- However she could repeat words that were spoken to her, and if someone started a poem she knew she would
finish it
- therefore: her case suggests that consciousness is not simple activity of the brain’s speech mechanisms; it is
activity promoted by information received from other parts of the brain concerning memories or events
presently occurring in the environment
Visual Agnosia: Lack of Awareness of Visual Perceptions:
- People have become unaware of particular kinds of information
- Example: blindsight, people with particular kind of brain damage can point to objects they cannot see-that they
are not aware of seeing
- Visual agnosia-the inability to recognize the identity of an object visually
- Look on page 278 for example about the man with visual agnosia-he was not blind could walk around without
bumping into things, could pick up objects=his disease damaged the neural circuits responsible for visual
- However not correct: he made hand movements that were related to the object he could not identify=his visual
system worked wee enough to initiate appropriate non-verbal behaviours, though not the appropriate words,
once he felt what he was doing he could name the object(process shown in figure 9.11 pg 279)
- Although the patient had lost ability to read, speech therapists were able to tach him to use finger spelling to
- Could not say what letter was but could make hand movements when saw it(finger-spelling)
- Case supports the conclusion that consciousness is synonymous with a person’s ability to talk about his or her
perceptions or memories
- Disruption of the normal interchange between the visual perceptual system and the verbal system prevented
the patient from being directly aware of his own visual perceptions, instead it was as if his hands talked to him,
telling him what he had just seen
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The Split-Brain Syndrome:
- Surgical procedure demonstrates how various functions can be disconnected from each other and from verbal
- Used for people who have sever epilepsy that cannot be controlled by drugs
- In these people violent storms of neural activity begin in one hemisphere and are transmitted to the other by
the corpus callosum (large bundle of axons that connects parts of cortex on one side of brain with those on
- Both sides of brain then engage in wild neural firing and stimulate each other, causing seizure
- The split-brain operation-a surgical procedure that sever the corpus callosum, thus abolishing the direct
connections between the cortex of the two hemispheres
- After the two hemispheres are disconnected, they operate independently; their sensory mechanisms, memories
and motor systems can no longer exchange information
- Effect not obvious to observe as only one hemisphere(left) controls speech
- Right hemisphere of an epileptic person with split brain can understand speech, but is poor at reading and
- Since Broca’s speech area is located in left hemisphere, right hemisphere incapable of producing speech
- After operation: patients find that there left hand seems to have a mind of its own, making surprise gestures
with left hand
- Because the right hemisphere controls the movements of the left hand, these unexpected movements puzzle
the left hemisphere, the side of the brain that controls speech
- Once exception is the olfactory systemwhen person sniffs a flower through left nostril only left brain receives
a sensation of the odour, thus if the right nostril of a patient with a split brain is closed and the left nostril is
open the patient will identify odours verbally. If odour enters right nostril patient will say that she smells nothing
- But in fact the right brain has perceived the odour and can identify it (example in text page 281-282 figure 9.14)
- Sometimes, hands create conflict and attempt to do different things
- Example: a man with a split brain attempted to beat his wife with one hand and protect her with the other
- The right hemisphere excels at tasks of perception and has a much greater artistic ability, if a patient with a split
brain tries to use his or her right hand to arrange blocks to duplicate a design, the hand will fumble around with
the blocks
- Often left hand(controlled by right hemisphere) will brush the right hand aside and easily complete task
- Effect of cutting the corpus callosum reinforce the conclusion that consciousness depends on the ability of
speech mechanisms in the left hemisphere to receive information from other regions of the brain. If such
communication is interrupted, then some kinds of information can never reach consciousness
- Hypnosis is a specific and unusual form of verbal control that enables on person to control another person’s
behaviour, thought, and perceptions
- Under hypnosis, a person can be induced to bark like a dog
- Hypnosis is important to psychology because it provides insights about the nature of consciousness and has
applications in the fields of medicine and psychotherapy
- Franz Anton Mesmer discovered modern hypnosis(or mesmerism)-he found that when he passed magnets back
and forth over people’s bodies (attempt to restore their “magnetic fluxes” and cure them of disease), they
would often have convulsions and enter a trancelike state during which most cures could be achieved
- Later discovered that the patiesnt where not affected directly by the magnetism of the iron rods, they were
responding to his undoubtedly persuasive and compelling personality
Characteristics of Hypnosis:
- Person undergoing hypnosis can be alert, relaxed, tense, lying quietly or exercising
- No need to move an object in front of someone
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- Hypnotized people are very suggestible; their behaviour will conform to what the hypnotist suggests
- Hypnotic suggestions are one of the three types:
- 1. Ideomotor suggestions-those in which the hypnotist suggests that a particular action will occur without
awareness of voluntary action, such as raising an arm
- 2. Challenge suggestions- suggestions that the hypnotized individual will be unable to perform a normally
voluntary action
- 3. Cognitive suggestions-suggestions that the hypnotized person is undergoing distortions of sensory or
cognitive experiences, such as not feeling pain or not being able to remember something
- Most dramatic phenomena of hypnosis is post-hypnotic suggestibility- a person is given instructions under
hypnosis and follows those instructions after returning to a non-hypnotized state
- Post-hypnotic amnesia- a failure to remember what occurred during hypnosis, induced by suggestions made
during hypnosis
- Studies indicate that when changes in perception are induced through cognitive suggestions, the changes occur
not in people’s actual perceptions but in their verbal reports about their perceptions
- Example: Miller, Hennessy, Leibowitz used the PONZO ILLUSION to test the effects of hypnotically induced
blindness. (see figure 9.15 and example in text page 283)
- Results indicate that the visual system continues to process sensory information during hypnotically induced
blindness, otherwise the participants would have perceived the lines as equal in length
- Reported blindness occurs not because of altered activity in visual system but because of the altered activity in
the verbal system (and in consciousness)
Theories of Hypnosis:
- Hypnosis has been called a special case of learning, a transference of the superego, a goal-directed behaviour
shaped by the hypnotist, a role-playing situation, ad a restructuring of perceptual-cognitive functioning(in other
words no one yet knows what exactly it is)
- Been described has a state of enhanced suggestibility, but that is simple a description not an explanation
- theories of hypnosis-look at two general views:
- 1. The Sociocognitive Approach:
developed by Spanos proposes that at least some aspects of hypnosis are related to events that can happen
every day
argues that hypnosis should not be viewed as a special state of consciousness, in the way that sleep is a state
of consciousness that differs from walking
rather, “hypnotic behaviours” are social actions that reflect what the hypnotized individuals believes to be
characteristic of a hypnotized trance
hypnotized person willingly adopts a role, and enacts that role according to rules as he or she understands
some rules supplied by direct instructions of hypnotist, others are indirectly implied by what hypnotists says
or does, and still others consist of expectations that the people already have about what hypnotized people do
people’s expectations about hypnosis play an important role in their behaviour while under hypnosis
example: Orne told on section of class(false) that one of the most prominent features of hypnosis was rigidity
of the preferred (dominant) hand. Later he arranged a demonstration of hypnosis during a meeting of students
from both sections
several students who had heard that the dominant hand became rigid showed this when hypnotized, but
none of the students who had not heard developed a rigid hand
If people become willing to follow a hypnotist’s suggestions, perhaps because they believe that this suggested
behaviour is what is supposed to happen, or follow to do something silly because they know that hypnotized
people are not responsible for their behaviour
why are so many people willing to play this role?
Barber submits that the suspension of self-control that occurs during hypnosis is similar to our “participation”
in the story of movie or novel
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