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Chapter 5

PSYA01 Chapter 5 TEXTBOOK NOTES.docx

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Chapter 5 – PSYA01 TEXTBOOK NOTES  Anesthesia for surgery is supposed to leave the patient unconscious, “feeling no pain,” and yet in this case–and in about one in a thousand other operations (Sandin et al., 2000)–the patient regains consciousness  New methods of monitoring wakefulness by measuring the electrical activity of the brain are being developed. One system uses sensors attached to the person’s head and gives readings on a scale from 0 (no electrical activity signaling consciousness in the brain) to 100 (fully alert), providing a kind of “consciousness meter.” Anesthesiologists using this index deliver anesthetics to keep the patient in the recommended range of 40 to 65 for general anesthesia during surgery  Consciousness  is a person’s subjective experience of the world and the mind. 5.2 The Mysteries of Consciousness  Psychologists hope to include an understanding of phenomenology, how things seem to the conscious person, in their understanding of mind and behavior. The Problem of Other Minds  One great mystery is called the problem of other minds, the fundamental difficulty we have in perceiving the consciousness of other  Philosophers have called this hypothetical nonconscious person a “zombie,” in reference to the living-yet-dead creatures of horror films  zombie could talk about experiences (“The lights are so bright!”) and even seem to react to them (wincing and turning away) but might not be having any inner experience at all  “consciousness meter” used by anesthesiologists fails to give any special insight into what it is like to be the patient on the operating table; only predicts whether patients will say they were conscious.  problem of other minds also means there is no way you can tell if another person’s experience of anything is at all like yours  How do people perceive other minds? from an experiment- People judge minds according to the capacity for experience (such as the ability to feel pain, pleasure, hunger, consciousness, anger, or fear) and the capacity for agency (such as the ability for self-control, planning, memory, or thought). The Mind/Body Problem  Another mystery of consciousness is the mind/body problem, the issue of how the mind is related to the brain and body.  French philosopher/mathematician René Descartes is famous for proposing, among other things, that the human body is a machine made of physical matter but that the human mind or soul is a separate entity made of a “thinking substance.” He suggested that the mind has its effects on the brain and body through the pineal gland, a small structure located near the center of the brain.  the pineal gland is an endocrine gland quite poorly equipped to serve as a center of human consciousness.  the mind and brain are connected everywhere to each other. In other words, “the mind is what the brain does”  the brain’s activities precede the activities of the conscious mind  Benjamin Libet’s experiments, the participant was asked to move fingers at will while simultaneously watching a dot move around the face of a clock to mark the moment at which the action was consciously willed. Meanwhile, EEG sensors timed the onset of brain activation and EMG sensors timed the muscle movement. (b) The experiment showed that brain activity (EEG) precedes the willed movement of the finger (EMG) but that the reported time of consciously willing the finger to move follows the brain activity  studies found that the brain becomes active more than 300 milliseconds before participants report that they are consciously trying to move. 5.3 The Nature of Consciousness  consciousness has four basic properties (intentionality, unity, selectivity, and transience), that it occurs on different levels, and that it includes a range of different contents  first property of consciousness is intentionality, the quality of being directed toward an object.  Researchers have found that conscious attention is limited  second basic property of consciousness is unity, or resistance to division (filling in)  This property becomes clear when you try to attend to more than one thing at a time. You may wishfully think that you can study and watch TV simultaneously for example, but research suggests not (in simple words can't do 2 things at once)  The third property of consciousness is selectivity, the capacity to include some objects but not others  This property is shown through studies of dichotic listening, in which people wearing headphones are presented with different messages in each ear  Research participants were instructed to repeat aloud the words they heard in one ear while a different message was presented to the other ear. As a result of focusing on the words they were supposed to repeat, participants noticed little of the second message, often not even realizing that at some point it changed from English to German! So, consciousness filters out some information. At the same time, participants did notice when the voice in the unattended ear changed from a male’s to a female’s, suggesting that the selectivity of consciousness can also work to tune in other information.  The conscious system is most inclined to select information of special interest to the person. For example, in what has come to be known as the cocktail party phenomenon, people tune in one message even while they filter out others nearby  Perhaps you, too, have noticed how abruptly your attention is diverted from whatever conversation you are having when someone else within earshot at the party mentions your name. Selectivity is not only a property of waking consciousness, however; the mind works this way in other states. People are more sensitive to their own name than others’ names, for example, even during sleep  The fourth and final basic property of consciousness is transience, or the tendency to change.  William James, famously described consciousness as a stream Levels of Consciousness  Consciousness can also be understood as having levels, ranging from minimal consciousness to full consciousness to self-consciousnes, distinguished by different qualities of awareness of the world and of the self.  minimal consciousness is consciousness that occurs when the mind inputs sensations and may output behavior (connection b/w person and world)  This level of consciousness is a kind of sensory awareness and responsiveness  Something seems to register in your mind, at least in the sense that you experience it, but you may not think at all about having had the experience.  full consciousness is that you know and are able to report your mental state  being fully conscious means that you are aware of having a mental state while you are experiencing the mental state itself  Full consciousness involves not only thinking about things but also thinking about the fact that you are thinking about things  Self-consciousness focuses on the self to the exclusion of almost everything else  William James and other theorists have suggested that self-consciousness is yet another distinct level of consciousness in which the person’s attention is drawn to the self as an object  Most people report experiencing such self-consciousness when they are embarrassed; when they find themselves the focus of attention in a group; when someone focuses a camera on them; or when they are deeply introspective about their thoughts, feelings, or personal qualities.  self-consciousness can certainly spoil a good mood, so much so that a tendency to be chronically self-conscious is associated with depression  However, because it makes people self-critical, the self-consciousness that results when people see their own mirror images can make them briefly more helpful, more cooperative, and less aggressive  self-consciousness: To examine this, researchers painted an odorless red dye over the eyebrow of an anesthetized chimp and then watched when the awakened chimp was presented with a mirror. If the chimp interpreted the mirror image as a representation of some other chimp with an unusual approach to cosmetics, we would expect it just to look at the mirror or perhaps to reach toward it. But the chimp reached toward its own eye as it looked into the mirror—not the mirror image—suggesting that it recognized the image as a reflection of itself.  orangutans, possibly dolphins, and maybe even elephants and magpies recognize their own mirror images  daydreaming- a state of consciousness in which a seemingly purposeless flow of thoughts comes to mind.  brain is active even when there is no specific task at hand (shown in mri scans experiment)  An fMRI scan shows that many areas, known as the default network, are active when the person is not given a specific mental task to perform during the scan  when concerns dominate consciousness people may exert mental control, the attempt to change conscious states of mind  when concerns overtake the person engages in thought suppression, the conscious avoidance of a thought  This rebound effect of thought suppression, the tendency of a thought to return to consciousness with greater frequency following suppression, suggests that attempts at mental control may be difficult indeed. The act of trying to suppress a thought may itself cause that thought to return to consciousness in a robust way.  ironic processes of mental control proposes that such ironic errors occur because the mental process that monitors errors can itself produce them. e.g. In the attempt not to think of a white bear, for instance, a small part of the mind is ironically searching for the white bear.  the ironic monitor is a process of the mind that works outside of consciousness, making us sensitive to all the things we do not want to think, feel, or do so that we can notice and consciously take steps to regain control if these things come back to mind  Ironic processes are mental functions that are needed for effective mental control— they help in the process of banishing a thought from consciousness—but they can sometimes yield the very failure they seem designed to overcome. 5.4 The Unconscious Mind  Many mental processes are unconscious, in the sense that they occur without our experience of them. Freudian Unconscious  Freud’s psychoanalytic theory viewed conscious thought as the surface of a much deeper mind made up of unconscious processes  Freud described a dynamic unconscious—an active system encompassing a lifetime of hidden memories, the person’s deepest instincts and desires, and the person’s inner struggle to control these forces  According to Freud’s theory, the unconscious is a force to be held in check by repression, a mental process that removes unacceptable thoughts and memories from consciousness and keeps them in the unconscious.( Without repression, a person might think, do, or say every unconscious impulse or animal urge, no matter how selfish or immoral)  Freud looked for evidence of the unconscious mind in speech errors and lapses of consciousness, or what are commonly called “Freudian slips.”  Freud believed that errors are not random and instead have some surplus meaning that may appear to have been created by an intelligent unconscious mind Modern View of the Cognitive Unconscious  cognitive unconscious includes all the mental processes that are not experienced by a person but that give rise to the person’s thoughts, choices, emotions, and behavior  One indication of the cognitive unconscious at work is when the person’s thought or behavior is changed by exposure to information outside of consciousness  This happens in subliminal perception, when thought or behavior is influenced by stimuli that a person cannot consciously report perceiving.  experiment- Preference for a thirst-quenching beverage, “Super-Quencher,” increased relative to another sports drink, “PowerPro,” among people subliminally primed with thirst words  People making roommate decisions who had some time for unconscious deliberation chose better roommates than those who thought about the choice consciously or those who made snap decisions (sometimes unconscious mind makes better decisions than the conscious mind)  Unconscious processes are sometimes understood as expressions of the Freudian dynamic unconscious, but they are more commonly viewed as processes of the cognitive unconscious that create our conscious thought and behavior.  The cognitive unconscious is at work when subliminal perception and unconscious decision processes influence thought or behavior without the person’s awareness. 5.6 Sleep and Dreaming: Good Night, Mind  Dream consciousness involves a transformation of experience that is so radical it is commonly considered an altered state of consciousness—a form of experience that departs significantly from the normal subjective experience of the world and the mind.  The world of sleep and dreams, the two topics in this section, provides two unique perspectives on consciousness: a view of the mind without consciousness and a view of consciousness in an altered state.  As you begin to fall asleep, the busy, task-oriented thoughts of the waking mind are replaced by wandering thoughts and images, odd juxtapositions, some of them almost dreamlike and this presleep consciousness is called the hypnagogic state  hypnic jerk-a sudden quiver or sensation of dropping, as though missing a step on a stai
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