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Altered States of Consciousness - Lec 15.docx

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Steve Joordens

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Altered States of Consciousness th Wednesday October 24 , 2012 Altered States  Our previous discussion on the “normal” conscious experience of an awake, sober, self- controlled individual… but “normal” consciousness can be altered by… o Sleep  Medical definition of consciousness  Altered state in a sense that it’s very different from being awake o Hypnosis  Seems as though people give over their conscious control over their behaviour to the hypnotist  Allow hypnotist to control them  Control issue of consciousness o Drugs  Messing with consciousness o Sensory Deprivation  Fascinating studies done on this subject The Mystery of Sleep: Why?  Sometimes evolution-based arguments are too flexible! o Powerful…. But need to think story through  Fascinating topic  We spend 8 hours a day, 1/3 of our life asleep and pathetic  We are pathetic against other animals  We spend 1/3 of our life defensive-less  When we are lying prone for 1/3 of our lives, then sleep must be playing a critical function o If not, then our ancestors should have slept less o We should have evolved to not having to sleep at all  Sleep is HIGHLY relevant … so …. What is sleep doing for us?  Hunting and gathering takes energy … but when hunting we are getting energy… we expend energy to gain energy  At night, we cannot get energy by hunting… therefore… we are more pathetic and vulnerable  In the cave … we don’t want to expend/waste energy at night   Sleep is a way for us to conserve energy when we are otherwise pathetic anyways...  … so why do we sleep? …. Why is it so important to us? Stages of Sleep  Electrodes stuck to brain (EEG)  Measure general, natural electrical activity in the brain  Skull diffuse electrical signals  Get general hum of the brain with EEG  When they were awake o Static-y signals o Small short waves o Same as dreaming  When they are sleeping o Brain waves change o 5 stages of sleep o 3 & 4 is quite similar … but change in wave forms  Stage 1 – Falling asleep o 4- 5% of the night o Relax o Light sleep o Stop thinking about anything o Muscle activity slows down o Occasional muscle twitch  Step 2 – ease into sleep o 45-55% of the night o Breathing pattern and heart rate slows o Slight decrease in body temperature o Waves start to get slightly bigger o Slightly different activity o Slight slower waves with slightly higher amplitude  Step 3 – Deep sleep o 4-6% of the night o Deep sleep begins o Brain begins to generate slow delta waves o Waves spread apart… slows down  Step 4 - Very deep sleep o 12-15% of the night o Rhythmic breathing o Limited muscle activity o Brain produces delta waves o Brain releases neurochemical that paralyzes body and muscles  Shuts down body… so we can have crazy dreams without our body actually doing the actions o Mind becomes decoupled from body  Step 5 o 20-25% of the night o Alpha waves o Rapid eye movement (REM) o Brainwaves speed up o Dreaming occurs o Muscles relax o Heart rate increases o Breathing is rapid and shallow o Brain senses body is in paralysis in dreams  What keeps us in place normally … internal world/ internal experience is driven by our external world… constantly connected to the external world through our eyes, ears and all our senses  External world is relatively stable… therefore internal world is stable as well  When we are dreaming… it is unstable because our brain is generally unstable  5 stages are called a cycle … stages occur over and over  Consistent sleep patterns (wake up before alarm clock)  First two cycles are the only time you hit stage 4 in the cycles  Stage 4 … mind is detached from body… far away from reality  Sleepwalking o Occurs in stage 4 o Sleep walk when they are in very deep sleep o Brain has not paralyzed body sufficiently o Dangerous to wake someone up from sleepwalking because they will feel very disoriented… very far from reality… will be
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