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Chapter 4

PSY100H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Sleep Spindle, Fusiform Face Area, Theta Wave

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Alison Luby

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The Conscious Mind
-Consciousness: the subjective experience of the world and of mental activity
-in 1920’s, philosophers created the term qualia to describe the properties of our subjective experiences, like our
perceptions of things (e.g. does red look the same to everyone who has normal color vision?)
-Frank Tong (1998) found that when research participants were shown a face superimposed on a house, neural activity
increased within temporal lobe’s fusiform face area for the participants reported seeing a face; neural activity increased
within temporal lobe regions associated w/ object recognition for the ones who reported seeing a house
-persistent vegetative state: person w/ sleep/wake cycles but does not respond to surroundings (lasts more than a month)
-minimally conscious state: ppl make some deliberate movements (e.g. following object with eyes) and may try to
Splitting the Brain
-split brain: a condition in which the corpus callosum is surgically cut and the two hemispheres of the brain do not
receive information directly from each other
-left hemisphere is dominant for language: if split-brain patient sees two pictures presented to the visual field’s left and
right side, the patient will report seeing the picture on the right side
But patient can choose the correct object shown to the right hemisphere (although can’t verbalize what was seen)
-right hemisphere is dominant for spatial relationships; split-brain patient using left hand can arrange blocks better than
right hand
-interpreter: a left hemisphere process that attempts to make sense of events
Attempts to explain behavior governed by right hemisphere on the basis of limited information
Leads ppl to search for patterns that might not exist
Unconscious Processing Influences Behavior
-subliminal perception: stimuli that get processed by sensory systems but, because of their short durations or subtle
forms, do not reach consciousness
Subliminal messages have little effects on purchasing behavior but can influence how ppl think
-Freudian slip: unconscious thought is suddenly expressed at an inappropriate time/ social context
-unconscious processing is especially valuable for complex decisions in which it is difficult to weigh the pros and cons
-verbal overshadowing: performance impairment that occurs when ppl try to explain verbally their perceptual
experiences that are not easy to describe
We are not good that describing perceptual experiences and when we do so, the act of verbally labeling alters our
Brain Activity and Consciousness
-blindsight: condition in which person who experiences some blindness because of damage to the visual system continues
to show evidence of some sight, but is unaware of being able to see at all
When stimulus is presented to the blind field, patient can respond unconsciously to the stimulus
-the amygdala processes visual information very crudely and quickly, to help identify potential threats
-global workspace model: says that consciousness arises as a function of which brain circuits are active
E.g. person who has eye injury will know about this deficit b/c brain’s visual area will know something is wrong;
but if person has damage to brain’s visual areas, then person will not be aware of vision problems
In hemineglect, patient is not aware of missing part of the visual world (left hemisphere interpreter can make
sense only of available information so patients see their behavior as normal)
Model presents no single area of the brain as responsible for general “awareness”: consciousness is the
mechanism that is actively aware of information and prioritizes what information we need or want to deal with at
any moment
-sleep is an altered state of consciousness; brain processes information and is aware of environment
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