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Chapter 4

Psychological Science - Third Canadian Edition - Chapter Four Notes.docx

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INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOLOGY (CHAPTERS 4) HOW IS THE CONSCIOUS MIND EXPERIENCED?  Consciousness is difficult to study scientifically  Scientists can differentiate between being “conscious” and being “unconscious”  Consciousness refers to moment-by-moment subjective experiences of the world and mental activity  Components of consciousness: contents (the things we are conscious of) and the level (coma, sleep, wakefulness)  Rene Descartes stated that the mind is physically distinct from the brain (dualism); the mind and the brain are inseparable; a view now rejected  The activity of neurons in the brain produces the contents of consciousness  Because each of us experiences consciousness subjectively, we cannot know if any two people experience the world in exactly the same way  Qualia = describes the properties of our subjective experiences  Subjective nature makes it difficult to study empirically  Growing evidence indicates the imaging methods can help identify commonalities in brain activity across experiences; can identify objects you are looking at by looking at your brain activity  F. Tong and colleagues studied the relationship between consciousness and neural responses in the brain; stated that neural activity increased within the temporal lobe; this finding suggests that different types of sensory information are processed by different brain regions; the type of neural activity determines the type of awareness  Reading brain activity allows researchers to improve the lives of those with spinal injuries by implanting small electrodes in the frontal and parietal lobes of two monkeys and then record impulses from these electrodes; examining the recordings from the various brain regions, the researchers determined which patterns of brain activity led to specific motor actions; they then unplugged the joystick so that it no longer controlled the movement of the robotic arm and they made movements of the robotic arm directly dependent on the pattern of neuronal firing from the monkey’s motor cortices  The first human to benefit from this technology was 25 year-old M. Nagle; the implanted device (BrainGate) has allowed him to use a remote control to perform physical actions  The goal of this research is to allow paralyzed individuals, through brain activity, to control prosthetic devices that will assist them in all aspects of daily living  W. James claimed that conscious experience is a continuous stream of thoughts that often floats from one thought to another; it is a unified and coherent experience, there is a limit to how many things you can conscious of at the same time  We can execute routine or automatic tasks that are so well learned that we do them without much conscious effort  Paying too much attention can interfere with these automatic behaviours  Difficult and unfamiliar tasks require greater conscious effort  In a coma state, people have sleep/wake cycles but they do not seem to respond to their surroundings - When this condition lasts longer than a month, it is known as a persistent vegetative state; but the brain can process information in this state - The longer the PVS lasts, the less likely the person is to recover - Between the PVS and full consciousness is the minimally conscious state in which people make some deliberate movements  Science creates ethical issues; one issue is whether brain evidence should be used to make end-of-life decisions 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  Procedure has provided important insights into the basic organization and specialized functions of each brain hemisphere  M. Gazzaniga and R. Sperry discovered that just as the brain splits, so does the mind  Images from the visual field’s left side go to the right hemisphere and images from the right side go to the left hemisphere; the left hemisphere controls the right hand and the right hemisphere controls the left hand  If a split-brain patient sees two pictures flashed on a screen, the patient will report that only the picture on the right was shown; the mute right hemisphere, having seen the picture on the left, is unable to articulate the response  Splitting the brain produces two half brains, each with its own perceptions, thoughts, and consciousness  Right hemisphere language capabilities tend to improve in the years following the split-brain operation  The left brain is generally poor at spatial relationships THE INTERPERTER:  A left hemisphere process that attempts to make sense of events  The right hemisphere is interpreting what the right hemisphere has done  The left hemisphere is compelled to concoct a story that explains the action after it has occurred  Interpretation does no always happen instantly  Sometimes the left brain interpreter makes life more difficult than it needs to be  According to G. Wolford, the left interpreter leads people to search for patterns that might not even exist  The left hemisphere’s tendency to seek relationships between things may be adaptive in some contexts, but it can produce less-than-optimal outcomes when such relationships do not exist  Although the hemispheres are specialized for certain functions, most cognitive processes involve both UNCONSCIOUS PROCESSING INFLUENCES BEHAVIOUR:  We are aware of some mental processes and not aware of others  Subliminal perception can influence cognition; refers to stimuli that get processed by sensory systems and do not reach consciousness  Play a small role on purchasing behaviours  Subliminal cues may be most powerful when they work on people’s motivational states; for example: flashing the word “thirst” may prove more effective than flashing “buy coke”  People are not aware that word pairs have influenced their thoughts; for example: ocean-moon  detergent  tide  A Freudian slip is when an unconscious thought is suddenly expressed at an inappropriate time and social context  According to Dijksterhuis and Nordgren, unconscious processing is valuable for complex decisions in which it is difficult to weigh pros and cons consciously  Anecdotal reports suggest that allowing an idea to incubate overtime helps in problem solving  Consciously thinking can undermine good decision making; for example: participants rate jams similarly to experts but their explanations of why differ from the experts  J. Schooler introduced the concept of verbal overshadowing to describe the performance impairment that occurs when people try to explain verbally their perceptual experiences that are not easy to describe  The act of verbally labelling alters memories BRAIN ACTIVITY PRODUCES CONSCIOUSNESS:  Researchers have worked to identify the brain regions most important to different forms of awareness  Some research is on blindsight, a condition in which a person who experiences some blindness continues to show evidence of some sight, but is unaware of being able to see at all  When a stimulus is presented in the blind field, one can respond unconsciously to that stimulus; for example: a moving dot might be presented to the blind spot, and the person typically guesses the direction of motion correctly, despite reporting seeing nothing  Visual information also goes to other brain regions  The global workspace model posits that consciousness arises as a function of which brain circuits are active  This tendency appears with hemineglect, in which one is unaware of missing part of the visual world; M. Gazzaniga and J. Cooney argue that the left hemisphere interpreter can make sense only of available information PEOPLE CAN LOSE THEMSELVES IN ACTIVITIES:  Hypnosis and meditation involve doing something to alter consciousness  A person’s level of consciousness awareness changes as a result of the time of day as well as the person’s activities  During most of our daily activities, we are consciously aware of only a small portion of both thoughts and behaviours  The state called runner’s high is mediated by physiological processes and also occurs in part because of a shift in consciousness  Religious ceremonies often decrease awareness of the external world and create feelings of euphoria; involve chanting, dancing, and for people to lose themselves in religious ecstasy  Flow is an optimal experience; activity is absorbing and satisfying; people will lose track of time, forget about problems and fail to notice other things going on  Sometimes, people choose to escape the self rather than engage with life; to forget problems, people drink, take drugs, play video games, watch TV, etc …  Evidence suggest that some ways of escaping the self can be associated with self-destructive behaviours  According to R. Baumeister, people engage in such behaviours because they have low self-awareness when they escape the self PSYCHOACTIVE DRUGS:  Are mind-altering substances that change the brain’s neurochemistry by activating neurotransmitter systems  Types: stimulants, depressants, narcotics, and hallucinogens  MARIJUANA - The most widely used illegal drug in NA - Produces a relaxed mental state, uplifted or contented mood and some perceptual and cognitive distortions - Makes perceptions more vivid - Most first-time users do not experience the “high” - Differs from most other drugs, whose first-time uses have stronger effects and subsequent uses lead to tolerance in which a person has to use more of the drug to get the same effect - Impairs memory - Relieves pain and nausea  STIMULANTS - Increase behavioural and mental activity - Includes caffeine, nicotine, cocaine and amphetamines - Activate the sympathetic nervous system, increasing heart rate and blood pressure, improve mood, cause people to become restless, and disrupt sleep - Interferes with normal reuptake of dopamine, allowing dopamine to remain in the synapse and prolonging its effects - Cocaine users experience a wave of confidence; they feel good, alert, energetic, sociable and wide awake - Can lead to paranoia, psychotic behaviour and violence - Used to create Coca-Cola and later removed from the drink - Amphetamines go by street names such as speed, meth, ice and crystal - Have a long history of use for weight loss and staying awake - Negative effects include insomnia, anxiety, and heart problems - Meth is the world’s second most commonly used illicit drug; blocks reuptake of dopamine, increases the release of dopamine, stays in the body and brain longer, can damage brain strcutures, effects memory and emotion i
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