Psychology 1000 Chapter 6 Notes (States of Consciousness)
Puzzle of Consciousness
Consciousness is the defined as our moment to moment awareness of ourselves and the
o As well, it is the awareness of the relationship between self and the external world
Cogito ergo sum
o Consciousness is subjective and private, dynamic and self-reflective, central to our sense
of self and connected with the process of selective attention.
Sigmund Freud proposed that the human mind contains three levels of awareness:
Contains thoughts, perceptions and other mental events of which we
are currently aware
Contains mental events that are outside of current awareness, but can
be easily recalled
Tip-of-the-tongue experiences are ‘here’
Contains thoughts and events that cannot be brought into conscious
awareness under ordinary circumstances.
They are kept out of conscious awareness due to the negative emotions
that arise with them
o Research strongly supports Freud’s general premise; non-conscious processes influence
behaviour, even though the general model is criticized and have an issue with the
datedness of the model itself.
o Sigmund Freud challenged the single entity view and most models of the mind show
that is a collection of separate but interacting modules.
People daydream about every 90 seconds.
o People dream about a variety of topics:
Failure or success
Sex or romance
o Why do we daydream?
Safety valve; being that it allows the individual to escape from life
It alters mood towards a positive direction.
It is a low risk way to deal with problems
It increases arousal
Many activities involve controlled processing, the use of attention and conscious effort. o Other activities may only use automatic processing, where the task is performed with
little to no conscious effort.
Automatic processing may prevent task being accomplished from a new
perspective; however it offers speed and the best use of effort.
Many experiments show that over self-focused thinking can hurt task
o Automatic processing also makes divided attention easier.
Divided attention has its limitations; tasks get increasingly difficult as they share
similar mental processes.
o Emotional and motivational processes operate unconsciously and affect behaviour as
Every 24 hours, out body undergoes rhythms called circadian rhythms
o BP, Temperature and Chemical concentrations have rhythms as well
Most circadian rhythms are regulated by the brain’s suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN), located in the
o It links to the pineal gland, which secretes melatonin.
o During the day, the SCN reduces the amount of melatonin secreted.
At night, the neurons that control melatonin release are inactive, allowing levels
to increase and promote relaxation and sleepiness.
If people were not exposed to light, their ‘biological’ clocks would run on a 25
hours cycle instead of a 24 hour one.
Circadian rhythms influence whether an individual is a morning person or a night person.
There are many things that can disrupt circadian rhythms:
o SAD (Seasonal affective disorder)
o Jet lag
Phase advance is more difficult to overcome than phase delay; flying from
Vancouver to Halifax is more problematic than vice versa.
Ways to avoid jet lag:
Stay hydrated on the plane
Avoid alcoholic beverages
Get up and stretch
Eat light meals
Expose yourself to sunlight upon arrival to destination
o Shiftwork (Working at night, sleeping in the day)
Sleep and Dreaming
Sleep is the largest circadian rhythm.
During sleep, the body starts to ‘shut down’:
o HR is lowered o BR is lowered
o Muscle activity is brought to a minimum
o Temperature is lowered
o There is marked decrease in sensitivity to external stimulation shown by an EEG
Every 90 minutes of sleep, we undergo a change in our sleep cycles.
Sleep begins, and people enter stage 1, characterized by theta waves .
Stage 2 occurs when the individual has sleep spindles within his sleep patterns.
o There are spikes within the EEG called sleep spindles that is a burst of brain cycles
o As well, K-complexes are sudden drops of brain cycles that are externally triggered and
they are immediately followed by sleep spindles
Stage 3 is marked by the occurrence of delta waves, slow waves about 0.5-2 cycles per second.
When delta waves completely take over the EEG pattern, the individual is in stage 4 of sleep.
During REM sleep, the normal ‘awake’ brain waves take over and rapid eye movements occur in
o During REM sleep, individuals dream. When woken up during REM sleep, dreams were
almost always recalled during that period.
o As well, during REM sleep the body sends signals for muscular contractions. This state is
called REM sleep paralysis and REM sleep is sometimes called paradoxical sleep.
o There are on average 2 dreams per REM session
Difference aspects of the sleep cycle are moderated by different mechanisms within the brain.
Environmental factors influence sleep as well:
o In the fall or winter, people sleep more and in less than favourable conditions, people
sleep less; such as shiftwork, jet lag, stress, and noise.
As individuals age, their sleep decreases.
o If natural rhythms are followed, most individuals get around 10-12 hours of sleep.
o The amount of sleep is influence by a variety of factors; genetics, workload, stress, age,
lifestyle, general health, etc.
There are many different theories on why we sleep:
The restoration model states that it allows our body to recover from physical
and mental stress and allows our bodies to recharge out body.
The evolutionary/circadian sleep model states that sleep was to increase
evolutionary survival; it was pointless to hunt and gather at night when it would
be easier and safer to accomplish these tasks during the daytime. As well,
depending on the animal (whether it was prey or predator), they developed a
sleep pattern based on food and methods of defense.
Learning and memory
REM deprived sleep individuals show reduced ability to retain new
Speed of cycling into REM during sleep is correlated with a positive
mood the following day Depressed individuals cycle into REM very quickly
o The two models complement each other and both contribute to an understanding of
why we sleep.
o Studies have shown that REM sleep is required and vital for mental functioning.
o Insomnia refers to the repeated difficulty of falling, staying asleep or getting sleep.
Trouble falling asleep is most common among young adults
Staying asleep is most common among older adults
10-40% of a countries population experience insomnia
There are several ‘types’ of insomnia:
Chronic insomnia may be caused due to a possible circadian rhythm
Situational insomnia is caused by a specific stressor and once that
stressor is dealt with, sleep continues as normal.
o Sleep apnea is an interruption in breathing during sleep
It is normal, but people with sleep apnea do not start breathing until they wake
Severe sleep apnea can cause the individual to stop breathing for up to one
minute, and may happen hundreds of time in one night
Cause of sleep apnea may include obstruction of air passage denoted by loud
snoring or abnormal brain function.
People think that SIDS is a type of sleep apnea.
o Narcolepsy is the onset of sudden uncontrollable sleep that may occur at any time.
Sleep attacks occur at random times, and the individual immediately enters
Other symptoms may include cataplexy; loss of muscle tone
Causes for narcolepsy may be abnormal timing for REM, a depleted supply of
hypocretins and it is often triggered by strong emotions
Narcolepsy has some genetic determinant
o REM-Sleep Behaviour Disorder (RBD) is the loss of the loss of muscle tone that REM
sleep usually causes
RBD sleepers may kick violently, throw punches, leave the bedroom in shambles,
or get out of bed and move around randomly.
RBD patients injure either their partner or themselves
o Sleepwalking is sleepwalking….
Sleepwalking usually occurs during stage 3 or 4 and are accompanied by blank
stares and are unresponsive to people, but they seem conscious of their
Sleepwalkers usually return to their bed with no recollection of their
10-30% of people sleepwalk at least once, but less that 5% of adults do it Sleepwalkers can accidently