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Chapter 6

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Western University
Psychology 1000

CHAPTER SIX: STATES OF CONCIOUSNESS > THE PUZZLE OF CONCIOUSNESS - consciousness: our moment-to-moment awareness of ourselves and our environment  several characteristics: o subjective and private: other ppl cannot know what is reality for you o dynamic (ever changing): we drift through various states each day o self-reflective and central to our sense of self: the mind is aware of its own consciousness o intimately connected with the process of selective attention: consciousness consists in the selection of some stimuli, and the suppression of others Measuring States of Consciousness - self-report: (most common) ppl describe their inner experiences  most direct insight, but not always verifiable - physiological measures: establish the correspondence between bodily states and mental processes  objective, but cannot tell us what a person is experiencing subjectively - behavioural measures: includes performance on tasks  also objective, but still cannot tell what a person is experiencing subjectively Levels of Consciousness: Psychodynamic and Cognitive Perspectives - Freud proposed that the human mind consists of three levels of awareness: o The conscious mind contains thoughts, perceptions and whatever we are aware of o Preconscious mental events are outside current awareness, but can easily be recalled  eg, childhood memories o Unconscious events cannot be brought into conscious awareness under ordinary circumstances  eg, sexual urges, traumatic memories - Behaviourists do not agree with Freud’s theory, and many cognitive and psychodynamic psychologists believe it is out dated The Cognitive Unconscious - Cognitive psychologists reject the notion of an unconscious mind driven by instinctive urges and repressed conflicts. Rather, they view conscious and unconscious mental life as complementary forms of information processing Controlled versus Automatic Processing - controlled processing: the voluntary use of attention and conscious effort - automatic processing: take little or no conscious effort (routine tasks, etc) - things that are use conscious effort such as typing eventually become automatic Divided Attention: - automatic processing facilitates divided attention, the ability to perform more than one task at a time 1 The Emotional Unconscious - modern psychodynamic views emphasize that emotional and motivational processes operate unconsciously and influence behaviour - these hidden processes can cause to feel and act in ways we cannot explain The Modular Mind - many believe the mind is a collection of largely separate but interacting modules - these modules are info processing subsystems within the brain that perform tasks related to sensation, perception, memory, problem solving, motor skills, etc - the various modules process info simultaneously and mostly independently - output from one module can provide input for another - according to this perspective, consciousness arises from the integrated activity of the various modules > CIRCADIAN RYTHEMS: OUR DAILY BIOLOGICAL CLOCKS - biological cycles within the body that occur on an approximately 24-hour cycle Keeping Time: Brain and Environment - most circadian rhythms are regulated by the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN), located in the hypothalamus  acts as the brain’s clock - SCN neurons have a genetically programmed cycle of activity and inactivity - They link to the tiny pineal gland, which secretes melatonin, a hormone that has a relaxing effect on the body. During the day the SCN neurons are active reducing the secretion of melatonin, but at night the SCN neurons are inactive, allowing melatonin levels to increase, making you sleepy - Circadian clock is biological, but environmental factors such as the day-night cycle help keep SCN neurons on a 24-hour schedule - Eyes have neural connections to the SCN  light of day increases SCN activity and helps reset the 24 hour clock  if you lived in the dark, most ppl drift into a longer cycle of about 24.2 to 24.8 hrs, called a free-running circadian rhythm - Blind ppl may also experience free running circadian rhythms, and if they try to go to bed at normal fixed times, may experience insomnia Environmental Disruptions of Circadian Rhythms - seasonal affective disorder (SAD): a cyclic tendency to become psychologically depressed during certain months of the year - as sunrise occurs later in winter, the daily “onset” time of their circadian clocks may be pushed back, and then when ppl wake up in darkness, they are in “sleepiness” mode for a long time after they wake up - jet lag is a sudden circadian disruption caused by flying across several time zones in one day  east you loose hours, flying west day becomes longer - accidents peak between midnight and 6:00am  night shifts hard to deal with > SLEEP AND DREAMING - spend approximately 1/3 of our lives asleep Stages of Sleep 2 - approximately every 90 minutes while asleep, we cycle through different stages in which our brain activity and other physiological responses change - EEG recordings of the brain’s electrical activity show a pattern of beta waves when you are awake. Beta waves have a high frequency of about 15-30 cycles per second (cps), but a low “amplitude.” When getting tired, brain waves slow down and alpha waves occur at about 8-12 cps Stage 1 through 4 - Stage 1: brain-wave patterns become more irregular and slower theta waves (3.5- 7.5 cps) increase. Can easily be awakened, and lasts just a few minutes. Some ppl experience images and sudden body jerks - Stage 2: Sleep spindles – one or two second bursts of rapid brain-wave activity (12-15 cps) – begin to appear. Muscles become more relaxed, and breathing and heart rate slows down - Stage 3: appearance of very slow (0.5-2 cps) and large delta waves. When delta waves dominate the EEG pattern this indicates you have moved into stage 4. - Stage 4: together, stage 3 and 4 are referred to as slow-wave sleep  body is relaxed, activity in various parts of the brain has decreased, and become harder to awaken - After about 20-30 minutes of stage 4 sleep, you go back through stages 2 and 3 - Within 60-90 minutes of going to sleep, complete cycle of stages 1-2-3-4-3-2 REM Sleep - when awakened from REM sleep it is much easier to remember a dream - during REM physiological arousal may increase to daytime levels  heart rate quickens, breathing becomes more rapid and irregular, and brain-wave activity resembles that of active wakefulness. Men get erections, women get wet - muscles in the arms, legs, and torso become relaxed  REM sleep paralysis - REM dreams are more story like and longer than those had in other stages, and in them you can usually experience vivid sensory and motor elements Getting a Night’s Sleep - areas at the base of the forebrain (called the basal forebrain) and within the brain stem are particularly important in regulating our falling asleep - another brain stem area, where the reticular formation passes through the pons, plays a key role in initiating REM sleep  contains “REM-sleep On” neurons that activate other brain systems, each responsible for a different aspect of REM How Much Do We Sleep? - differences in how much ppl sleep at various ages - newborn infants sleep about 16hrs a day (about half is REM) - 19-30 year olds sleep slightly less than 8 hours of sleep a day, elderly about 6hrs - REM decreases during infancy and early childhood, but remains stable thereafter - Time spent in stages 3 and 4 declines Why Do We Sleep? - Restoration model: sleep recharges our run-down bodies and allows us to recover from physical and mental fatigue 3 - Some researchers believe that a cellular waste product called adenosine influences brain systems that decrease alertness and promote sleep by signaling to the body that to much cellular fuel has been burned - Caffeine blocks adenosine receptor sites, preventing the signaling of the brain to slow down - Evolutionary/circadian sleep models emphasize that sleep’s main purpose is to increase a species’ chances of survival in relation to its environmental demands  unsafe for ancestors to hunt and travel at night - Sleep may have also developed as a mechanism for conserving energy  metabolic rate is about 10-25% slower than during waking rest - Must have REM sleep  REM-rebound effects: the tendency to increase the amount of REM sleep we get after being deprived of it - REM may be vital for memory consolidation  the high levels of brain activity produced in REM sleep may strengthen the neural circuits involved in remembering important info learned throughout the day Sleep Disorders - one-half to two-thirds of Americans believe they have a sleep disorder Insomnia - the chronic difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep, or having a restful sleep - experienced by approx. 10 to 40% of the population of various countries - pseudoinsomniacs complain of insomnia, but actually sleep fine - insomnia can be caused by genetic predisposition, drugs, and worrying/stress - stimulus control treatment  do not associate your bed or bedroom with wakeful activities, only sleep (don’t do anything other than sleep in your bed) Narcolepsy - involves extreme daytime sleepiness and sudden, uncontrollable sleep attacks that may last from less than a minute to an hour - about 1/1000 ppl is narcoleptic - when a sleep attack occurs, narcoleptics may go right into REM - may also experience attacks of cataplexy  a sudden loss of muscle tone often triggered by laughter or other strong emotions  a abnormal version of the normal muscular paralysis that takes place during nighttime REM sleep - partially genetic, but unknown environmental factors also a factor REM-Sleep Behaviour Disorder - REM-Sleep Behaviour Disorder (RBD): the loss of muscle tone that causes normal REM sleep paralysis is absent  sufferers tend to act out their dreams Sleep Apnea - ppl with sleep apnea repeatedly stop and restart breathing during sleep - usually lasts about 20-40 seconds - most often caused by an obstruction in the upper airways as muscles may sag due to the relaxation during sleep - reflexes kick in and the person gasps or produces a loud snore - stresses the heart and contributes to hypertension 4 Sleepwalking - typically occurs during stage 3 or 4 of sleep - usually wear blank stares, are unresponsive to others, but vaguely conscious of their environment - a tendency to sleepwalk may be inherited, and daytime stress, alcohol, and certain illnesses and medications can also increase it Nightmares and Night Terrors - nightmares usually occur during REM sleep and in the hours before we wake - Night terrors are more intense, and person usually sits up, screams, and can thrash around, or flee to another room - Night terrors are more common during deep sleep (stages 3 and 4) and involve greatly elevated physiological arousal - Occurs in up to 6% of children The Nature of Dreams When Do We Dream? - hypnagogic state: the transitional state from wakefulness through early stage 2 - mental activity begins right as we fall asleep, but dreams occur more when the brain is most active, which is in REM - brain activity is also greater in the final hours of sleep because our circadian sleep-wake cycle is preparing us to rise What Do We Dream About? - most often involve familiar places and people we know - most dreams contain negative content  80% report negative emotions, and almost half contain aggressive acts - women dream almost equally about male and female characters, but about 2/3 of men’s dream characters are male - our cultural background, life experiences, and current concerns shape our dreams Why Do We Dream? Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory: - believed main purpose was wish fulfillment, the gratification of our unconscious desires and needs - manifest content – the surface story the dreamer reports - latent content – the disguised psychological meaning - the different levels of meaning disguise unconscious needs, thus the sleeper does not become anxious and can sleep peacefully Activation-Synthesis Theory: - Hobson and McCarley (1977) proposed a physiological theory of dreaming - Believed that during REM sleep the brain stem bombards our higher brain centers with random neural activity. Because we are asleep, this neural activity does not match any external sensory events, but our cerebral cortex continues to perform its job of interpretation. It does this by creating a dream that provides the best fit to the particular pattern of activation
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