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Chapter 5

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Christopher Anderson

Chapter 5: VARIATIONS IN CONSCIOUSNESS Somniloquy= taking in your sleep Narcolepsy= a serious sleep disorder in which those who suffer from it often fall asleep uncontrollably during their everyday routine -sleep deprivation associated with irritability; sleep deprivation and increased brain sensitivity to negative emotional stimuli; put you at risk of psychopathology -teens seem to need the most sleep -1 in 7 Canadians reports sleep difficulties -consciousness is quite dynamic and we tend to drift in and out of specific states throughout the day Consciousness= the awareness of internal and external stimuli -consciousness is continuously changing (William James); continuous flow is the stream of consciousness; some things entering your stream of consciousness are the result of intention -attention: fundamental concept in psychology, could serve as a unifying concept in psychology -you can have one without the other (attention and consciousness) Francis Crick- consciousness and its basis in neural cell assemblies: one of the most important fundamental issues in all of science today Mind wandering= people’s experience of task-unrelated thoughts; 15-50% of people’s time spent mind wandering; associated with less accurate awareness of external information, may be a connection between mind wandering and creativity in some contexts Difference between controlled and automatic processes= the distinction between what we control about our mental processes and what just seems to happen Controlled processes= judgments or thoughts that we exert some control over, that we intend to occur Automatic processes= happen without our intentional control or effort; implicit processes Malcolm Gladwell- implications of automatic processing for our thinking and behaviour; our judgments and choices seem to be made in the blink of an eye, things sometimes just seem to happen -consciousness does not arise from any distinct structure in the brain but rather from activity in distributed networks of neural pathways; EEG-one of best physiological indicators of variations in consciousness (records activity from broad swaths of the cortex) Electroencephalograph (EEG)= device that monitors the electrical activity of the brain over time by means of recording electrodes attached to the surface of the scalp; summarizes rhythm of cortical activity in the brain in terms of line tracings called brain waves; brain waves vary in amplitude and frequency-divided into 4 principle bands: beta, alpha, theta, delta -different patterns of EEG activity are associated with different states of consciousness ex: when alertly engaged in problem solving, beta waves tend to dominate (higher frequency), when relaxed and resting-alpha waves, when you slip into deep, dreamless sleep-delta waves -changes in EEG activity are closely related to variations in consciousness, although correlations far from perfect -measures of association of correlations between mental states and brain waves don’t allow firm statements regarding causation, don’t know what causes what or if a third factor causes both -measures of brain-wave activity have provided investigators with a method for mapping out the mysterious state of consciousness called sleep-state very complex and varied -cognitive ability that was hypothesized to affect frequency of wandering thoughts was “working memory capacity” -event sampling methodology= ingenious method that allows experimenters to randomly assess participants’ thoughts or behaviour at any time throughout the day; participants carry personal digital assistants that beeped at pre-programmed points in the day and then delivered a series of questions to participants; technique can be adapted to the study of many psychological events, including our consciousness -mind wandering relatively frequent; more common in certain contexts (tired, stressed, involves in boring activities), less mind wandering when participants were happy, competent and involved in enjoyable activities -low Working Memory Capacity participants didn’t always have more wandering thoughts but did have a higher frequency in specific situations-more mind wandering when their activities required considerable effort and concentration; results confirmed hypothesis about association between WCM and mind wandering, supports an executive control formulation of WCM; people with low WCMs are less able to “sustain goal-directed thought and behaviour in the face of competition from environmental and mental events” BIOLOGICAL RHYTHMS AND SLEEP -sleep was thought of as the “absence of phenomena (consciousness, movement, sensation) rather than the presence of anything at all” William Dement – discovery of REM and realization of their significance for the study of sleep; transformed sleep research from the study of dreams to the study of the nature of sleep and clinically relevant sleep problems -variations in consciousness are shaped in part by biological rhythms Biological rhythms= periodic fluctuations in physiological functioning; organisms have internal biological clocks that somehow monitor the passage of time Circadian rhythms= 24hr biological cycles found in humans and many other species; particularly influential in the regulation of sleep in humans also for blood pressure, urine production, hormonal secretions, alertness, short-term memory, aspects of cognitive performance -people generally fall asleep as their body temperature begins to drop and awaken as it begins to ascend once again; circadian rhythms can leave individuals primed to fall asleep most easily at a particular time of day Sleep quality= may be more strongly correlated with health and well-being than with quantity of sleep -daily light exposure readjusts people’s biological clocks; when people isolated from external time cues cycles run longer than normal (24.2 hours) -when exposed to light, some receptors in retina send direct inputs to a small structure in hypothalamus called suprachiasmatic nucleus, SCN sends signals to nearby pineal gland whose secretion of melatonin plays key role in adjusting biological clocks -exposure to light resets biological clocks by affecting the activity of the suprachiasmatic nucleus and the pineal gland, which secretes hormone melatonin -circadian rhythms in humans appear to be regulated by multiple internal clocks with a central pacemaker located in the SCN Jet lag= caused by getting out of sync with your circadian rhythms; chronic jet lag appears to be associated with measurable deficits in cognitive performance; readjustment takes about a day for each time zone crossed; easier when fly westward and lengthen your day rather than shorten it; proven in sports teams -sleep lost when the clock is set ahead in the spring-associated with increase in traffic accidents during week after switch (day made shorter) -hormone melatonin appears to regulate human biological clock; can reduce the effects of jet lag by helping travellers resynchronize their biological clocks, but results inconsistent-timing is crucial -researchers also tried to carefully time exposure to bright light as a treatment to realign circadian rhythms of rotating shift workers in industrial settings, positive effects seen; can accelerate workers’ adaptation to a new sleep-wake schedule, leading to improvements in sleep quality and alertness during work hours; effects modest and somewhat inconsistent; also, carefully planning rotation schedules to reduce severity of circadian disruption, negative effects of shift rotation can be reduced if workers move through progressively later starting times (instead of earlier) and longer periods between shift changes Electromyograph (EMG) =records muscular activity and tension Electroculograph (EOG) =records eye movements -sleep is a complex series of physical and mental states -during sleep people cycle through a series of five stages -when people fall asleep, evolve through series of stages in cycles of approx 90 minutes Stages 1-4 -onset of sleep is gradual, no obvious transition point between wakefulness and sleep Stage 1=brief transitional stage of light sleep that usually lasts only a few (1-7) minutes; breathing and heart rate slow as muscle tension and body temperature decline; alpha waves that probably dominated EEG activity just before falling asleep give way to lower-frequency EEG activity in which theta waves are prominent Hypnic jerks=brief muscular contractions that occur as people fall asleep occur during stage 1 drowsiness -as sleep descends through stages 2,3,4 of cycle: respiration rate, heart rate, muscle tension and body temperature continue to decline Stage 2=typically lasts about 10-25 minutes, brief bursts of higher-frequency brain waves (sleep spindles) appear against a background of mixed EEG activity; gradually brain waves become higher in amplitude and slower in frequency as the body moves into deeper form of sleep (slow- wave sleep) Slow-wave sleep (SWS)= consists of sleep stages 3 and 4 during which high-amplitude, low- frequency delta waves become prominent in EEG recordings; reach slow-wave sleep in about half an hour and stay there for roughly 30 minutes, cycle then reverses itself and sleeper gradually moves back upward through the lighter stages (where things get interesting) REM SLEEP -when sleepers reach what should be stage 1 again they go into 5 stage of sleep, REM sleep, rapid eye movements prominent during this stage -researchers use an electrooculograph to monitor these lateral movements that occur beneath the sleeping person’s closes eyelids, although seen with the naked eye as little ripples across eyelids -term “REM Sleep” coined by William Dement -REM stage tends to be a “deep” stage of sleep in the conventional sense that people are relatively hard to awaken from it; stage is marked by irregular breathing and pulse rate, muscle tone extremely relaxed (bodily movement minimal and sleeper virtually paralyzed) -although REM is a relatively deep stage of sleep, EEG activity is dominated by high-frequency beta waves that resemble those observed when people are alert and awake; paradox probably related to association between REM sleep and dreaming; most dream reports come from this stage -REM dreams more frequent, vivid, memorable although mentation or dreaming does occur in non-REM sleep periods too -brain activity during sleep is central to consolidation of info acquired during the day, different stages of sleep may be implicated in memory for different types of tasks or information ex: stage 2 sleep may be important for consolidation of procedural motor-type tasks while REM sleep may be important for complex logic-type tasks -different types of sleep may be important for different types of learning, changes in sleep as we age REM sleep= relatively deep stage of sleep marked by rapid eye movements; high-frequency, low amplitude brain waves and vivid dreaming Non-REM sleep (NREM)= consists of sleep stages 1 through 4 which are marked by an absence of rapid eye movements and relatively little dreaming and varied EEG activity -during the course of a night people usually repeat sleep cycle 4 times, as night wears on cycle changes gradually, first REM period relatively short (few minutes), subsequent REM periods get progressively longer (peaking 40-60 minutes), also NREM periods tend to get shorter and descents into NREM stages usually become more shallow -most slow-wave sleep occurs early in the sleep cycle and that REM sleep tends to pile up in the second half of the sleep cycle -signature sleep patterns mostly shaped by biological factors rather than personal habits -age alters sleep cycle; infants spend much more of their sleep time in REM than adults (50 vs 20%) -with age increase, shifts towards lighter sleep (may contribute to increased frequency of night time awakening seen among elderly) -average amount of total sleep time declines with advancing age (slow-wave sleep declines and time spent in stage 1 increases slightly-trends stronger in men than women) -last REM period of the night has the fastest eye movements and may be the period from which dreams are best remembered -sleep patterns change most dramatically during infancy, with total sleep time and amount of REM declining sharply in the first 2 years of life, after a noticeable drop in the average amount of sleep in adolescence, sleep patterns remain relatively stable, although total sleep and slow- wave sleep continue to decline gradually with age -age clearly affects the nature and structure of sleep itself, psychological and physiological experience of sleep does not appear to vary systematically across cultures -cultural disparities in sleep limited to more peripheral matters (sleeping arrangements, napping customs) Co-sleeping= practice of children and parents sleeping together (Japan, emphasizes interdependence and group harmony); around world as a whole co-sleeping is normative -siestas are adaptive in tropical regions -rhythm of sleep and waking appears to be regulated by subcortical structures that lie deep within the brain; reticular formation in core of brainstem important to sleep and wakefulness Ascending reticular activating system (ARAS)=consists of the afferent fibres running through the reticular formation that influence physiological arousal; when these fibres cut in brainstem of cat-continuous sleep/electrical stimulation along the same pathways produces arousal and alertness -activity in the pons and adjacent areas in the midbrain seems to be critical to the generation of REM sleep; specific areas in the medulla, thalamus, hypothalamus and limbic system also implicated in the control of sleep and waking -ebb and flow of sleep/waking is regulated through activity in a constellation of interacting brain centres -serotonin and GABA appear to play important roles in the regulation of sleep however norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine influence course of sleep and arousal -no single structure in brain serves as a sleep centre, nor does anyone neurotransmitter serve as a sleep chemical; sleep depends on the interplay of many neural centres and neurotransmitters -neural bases of sleep are complex; arousal depends on activity in the ascending reticular activating system, but a constellation of brain structures and neurotransmitters contribute to regulation of sleep and waking cycle Partial sleep deprivation, sleep restriction= occurs when people make do with substantially less sleep than normal over a period of time; William Dement: “no longer know what feels like to be fully alert” -effects of partial sleep deprivation depend on amount of sleep lost and nature of task at hand -people do not appreciate the degree to which sleep deprivation has a negative impact on their functioning (uni students thinking their performance was fine, when indeed poor)-scary for drivers Selective deprivation (special type of partial sleep deprivation)=REM deprivation-little effect on daytime functioning and task performance but does have interesting effects on subjects’ patterns of sleeping (in studies, becomes necessary to awaken subjects more and more often to deprive them of REM sleep because they spontaneously shift into REM more and more frequently); when subjects done experiment and allowed to sleep without interruption experience “rebound effect” (spend extra time in REM periods for one to three nights to make up for their REM deprivation) -similar results observed when selectively deprived from slow-wave sleep -people have rather strong needs for REM and slow-wave sleep; contribute to firming up learning that takes place during the day (memory consolidation), REM and slow-wave sleep promote different types of memory -improvement seen in those who sleep after learning perceptual-motor task than those who don’t -sleep seems to enhance subjects’ memory of specific learning activities that occurred during the day -length of time spent in REM and SWS correlates with subjects’ increments in learning; sleep may foster creative insights the next morning related to previous day’s learning, if memories can be reactivated during sleep, representation of memories in brain will be enhanced -how time spent in specific stages of sleep may stabilize or solidify memories formed during the day -sound sleep habits should facilitate learning -78 different types of sleep disorders Insomnia=chronic problems in getting adequate sleep; 1. Difficulty falling asleep initially, 2. Difficulty remaining asleep, 3. Persistent early-morning awakening; prevalence increases with age and 50%more common in females Pseudo-insomnia= sleep state misperception= they just think they’re getting inadequate sleep -states of consciousness highly subjective: discrepancy between individuals’ feelings about how much they sleep and objective reality Causes: excessive anxiety, tension, emotional problems, stress, back pain, ulcers, cocaine, amphetamines Most common treatment: sedative drugs, benzodiazepine medications (which exert their effects at GABA synapses); sedatives poor long-term solution for insomnia: carryover effects, overdose with alcohol and opiate drugs, physical dependence on them, they gradually become less effective creates vicious circle of escalating dependence and daytime sluggishness, also most sedatives interfere with the normal sleep cycle (although promote sleep, most decrease the proportion of time spent in slow-wave sleep and some reduce REM sleep) -sedatives have important place in treatment of insomnia but must be used cautiously and conservatively; short-term treatment (2-4 weeks), difficult to generalize about treatment because its many causes call for different solutions -treatment programs, relaxation procedures (just as effective as medication in short term) and behavioural interventions (produce more long-lasting benefits than drugs) -cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for insomnia treatment: 70-80% may benefit, not all become good sleepers though, cognitive therapies generally emphasize recognizing and changing negative thoughts and maladaptive beliefs Narcolepsy= disease marked by sudden and irresistible onsets of sleep during normal waking periods; goes directly from wakefulness to REM sleep for short period of time (10-20 minutes), potentially dangerous, relatively infrequent (seen in 0.05% of population), genetically predisposed, stimulant drugs used to treat but with modest success, stimulants however carry many problems of their own Sleep Apnea=involves frequent, reflexive gasping for air that awakens a person and disrupts sleep, some awake 100s of times per night, person stop breathing for min 10 seconds, 5 events per hour of sleep, heart failure prevalent among people with some types of sleep apnea, 2% women 4% men ages 30-60, leads to insomnia as a side effect; may be treated with surgery or drug therapy Nightmares=anxiety-arousing dreams that lead to awakening, usually from REM sleep, recalls vivid dream and may have trouble falling back asleep, associated with measures of an individual’s well-being, higher frequencies of nightmares were associated with increased scores on variables such as neuroticism, trait anxiety, state anxiety, depression; mainly a problem among children, persistent nightmares may reflect an emotional disturbance: counselling otherwise treatment unnecessary as children grow out of problem Night terrors (sleep terrors)=abrupt awakenings from NREM sleep, accompanied by intense autonomic arousal and feelings of panic; can produce remarkable accelerations of heart rate, usually stage 4 sleep early in the night, piercing cry/bolt upright/stare into space, do not usually recall a coherent dream although may remember simple, frightening image; panic normally fades quickly and return to sleep fairly easy, occur in adults but common in children 3-8; not indicative of emotional disturbance, treatment may not be necessary as only usually temporary problem Somnambulism (sleepwalking)= person arises and wanders about while remaining asleep, tends to occur during the first 2 hours of sleep when in slow-wave sleep, episodes last 15s-30m, sleepwalkers may awaken during journey or return to bed with no recollection, causes unknown although genetic predisposition; not a manifestation of underlying emotional/psychological problems, prone to accidents, it is safe to awaken people from an episode (much safer than them wandering) DREAMS -have had a dramatic influence on almost every important aspect of our culture and history Conventional view: dreams are mental experiences during REM sleep that have a story-like quality, include vivid visual imagery, often bizarre and are regarded as perceptually real by the dreamer -BUT: dreams not as bizarre as widely assumed, dreams not exclusive property of REM sleep -dreams from NREM stages appear less vivid, visual and story-like than REM dreams -dreamers realize they’re dreaming more often than thought, mental processes during sleep more similar to waking thought processes than widely assumed -concept of dreaming undergoing revision in scientific circles -most dreams are relatively mundane; more tolerant of logical discrepancies and implausible scenarios in our dreams than waking thought, but we generally move through coherent virtual worlds with coherent sense of self -certain themes tend to be more common than others in dreams -dreams distinctively associated with males tended to be positive in nature, while those associate with females tended to be more negative (including phobias, performance anxiety- failure, control-loss) -differences in dream prevalence across student samples (Alberta-money, McGill-half awake/paralyzed) -one nightmare recalled on average every two weeks -substantial consistency of dream content over age, region and gender -childrens’ dreams different from adults’ dreams; rate of dream recall after REM awakenings only 20-30% until ages 9-11, and 80% at adult levels, dream reports from children under 5 are static, bland images with no storyline, children 5-8 report dream narratives but not well developed and common adult themes of aggression and misfortune notably infrequent, content doesn’t become adult-like until 11-13 -dreaming is a cognitive ability that develops gradually, like other cognitive abilities -dream content is continuous with waking conceptions and emotional preoccupations -relationship of daily stress to dreams may depend on a variety of factors including nature of stressor, particular stressors like imminent surgery might be more likely to affect dream content than impending exams; not all daytime events equally likely to affect dream content -Freud noticed long ago that the contents of waking life often tended to spill into dreams; spillover=the day residue -incorporation of external stimuli into dreams shows that people’s dream world not entirely separate from real world (spraying water on subjects in REM stage and their dreams being about water, alarm clock in dream as siren etc) Lucid dreams= people realize dreaming while still in dream state, dreamer may be able to exert some control over the dream, lucid dreaming might be useful in the treatment of nightmares but to be useful therapist must be able to somehow control or influence the onset of the lucid dreams thus one issue is induction of lucid dreaming for therapeutic use; may be easier to induce lucid dreaming in some individuals than others -striking cross-cultural variations occur in beliefs about the nature of dreams and the importance attributed to them; Western culture: dreams written off as insignificant, meaningless meanderings of the unconscious, some realize events in real world can affect their dreams but few believe their dreams hold any significance for their waking life -Non-Western cultures: dreams viewed as important sources of information about oneself, future, spiritual world, no culture confuses dreams with waking reality but many view events in dreams as another type of reality that may be just as important as or perhaps more important than those experienced while awake (Angakoks-Inuit: had power to travel/visit hidden places that others unable to visit via trances and dreams/Australian aborigines: dreaming is the focal point of traditional aboriginal existence and simultaneously determines their way of life, culture, relationship to the physical/spiritual environment; dreams continue to play large role in contemporary Canadian Aboriginal culture) -dream content: similarities and differences occur across cultures in types of dreams that people report, some universal: falling, being pursued, sex, however contents vary from one culture to another because people in different societies deal with different worlds while awake; shared systems for interpreting contents of dreams also vary from one society to another -cultures vary in beliefs about the nature of dreams, dream recall, dream content, dream interpretation Sigmund Freud: believed that principal purpose of dreams is wish fulfillment; people fulfill ungratified needs from waking hours through wishful thinking in dreams (sexually frustrated have erotic dreams); wish-fulfilling quality of many dreams may not be readily apparent because the true meaning of dreams may be disguised Rosalind Cartwright: dreams provide an opportunity to work through everyday problems; cognitive, problem-solving view: there is considerable continuity between waking and sleeping thought, dreams allow people to engage in creative thinking about problems because dreams not restrained by logic or realism (ex: women going through divorce frequently dream about divorce-related problems); thought-provoking but critics point out that just because dreaming of problems doesn’t mean dreaming of solutions; nonetheless, research showing that sleep can enhance learning adds new credibility to the problem-solving view of dreams Hobson and McCarley: dreams simply the by-product of bursts of activity emanating from subcortical areas in the brain; activation-synthesis model proposes that dreams are side effects of the neural activation that produces “wide-awake” brain waves during REM sleep; neurons firing periodically in lower brain centres send random signals to the cortex (seat of complex thought), cortex synthesizes a dream to make sense out of these signals; activation-synthesis model does NOT assume that dreams are meaningless; Hobson: “dreams are as meaningful as they can be under the adverse working conditions of the brain in REM sleep” -in contrast to theories of Freud and Cartwright, downplays the role of emotional factors as determinants of dreams; activation-synthesis model has its share of critics like other theories of dreams: point out that model cannot accommodate the fact that dreaming occurs outside of REM sleep and that the contents of dreams are considerably more meaningful than the model would predict -all these theories based more on conjecture than solid evidence, none of them tested adequately -subjective nature of dreams makes it difficult to put the theories to an empirical test, purpose of dreaming remains a mystery HYPNOSIS Mesmer: claimed to cure people
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