Textbook Notes (368,799)
Canada (162,168)
Psychology (1,978)
PS264 (24)
Chapter 5

Chapter 5 Reading Notes.pdf

15 Pages
Unlock Document

Camie Condon

READING NOTES Chapter 5:Arousal,Attention, and Peak Performance • Peak performance means doing the very best that we are capable of ◦ Being able to focus on the task in front of us and persist in the face of distractions and adversity ◦ One of the main things that prevent us from achieving peak performance is our inability to control our attention ◦ Research indicates that when arousal shifts, attention tends to shift Definition ofArousal • Arousal is the activation of the brain and the body • When we are aroused, body and brain are in a state of readiness so that we are prepared to engage in adaptive behaviours ◦ The heart beats more rapidly, blood is redirected, muscle tone increases for quick and efficient response • Two primary arousal systems: ◦ The Cortical Arousal System ▪ Involves the activation of various brain systems, often in combination with other systems as the task demands ◦ The Autonomic Arousal System ▪ Arouses the body, directing blood to those parts of the body that demand greater energy • Cortical and arousal autonomic arousal often function independently CorticalArousal The Reticular Activating System (RAS) • Each of the various sensory receptors (visual, auditory, tactile) is connected to a sensory area in the brain via afferent nerve pathway that ascends to the cortex via a specific projection system ◦ Fibres branching from these pathways ascend to the reticular formation ◦ When sensory information stimulates this system, it responds by activating the brain • The RAS also has a descending tract ◦ May be partly responsible for the improvement in the speed and coordination of reactions under higher levels of arousal • As a result of being put in this state of readiness, people can process more information and can process it better • Because the motor cortex has been activated, they are prepared to make responses more rapidly and accurately • Research suggests: ◦ Unless the cortex is aroused, sensory signals going to the cortex will not be recognized or processed ◦ When optimally aroused, it will quickly recognize signals and efficiently process incoming information Measuring Cortical Activity • Electroencephalograms ◦ EEG was designed to amplify impulses generated by chemical processes that travel along the interconnecting nerve pathways in the brain ▪ EEG keeps a permanent record of the activity of various brain structures ◦ Changes in the brain are characterized by abrupt rather than gradual changes in the amplitude and frequency of the impulses (brain waves) ▪ In general, as a particular brain structure becomes more active, amplitude (wave height) and frequency (number of peaks per second) increases ◦ Practical problem is its limited ability to tell very much about activity of the more central areas of the brain ▪ Since electrodes can be placed only on the surface of the skin • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) ◦ Involves tracing circulation of blood by infusing radioactive material ◦ Changes in blood flow are accompanied by changes in paramagnetic levels that can be amplified and recorded ◦ This nonintrusive measure can show how various areas of the brain not only respond to external stimuli but also to cognitive demands ▪ e.g.) thinking and planning Prefrontal Cortex • The prefrontal cortex has been linked to the “executive” function of the brain ◦ This means that it is involved in goal-directed behaviour ▪ e.g.) The creation of goals, planning the route to a goal, evaluating feedback that tells us how well we are doing in achieving that goal, and making adjustments to our plans (actions) so that we can better and more effectively achieve a goal • Additionally, the prefrontal cortex is involved in the inhibition of responses to external sources of stimulation and the inhibition of a wide range of emotions • Highly responsive to novelty ◦ Attention is allocated to a novel stimulus in proportion to the degree of importance that stimulus has for the individual • The anterior cingulate cortex has been implicated in the control of anxiety and arousal Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) • The principal characteristics ofADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity • At a functional level, individuals withADHD are highly distractible and quick to respond to external sources of stimulation ◦ This reflects failures of inhibition and/ or failures in self-regulation ▪ In other words, failure is due to a dysfunctional or underdeveloped prefrontal cortex • One feature of goal-directed behaviour is the ability to delay immediate gratification ◦ Individuals withADHD show a deficit in this ability • One way of treatingADHD is to teach them to make their lives more “intentional” through goal setting Evolutionary Consideration • It has been said that the prefrontal cortex emerged from the advantage gained when humans evolved a brain that allowed them to engage in social exchange • The advantage of having a highly developed prefrontal cortex is that it allows us to anticipate and prepare for the future in a wide variety of situations ◦ We do this at a functional level by setting goals TheAutonomic Nervous System • The autonomic nervous system is responsible for physiological changes that occur when a person is in a state of arousal ◦ e.g.) Physical exertion, exposure to a loud noise or novel stimulus, injury to the body, anxiety and apprehension will elicit a predictable pattern of responses ◦ The heart rate increases and blood vessels constrict (see rest on p. 228 – paragraph 1) • The pattern of responses generally accompanied by increased cortical activity, is caused by the hypothalamus which triggers two reactions: ◦ It stimulates activity in the autonomic nervous system and in the endocrine (glandular) system • Most physiological changes associated with arousal can be traced to the activity of the sympathetic nervous system ◦ In addition, theANS stimulates the adrenal medulla which secretes epinephrine or norepinephrine ▪ Both epinephrine and norepinephrine produce RAS arousal Arousal,Affect, and Performance Arousal and Affect • For years, theorists have accepted that arousal and affect are best described by an inverted U-shaped function ◦ Affect is negative or neutral at low levels of arousal, highly positive at some intermediate level of arousal, and negative (aversive) at very high levels of arousal ▪ Organisms are inclined to seek out new information that will produce positive affect • In other words, the motivation to explore, process information, and master the environment is governed by a preference for moderate levels of arousal • This theory came to be called the optimal stimulation theory of behaviour ◦ Individuals with high baseline levels of arousal should prefer lower levels of stimulation or complexity ◦ Individuals with low baseline levels of arousal should prefer high levels of stimulation/ complexity ◦ Evidence suggests that the relationship between cortical arousal and affect is linear ▪ People often find high levels of cortical arousal pleasurable • e.g.) Problem solving or a sporting competition ◦ Even high levels of arousal can be pleasurable for short periods, but when it prolongs, the stress response emerges Arousal and Performance • According to the Yerkes-Dodson law, high arousal tends to facilitate performance on easy or simple tasks whereas low arousal tends to facilitate performance on difficult or complex tasks ◦ U-shaped function • It has been found that motor performance is often superior at high versus moderate levels of arousal Research on Sensory Deprivation • Studies of sensory deprivation suggest that humans find low levels of stimulation aversive • Hebb and Heron (1957): ◦ Paid male college students to lay in bed for as many days as they could ▪ Restricted visual stimulation – special translucent visors ▪ Restricted auditory stimulation – rested head on rubber pillows next toA/C ▪ Restricted tactile stimulation – wore cotton gloves with cardboard foam cuffs ◦ Results: ▪ Subjects indicated they had trouble thinking clearly ▪ Hallucinations were likened to those produced by drugs ▪ Most left after the second or third day ▪ This research is consistent with the inverted U-function • However it took a day or two for the lack of sensory stimulation to produce the intellectual deficits and for the aversiveness of the experience to emerge • The inverted U-function suggests that the effects should have been experienced immediately • According to optimal stimulation theory, the moment-to-moment changes in arousal govern stimulation-seeking behaviour Research on Anxiety • Chronically high levels of arousal are aversive • When anxious, intellectual functioning becomes impaired • Research evidence suggests that anxious individuals are more reactive to environmental stimulation ◦ They show increases in arousal • Theorists contend that the difference between anxious individuals are qualitative and not merely a state of hyperarousal ◦ The reason anxious people experience more negative affect is not because of high arousal, but because they see the world in more negative terms Optimal Stimulation and Individual Goals • Apter has argued that the level of stimulation that people prefer depends on their goals ◦ People tend to swing back and forth between low and high arousal states • People shift between two types of motivational goals: ◦ i. When people are motivated by a need for achievement, they focus on telic goals ▪ They plan activities and complete them to receive satisfaction that comes from achieving a goal ▪ Their behaviour is marked by efficiency rather than by pleasure ◦ ii. When people are motivated y a desire to experience pleasure in the here and now, they focus on paratelic goals ▪ They are inclined to prolong activities as long as they are producing high levels of pleasure ▪ Tend to be spontaneous and playful Arousal andAttention Arousal and Selective Attention • Easterbrook has proposed that at low levels of arousal, our attention is broad and inclusive ◦ We attend to too many things and process a great deal of information • At high arousal, our attention becomes narrow and exclusive ◦ We attend to few things and ignore everything but survival-related stimuli ◦ In other words, we practice selective attention Arousal and the Reorganization of Attention • Easterbrook suggests that when arousal becomes very high, our attention is directed toward the location and identification of things int he environment that might threaten our survival • Barlow suggests that as arousal increases, attention first becomes narrower and eventually is reorganized ◦ Arousal and the narrowing of attention are mutually reinforcing Two Activation Systems • Two activation systems: ◦ Negative ▪ The negative activation (NA) system is an avoidance system ▪ Its adaptive function is to keep organisms out of trouble by inhibiting behaviours that might leads to pan, punishment, or some other negative consequence ◦ Positive ▪ The positive activation (PA) system is an approach system ▪ Its function is to direct individuals to situations and experiences that could offer pleasure and reward ▪ The adaptive function is to ensure that organisms obtain the resources essential for survival of both the individual and the species • Research suggests that the PAsystem tends to govern most of our daily behaviour until we are momentarily threatened in some way ◦ When this happens, the PAsystem shuts down and the NAsystem takes over Read: “Summary” pg. 124 – 125 Challenges for Performance Theory Unexplained Arousal • Research indicates that arousal has few psychological implications when people can explain the source of arousal, bit it has quite important psychological implications otherwise • Generally, people tend to look for explanations through whatever motivational system is currently active Reconceptualizing the Link Between Arousal and Performance • One criticism is that arousal has been given too large a role and that we need to also consider the role of learned and cognitive variables Systems Involved in Peak Performance • Several systems have been implicated in peak performance ◦ Arousal systems: ▪ Trait arousal characterizes the individual more or less independently of the situation (or across situations) • Trait anxiety has been defined as a personality trait in determining the likelihood that a person will experience anxiety in stressful situations ▪ State arousal arises our of the individual's interaction with the environment • Both learned and cognitive factors give rise to state arousal • State anxiety has been defined as a transitory emotional response involving feelings of tension and apprehension Table 5-1. Arousal systems that govern the performance of a skill Type of Arousal Effect on Attention Effect on Performance Outcome TraitArousal • Anxiety • Restriction or narrowing • Avoidant behaviour • Reorganization (to threat) • Distraction of attention • Self-evaluative focus • Apprehension StateArousal • Restriction or narrowing i. Sensory overload • Failure to process arousal • Reorganization • Inability to deal with ii. Cognitive dissonance • Restriction or narrowing complexity arousal iii. Evaluation arousal a. Test anxiety • Intrusive thinking • Failure to focus on task b. Competition • Self-focused ego • Failure to focus on task concerns • Distraction • Performance concerns • Impaired judgement • Sensory overload arousal ◦ Overstimulation and inability to process accompanying information ◦ When cortical arousal increases beyond some optimal point, various mechanisms within the body will automatically reduce information input • Cognitive dissonance arousal ◦ When two pieces of information are in conflict, the individual responds, among other things, with increased arousal ◦ Increased arousal can alter performance on subsequent tasks ▪ Consistent with Easterbrook's view that increases in arousal = narrow attention • Evaluation arousal ◦ When put in a testing situation, people show high levels of autonomic arousal ▪ This is known as test anxiety ◦ In this state, they experience intrusive thinking ▪ Thinking that focuses on themselves rather than on the task TraitArousal (Anxiety) The Biological Component • High arousal has been found to characterize people with negative emotionality, anxiety and neuroticism ◦ Whereas, low arousal has been found to characterize people who are low in emotionality, engage in meditation, or have mastered the relaxation response • Anxiety is debilitating when there is no known cause and when it is completely out of proportion to the danger • Twin studies of clinically anxious people have shown a significant genetic component ◦ Slater and Shields found that the concordance scores for generalized anxiety were 65% in monozygotic twins and 13% in dizygotic twins • The underlying physiology that characterizes anxiety and negative emotionality is a state of hyperarousal ◦ This state has been shown to be stable over time which indicates it is a trait Kagan's Timidity Theory • Some children are inclined to approach unfamiliar people and objects, while others are not ◦ Kagan distinguished between inhibited and uninhibited children ▪ Inhibited children are characterized by higher levels of sympathetic reactivity (autonomic arousal) ▪ Inhibited and uninhibited children possess different thresholds for excitability in the amygdala • The two groups do not represent two ends of a continuum,, rather they are two distinct types with a distinct genetic origin ◦ Since this is only a disposition, it is necessary to consider the role of learning and cognition Eysenck's Extraversion/ Introversion Theory • Eysenck has suggested that some people have an arousal level that is relatively low (extraverts), whereas others have an arousal level that is moderate to high (introverts) ◦ Introverted and extraverted are indicated on the x-axis • Extroverts ne
More Less

Related notes for PS264

Log In


Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.