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Chapter 5

Chapter 5 Reading Notes.pdf

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Department
Psychology
Course
PS264
Professor
Camie Condon
Semester
Summer

Description
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
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