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York University
PSYC 1010
Heather Jenkin

CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE TWO – TRACK MIND/NATURE, NURTURE AND HUMAN DIVERSITY MODULE 7 – BRAIN STATES AND CONSCIOUSNESS Defining Consciousness • Our awareness of ourselves and the environment • Awareness allows us to assemble information from many sources as we reflect on our past and plan for our future • Focuses our attention when we learn a new concept or behavior • Consciousness helps us act in our long term interests rather than short tern pleasure and avoiding pain o Also promotes our survival by anticipating how we seem to others and helping us read their minds The Biology of Consciousness Cognitive Neuroscience • The interdisciplinary study of the brain activity linked with cognition (including perception, thinking, memory and language) • If a stimulus activates enough brain wide coordinated neural activity – with strong signals in one brain area triggering activity elsewhere it crosses a threshold for consciousness • A weaker stimulus (a word which flashed briefly) may trigger localized visual cortex activity that quickly dies out • A stronger stimulus will engage in brain areas, such as those involved in language. Attention and memory Dual Processing: The Two-Track Mind • Dual Processing – the principle that information is often simultaneously processed on separate conscious and unconscious tracks • Blind sight – a condition in which a person can respond to a visual stimulus without consciously experiencing it • A visual perception track enables us to think about the world, to recognize thins and plan future actions • A visual action track guides our moment to moment movements Selective Attention • The focusing of conscious awareness on a particular stimulus o Example – the ability to attend to one voice among many Selective Inattention • Inattentional blindness – failing to see visible objects when our attention is distracted elsewhere • Attention is powerfully selective, your conscious mind is in one place at a time • Change Blindness – failing to notice changes in the environment 2 MOD 7 – 16 MODULE 8 – SLEEP AND DREAMS Biological Rhythms of Sleep • Circadian Rhythm – The biological clock, regular bodily rhythms that occur on a 24 hour cycle o Bright morning light tweaks the circadian clock by activating light-sensitive retinal proteins o Proteins control the circadian clock by triggering signals to the brains suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) – a pair of grain-of-rice sized 10’000 cell clusters in the hypothalamus  The SCN does it job in part by causing the brains pineal gland to decrease it production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin in the morning and to increase it in the evening • The sleeping brain has its own biological rhythm – about every 90 minutes we cycle through 4 distinct sleep stages • REM Sleep – rapid eye movement sleep, a recurring during which vivid dreams commonly occur o Also known as paradoxical sleep, because the muscles are relaxed except the minor twitches but other body systems are active  Body is internally aroused with waking like brain activity, yet asleep and externally calm • Alpha waves – the relatively slow brain waves of a relaxed awake state • Sleep – periodic, natural, easily reversible loss of consciousness – as distinct from unconsciousness, resulting from a coma, general anesthesia or hibernation • Hallucinations – false sensory experiences, such as seeing something in the absence of an external visual stimulus o These hypnagogic sensations may be later incorporated into your memories • Delta Waves – the large slow brain waves associated with sleep • During REM sleep your heart rate rises, breathing becomes rapid and irregular and every half a minute or so your eyes dart around in momentary bursts of activity behind closed lids • Men’s common morning erection stems from the nights last REM period often just before waking up • Brains motor cortex is active during REM sleep but the brainstem blocks the messages Sleep Theories 1. Sleep protects – darkness shut down the days hunting, food gathering and travel which made it better for our ancestors to sleep in a cave out of harms way a. A specified sleep patterns tends to suit its ecological niche 2. Sleep helps us recuperate – it helps restore and repair brain tissue, sleeping a lot gives resting neurons time to repair themselves, wile pruning or weakening unused connections CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE TWO – TRACK MIND/NATURE, NURTURE AND HUMAN DIVERSITY a. When consciousness leaves your hours, brain construction workers come in for a makeover 3. Sleep helps restore and rebuild our fading memories of the days experience – sleep consolidates our memories – it strengths and stabilizes neural memory traces 4. Sleep feeds creative thinking - dreams have inspired noteworthy, literary, artistic and scientific achievements 5. Sleep supports growth – during deep sleep the pituitary gland releases a growth hormone – is necessary for muscle development a. A regular full nights sleep can also dramatically improve your athletic ability b. As we age we release les of this hormone and spend less time in deep sleep Effects of Sleep Loss • Is predictor for depression – REMS sleep processing of emotional experiences helps protect against depression • Sleep deprivation increases ghrelin – a hunger arousing hormone and decreases its hunger – suppressing partner leptin o Increases cortisol which is a stress hormone that stimulates the body to make fat • Sleep deprivation can suppress immune cells that fight off viral infections and cancer • Sleep deprivation slows reactions and increases errors on visual attention tasks similar to those involved in screening airport baggage, performing surgery and reading X-rays Major Sleep Disorders • Insomnia – persistent problems in falling or staying asleep o Common fixed are sleeping pills and alcohol – aggravate the problem, reducing REM sleep o Such aids can also lead to tolerance – a state in which increasing doses are needed to produce an effect o Any ideal sleep aid would mimic the natural chemicals that are abundant during sleep without side effects • Narcolepsy - narco is numbness and lepsy is seizure – people who have sudden attacks of overwhelming sleepiness, usually lasting less than 5 minutes o Can occur in the most inappropriate times o A team discovered a relative absence of a hypothalamic neural center that produces orexin (also called hypocretin) – a neurotransmitter linked to alertness o Is a brain disease • Sleep Apnea – a sleep disorder characterized by temporary cessations of breathing during sleep and repeated momentary awakenings o People with this condition intermittently stop breathing during sleep o Is associated with obesity 4 MOD 7 – 16 o Warning signs are loud snoring, daytime sleepiness and irritability and possibly high blood pressure which increases the risk of stroke or heart attack • Night Terrors – a sleep disorder characterized by high arousal and an appearance of being terrified; unlike nightmares, night terrors occur during NREM – 3 sleep within two or three hours of falling asleep and are seldom remembered o Target mostly children who may sit up or walk around, talking incoherently, experience doubled heart and breathing rates and appear terrified o Sleepwalking – another NREM – 3 sleep disorder and sleep talking are usually childhood disorders Dreams • A sequence of images, emotions and thoughts passing through a sleeping persons mind • Dreams are notable for their hallucinatory imagery, discontinuities and incongruities, and for the dreamers delusional acceptance of the content and later difficulties remembering it Why We Dream 1. To satisfy our own wishes – dreams provide a psychic safety 2. To file away our memories – dreams help us sort out the days events and consolidate our memories 3. To develop and preserve neural pathways – regular brain stimulation from REM sleep may help develop and preserve neural pathways 4. To make sense of neural static – REM sleep triggers neural activity that evokes random visual memories, which our sleeping brain weaves into stories 5. To reflect cognitive development – dream content reflects dreamers cognitive development – their knowledge and understanding • Sigmund Freud proposed that dreams provide a psychic safety value that discharges otherwise unacceptable feelings o Viewed a dreams manifest content (the apparent and remembered story line) as a censored, symbolic version of its latent content, the unconscious drives and wishes that would be threatening is expressed directly • Manifest Content – the remembered story line of a dream (as distinct from latent, or hidden, content) • Latent Content – the underlying meaning of a dream (as distinct from its manifest content) • REM Rebound – the tendency for REM sleep to increase following REM sleep deprivation (created by repeated awakenings during REM sleep) MODULE 9 – HYPNOSIS CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE TWO – TRACK MIND/NATURE, NURTURE AND HUMAN DIVERSITY • Hypnosis – a social interaction in which one person (the hypnotist) suggests to another (the subject) that certain perceptions, feelings, thoughts or behaviors will spontaneously occur to you • Posthypnotic Suggestions – a suggestion made during a hypnosis session, to be carried out after the subject is no longer hypnotized o Used by some clinicians to help control undesired symptoms and behaviors o Has helped alleviate headaches, asthma and stress – related skin disorders Explaining the Hypnotized State Hypnosis as a Social Phenomenon • The attention spotlight and interpretations powerfully influence our ordinary perceptions • The most the subject likes and trusts the hypnotist the more they allow that person to direct their attentions and fantasies Hypnosis as Divided Consciousness • Ernest Hilgard (1986, 1992) – believed that hypnosis involves not only social influence but also a special dual processing state of dissociation • Dissociation – a split in consciousness which allows some thoughts and behaviors to occur simultaneously with others • Hilgard viewed hypnotic dissociation as a vivid form of everyday mind splits • Selective Attention – another form of dual processing, may also play a role in hypnotic pain relief • PET scans show that hypnosis reduces brain activity in a region that processes painful stimuli, but not in the sensory cortex, which receives the raw sensory input • Hypnosis does not block sensory input, but it may bock the attention to those stimuli MODULE 10 – DRUGS AND CONSCIOUSNESS Tolerance, Dependence and Addiction • Psychoactive Chemical – a chemical substance that alters mood and perceptions • Tolerance – the diminishing affect with regular use of the same dose of a drug, requiring the user to take larger and larger doses before experiencing the drugs effect o With the continued use of alcohol and some other drugs, the users brain chemistry adapts to offset the drug effect – a process called neuroadaptation • Addiction – compulsive drug craving and use, despite adverse consequences 6 MOD 7 – 16 • Withdrawal – the discomfort and distress that follow discontinuing the use of an addictive drug • Physical Dependence – a physiological need for a drug, marked by unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when the drug is discontinued o Responding to the drugs absence with physical pain and intense cravings • Psychological Dependence – a psychological need to use a drug such as to relieve negative emotions Types of Psychoactive Drugs Depressants • Drugs (such as alcohol, barbiturates and opiates) that reduce neural activity and slow body functions Slowed Neural Processing • Low doses of alcohol relax the drinker by slowing sympathetic nervous system activity • Larger doses – reactions slow, speech slurs and skilled performance deteriorates • As blood alcohol levels rise and moral judgments falter, peoples qualms about drinking and driving lessen Memory Disruption • Disrupts memory foundations which is why heavy drinkers may not recall people they met the night before or what they said or did while intoxicated • These blackouts result partly from the way alcohol suppresses REM sleep – which helps fix the days experiences into permanent memories • Heavy drinking can also have long term effects on the brain and cognition • Alcohol Dependence – alcohol use marked by tolerance, withdrawal is suspended, and a drive to continue use o Prolonged and excessive drinking can shrink the brain Reduced Self – Awareness • Alcohol produces a sort of myopia – it focuses attention on an arousing stimulation and distracts attention from normal inhibitors and future consequences • Reduced self awareness explains why people who want to suppress their awareness of failures or shortcomings are more likely to rink than those who feel good about themselves Expectancy Effects - users expectations influence their behaviors Barbiturates – drugs that depress central nervous systems activity, reducing anxiety but impairing memory and judgment • Nembutal, seconal and anytal are sometimes prescribes to induce sleep or reduce anxiety • In larger doses they can impair memory and judgment CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE TWO – TRACK MIND/NATURE, NURTURE AND HUMAN DIVERSITY • Effect on body functions can be lethal if combines with alcohol Opiates – opium and its derivatives such as morphine and heroin – they depress neural activity and temporarily lessen pain and anxiety • Pupils constrict, breathing slows and lethargy sets in as blissful pleasure replaces pain and anxiety • The brain eventually stops producing endorphins which are its own opiates • If the artificial opiate is withdrawn the brain lacks the normal level of painkilling neurotransmitters • Methadone – a synthetic opiate prescribed as a substitute for heroin or for relief of common pain, can also produce tolerance and dependence Stimulants • Drugs that excite neural activity and speed up body functions (coffee, nicotine, amphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine • Pupils dilate, heart and breathing rates increase, blood sugar levels rise causing a drop in appetite and energy and self-confidence also rise • Amphetamines – drugs that stimulate neural activity, causing speeded up body functions and associated with energy and mood changes • People use stimulants to feel alert, lose weight, boost mood or athletic performance Nicotine – a stimulating and highly addictive psychoactive drug in tobacco • One of the most addictive stimulants • Smokers become dependent and they develop tolerance • Quitting causes nicotine withdrawal symptoms – craving, insomnia, anxiety, irritability and distractibility • Within 7 seconds, a rush of nicotine signals the central nervous system to release a flood of neurotransmitters • Epinephrine and norepinephrine diminish appetite and boost alertness and mental efficiency • Dopamine and opioids calm anxiety and reduce sensitivity to pain Physiological affects of Nicotine 1. Arouses the brain to a sate of increased alertness 2. Increases heart rate and blood pressure 3. At high levels it relaxes muscles and triggers the release of neurotransmitters that may reduce stress 4. Reduces circulation to extremities 5. Suppresses appetite for carbohydrates Cocaine – offers a fast track from euphoria to crash • It enters the bloodstream quickly, producing a rush of euphoria that depletes the brains supply of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine 8 MOD 7 – 16 Methamphetamine – chemically related to its parent drug amphetamine but has greater effects • Triggers the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which stimulates brain cells and enhance energy and mood • Result can include eight hours or so of heightened energy and euphoria • Its aftereffects may include irritability, insomnia, hypertension, seizures, social isolation, depression and occasional violent outbursts • Overtime it can reduce baseline dopamine levels, leaving the user with depressed functioning Ecstasy (MDMA) – is both a stimulant and a mild hallucinogen • As an amphetamine derivative, it triggers dopamine release • Major effect is releasing serotonin and blocking its reuptake, thus prolonging serotonins feel-good flood • Users feel the effect about half an hour after taking the pill and can feel the high energy and the emotion elevation for three to four hours • Has a dehydrating effect which when combined with physical activity can lead to severe overheating, increased blood pressure and death • Long term, repeated leaching of brain serotonin can damage serotonin- producing neurons leading to decreased output and increased risk of permanently depressed mood • Also suppresses the disease-fighting immune system, impair memory, slows thought and disrupts sleep by inferring with serotonins control of the circadian clock Hallucinogens • Psychedelic (mind – manifesting) drugs such as LSD that distort perceptions and evoke sensory images in the absence of sensory input LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) – a powerful hallucinogen drug also known as acid • The emotions of an LSD trip vary from euphoria to detachment to panic • The users current mood and expectations color the emotional experience, but the perceptual distortions and hallucinations have some commonalities • The experience begins with simple geometric forms, such as a lattice, cobweb or spiral • The next phase consists of more meaningful images; some may be superimposed on a tunnel or funnel, others may be replays of past emotional experiences • As the hallucination peaks, people feel separated from their body and experience dreamlike scenes • Near Death Experience – an altered state of consciousness reported after a close brush with death, similar to drug induced hallucinations Marijuana – contains THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) • THC – the major active ingredient in marijuana, triggers a variety of effects including mild hallucinations CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE TWO – TRACK MIND/NATURE, NURTURE AND HUMAN DIVERSITY • Amplifies sensitivity to colors, sounds, tastes and smells • Like alcohol, marijuana relaxes, disinhibits and may produce a euphoric high • Both drugs impair the motor coordination, perceptual skills and reactions time necessary for safely operating an automobile or other machine • Marijuana and alcohol also differ o The body eliminates alcohol within hours o THC ad its by-products linger in the body for a week or more, which means that regular users may achieve a high with smaller amounts of the drug than would be needed by occasional users • Marijuana also disrupts memory formation and interferes with immediate recall of information learned only a few minutes before MODULE 11 – BEHAVIOUR GENETICS AND EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY Genes: Our Codes of Life • Behavior Genetics – the study of the relative power and limits of genetic and environmental influence on behavior • Environment – every nongenetic influence, from prenatal nutrition to the people and things around us • Chromosomes – threadlike structures made of DNA molecules that contain the genes o Every cell has 46 chromosomes (23 pairs) • DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) – a complex molecule containing the genetic information that makes up the chromosomes • Genes – the biochemical unit of heredity that make up the chromosomes; segments of DNA capable of synthesizing a protein o Can be either active (expressed) or inactive o Environmental events ‘turn on’ genes o When turned on genes provide the code for creating protein molecules, our body’s building blocks o Genes are not blueprints they are molecules o Have the ability to direct the assembly of proteins that build the body o This genetic protein assembly can be turned on and off by the environment or by other genes o Any trait we see is a result of the complex interactions of many genes and countless other molecules • Genome – the complete instructions for making an organism, consisting of all the genetic material in that organisms chromosomes o The trait of being adaptable is built into the human genome • Human Genome Project (1990) – 25000 genes, more than 75 genes that contribute to hereditary diseases have been identified • Genotype – specific genetic makeup • Phenotype – observable characteristics Dominant, Recessive and Polygenic 10 MOD 7 – 16 • Characteristics displayed if – dominant trait from either parent, two recessive genes (one from each parent) or polygenic transmission (multiple gene pairs influence phenotype) • Genetic Engineering – recombination DNA procedures • Gene Knockout – particular function of gene is eliminated • Problem – few behaviors are controlled by single gene • Behavioral Genetics – study of genetic relatedness, heritability coefficient and estimate of how much of characteristic is due to genetic factors Identical Versus Fraternal Twins • Identical Twins – twins who develop from a single (monozygotic) fertilized egg that splits in two, creating two genetically identical organisms o Develops from a single (monozygotic) fertilized egg that splits in two o They are genetically identical o Although they have the same genes, they don’t always have the same number of copies of those genes o One twins placenta may provide slightly better nourishment, which my contribute to identical differences • Fraternal Twins – twins who develop from separate (dizygotic) fertilized eggs, they are genetically no closer than brother and sisters, but they share a fetal environment • Temperament – a persons characteristic emotional reactivity and intensity • Molecular Genetics – the subfield of biology that studies the molecular structure and functions of genes o Helps us see exactly how specific genes have an influence on behavior o Genetic tests can revel which people re at risk for many physical diseases, and may soon identify people at risk of mental disorders • Heritability – the proportion of variation among individuals that we can attribute to genes o The heritability of a trait may vary depending on the range of populations and environments studied • Reaction Range – range of possibilities – upper and lower limits that the genetic code allows o Individual inherits a range for potential expression of a trait o Environmental effects determine where person falls within these limits Genes Environment Reactions • Self Regulation - Genes are self – regulating, they turn each other on and off in response to environmental conditions • Interaction – the interplay that occurs when the effect of one factor (such as environment) depends on another factor such as heredity o Environments trigger gene activity • Epigenetics – the study of influences on gene expression that occur without a DNA change CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE TWO – TRACK MIND/NATURE, NURTURE AND HUMAN DIVERSITY o Is studying the molecular mechanisms by which environment trigger genetic expression o The environment acts on the surface of genes to alter their activity o Genes have the potential to influence development but environmental triggers can switch them on or off o An epigenetic mark is an organic methyl molecule attached to a part of a DNA strand  Instructs the cell to ignore any gene present in that DNA stretch, thereby preventing the DNA from producing the proteins coded by that gene Evolutionary Psychology: Understanding Human Nature Natural Selection and Adaptation • Evolutionary Psychology – the study of the evolution of behavior and the mind, using principles of natural selection • Evolution – changes over time in frequency which genes and characteristics they produce, occur within an interbreeding population • Evolutionary Personality Theory (Buss, 1999) – limited # of dimensions to personality o Found universally (ex. Extraversion, emotional stability, conscientiousness, openness to new experiences o Helps us achieve 2 goals – survival and reproduction • Natural Selection – the principle that among the range of inherited trait variation, those contributing to increased reproduction and survival will most likely be passed onto succeeding generations o Organisms’ varied offspring complete for survival o Certain biological and behavioral variations increase organisms’ reproductive and survival chances in their particular environment o Offspring that survive are more likely to pass their genes to ensuing generations o Thus overtime population characteristics may change • Overtime traits that are selected confer a reproductive advantage on an individual or a species and will prevail • Mutations – a random error in gene replication that leads to a change, can be passed to offspring MODULE 12 – CULTURE, GENDER AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES How Does Experience Influence Development? • The formative nurture that conspires with nature begins at conception, with the prenatal environment in the womb, as embryos receive differing nutrition and varying levels of exposure to toxic agents • Nurture then continues outside the womb where our early experiences foster brain development 12 MOD 7 – 16 Experience and Brain Development • Our genes dictate our overall brain structure, but experience fills in the details developing neural connections and preparing our brain for thought and language and other later experiences • Both nurture and nature sculpt our synapses • After brain maturation provides us with an abundance of neural connections, our experiences trigger a pruning process o To make our well – used brain pathways to work better, the unused connections are ‘pruned’ away o Means that if certain abilities are not used they will fade • Sights and smells,
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