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Psychology Topic 5 Notes

by: Cos

Psychology Topic 5 Notes PSY 1113

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These notes cover everything about topic 5.
Elements of Psychology
Jenel Cavazos
Psychology, Drugs, sleep, dreams, consciousness
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This 11 page Bundle was uploaded by Cos on Tuesday October 11, 2016. The Bundle belongs to PSY 1113 at University of Oklahoma taught by Jenel Cavazos in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 5 views. For similar materials see Elements of Psychology in Psychology at University of Oklahoma.


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Date Created: 10/11/16
PSYCHOLOGY–SECONDEXAM topicv:statesofconsciousness Consciousness is an individual’s awareness of external events and internal sensations under a condition of arousal. I. Describing consciousness Ø William James described the mind as a stream of consciousness. o Stream of consciousness : our mind is a continuous flow of changing sensations, images, thoughts and feelings. The mind can change the object of its focus instantly because information moves rapidly in and out of consciousness: when you’re sitting in a café, you might be thinking about the waitress that attended you, and one second later you might be thinking about the temperature of your coffee. o Metacognition is the process through which a person thinks about the way they are thinking. (James used to call it “awareness on the fringe”) Ø Consciousness is defined as an individual’s awareness of external events and internal sensations under a condition of arousal. Awareness indicates knowledge of the self and thoughts about one’s experiences: when seeing a painting, you are not only looking at it but also you are aware that you are seeing a painting. Arousal is the physiological state of being engaged with the environment : a person in coma is not conscious as he would if he was awake. Both awareness and arousal are associated with the activation of different parts of the brain. For instance: • Awareness is theorised to occur in a global brain workspace: various individual brain areas working simultaneously to produce the sense of consciousness. Areas of the prefrontal cortex are involved when awareness goes beyond the input of sensory information, during complex experiences. ex. When we are conscious o f what is going on, a complex network of neurons in our brain activate in cooperation to produce the sense of consciousness. • Arousal is known to be determined by the reticular activating system (brain stem, medulla, thalamus), and it is the way the level of awareness is regulated. ex. In a situation of danger, we are more aware than in a situation where we can relax . The theory of mind refers to individuals being aware that other people feel, think and process information in ways similar to theirs: other people are also conscious, and have their own perspectives. The theory of mind is essential in social interactions, since it is the root of empathy and sympathy. Supposedly, this ability to r ecognise other people’s consciousness appears at the age of 4, but recent studies show that younger children can understand that other people have their own perspectives. Autism (a complex psychological disorder that affects interpersonal relations) can be explained with this theory: autistic people may lack a well -developed theory-of-mind mechanism, which is the reason why they have “social deficits”. II. Levels of awareness The “stream of consciousness” occurs at different levels of awareness. We will categorise them in five different levels: (1) higher -level and (2) lower level consciousness, (3) altered states of consciousness, (4) subconscious awareness and (5) no awar eness. 1. HIGHER LEVEL CONSCIOUSNESS Controlled process: there is an active focus in an individual’s efforts towards an aim. It: 1. Requires selective attention (focusing on one aim while ignoring other experiences) , 2. Is slower than automatic processes, 3. Is more likely to involve the prefrontal cortex, 4. Involves executive function (higher order, complex cognitive processes: thinking, planning, problem solving). It involves harnessing consciousness to focus it in a specific purpose. o an aspect of it is cognitive control: the capacity to maintain attention by reducing interfering thoughts and being cognitively flexible. Examples: making an effort to stick with a task; stopping and thinking before acting; continuing to work on something that is important yet boring . 5. It is the most alert state of consciousness. Example: writing an essay, telling a story from your memory, having an intense conversation. 2. LOWER LEVEL CONSCIOUSNESS Lower awareness levels include automatic processes and daydreaming. Automatic processes are states of consciousness that: ー require little attention, ー do not interfere with other ongoing activities. ex.: pressing the keys of a keyboard to type a sentence, passing the page of a book while reading. Daydreaming lies between active consciousness and dreaming while asleep. ー usually begins spontaneously, when doing something that doesn't require full attention. ー it involves the use of imagination and memory: people are temporarily absorbed in their own thoughts. ー although it has a semiautomatic flow, it can be useful: it does not prevent the individual from making plans, solving a problem or coming up with creative ideas. 3. ALTERED STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS Mental states completely different from normal awareness. • losing sense of self-consciousness, hallucinating, and similar processes. • they can be caused by illnesses (traumas, fatigue, fevers), sensory deprivation, meditation, hypnosis and psychological disorders, or induced by drug use. 4. SUBCONSCIOUS AWARENESS ー Waking subconscious awareness: it refers to the array of processes that occur below the surface of awareness: for example, finding the solution of a problem due to a subconscious connection between ideas that were stored in the memory. o Incubation: subconscious processing that leads to a solution to a problem after stopping consciously thinking about the problem. It occurs after a person makes an effort to actively examine the problem. ー During sleep and dreams: during sleep and dreams people remain somewhat aware of external stimuli (they may react to sounds, for example) , these are not regarded as absence of consciousness. 5. NO AWARENESS § Sigmund Freud used the term unconscious to describe mental processes that go below the radar of awareness: for example, the desire to have sex with our parents. § Although Freud’s view of the unconscious as a storehouse for unacceptable feelings and thoughts remains controversial, it is accepted that unconscious processes do exist, and they have a substantial impact on behaviour. Example: being knocked out by a blo w, being anesthetized, or (research suggests) in a coma. Unconscious thoughts. III. Sleep and dreams Ø Sleep: a natural state of rest for the mind and body that involves the reversible loss of consciousness. o sleep comprises about 1/3 of the human life. o sleep is linked to and regulated by the body’s internal biological rhythms. Ø Biological rhythms: periodic physiological and biochemical fluctuations in the body. They involve the rise and fall of hormones, accelerated and decelerated cycles of brain activity, and they can influence our behaviour; they are controlled by biological clocks and can be annual, seasonal, sleep/wake or 24-hour cycles. o Circadian rhythms: daily behavioural and physiological cycles, including: sleep/wake, body temperature, blood pressure, and blood sugar level cycles. o Suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN): a small brain structure that uses input from the retina to synchronize its own rhythm with the dai ly cycle of light and dark. § it monitors the change from day to night § it communicates with the reticular formation to regulate daily rhythms of sleep and wakefulness § it has an effect on the hypothalamus and pineal gland to regulate: • body temperature • hunger • release of hormones like melatonin. § many individuals who are blind suffer lifelong sleeping problems because their retinas cannot detect light, causing a permanent jet lag effect and periodic insomnia. o Jet lag: the result of two or more body rhythms being out of sync, usually as a result of travelling, changing work shifts or insomnia. Because the body is out of phase with actual clock time: § body temperature rises when you try to go to sleep in a new location, making it harder for you to sleep (body temperature lowers when a person goes to sleep). § hormone cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands at night instead of in the morning, another difficulty when trying to sleep (cortisol helps you wake up). In order to put the body back in sync, researchers are studying melatonin, a hormone produced at night in the human brain: small doses of melatonin can reduce jet lag by advancing the circadian clock, which would help eastward jet lag (but not westward). Sleep must be important: all animals require sleep, and we don’t feel good if we are sleep deprived. Long - term sleep deprivation increases the risk of a heart attack. But why is sleep important? Why do we need sleep? There are a few possible explanations. 1. Sleep is a form of protection animals need to protect themselves at night. They are inactive when it is dark because nocturnal inactivity prevents them from becoming other animals’ prey and injuries due to poor visibility. 2. Sleep is a way to conserve energy the search for food and water is easier and safer when the sun is up; when it is dark, animals are better off saving their energy. Additionally, animals that are likely to serve as prey sleep the least of all. 3. Sleep is restorative sleep restores, replenishes, and rebuilds the b rain and body, which is worn out by the activities during day. Many of the body’s cells show increased production and reduced breakdown of proteins during deep sleep. Additionally, sleep deprivation influences the immune system similarly to stress. 4. Sleep aids brain plasticity sleep plays an important role in the ability of the brain to change in response to experiences. Neuroscientists argue that sleep enhances synaptic connections between neurons, which is evidenced by sleep -deprived brains, which tend to work less complexly. 5. Sleep is important for memory sleep appears to be vital in the memory consolidation of specific information, skills and emotional experiences. The brain cortex conducts activities that strengthen memory associations so tha t recently acquired memories can be integrated into long-term memory storage. Regarding sleep deprivation... 1. research suggests that humans perform best after sleeping 8 hours a night, but that is only an average. 2. the basic amount of sleep each person needs varies from person to person, and it also changes throughout age as we sleep or change activities. 3. sleep deprivation results in (1) reduced activity in the thalamus and prefrontal cortex , and (2) reduced complexity of brain activity, which causes: § decreased attention span and ability to solve problems, § impaired moral judgement, § decreased ability to make healthy choices (food, activities…), § loss of memory and reduced ability to acquire new information when in sleep -debt. 4. the disorder known as fatal familial insomnia (FFI) causes progressive inability to sleep, and is an extreme example of sleep deprivation. As a result of the lack of rest, the person becomes agitated, has strange motor movements, is often confused, and can suffer from hallucina tions and enact dreams. After 18 months, the person usually dies. § FFI shows the vital restorative power of sleep. § FFI also highlights the role of thalamus in sleep; cases of FFI show enormous damage in the thalamus. IV. Sleep cycles Different stages of sleep correspond to electrophysiological changes in the brain that can be measured using the electroencephalograph to monitor brain activity: during wakefulness, the brain’s waves are fast, irregular and have a low amplitude. during sleep, the electrical activity of the brain is replaced by slow, regular, high -amplitude waves. 1. Wakefulness § EEG patterns: beta and alpha waves. beta – highest in frequency and lowest in amplitude , associated with concentration and alertness, more desynchronous than other waves (do not form consistent patterns), due to the extensive variation in sensory input and activities experienced while awake. alpha– slower frequencies and higher amplitudes than beta waves, associated with relaxation and drowsiness, more regular, shows patterns, it is synchronous. 2. Sleep § Stage 1: drowsy, light sleep; lasts up to 10 minutes. Sudden muscle movements (myoclonic jerks) are common. There is a gradual difference between being relaxed and being in stage 1 sleep. waves: theta waves (slower in frequency and greater in amplitude than alpha.) § Stage 2: muscle activity decreases; no conscious awareness of the environment. waves: theta waves with characteristic sleep spindles, or sudden increases of wave frequency. Both stage 1 and stage 2 are very light stages of sleep; people awakened during these stages often report not having been asleep at all. § Stage 3 and 4: it is difficult to distinguish between the two. Together, they are referred to as delta sleep. It is the deepest sleep, when the brain waves are least like the brain waves while awake. It is very difficult to wake up a person in delta sleep. Bedwetting in children, sleepwalking and sleep talking occur here. When people are awakened in delta sleep, they are confused and disoriented. waves: delta waves (slowest frequency and highest amplitude of all brain waves). usually, stage 3 has delta waves less than 50% of the time, and stage 4 more than 50% of the time. § REM sleep: it is a complicated, yet active stage of sleep during which: Þ the eyes move rapidly up and down, and from left to right. Þ the most vivid dreaming occurs, and a person is likely to remember them upon waking up. Þ dreams are typically longer and more vivid, physically active, emotionally charged and less related to waking life than dreams during non -Rem sleep. (DREAMS ALSO OCCUR DURING NON-REM SLEEP!!!) Sometimes the stages of sleep are divided in non-REM sleep (stages 1 to 4) and REM sleep (stage 5). The main difference between them is that non -REM sleep is characterized by a lack of rapid eye movement and little dreaming; the frequency of dreams in these stages is relatively low and people are less likely to remember them. Sleep cycles: the five stages of sleep make up a cycle of sleep, which lasts around 90 or 100 minutes, and repeats several times during the night. § deep sleep is much longer in the first half of a night’s sleep. § most REM sleep takes place towards the end of a night’s sleep, and it becomes progressively longer. (A night’s first REM stage can last for only 10 minutes, but the final REM stage might continue for as long as an hour) § during a normal night of sleep, individuals will spend: Þ 60% of sleep in light sleep (stages 1 and 2 ; stage 2 takes about 50%) Þ 20% in delta sleep (stages 3 and 4) Þ 20% in REM sleep (stage 5) The sleep cycles are controlled by different patterns of neurotransmitter activity produced in the reticular formation, in the brain stem. In all vertebrates, the reticular formation plays a crucial role in sleep; damaged reticular formations can result in coma or death . The neurotransmitters involved in sleep are serotonin, norepinephrine and acetylcholine: 1. sleep begins ® neurotransmitters levels start dropping. 2. delta sleep ® neurotransmitters reach their lowest levels. 3. rise in acetylcholine ® the cerebral cortex is activated while the rest of the brain remains inactive; REM phase begins. 4. serotonin &epinephrine rise ® forebrain activity rises to nearly awakened state; REM period finishes; it is likely that the person will wake up, if not, sleep cycle repeats again. Changes in sleep pattern during lifespan: Children: Deep sleep coincides with growth hormone release; they are very susceptible to the effects of caffeine, and benefit greatly from regular sleeping schedules. Adolescents: Sleep later at night but longer in the morning than when they were younger; the shift in their sleeping pattern influences their academic work. Their cerebral cortex is still developing, so th e adolescent’s need for sleep may be linked to the brain development. Older ad.: Sleepier during the morning than younger adolescents; their biological clocks undergo a shift as they go older due to a delay in the nightly release of melatonin. Studies show that 30-minute delays in school start time is linked to improvement in adolescents’ sleep and performance. Adults: As humans age, they go to bed and wake up earlier. At 40, they are likely to wake up in the middle of the night, and they also spend less time in deep sleep than before their middle years. Sleep disorders: Insomnia – inability to sleep. ー problems in falling asleep or keeping oneself asleep throughout the night; waking up too early. ー 1/5 adults suffer from insomnia ; it is also more common among women, older adults, and people who are thin, stressed or depressed. ー behavioural changes help insomniacs increase their sleep time and awaken less frequently at night. ー for short term insomnia, physicians prescribe sleeping pills; these stop working after several weeks of taking them nightly. ー for long term insomnia, researchers experiment with light therapy, melatonin supplements and other ways in sleep labs. Somnambulism and somniloquy – sleep walking and sleep talking. ー occurs during deepest stages of sleep, when a person is unlikely to be dreaming. ー more likely to occur to sleep deprived individuals and those who have consumed alcohol. ー it is safe to awake sleepwalkers, and they should be awakened!!! ー sleep talkers make fairly coherent statements, but they are soundly asleep. Nightmares and night terrors. ー nightmares: frightening dreams that awaken a dreamer from REM sleep. Their content involves danger (being chased, robbed…), and they are most freque nt in children 3 to 6 years old. ー night terrors: sudden arousal from sleep and intense fear, accompanied by a number of physiological reactions: rapid heart rate, violent breathing, screaming, movement… they peak at 5 to 7 years of age and occur during stag e 4 sleep. Narcolepsy. ー a sudden and overpowering urge to sleep ; the person may fall asleep while talking or standing up. ー narcoleptics immediately enter REM sleep. ー narcoleptics are often tired throughout the day, and narcoleptic episodes can be triggered by extreme emotional reactions : laughter, surprise, excitement, anger… ー it is caused by problems with the hypothalamus and amygdala. Sleep apnoea. ー individuals stop breathing during sleep; common signs include loud snoring punctuated by silence. ー the wind-pipe fails to open, or the brain processes involved in respiration fail to work properly. ー apnoeic people experience numerous brief awakenings during the night, but t hey are not aware of their awakened state. As a result, they are sleep deprived at day. ー sleep apnoea might be a factor in SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome): infants who die of SIDS experience multiple episodes of sleep apnoea days before the fatal events. Theories about Dreams: Sigmund Freud: dreams symbolize unconscious wishes; analysis of dream symbols can uncover hidden desires. Dreams have a manifest content (a surface content that contains dream symbols disguising the dream’s true meaning) and a latent content (the dream’s hidden content; its unconscious and true meaning) . ex.: A person dreaming about running in the park with a friend: running in t he park would be the manifest content. For Freud, the manifest content expressed a wish in disguised form, and the person would have to analyse the dream images to find its true meaning; only then the latent content of the dream could be discovered. Cognitive theory of dreaming: dreaming can be understood by applying the same cognitive concepts used in studying the waking mind because they are just another kind of cognitive processing; thinking during dreaming is similar to thinking in waking life. ー there is little search for a hidden meaning in dreams. ー dreams are dramatizations of general life concerns , similar to relaxed daydreams. ー the default network (a collection of neurons activated during mind wandering and daydreaming) may be the cause of our dreams while we sleep . Activation-synthesis theory of dreaming: the cerebral cortex synthesises neural signals generated from activity in the lower part of the brain. Basically: dreams are attempts of the brain to find logic in random brain activity that occurs during sleep . ー during sleep, conscious experience is driven by internally produced stimuli with no behavioural consequence. ー some of the neural activity that produces dreams may come from external stimuli (a fire truck driving outside of your house) . ー this theory is supported by the fact that the forebrain, which processes logic and reasoning, is active during dreaming; dreams are, therefore, just a s ide-show. V. Psychoactive drugs. Psychoactive drugs act on the nervous system and alter consciousness, modify perception and change the mood. • continued use of drugs leads to tolerance: the need to take increasing amounts to get the same effects. • the use of drugs also leads to physical dependence: the physiological need for a drug, causing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms like pain and cravings. Psychological dependence is the desire to use a drug again for emotional reasons. The term addiction refers to either physical or psychological dependences, or both. Drugs are used because they activate the reward system in the limbic system; they produce powerful sensations of pleasure and a strong drive to repeat this behaviour. In fact, the activation of the limbic system is evolutionarily powerful and it overrides frontal lobe control – meaning that often drug addicts behave against their own reasoning. 1. Depressants: slow down mental and physical activity. (Alcohol, barbiturates, tranquilizers, opiates ) Alcohol: Acts as a depressant, slowing down the brain’s activity ; it might feel like a stimulant in the beginning, but as more alcohol is consumed: (1) judgement and inhibition become increasingly impaired (2) causes a sense of euphoria (3) intellectual and motor skills are inhibited; slurred speech (4) eventually, the drinker falls asleep; in extreme cases of intoxication, the drinker falls into a coma and then dies. Alcohol is the most widely used drug in the U.S. ; this is dangerous, because alcohol often leads to v iolence and aggression: more than 60% of homicides and 65% of sexual acts against women involve alcohol. Alcoholism involves long-term, compulsive and excessive consumption of alcohol. Often, alcoholics need to drink large amount of alcohol to feel its effects; family studies suggest that alcoholism is a sort of genetic disorder. Barbiturates: Like Nembutal and Seconal; used as sleep aids because they reduce CNS activity. In heavy dosages, they can lead to impaired memory and decision making. Combined with alcohol, they have lethal effects; due to this, they are often used in suicide attempts. Tranquilizers: Valium and Xanax; addictive drugs that bring a feeling of calm, reducing anxiety and inducing relaxation. Tolerance for them is built upon weeks of usage. Opiates: Heroin, morphine; they depress the CNS activity by imitating serotonin in the brain. They give prolonged euphoric effects, and they are powerful painkillers. They are also highly addictive and increase appetite for food and sex. 2. Stimulants: they affect the nervous system and rise blood pressure, heart rate and muscular tension. (Caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy) Caffeine: A natural stimulant that affects the brain’s pleasure centres , increases attentiveness but decreases reaction time. In extreme cases, it can lead to headaches, insomnia, and nervousness. Caffeinism is an overindulgence in caffeine, and can lead to mood changes, anxiety and sleep disruption. Withdrawal effects include depression. Nicotine: Highly addictive, it raises dopamine levels in the brain and improves attention and alertness, reduced anger and anxiety, and pain relief. Tolerance for nicotine develops easily in the long run and on a daily basis. Withdrawal produces strong cravings, irritability, sleep disturbances and increased appetite. Amphetamines: Stimulant drugs used to boost energy, stay awake, lose weight. Includes diet pills, methamphetamines and Ritalin. They increase the release of dopamine. Methamphetamine is highly addictive and leads to extreme feelings of pleasure, and the “come down” experiences lead to strong cravings. Cocaine: an amphetamine that blocks the reuptake of dopamine , and depletes the brain’s supply of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, leading to an agitated, depressed mood after the rush of euphoria. MDMA: also known as ecstasy, it has both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. It releases serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, and under its influence users tend to feel warm bonds with others, although it also impairs memory and cognitive processing. Heavy users of ecstasy show long -term cognitive deficits. 3. Hallucinogens: psychoactive drugs that modify per ceptual experience and create visual images that are not real. Marihuana: Its active ingredient, THC, has a wide effect in the brain’s chemistry by disrupting membranes of neurons. It affects the action of various neurotransmitters and hormones. Physical effects: increased pulse rate, blood pressure, reddening of the eyes, coughing, dry mouth. Psychological effects: triggers spontaneous unrelated ideas, increased sensitivity, and erratic verbal behaviour. It is not addictive, it may decrease testoste rone production, it can hurt the lungs if smoked, and it has not been proven to be a ‘gateway drug’. LSD: Strong hallucinogen that acts upon serotonin and dopamine, producing striking kaleidoscopic images that can be either pleasurable or grotesque. It alters the perception of time, turning minutes into hours; and it causes dizziness, nausea and tremors. “Bad trips” may lead to paranoia and suicidal or homicidal impulses.


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