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Chapter 3: The Brain and Consciousness

by: Brooke McGloon

Chapter 3: The Brain and Consciousness Psych 101

Marketplace > James Madison University > Psychlogy > Psych 101 > Chapter 3 The Brain and Consciousness
Brooke McGloon
GPA 4.0

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Chapter 3 notes from book and class
Introductory Psychology
Dr. David Daniel
Class Notes
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This 10 page Class Notes was uploaded by Brooke McGloon on Tuesday April 5, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Psych 101 at James Madison University taught by Dr. David Daniel in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 35 views. For similar materials see Introductory Psychology in Psychlogy at James Madison University.


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Date Created: 04/05/16
Psych 101 Chapter 3: Brain and Consciousness - At the beginning psychology was “the description and explanation of states of consciousness”—caused scientists to turn to direct observations of behavior - By the 1960’s psychology had nearly lost consciousness and defined itself as “the science of behavior” - After 1960, mental concepts reemerged - Links between brain activity and sleeping, dreaming, and other mental states - Affirmed the importance of cognition (mental processes) Consciousness: our awareness of ourselves and our environment—allows us to assemble info from many sources as we reflect on our past and pan for our future and it focuses our attention when we learn a complex concept or behavior (how to drive) (with practice, driving becomes semi-automatic, freeing us to focus our attention on other things)  Lots of the brain parts/processes working together  Your BEST interpretation of sensory information  Making sense of what you’re paying attention to  Not usually sensation, but perception  It’s a guess (hypnosis, dreams can mess with you)  Allows access to memories and other information  Relies on current mood, past experience, etc. (like memory)  Can shift awareness of the world (interpretation)  A lot under control  Freud: o Conscious level: one is aware of events and mental process (know you’re aware) o Preconscious level: mental events are outside awareness  Over time, we flit between various states of consciousness, including normal waking awareness and various altered states Some states occur spontaneously: daydreaming, drowsiness, dreaming Some states are physiologically induced: hallucinations, orgasm, food or oxygen starvation Some states are psychologically induced: sensory deprivation, hypnosis, meditation - Today’s science explores the biology of consciousness (“the mind is what the brain does”) - Consciousness offers a reproductive advantage—by considering consequences and helping us read others’ intentions, consciousness helps us act on our long term interests - Cognitive neuroscience: the interdisciplinary study of the brain activity linked with our mental processes Dual Processing (two mind) (we know more than we know we know) - Beneath the surface, unconscious information processing occurs simultaneously on many parallel tracks - Cognitive processing: being consciously aware (it’s a hummingbird) - Subprocessing: works in our unconscious (color, form, movement, and distance) - Much of our brain occurs offstage, out of sight - Perception, memory, thinking, and attitudes all operate on two levels: consciously and deliberately and unconsciously and automatic - The human brain is a device for converting conscious into unconscious knowledge - Blindsight: acting as you can see it—a condition in which a person can respond to visual stimulus without consciously experiencing it o Eye sends info simultaneously to different brain areas, which support different tasks o (DF unable to recognize and discriminate objects visually, consciously she could see nothing) DF’s brain: Normal activity in the area concerned with reaching for, grasping, and navigating objects, but damage in the are concerned with consciously recognizing objects o Vision is actually a dual-processing system—a visual perception track enables us “to think about the world”, recognize things and to plan future actions, a visual action track guides our moment-to-moment movements o Another patient blind is able to sense emotion expressed in faces (brain areas below the cortex are processing emotion-related information) - Much of our everyday thinking, feeling, and acting operates outside of our conscious awareness - Conscious enables us to exert voluntary control and to communicate our mental states to other, but it is only the tip of the information-processing iceberg - Unconscious parallel processing is faster than conscious sequential processing (both are essential)—parallel processing enables your mind to take care of routine business, while sequential processing is skilled at solving new problems, which requires your focused attention - Conscious attention can only be in one place at a time - Can manipulate because we know people want to be efficient - The dual track mind is active even during sleep Selective Attention (your awareness focuses) - One’s 5 senses takes in about 11,000,000 bits of info per second, but one consciously processes only 40 - Examples of unconscious info: your shoes pressing against your feet, your nose in the way of words you read, images in your peripherals—given attention to these things, your attentional spotlight shifts and focus is on them (selective attention) - Example: the cocktail party effect (your ability to tend to only one voice among many—if another voice speaks your name, your cognitive radar, operating on your mind’s other track, will instantly bring that voice into consciousness) - Selective attention can easily shift back and forth (GPS to road) - When focused on a task, such as reading, people blink less than when their mind wanders (if you want to know if someone is listening, focus on eye blinks) - Driving and accidents: o We pay a toll for switching attentional gears especially when we switch to complex tasks (noticing and avoiding cars): toll is a slight and sometimes fatal delay in coping o Multitasking distracts our brain resources allocated to driving (brain activity in areas vital to driving decreases by 37% when having a conversation) Selective Inattention - At the level of consciousness, we are “blind” to all but a tiny sliver of visual stimuli (inattentional blindness) - Inattentional blindness is a by-product of what we are really good at: focusing attention on some part of our environment - Attention is powerfully selective and your conscious mind is only in one place at a time - Every time a magic trick is performed, they engage in experimental psychology (take advantage of inattentional blindness and change blindness-when we overlook changes) - Out of sight, out of mind - Some stimuli are so strikingly powerful though that we experience popout— we don’t choose to attend to these stimuli; they draw our eye and demand our attention Sleep - Even when you are deeply asleep, your perceptual window is open a crack (you move around, but still manage not to fall out of bed) - While cars passing by may leave you in your sleep, a babies cry and even hearing your own name can interrupt it - EEG recording confirm that the brain’s auditory cortex responds to sound stimuli even during sleep - When you are asleep, you process most information outside your conscious awareness (like when you’re awake) Biological rhythms and sleep Circadian rhythm- 24 –hour cycle (actually about 25) (cycle of behavior and physiology) - As morning approaches, body temperature rises then peaks during the day, dips for a time in early afternoon, and begins to drop again in the evening - Thinking is the sharpest and memory most accurate when we are at our daily peak in circadian arousal - Problems come from disruptions of this sleep cycle (jet lag, changes in work schedule, college) - If not same day, end up with deficit - Age and experience can alter our circadian rhythm (most 20 year-olds are evening-energized night owls with performance improving across the day, most older adults are morning loving larks with their performance declining as the day wears on) - After about age 20, we begin to shift from being owls to being larks - Women become more morning oriented as they have children and also as they transition to menopause - Morning types tend to do better in school, to take more initiative, and to be less vulnerable to depression - Hours you need to sleep also changes by age - Dolphin or whales do not drown when they sleep because only half their brain sleeps at a time 90 minute sleep cycle - When sleep overtakes us, our conscious fades as different parts of our brain’s cortex stop communicating - The sleeping brain has its own biological rhythm - About every 90 minutes, you cycle through four distinct sleep stages (somewhat more frequently for older adults) - As the hour grows late, you feel sleepy and yawn in response to reduced brain metabolism (stretches your neck muscles and increases you heart rate, which increases your alertness) (socially contagious) 4 stages of sleep + REM (defined by the electrical output of your brain waves): Awake  Beta waves  Low voltage Drowsy (awake but relaxed)  Alpha waves Stage 1 sleep/NREM-1:  Slow breathing  Irregular brain waves  Theta waves  May experience fantastic images resembling hallucinations (sensory experiences that occur without a sensory stimulus)  May have a sensation of falling (which causes one to suddenly jerk) or of floating weightlessly  These hypnagogic sensations may later be incorporated into your memories Stage 2 sleep/NREM-2:  20 minutes  Sleep spindles (bursts of rapid, rhythmic brain activity-zzzzzz—characterizes sleep) and mixed EEG activity  Could still be awakened without too much difficulty Stage 3 sleep/NREM-3: (DEEP sleep)  30 minutes  Slow-wave sleep  Large, slow delta waves  Beginning of the night  Deepest sleep, hard to awaken  Endocrine activity  Night terrors (stage 4)  At the end of NREM-3 is when children usually wet the bed REM SLEEP (not sleep stage) (quality of sleep) (also called paradoxical sleep, because brain looks awake and body is asleep-paradox)  An hour after you first fall asleep  Ascend from your initial sleep dives, returning to NREM-2 (where you spend most of your night)  For about 10 minutes, your brain waves become rapid and saw-toothed (like those of the nearly awake NREM-1 sleep)  (Unlike NREM-1) heart rate rises, breathing becomes rapid and irregular, and every half-minute or so your eyes dart around in momentary bursts of activity behind closed eyelids  Eye movement announce a beginning of a dream (often emotional, usually story-like, and richly hallucinatory)  Looks like beta waves  Low-voltage  High frequency waves  Eyes twitch, rapid eye movement  Brain looks awake, energetic brain activity, brains motor cortex is activated (but brainstem blocks its messages)  Muscles relaxed, so much so that, except for an occasional twitch, you are essentially paralyzed (why dreams are not acted out)  Cannot easily be awakened  More vibrant and detailed dreaming  Except during scary dreams) your genitals become aroused during REM sleep (an erection or increased vaginal lubrication and clitoral engagement) (regardless of whether the dream’s content is sexual or not) (morning erection stem from the last night’s REM period-often just before waking) (sleep related erections outlast REM period-usually 30 to 45 minutes) (many men who have trouble with erectile disorder have sleep-related erections)  Towards morning - As the night wears on, deep NREM-3 sleep grows shorter and disappears, and the REM and NREM-2 sleep periods get longer - By morning, we have spent 20-25 % of sleep in REM - Can recall dreams after being awakened in REM sleep What effects our sleep patterns? - Everyone does not need 8 hours of sleep (some thrive with 6, others need 9) - Sleep patterns are genetically influenced - With sleep biology and environment interact - Bright lights affect our sleepiness by activiating light-sensitive retinal proteins —this signals the brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus to decrese production of melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone) Why should we sleep (not why, but actually what happens when we sleep)  Memory consolidation (more likely to remember with sleep)  Recuperation: tissue and growth repair (HGH) (athletes)  Growth  Temperature dips (cool room better, cool pillow)  Levels of hormone cortisol dip at bed time and comes up at morning to prepare for work/alertness  Washes toxins  Good for immune system  Gradually waking up is best for the body (light)  Feeds creative thinking Effects of sleep loss (we need sleep) - Sleepy and drained of energy and feelings of well-being (bad moods) - Sleep debt can add up (and cannot be fixed by just one night of long sleep) - Sleep commands roughly 1/3 of our life (25 years) - Most adults will need to sleep at least 9 hours at night - With sleep, we wake refreshed, sustain better moods, and perform more efficient and accurate work - Predictor for depression - Increased inflammation and arthritis - Reduced strength, slower reaction time, and motor learning - Increased risk of high blood pressure - Weight gain (sleep deprivation increases ghrelin, a hunger arousing hormone and decreases leptin, a hunger suppressing hormone—also increase cortisol which is a stress hormone that stimulates the body to make fat) - Sickness (sleep deprivation suppresses the immune cells that battle viral infections and cancer) - Slow reactions and increases errors on visual attention—when sleepy frontal lobes confront an unexpected situation misfortune often results Sleep disorders (sleep deprivation/trouble) Insomnia  The most common  Inability to fall asleep or stay asleep  Feel tired all the time Narcolepsy  Just fall asleep randomly/abruptly without warning into REM directly from wake state  Cataplexy sometimes related  Can’t get a drivers license  Goats do it with stress  Genetic Sleep apnea  More in males and overweight people  Body forgets to breathe while sleeping  Deprived of slow wave sleeping  Feel tired all the time *When one doesn’t sleep, they eat more *Teens biologically put back two hours Sleep disorders (while you sleep) (you only remember REM sleep): Night terrors  Horrific dreams/images in sleep  3 and 4 hours into sleep (first few hours of NREM-3) (early in sleep cycle)  Wake up panicked  Are not remembered  Target mostly children Nightmares  Frightening dreams  REM sleep (morning) Sleep walking (and sleep talking)  NREM-3  Usually occurs in non-REM (deep) sleep (but does happen in REM)  Genetic  Sleep talking can occur during any sleep stage  Few sleepwalkers recall it the next morning  After being sleep deprived, we sleep more deeply, which increases tendency to sleep walk - You can tell the specific moment when people fall asleep in the waves (spindle) - When people sleep: body temp cools, cortison levels down, hormones excreeted, dark urine) - Brain never sleeps (can listen when asleep) - You dream in every single stage - Doesn’t necessarily matter the hours you sleep-need to get stages and REM - REM rebound: if didn’t get enough REM the night before, can catch up - When one drinks alcohol they only get stage sleep, NO REM (that’s why still exhausted) Dreaming - REM - Vivid, emotional, and bizarre - Six years of are life is spent dreaming - Common themes: failing in an attempt to do something; being attacked, pursued, or rejected; or experiencing misfortune - Sexual dreams happen less often than people think - Outside things going on in the environment can be woven into our dreams Why we dream - Freud says it gives you the chance to take over—do what you actually want/wish for (wish fulfillment) (psychic safety valve that discharges otherwise unacceptable feelings)—day residue shapes dreams that satisfy unconscious needs (key to understanding our inner conflicts) o Manifest content: apparent and remembered story line of a dream (censored) (symbolic) o Latent content: unconscious drives and wishes that would be threatening if expressed directly (underlying meaning of a dream) - (Carterwright) major problem solving o we think through problems in our lives o it clicks, unsticks - (Hobson and McCarley) activation synthesis o Brain trying to make sense out of what is happening, what its doing o Story created to make sense of internal signals - Can wake up and go right back into dream - Can’t dream without sleep and can’t sleep without dreams Hypnosis: An altered state of consciousness brought on by special techniques and that produces responsiveness to suggestions for changes in experience and behavior (VOLUNTARY) Hypnotic susceptibility: - Reduced planning - Redistributed attention - Enhanced ability to fantasize - Increased role-taking - Reduced reality-testing People who are more susceptible: (people who have) - People who have better ability to focus attention and ignore distraction - Active imagination - Tendency to fantasize - Capacity for processing info quickly and easily - Tendency to be suggestible - Positive attitudes toward hypnosis - HAS TO BE WILLING (most important) (cannot be hypnotized if one can’t relax and focus) Hypnosis can help with: - Nausea and vomiting due to chemo - Can reduce surgical bleeding (relaxation) - Has proven useful in relation to pain management (birth) - Use of hypnosis to aid memory is more controversial b/c more likely to have false memories Explaining hypnosis: State Theory - Qualitatively different level of consciousness Role Theory - You act like someone who is hypnotized, you’re playing that role—acting in accordance with a social role that demands compliance - Hypnosis is not a special state of consciousness (all look alike in brain waves) Psychoactive Drugs (all do their work at the brain’s synapses, stimulating, inhibiting, or mimicking the activity of the brain’s own chemical messengers, the neurotransmitters) Depressants  Drugs that calm neural activity and slow body functions  Alcohol o Acts as a disinhibitor (not a stimulant)—slows brain activity that controls judgment and inhibitions o Increases (disinhibits) helpful tendencies (extravagant tips) o Increases harmful tendencies (sexual aggression) o Slows sympathetic nervous system activity (relaxes) o Causes reactions to slow, speech to slur, and skilled performance to deteriorate o Paired with sleep deprivation, can be a potent sedative o Several hundred thousand lives are lost each year due to alcohol- related accidents and violent crime o Judgment falters (drinking and driving, even when against it sober) o Can be life threatening when heavy drinking follows an earlier period of moderate drinking, which depresses the vomiting response—may poison themselves with an overdose that their bodies would normally throw up o Can disrupt memory formation o Heavy drinking can have long-term effects on brain and cognition o Binge drinking contributes to nerve cell death and reduces to birth of new nerve cells o Impairs the growth of synaptic connections o Leads to blackouts—blackouts result partly from the way alcohol suppresses REM sleep, which helps fix the day’s experiences into permanent memories o Alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) can shrink the brain o Girls and young women (who have less of a stomach enzyme that digests alcohol) can become addicted to alcohol more quickly than boys and young men do, they are also at risk for lung, brain, and liver damage at lower consumption levels o Reduces self-awareness and produces sort of “myopia” by focusing attention on an arousing situation (such as a provocation) and distracting attention from normal inhibitions and future consequences o Reduced self-awareness may help explain why people who want to suppress their awareness of failures or shortcomings are more likely to drink than are those who feel good about themselves o Expectations influence behavior—alcohol effect lies partly in the powerful sex organ, the mind o When people believe that alcohol affects social behavior in certain ways, and believe (whether right or wrong) that they have been drinking alcohol, they will behave accordingly  Barbiturates (tranquilizers) o Depress nervous system activity o Examples: Nembutal, Seconal, Amytal o Sometimes prescribed to induce sleep or reduce anxiety o In larger doses, can impair memory and judgment o If combined with alcohol, the total depressive effect on the body functions can be lethal  Opiates (opium and its derivatives) o Morphine and heroin o Depress neural functioning (pupils constrict, breathing slows, lethargy sets in a blissful pleasure that replaces pain and anxiety) o Develop a gnawing craving for it, need for progressively larger doses, and extreme discomfort of withdrawal o When repeatedly flooded with an artificial opiate, the brain eventually stops producing endorphins, its own opiates—so when the artificial opiate is withdrawn, the brain lacks the normal level of these painkilling neurotransmitters o Death by overdose Simulants (excites neural activity and speeds up body functions; pupils dilate, heart and breathing rates increase, and blood sugar levels rise, causing drop in appetite; energy and self-confidence also rise)  Caffeine  Nicotine o Found in cigarettes and other tobacco products o Highly addictive o Quitting causes withdrawal  Amphetamines (cocaine, methamphetamine (“speed”), ecstasy)  Cocaine o Snorted, injected, or smoked o Produces a rush of euphoria that depletes the brain’s supply of neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine o Can lead to emotional disturbances, suspiciousness, convulsions, cardiac arrest, or respiratory failure o Crack: a faster working crystallized form of cocaine products that produces a briefer but more intense high, followed by a more intense crash  Meth o Triggers the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which stimulates brain cells that enhance energy and euphoria o After effects include: irritability, insomnia, hypertension, seizures, social isolation, depression, and occasional violent outbursts o Overtime meth may reduce baseline dopamine levels, leaving the user with depressed functioning  Ecstasy o Street name for MDMA o Both a stimulant and mild hallucinogen o Triggers dopamine release, but its major effect is releasing stored serotonin and blocking its reuptake (which prolongs serotonin’s feel good flood) o (For 3 to 4 hours) experience high energy, emotional elevation, and connectedness with those around them Hallucinogens (distort perceptions and evoke sensory images in the absence of sensory input)  LSD o Fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors o Experiences go from euphoria to detachment to panic o Feel separated from their body and experience dreamlike sense so real that they may become panic-stricken or harm themselves (similar to the near-death experience)  Marijuana o Contains THC o Mild hallucinogen, amplifying sensitivity to colors, sounds, tastes, and smells o Relaxes, disinhibits, and may produce a euphoric high o Disrupts memory formation and interferes with immediate recall of information learned only a few minutes before


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