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Unit 5: States of Consciousness

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Laura Koritz

on 9 March 2015

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Transcript of Unit 5: States of Consciousness

Unit 5: States of Consciousness
Consciousness is difficult to define.

subjective experience,
awareness,
the ability to experience,
wakefulness
Is a continuum:

from fully awake/aware/sober,
to entirely unconscious.

some higher levels of consciousness may be possible as well: e.g. religious experiences
Sleep
Most obvious change in our consciousness. We follow a general pattern of about 24 hours. We tend to sleep every day!
We go through patterns of sleep and wakefulness,

but also our sleep has different stages.
Brain waves often measured during different states using EEG

Brain waves during normal awake state are called beta waves.
Stage 1 sleep we move from beta waves to alpha and theta waves.

strange sensations possible: floating sensation, hallucinations possible.

(also on your way up out of sleep..)
Stage 2 is mainly restful, with little bursts of occasional brain activity.
(sleep spindles)
Stage 3 changes to delta waves, and we are in much deeper sleep. A time when our body repairs itself.
Stage 4: delta waves and very deep sleep. Very little muscle movement happens in this stage, and our body slows down (lower heart rate, blood pressure, temperature,)
Stage 5 (or REM sleep) involves RAPID EYE MOVEMENTS, so it's pretty easy to find out if people are in this stage.
Brain waves very similar to Stage 1.

Most dreaming happens in this stage. (though it's possible in other stages too)
If you starve people of REM sleep, they will do more of it next time they can. It seems our bodies NEED it.
Dream analysis: Psychoanalytic psychologists sometimes believe that dreams can give us information about people's unconscious minds.

(not the literal dream, but the symbols from the dream)
your brain does things while you sleep; part of why it's important to sleep.

not sleeping will severely reduce your ability to function cognitively.

(almost impossible for humans to stay awake forever.: we start to "microsleep")
You can stay awake permanently if you have a disease called "Fatal Familial Insomnia" which is genetically inherited.

(you'll only live between 7-36 months after onset of the disease though; it kills you)

Lab animals will also die if kept awake for a long time.
1. Activation-synthesis theory:

So while you sleep, your brain does things, and this theory is that dreams are what your conscious mind creates out of the random signals being sent around your brain.
Your brain tries to make sense of the signals it's getting, and creates the story and experiences that we feel as dreams.

This might be why dreams don't tend to make a lot of sense....
2. Information-processing Theory

The idea that your brain is working through the events and new memories of the past day, and organizing stuff and things like that.

This theory predicts that dreams are part of this process, and will be related to things that you have been doing or thinking about a lot lately.
Theories of Dreaming:
Sleep Disorders:
Fatal Familial Insomnia -
Stops people from being able to sleep.

genetic disorder; recessive.

Super-rare: 100 people from about 40 families worldwide.

leads to death once it starts to act.
Insomnia -
Severe difficulty falling or staying asleep

We all have small touches of insomnia from time to time, but it's usually not very serious. Some people have more serious insomnia.

Can be caused by stress, drug use, abnormal health conditions, and a few other things.
Sometimes called PARADOXICAL sleep because we usually think of sleep as being inactive, but this is a pretty active time.
Narcolepsy -
inability to stay awake! People can suddenly fall asleep, which can be very dangerous!

A problem with maintaining the normal awake and alert state.
Sleep Apnea - people have problems breathing during sleep.

Will often stop breathing for a few seconds, causing them to wake up!

Can prevent people from getting the proper deep sleep they need.
Somnambulism (Sleepwalking) -
people will walk around and sometimes do things while they're sleeping.

Is probably NOT during dreaming. (we're usually paralyzed while dreaming)
Night Terrors -
Extreme fear during stage 4 sleep

person may scream, talk, move around. They remain asleep though, and won't remember it when they wake up.
Other Altered States of Consciousness:
You can be knocked unconscious by things like a blow to the head

or other means (chemicals, lack of oxygen to the brain)
When unconscious you won't take in sensory information or be able to think or be aware of what's going on inside or outside your body.
Being Unconscious:
Drug Use:
Hypnosis:
* An altered state of consciousness in which a person is highly suggestible.
* Some people are more hypnotizable than others.

We're not sure how hypnosis works or exactly what is going on.
Some psychologists thought they were finding repressed (forgotten) memories of childhood abuse by hypnotizing people

However, it's likely these were not real events, but memories created in peoples mind by repeated suggestion.

Hypnotic phenomena include:

posthypnotic amnesia (forgetting events that occurred during hypnosis)

and posthypnotic suggestion (a suggestion that a hypnotized person behave in a certain way after he or she is brought out of hypnosis).
One theory is the
ROLE THEORY OF HYPNOSIS

* Says hypnosis is not an altered state of consciousness at all.

* People with high hypnotic suggestibility tend to have richer fantasy lives, follow directions well, and be able to focus intensely on a single task for a long period of time.

* May indicate that hypnotism is a social phenomenon.

* During hypnosis people may act out the role of a hypnotized person because they are expected to.
Another theory is the
STATE THEORY OF HYPNOSIS

* In some ways, it is an altered state.

* Seem to be able to suggest that we become more or less aware of our environments.

* Some people report dramatic health benefits from hypnosis, such as pain control and better concentration.

PSYCHOACTIVE DRUGS
act on the nervous system to alter consciousness, modify perception, and change mood.
AGONISTS
are drugs that mimic neurotransmitters.
*fit in the receptor sites on a neuron that normally receive the neurotransmitter.
ANTAGONISTS

Instead of acting like a neurotransmitter, they prevent natural neurotransmitters from using the receptor site.

STIMULANTS
* Speed up body processes, including autonomic nervous system functions (heart, breathing) and give euphoric sense.


* Caffeine, cocaine, amphetamines, and nicotine are common stimulants.

* All stimulants produce tolerance, withdrawal effects, and other side effects (disturbed sleep, reduced appetite, increased anxiety, and heart problems).
DEPRESSANTS
* Slow down body processes, including our reactions and judgment, by slowing down brain processes (central nervous system processes).

* Common depressants include alcohol, barbiturates, and anxiolytics (also called tranquilizers or anti-anxiety drugs) like Valium.

* Euphoria accompanies the depressing effects of depressants, and continued use leads to tolerance and withdrawal symptoms.
Hallucinogens

(also called Psychedelics)
* Cause changes in perceptions of reality, including sensory hallucinations, loss of identity, and vivid fantasies.

* Common hallucinogens include LSD, peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, and marijuana.
* May remain in the body for weeks.

If an individual ingests the hallucinogen again during this time period, the new dose is added to the lingering amount, creating more profound and potentially dangerous effects. This is called reverse tolerance.

OPIATES
* Act as agonists for endorphins and thus are powerful painkillers and mood elevators.
* Common opiates include morphine, heroin, methadone, and codeine, all of which are similar in chemical structure to opium.
* Some of the most physically addictive drugs because they rapidly change brain chemistry.
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