Published on February 20, 2014
States of Consciousness by Karen Huffman
Consciousness • Consciousness – Refers to an organism’s awareness of itself and its surroundings.
Consciousness • Levels of awareness: – TOP: Controlled processes • Require full attention – Interfere with other functions • Someone calling your name when your watching the game. – MIDDLE: Automatic processes • Require minimal attention – Such as riding your bike – LOWEST: Minimal or no awareness of the environment
Circadian Rhythms • Many of our behaviors display rhythmic variation. – Circadian rhythms • One cycle lasts about 24 hours (e.g. sleep-waking cycle). • Light is an external cue that can set the circadian rhythm. • Some circadian rhythms are endogenous suggesting the existence of an internal (biological) clock.
Sleep • Sleep is a behavior AND an altered state of consciousness. • We spend about a third of our lives in sleep. – A basic issue is to understand the function of sleep.
Myths of Sleep • Everyone needs 8 hrs of sleep per night to maintain good health. • No longer a myth • In order to perform at optimal level • Learning of complicated subjects such as calculus can be done during sleep. • Some people never dream. • Dreams last only a few seconds. • Genital arousal during sleep reflects dream content. • May be a useful index of physical versus psychological causes of impotence in males
Sleep Stages During a Night
EEG Changes During Sleep • Electrophysiological instruments can be used in the sleep laboratory to assess the physiological changes that occur during an episode of sleep.
Stages of Sleep • Hypnagogic state: “pre-sleep” stage marked by visual, auditory and kinesthetic sensations. • Non-REM Stage one Stage two Stage three Stage four • REM: rapid eyes movements, high frequency brain waves, paralysis of large muscles and dreaming
Functions of Sleep • REM Sleep: – Consolidation of new memories – Role in learning – Absent in lower mammals • Non-REM sleep – People deprived of all sleep show greater time spent in non-REM sleep the next night.
Functions of Sleep • New research shows that sleep helps implant emotional memories and delete unemotional memories.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation • • • • • • Reduced immunity Mood alteration Reduced concentration and motivation Increased irritability Lapses in attention Reduced motor skills
Theories of Sleep • Repair/Restoration – Sleep allows for recuperation from physical, emotional, and intellectual fatigue. • Evolutionary/Circadian – Sleep evolved to conserve energy and protect our ancestors from predators.
Sleep Duration in Mammals
Theories of Dreaming • Psychoanalytic: Dreams represent disguised symbols of repressed desires and anxieties. – Manifest versus latent content • Biological: Dreams represent random activation of brain cells during sleep. • Cognitive: Dreams help to sift and sort the events of the day.
• Insomnia Dysomnias – Difficulty in getting to sleep or remaining asleep and has many causes. – Situational: related to anxiety – Drug-induced: Use of sleeping pills or other drugs can result in insomnia • Sleep apnea: – Person stops breathing and is awakened when blood levels of carbon dioxide stimulate breathing. • Narcolepsy: – Sleep appears at odd times. – Sleep attack: urge to sleep during the day
Parasomnias • Nightmares: – Anxiety-arousing dreams – Generally occurring during REM sleep. • Night Terrors: – Usually boys 4-12. – Abrupt awakenings from NREM sleep – Feelings of panic
Drugs • Drugs – Chemicals that have biological effects within the body. • Psychoactive drugs – Chemicals that change conscious awareness or perception. – Depressants slow down the nervous system. – Stimulants speed up the nervous system. – Opiates relieve pain. – Hallucinogens alter sensory perception .
Drug Use and Abuse • Drug abuse: – Drug use that causes emotional or physical harm to the user. • Addiction – Results from repeated drug use. • Tolerance – More drug is required. – Drug abstinence leads to withdrawal symptoms.
Drug Use and Abuse • Drug dependence can be: – Physical: • Withdrawal reactions are noted when drug use is terminated. – Psychological: • Associated with a craving for the drug
Examples of Drug Types • Depressants: alcohol, barbiturates • Stimulants: caffeine, amphetamine cocaine, nicotine • Opiates: heroin, morphine, • Hallucinogens: LSD, mescaline, marijuana oxycodone
Depressants • Alcohol is particularly dangerous when combined with barbiturates. – Abuse can lead to serious losses in cognitive functioning – In US involved in nearly ½ of all: • • • • Murders Suicides Spousal abuse Accidental deaths in the – 3rd leading cause of birth defects
Stimulants • Nicotine – Considered single most preventable cause of death & disease in US. • Cocaine – – – – Causes physical damage Severe addiction Psychological dependence Can interfere with electrical activity of the heart
Opiates • Narcotics – Such as morphine & heroin, produce their effects by mimicking endorphins.
Hallucinogens • LSD- associated with “bad trips” • Marijuana has some properties of depressants, narcotics and hallucinogens at higher doses.
“Club Drugs” • MDMA (Ecstasy) – High doses can cause • Dangerous increases in body temperature • Dangerous increases in blood pressure – – – – Leading to Seizures Heart attacks Strokes • Can produces long lasting damage to the brain.
How Drugs Work
Drug Action on Neurons
Factors that Lead to Drug Abuse • Positive associations: the drug is portrayed in a positive fashion in the media. • Biological factors: the drug induces a pleasurable state (usually related to dopamine activity in the brain). • Prevention of withdrawal: person continues to take the drug to avoid withdrawal effects. • Conditioning of drug craving: cues associated with drug use can elicit craving for the drug.
Hypnosis • Hypnosis is an altered state of heightened suggestibility. • The hypnotic state is characterized by: – – – – – Narrow and focused attention Imagination Passive receptive attitude Reduced reaction to pain Heightened suggestibility
Myths of Hypnosis • People can be hypnotized against their will. • People will do immoral things while hypnotized. • Hypnosis improves memory recall. • Hypnotized persons have special strength. • Hypnosis is fake.
Altered States • Meditation • refers to a set of techniques that promote a heightened sense of awareness. – can involve body movements and posture, focusing of attention on a focal point, or control of breathing – can induce relaxation, lower blood pressure, and can be associated with a sense of euphoria
Why do people alter consciousness? • Sacred rituals • Social interactions • Individual rewards
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Consciousness is your awareness of yourself and your environment. Some different aspects of consciousness include sleep, dreams, hypnosis and meditation.