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CONSCIOUSNESS. Functions of Consciousness Consciousness monitors –self –environment...

Date post: 30-Dec-2015
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Functions of Consciousness

• Consciousness monitors – self – environment

• Consciousness regulates – thought – behavior


• The subjective awareness of mental events.– Thoughts– Feelings– Perceptions

• States of consciousness– Qualitatively different patterns of subjective experience

• Selective inattention– Selectively diverting our attention away from

information that may upset us

Psychodynamic Unconscious

Freud’s model includes:• Conscious mental processes

– Subjective awareness of stimuli, feelings, ideas (my voice)

• Preconscious mental processes– Not presently conscious but could be quickly brought

into consciousness (your first kiss with a non-relative)

• Unconscious mental processes– Inaccessible to consciousness as they are too anxiety

provoking (sexual abuse when you were a young child)

Unconscious Motivation

• Our ability to be driven by motives of which we are not consciously aware of

• Cognitive Unconscious– Information-processing mechanisms that operate

outside of our awareness

• Procedural Knowledge– Shift gears on a manual transmission in your car

• Implicit Memory– How to get on a bicycle

Attention & Selection

• Attention– Process of focusing consciousness awareness

• Selection– Deciding where to focus

• External stimuli

• Internal motivation

Divided Attention

• Involves attempts to follow two sources of stimuli at the same time– Drive– Talk on cell phone


• “Attention not paid precisely to those substantive elements that are relevant for the successful resolution of the situation”

Ellen Langer

• Three types– Categorical Thinking (Stereotyping)– Act from a single perspective (Rigid adherence)– Automatic behaviors or habits

Location of Consciousness

• Consciousness involves a network of neurons distributed through out the brain

• Damage to hindbrain structures, especially the RAS, can lead to total loss of consciousness

Sleeping and Dreaming

• Sleep involves a lack of conscious awareness

• We differ on the amount of sleep we need– Average range is 6-8 hours per night

• Circadian Rhythms– Biological cycle of sleep and waking– Controlled by the hypothalamus

Sleep Deprivation & Disorders

• Sleep deprivation is considered a form of torture

• Negative impact on immune system

• Inability to stay alert

• Sleep Diseases include:– Narcolepsy-Sleep attacks during conscious states

– Sleep Apnea-Brief periods of not breathing

– Night Terrors- Wake up with intense fear


• Insomnia involves the inability to sleep

• Impacts all of us at some point

• How to control for insomnia– Avoid sleeping too much, especially during the day– Do not try to force sleep– Avoid bright lights or ticking clocks near bed– Avoid physical exercise late at night– Avoid caffeine & alcohol before going to bed– Don’t eat a large meal before going to bed

Stages of Sleep

• Regular and predictable stages of sleep involving brain waves measured with EEG monitors

• Two types of brain waves

– Beta Waves=High frequency & low amplitude

– Alpha Waves= Low frequency & higher amplitude

Stages of Sleep• Stage I

– Brief (few minutes)– Beta waves decrease and alpha waves emerge

• Stage II– Sleep spindles and K-complexes show up– Sleep deepens and alpha waves disappear

• Stage III– Large slow rhythmic delta waves show up

• Stage 4– When more than 50% of brain activity is delta waves

REM Sleep

• Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep also called paradoxical stage of sleep

• Occurs when one re-ascends to Stage I sleep

• EEG resembles awake state and the eyes dart round in a rapid manner for several minutes

• Dreaming takes place in REM sleep

REM and non-REM Sleep

• The sleep cycle repeats over the course of a sleep cycle

• Stage I when dreaming = REM sleep

• Stages II, III, IV= Non REM sleep


• Psychodynamic View– Based on unconscious motives

– Manifest Content • What the person is actually dreaming

– Falling off a mountain

– Latent Content• The meaning behind the manifest images

– Fear of failing an important examination


• Cognitive View– Cognitive constructions that reflect concerns

we experience while awake– A form of thought

• Biological View– Biological phenomena with no meaning at all– Random discharges of neurons

Altered States of Consciousness

• Meditation– Deep state of tranquility – Alter normal flow of conscious thought– Focus on a mantra and block out other thoughts

• Hypnosis– Deep relaxation and suggestibility– We differ widely on hypnotic susceptibility– You won’t do something under hypnosis that you

would not do in a normal conscious state• Chicken Dance• Hit someone

Drugs, Alcohol & Consciousness

• Psychoactive Drugs– Drugs that operate on the nervous system– Cocaine, Ecstasy & LSD

• Alcohol– Depressant– Barbiturates– Calming effect


• Stimulants– Energize – Increase heart rate and blood pressure

• Nicotine & Caffeine are common stimulants

• Cocaine & Amphetamines– Hyper rush– Very addictive


• Hallucinogens– Alter interpretation of sensory information

– Produce bizarre perceptions

– Can do serious, and irreversible, damage to brain cells

• Marijuana– Manipulates dopamine reward circuits in the brain

– Current product is much stronger than your parents marijuana as a result of decades of product enhancement