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CHAPTER FIVE: STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
LO 5.1: Discuss the nature of consciousness.
LO 5.2: Explain the nature of sleep and dreams.
LO 5.3: Evaluate the uses and types of psychoactive drugs.
LO 5.4: Describe hypnosis.
LO 5.5: Discuss the role of the conscious mind in constructing a happy and healthy life.
I. Chapter Outline
Experiencing Psychology: Erik Ramsey-When the mind is a buried treasure
ï§ The chapter begins with a discussion of a man who was injured in a car accident, leaving him with a rare condition called locked-in syndrome.
ï§ Erik's only ability was to control the muscles of his eyes, allowing him to communicate. However, he still had his mind!
ï§ A team of doctors, scientists, and engineers are working together to develop the technology that had allowed Eric to think the sounds he cannot make with his voice
and do so in a way that a computer will recognize and translate into speech. By 2010,
Eric was able to produce three vowel sounds.
I. The Nature of Consciousness
ï§ William James described the mind as a stream of consciousness, a continued flow of ever changing sensations, images, thoughts, and feelings.
ï§ James also described aspects of our awareness that are on the "fringe" of the stream of consciousness, referring to the feelings and thoughts that we have about our
ï§ Metacognition refers to thinking about thinking. The awareness of thinking about something can have survival benefits.
A. Defining Consciousness
1. Consciousness can be defined in two parts: 1) an individual's level of awareness to external events and internal sensations and 2) arousal.
2. Arousal refers to the physiological state of being engaged with the environment.
B. Consciousness and the Brain
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1. Neuroscientists do not believe there is a specific place in the brain for consciousness. They believe there are separate processing systems that connect to
2. Awareness is a subjective state of being conscious and occurs in a global brain workspace involving a variety of brain areas working in parallel.
3. Areas of the prefrontal cortex are involved in complex sensations and awareness events
4. Arousal is determined by the reticular activating system, a network of structures including the brain stem, medulla, and thalamus.
5. One may consider that consciousness is the part of yourself that contains your private thoughts and feelings. Developmental psychologists refer to this as theory
of mind, which emerges around four years old, but younger in some children.
6. The theory of mind is important in such social capacities as empathy and sympathy. Researchers propose that children with autism may lack a well-
developed theory of mind, which could explain their social deficits.
C. Levels of Awareness
1. Higher-Level Consciousness
a. Controlled processes are the most alert states of consciousness. Individuals actively alert their attention toward a goal.
2. Lower-Level Awareness
a. Automatic processes are states of consciousness that require little attention, and they do not interfere with other activities.
a. Daydreaming lies in between active consciousness and dreaming while asleep. b. Mind wandering is the most well known type of daydreaming. c. Daydreaming can be useful in that a person may be making plans, solving
problems, or coming up with a creative idea. Dreaming keeps our minds
active while helping us cope, create, and fantasize.
4. Altered States of Consciousness
ï§ Altered states of consciousness are mental states that are noticeably different from normal awareness.
ï§ Altered states of consciousness can be brought about through drugs, trauma, fatigue, possibly hypnosis, and sensory deprivation.
a. Subconscious Awareness i. An unawareness of many things that may be happening (such as your
brain functioning) around you. Your brain is processing information
without you even noticing it.
b. Waking Subconscious Awareness
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i. When awake, processes are occurring just below the surface of awareness.
ii. Incubation is the subconscious processing of information that leads to a solution to a problem after a break from conscious thought about that
c. Subconscious Awareness During Sleep and Dreams i. During sleep and dreams, the level of awareness is below what it is
ii. Research has shown that while a person is asleep they are still somewhat aware of external stimuli.
d. No Awareness i. When a person is unconscious they are normally knocked out by a blow
or they are under anesthesia.
ii. Sigmund Freud believed unconscious thought was where a person keeps unacceptable wishes, feelings, and thoughts that are beyond their
iii. Unconscious processes can have an important influence on our behavior.
II. SLEEP AND DREAMS
A. Biological Rhythms and Sleep
ï§ Biological rhythms are the periodic physiological fluctuations in the body. ï§ Biological rhythms are controlled by the biological clock, which includes annual
or seasonal cycles, twenty-eight-day cycles, and twenty-four-hour cycles.
1. Circadian Rhythms
a. A circadian rhythm is a daily behavioral or physiological cycle. b. It includes the sleep/wake cycle, body temperature, blood pressure, and blood
c. The changing from day to night is controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which is a small structure in the brain that synchronizes its own rhythm with
the daily cycle of light and dusk and is based on information from the retina.
2. Desynchronizing the Biological Clock
a. Biological clocks can be desynchronized or set off their cycle by such things as jet travel, sometimes referred to as jet lag. They can also be set off by
changing work shifts or insomnia.
3. Resetting the Biological Clock
a. With regard to jet lag and resetting your biological clock, it is a good idea to spend as much as time as possible in the daylight.
b. Melatonin can also reduce the effects of jet lag.
B. Why Do We Need Sleep?
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ï§ There are many important benefits to sleep, such as restoration, adaptation, growth, and memory.
ï§ Sleep is also an important mechanism for survival. ï§ Many of the body's cells show increased production and reduced breakdown of
proteins during deep sleep. Sleep also gives the neurons used while awake a time
to shut down and repair themselves.
ï§ For some animals, it is safer to search for food and water when it is dark outside. For other animals, however, sleep is time to save energy and avoid getting eaten
or falling off a cliff that cannot be seen.
ï§ REM sleep is related to the formation of emotional memories in humans.
1. The Effects of Chronic Sleep Deprivation
a. The lack of sleep has an impact on the body and the brain, often causing additional stress.
b. Research has shown that extreme sleep deprivation can cause hallucinations as well as speech and movement problems.
c. Researchers suggest that we are at our best when we get at least 8 hours of sleep, though this can vary due to age and activity level.
d. Sleep deprivation can also affect decision making and problem solving. e. Often people don't get enough sleep due to work, school, and family
obligations. We cheat ourselves out of sleep in order to try and get everything
done daily that we want or need to.
C. Stages of Wakefulness and Sleep
ï§ An electroencephalogram (EEG) is used to monitor the brain's electrical activity. ï§ The stages of sleep correspond to massive electrophysiological changes that occur
throughout the brain in the fast, irregular, and low-amplitude electrical activity of
ï§ Beta waves reflect wakefulness. They are the highest in frequency and lowest in amplitude and are more desynchronous.
ï§ Alpha waves reflect relaxation yet wakefulness. They slow down, increase in amplitude, and are more synchronous.
ï§ The five stages of sleep are differentiated by the types of wave patterns detected by an EEG.
1. Stages 1-4
a. Stage 1 sleep is characterized by theta waves that are slower in frequency and greater in amplitude than alpha waves.
b. Stage 2 sleep still has theta waves, but it also has sleep spindles, which involve a sudden increase in wave frequency.
c. Stage 3 and stage 4 sleep are characterized by delta waves, which are the slowest and highest-amplitude brain waves during sleep.
2. REM Sleep
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a. As a person goes through sleep stages 1-4, they drift back up toward wakefulness, but they do not reach stage 1. Instead they enter stage 5, which is
called REM sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement.
b. REM sleep is an active stage of sleep where dreaming occurs. c. An EEG shows fast waves that resemble those of wakefulness. d. The amount of time spent in REM sleep throughout the night changes as
people get older.
3. Sleep Cycling Through the Night
a. One sleep cycle (the time spent going through the stages of sleep one time) lasts about 90 to 100 minutes. They reoccur several times throughout the
b. The night's first time in REM sleep lasts only about 10 minutes and the final time in REM sleep may last about an hour.
4. Sleep and the Brain
a. The sleep stages are associated with neurotransmitters in the reticular formation of the brain.
b. Serotonin, epinephrine, and acetylcholine are the three important neurotransmitters that are involved in sleep.
c. A person is more likely to wake up after a period of REM sleep, and if they do not, the level of neurotransmitters starts to decrease and the person enters
another sleep cycle.
5. Sleep Throughout the Life Span
a. Getting sufficient sleep is important at every stage of human life. Sleep may
benefit physical growth and brain development in infants and children.
b. Adolescents need about 9 hours of sleep, though they tend to get much fewer
hours. This may have an impact on their academic work performance.
Research has found that adolescent's biological clocks undergo a shift causing them to delay their periods of wakefulness by one hour.
c. Older adults also see a shift in sleeping. They tend to go to bed earlier and
wake up earlier than in other developmental stages. Individuals older than 40
report waking up more throughout the night.
D. Sleep and Disease
1. Stroke and asthma attacks are more likely during the night and early morning. 2. Sleeplessness is also associated with obesity and heart disease. 3. Sleep may help the body conserve energy and other resources that the body needs
during an infection.
4. Sleep problems afflict those with psychological disorders such as depression, or other disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
E. Sleep Disorders
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a. Insomnia is the inability to sleep. It can involve having trouble falling asleep, waking up during the night, or waking up early in the morning.
b. Women are more likely to have trouble with insomnia than men. This is probably because of iron deficiencies or hormonal changes.
c. For short-term insomnia, doctors usually prescribe sleeping pills.
2. Sleepwalking and Sleep Talking
a. Somnambulism is another term for sleepwalking. b. Sleepwalking occurs during the deepest stage of sleep. c. Sleep talkers are sound asleep.
3. Nightmares and Night Terrors
a. A nightmare occurs in REM sleep and is defined as a frightening dream that wakens a person. Nightmares peak for children between the ages of 3 and 6
b. A night terror is characterized by sudden arousal from sleep and intense fear. Night terrors peak for children between the ages of 5 and 7 years.
a. Narcolepsy is an overpowering urge to sleep. The person may fall asleep while talking or standing up.
b. The person with narcolepsy goes directly into REM sleep when it occurs.
5. Sleep Apnea
a. Sleep apnea involves individuals who stop breathing during sleep. People with sleep apnea wake up many times during the night so they can breathe
better, but they are usually not aware of it.
b. This disorder is common among infants, adults over age 65, and individuals who are obese.
c. Sleep apnea may cause lost productivity, accidents, and health-related issues and has been implicated in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
ï§ Freud believed that dreams symbolized unconscious wishes. Manifest content is the dream's surface content, whereas latent content refers to the dream's hidden content or meaning (subconscious).
1. Subconscious Cognitive Processing
a. The cognitive theory of dreaming states that dreaming can be understood by applying the same cognitive concepts that are used when studying the waking
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mind. Therefore, dreaming involves information processing, memory, and
b. From the cognitive theory point of view, dreams are where a person can solve problems and think creatively.
c. The cognitive view of dreaming ties brain activity that occurs during dreams to the activity that occurs during waking life.
2. Finding Logic in Random Brain Activity
a. The activation-synthesis theory states that dreaming occurs when the cerebral cortex synthesizes neural signals that are generated from activity in the lower
part of the brain.
b. Neural networks in other areas of the forebrain play a role in dreaming.
III. Psychoactive Drugs
ï§ Drug use among youth is a concern and problem because it is associated with other problems such as unsafe sex, sexually transmitted infections, unplanned pregnancies,
depression, and school-related problems. There has been a decline in the twenty-first
century in illegal drug use among secondary students.
A. Uses of Psychoactive Drugs
1. When a person has to take more and more of the drug to achieve the same desired effect, they have become tolerant.
2. Physical dependence is the physiological need for a drug. Without the drug the person exhibits withdrawal symptoms.
3. Psychological dependence is a strong desire to repeat using the drug for emotional reasons.
4. For drug use to be considered an addiction there has to be a physical and/or psychological dependence on the drug.
5. Psychoactive drugs are substances that act on the nervous system to alter states of consciousness, modify perceptions, and change moods.
6. Drug use for personal gratification can be dangerous because it leads to drug dependence, personal disarray, and a predisposition to serious, sometimes fatal
7. Psychoactive drugs cause an increase in dopamine levels in the brain's reward system pathways, especially in the ventral tegmental area and the nucleus accumbens.
B. Types of Psychoactive Drugs
ï§ Depressants slow down mental and physical activity.
a. Alcohol i. Alcohol acts as a depressant and slows down the brain's activity. People
may act more freely and loosen up a bit after a few drinks because the area
of the brain involved in inhibition and judgment slows down.
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ii. Activities that involve intellectual functioning and motor skills become impaired.
iii. Researchers believe the frontal cortex holds a memory for the pleasure that was involved in prior alcohol use and therefore contributes to continued
iv. Next to caffeine, alcohol is the most widely used drug in the United States. v. Alcoholism involves long-term, repeated, uncontrolled, compulsive, and
excessive use of alcoholic beverages that impairs the drinker's health and social relationships.
vi. A recent survey conducted among U.S. high school seniors found that at least 40% of them had consumed alcohol within the last 30 days and that at
least 25% of high school seniors had engaged in binge drinking (consuming
five or more drinks in a row).
vii. Fifty to 60% of those people that become alcoholics do so because of some genetic disposition. This may be because the brains of people genetically
predisposed to alcoholism may be unable to produce enough dopamine,
which is a neurotransmitter that elicits pleasure.
b. Barbiturates i. A barbiturate is a depressant drug that decreases the activity of the central
ii. Barbiturates were originally prescribed as sleep aids. iii. With increased usage they can lead to impaired memory and decision
c. Tranquilizers i. Tranquilizers are depressants that reduce anxiety and induce relaxation.
ii. Tranquilizers are usually prescribed to calm an anxious, nervous person.
d. Opiates i. Opiates consist of opium and depress the central nervous system's activity.
ii. When the drugs leave the brain their synapses become understimulated. iii. For many hours after taking the drug the person may feel euphoric and pain-
free and have an increased desire for food and sex.
ï§ Stimulants increase activity in the central nervous system.
a. Caffeine i. Caffeine is the world's most widely used drug.
ii. The term caffeinism is overindulgence in caffeine. It brings about mood changes, anxiety, and sleep disruption. It usually occurs in people who
drink five or more cups of coffee a day.
b. Nicotine i. Nicotine is the main psychoactive ingredient in all forms of smoking and
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ii. It is highly addictive. It stimulates the brain's rewards centers by raising dopamine levels.
iii. Behavioral effects include improved attention and alertness, reduced anger and anxiety, and pain relief.
iv. Surveys suggest that there is a decrease in the amount of adolescent and college students smoking cigarettes.
c. Amphetamines i. Amphetamines are also known as "uppers," and people use them to boost
energy, stay awake, or lose weight. They are often prescribed as diet pills.
ii. They increase the release of dopamine, which enhances the user's activity level and causes pleasurable effects.
iii. Crystal meth is probably the most insidious illicit drug. It causes a strong euphoric feeling, especially the first time it is taken.
d. Cocaine i. Cocaine comes from the coca plant. It is either snorted or injected in the
form of crystals or powder.
ii. It enters the bloodstream quickly, producing a rush of euphoric feelings that lasts for about 15-30 minutes.
iii. Crack is a potent form of cocaine. It is believed to be one of the most addictive substances known, even more so than heroine, barbiturates, and
e. MDMA (Ecstasy) i. MDMA has both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties.
ii. Street names are Ecstasy, X, XTC, hug, beans, and love drug. iii. It has adverse effects on memory and cognitive processing.
ï§ Hallucinogens modify a person's perceptual experiences and produce visual images that are not real.
a. Marijuana i. Marijuana comes from the dried leaves and flowers of the hemp plant.
ii. The active ingredient in marijuana is THC, which does not affect a specific neurotransmitter. However, it does disrupt the membranes of neurons and
affects the functioning of many neurotransmitters and hormones.
iii. The physical effects include an increase in pulse rate and blood pressure, reddening of the eyes, coughing, and dryness of the mouth.
iv. Psychological effects include a mixture of excitatory, depressive, and mildly hallucinatory characteristics that make it difficult to classify the drug.
v. It can impair attention and memory. When used in large amounts, it can alter sperm count and change hormonal cycles.
vi. It is the most widely used drug by high school students. vii. Marijuana has been considered a potential treatment for people who suffer
from a variety of diseases including AIDS, cancer, and chronic pain.
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b. LSD i. When using LSD, objects can appear to change their shape and glow.
Colors become like a kaleidoscope and amazing images unfold. Time
seems to slow down.
ii. LSD's effects on the body include dizziness, nausea, and tremors. iii. It acts primarily on the neurotransmitter serotonin, but it can also affect
A. The Nature of Hypnosis
ï§ Hypnotized individuals are aware of what is happening and remember the experience later unless they are instructed to forget it.
ï§ Hypnosis is defined as an altered state of consciousness or as a psychological state of altered attention and expectation in which an individual is unusually receptive
ï§ Psychology and medicine recognize hypnosis as a legitimate process.
1. The Four Steps of Hypnosis
a. The first step in hypnosis is that distractions should be minimized and that the person who is to be hypnotized should be made comfortable.
b. The second step is that the hypnotist tells the person to concentrate on something specific.
c. The third step is that the hypnotist tells the person what to expect in the hypnotic state.
d. The fourth step is that the hypnotist suggests certain events he or she knows will occur or observes occurring.
2. Individual Variations in Hypnosis
a. Some people are more easily hypnotized than others, and some are more strongly influenced by hypnotic suggestions. Hypnotizability refers to the
extent to which a person's responses are changed by being hypnotized. b. If a person has the capacity to immerse themselves in imaginative activities
such as listening to a favorite piece of music or reading a novel she is more
likely to be able to be hypnotized.
B. Explaining Hypnosis
1. A Divided State of Consciousness
a. There are two states to consciousness. One of the states follows the hypnotist's commands and the other one acts as a "hidden observer."
2. Social Cognitive Behavior
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a. The social cognitive behavior view of hypnosis states that hypnosis is a normal state in which the hypnotized person behaves in such a way he believes he
should be acting while under hypnosis.
C. Uses of Hypnosis
1. Hypnosis is used for many different reasons such as a treatment for alcoholism, somnambulism, suicidal tendencies, migraines, overeating, and smoking.
2. Research has shown that hypnosis can reduce the experience of pain. 3. Hypnosis is most effective when combined with psychotherapy. 4. Hypnosis is more widely used in Europe than in the United States as a form of
pain control during surgery.
V. Consciousness and Health and Wellness: Meditation ï§ Harnessing the power of the mind without a hypnotist can be accomplished through
meditation. Meditation involves attaining a peaceful state of mind in which thoughts
are not worrisome.
A. Mindfulness Meditation
1. Being alone with one's own thoughts can be stressful, but it can also be a powerful tool for constructing a healthy life.
2. Mindfulness meditation can be beneficial for many things such as depression, panic attacks, anxiety, chronic pain, and stress. It has also been linked to psychological
well-being, enhanced attention, and weight loss.
B. The Meditative State of Mind
1. Meditation shows both qualities of sleep and wakefulness, but it is distinct from each of them. It is kind of like a feeling that everything is going to be okay, hypnagogic
2. Researchers have found out that it causes an increase in the basal ganglia and prefrontal cortex.
C. Getting Stated With Meditation
1. By following some basic instructions, you can achieve a meditative state.
a. Find a quiet, comfortable place. b. Focus on your breathing. c. Begin silencing your mind by repeating quietly a word that you associate with an
emotion you want to produce.
d. Return to focusing on your breathing if you find that your thoughts and mind cannot be calmed. Then repeat the process again.
- CHAPTER FIVE: STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS