Unit 5-States of Consciousness


Consciousness- Our awareness of ourselves and our environment.

States of Consciousness States that occur spontaneously

  • Daydreaming
  • Drowsiness
  • Dreaming

Physiologically induced

  • Hallucinations
  • Orgasm
  • Food/oxygen deprivation

Psychologically induced

  • Sensory deprivation
  • Hypnosis
  • Meditation

Sleep and Dreams

We perceive even when we sleep

We process most information outside of our consciousness awareness when we are asleep

Circadian Rhythm- The biological clock; regular bodily rhythms that occur on a 24-hour cycle.

  • Body temperature rises as morning approaches, peaks during the day, dips for a time in early afternoon, and then begins to drops again before we sleep.
  • Melatonin- Sleep-inducing hormone secreted by the pineal gland.

Sleep Stages

Nathan Kleitman and Aserinsky came up with the procedure of taping electrodes to your scalp (to detect your brain waves), just outside the corners of your eyes (to detect eye movements) and on your chin (to detect muscle tension) before you go to bed.

About every 90 minutes, we pass through a cycle of 5 distinct sleep stages.

Stage 1

  • Sleep- Periodic, natural loss of consciousness.
  • Hallucinations- False sensory experiences, such as seeing something in the absence of an external visual stimulus.
  • Examples of hypnagogic sensations is falling, floating and may later be incorporated into memories.

Stage 2 (20 minutes)

  • EEG shows sleep spindles- Burst of rapid, rhythmic brain activity.
  • Sleep talking can begin.

Stage 3

  • Transitional stage into the deep sleep of stage 4.
  • Begin emitting large, slow delta waves, associated with deep sleep.

Stage 4

  • Deep sleep, increasing delta waves.
  • At the end of this stage, children may sleep walk or wet the bed.

About an hour after you fall asleep, you leave behind the stages known as NREM sleep- non-rapid eye movement sleep.

  • Return through stage 3 to stage 2 and then enter stage 5

Stage 5 (REM Sleep, 10 minutes long)

  • REM sleep- Rapid eye movement sleep; a recurring sleep stage during which vivid dreams commonly occur. (Paradoxical sleep)
  • Brain waves become rapid.
  • Heart rate increases, breathing becomes rapid and irregular, and every 30 seconds, your eyes dart around behind closed lids.
  • Genital arousal, internally aroused, but outwardly paralyzed.
  • Motor cortex is active, but messages to muscles are blocked by the brain stem.

Why Do We Sleep?

In one Gallup survey, 63% of adults who reported getting the sleep they need also reported being "very satisfied" with their personal life.

Sleep deprivation increases the hunger-arousing ghrelin and decreases its hunger-suppressing partner, leptin.

Variations in sleeping may be genetically influenced.

  • Wilse Webb and Scott Campbell checked the pattern and duration of sleep among fraternal and identical twins, only the identical twins were strikingly similar.

It may be culturally influenced.

  • People in modern industrialized nations get less sleep.

With enough sleep, we feel refreshed, sustain better moods, and perform more efficient and accurate work.

Sleep restores and rebuilds our fading memories of the day.

The Effects of Sleep Loss

In one Gallup survey, 63% of adults who reported getting the sleep they need also reported being "very satisfied" with their personal life.

Sleep deprivation increases the hunger-arousing hormone ghrelin and decreases its hunger-suppressing partner leptin.

Sleep deprivation can suppress immune cells that fight off viral infections and cancer.

Sleep Theories

  1. Sleep protects.
  2. Sleep helps us recuperate.
  3. Sleep is for making memories.
  4. Sleep feeds creative thinking.
  5. Sleep may play a role in the growth process.  

Sleep Disorders

Insomnia- Recurring problems in falling or staying asleep.

  • 1 in 10 adults, 1 in 4 older adults.
  • Sleeping and pills can aggravate the problem.

Narcolepsy- A sleep disorder characterized by uncontrollable sleep attacks. The sufferer may lapse directly into REM sleep, often at inopportune times.

  • Lack of neurotransmitter orexin (linked to alertness)

Sleep Apnea- A sleep disorder characterized by temporary cessations of breathing during sleep and repeated momentary awakenings.

  • Mostly overweight men.

Night Terrors- A sleep disorder characterized by high arousal and an appearance of being terrified; occur during stage 4 sleep, within 2 or 3 hours of falling asleep, and are seldom remembered.


Dream- A sequence of images, emotions, and thoughts passing through a sleeping person's mind.

Manifest Content- According to Freud, the remembered story line of a dream.

  • Usually incorporates traces of previous days' nonsexual experiences and preoccupations.

Latent Content- According to Freud, the underlying meaning of a dream.

Why we dream?

  • To satisfy our own wishes.
  • To file away memories.
  • To develop and preserve neural pathways.
  • To make sense of neural static.
  • To reflect cognitive development.

Critical Considerations: Does not address the neuroscience of dreams.

All theorists agree that we need REM sleep.

When deprived, we experience REM rebound.

  • REM rebound- The tendency for REM sleep to increase following REM sleep deprivation.


Hypnosis- A social interaction in which one person (the hypnotist) suggests to another (the subject) that certain perceptions, feelings, thoughts, or behaviors will spontaneously occur.

  • Hypnotic Induction- The process used by a hypnotist to establish the state or condition of hypnosis.

Can anyone experience hypnosis?

  • Depends on the subject's openness to suggestion.

Can hypnosis enhance recall of forgotten events?

  • No

Can hypnosis force people to act against their will?

  • No. Research indicates that hypnotized people cannot be made to act against their will any more than non hypnotized people can.

Can hypnosis be therapeutic?  

  • Hypnotherapists- Try to help people harness their own healing powers.
  • Posthypnotic Suggestion- A suggestion, made during a hypnosis session, to be carried out after the subject is no longer hypnotized.

Can hypnosis alleviate pain?

  • Yes.
  • Example: Arm in ice bath. Non hypnotized, intense pain in 25 seconds. Hypnotized, told they won't feel pain, feel little of it.

Explaining the Hypnotic State

Social Influence Theory- They are simply responding to the social situation

  • Subjects begin to feel and behave in ways appropriate for "good hypnotic subjects".

Ernest Hilgard believed hypnosis involves not only social influence but also a special state of dissociation.

  • Dissociation- A split in consciousness, which allows some thoughts and behaviors to occur simultaneously with others.

Hypnosis appears to be an extension both of normal principles of social influences and of everyday dissociations between our conscious awareness and automatic behaviors.

Drugs and Consciousness

Psychoactive Drug- A chemical substance that alters perceptions and moods.

Dependence and Addiction:

  • Tolerance- The diminishing effect with regular use of the same dose of a drug, requiring the user to take larger and larger doses before experiencing the drug's effect.
  • Withdrawal- The discomfort and distress that follow discontinuing the use of an addictive drug.
  • Physical Dependence- A physiological need for a drug, marked by unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when the drug is discontinued.
  • Psychological Dependence- A psychological need to use a drug, such as to relieve negative emotions.
  • Addiction- Compulsive drug craving and use, despite adverse consequences.

Three types of psychoactive drugs:

  • Depressants- Drugs that reduce neural activity and slow body functions. (Alcohol, barbiturates, and opiates)
  • Stimulants- Drugs that excite neural activity and speed up body functions. (caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines, cocaine, and Ecstasy)
  • Hallucinogens- Psychedelic drugs that distort perceptions and evoke sensory images in the absence of sensory input. (LSD)

Influences of Drug Use:

Biological Influences

  • Heredity influences some aspects of alcohol abuse.
  • Having an identical rather than fraternal twin with alcohol dependence puts one at increased risk for alcohol problems.   
  • Boys at age 6 who are more excitable, impulsive, and fearless are more likely to smoke, drink, and use drugs as teens.

Psychological Influences

  • Feeling that one's life is meaningless and directionless.

Social-Cultural Influences

  • Most teen drinking is done for social reasons, not as a way to cope with problems.
  • In 1 study, 14% of adolescents believed their friends had smoked marijuana, but only 4% had actually done so.

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