• Consciousness – our moment to moment awareness of ourselves and our environment
    • Has various characteristics:
      • Subjective and Private – reality and experience depend on the individual
      • Dynamic – consciousness experiences are ever-changing and a continuous flow of mental activity
      • Self-reflective and Central to Our Sense of Self – mind is aware of its own consciousness

Levels of Consciousness

  • Freud proposed that the mind consists of three levels:
    • Conscious – contains thoughts, perceptions, and other mental events that we are aware of
    • Preconscious – outside of current awareness, but can be recalled under certain conditions (eg. Reminder is necessary)
    • Unconscious – cannot be brought into conscious awareness under ordinary circumstances (as it would arouse anxiety, guilt, or other negative emotions)
  • The Cognitive Unconscious
    • Reject notion of an unconscious mind driven by instinctive urges and repressed conflicts
    • View conscious mental life as complementary forms of information processing
    • Controlled vs. Automatic Processing
      • Controlled – voluntary use of attention and conscious effort (studying, planning, etc.)
      • Automatic – performed with little or no conscious effort (driving, etc.)
    • Divided Attention – ability to perform more than one activity at the same time
      • More difficult when tasks require similar mental resources
  • The Emotional Unconscious
    • Emotional and motivational processes also operate unconsciously and influence behaviour
  • The Modular Mind
    • Many models propose that the mind is a collection of largely separate but interacting modules
    • Information processing subsystems that perform tasks related to sensation, perception, memory, problem solving, etc.
    • Subjective experience of consciousness arises from the integrated activity of the various modules

Circadian Rhythms: Our Daily Biological Clocks

  • Circadian rhythms – daily biological cycles within the body that occur on a 24 hour cycle
  • Most rhythms regulated by brain’s suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) in the hypothalamus
    • Linked to pineal gland, which secretes melatonin (relaxing hormone) at night when SNC is less active to reduce secretion
  • Gradual and sudden environmental changes can disrupt our circadian rhythms
    • Seasonal affective disorder – cyclic tendency to become psychologically depressed during certain months of the year
    • Jet lag caused by change in typical daily time cycle

Sleep and Dreaming

  • Brain’s electrical activity mostly beta waves (high frequency, low amplitude) while awake
  • Alpha waves (lower frequency, slightly higher amplitude) while relaxed and frowsy

Stages of Sleep

  • Stages 1 through 4
    • Stage 1 – alpha waves turn into theta waves
      • Lasts a few minutes, can be easily awakened
    • Stage 2 – sleep spindles in brain-wave activity indicate transition to stage
    • Stage 3 – regular appearance of slow and large delta waves
    • Stage 4 – delta waves dominate brain wave activity
  • Within 60-90 minutes of falling asleep, stages proceed through 1-2-3-4-3-2
  • REM sleep – periods of sleep involving rapid eye movements
    • Periods of REM comes following stage 2 sleep
    • Period where dream occurs
      • Dreams can occur during non-REM sleep, but not as vivid
    • REM sleep paralysis – brain sends signals to make voluntary muscle movements more difficult
      • Body is highly aroused, but little or no muscle movement

How Much Do We Sleep

  • Newborns began by sleeping 16 hours a day, almost half in REM
  • As people age, three important changes occur:
    • Sleep less (19-30 year olds: 8 hours average, elderly: under 6 hours average)
    • REM sleep dramatically decreases during early childhood, but remains stable afterwards
    • Time spent in stages 3 and 4 decline
  • Both genetics and environment can affect length of sleep
  • Sleep deprivation causes negative impact on functioning, mood, cognition, and physical performance

Why Do We Sleep

  • Restoration model – sleep recharges our run-down bodies and allows us to recover from physical and mental fatigue
    • Researchers believe adenosine (decreases alertness, promotes sleep) may play a role in why we sleep
  • Evolutionary/circadian sleep models – sleep’s main purpose is to increase a species’ chances of survival in relation to its environmental demands
    • Those who left shelter at night would be killed by nighttime predators
    • Circadian pattern developed as adaptation to environment
  • REM sleep is vital for mental functioning
    • Memory consolidation – ability to transform short-term memory into long-term memory
      • REM may strengthen neural circuits required for this process
Hypnosis in Psychology

Sleep Disorders

  • Insomnia – chronic difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restful sleep
    • Most common sleep disorder
    • Caused by genetics, medical conditions, mental disorders, drugs, stress, poor lifestyle, and circadian disruptions
  • Narcolepsy – extreme daytime sleepiness and sudden, uncontrollable sleep attacks that may last from one minute to one hour
    • Narcoleptics may go right into REM sleep
  • REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder – loss of muscle tone that causes normal REM sleep paralysis is absent
  • Sleep Apnea – disorder characterized by a repeated cycle in which the sleeper stops breathing, momentarily awakens, and then returns to sleep
    • Caused by an obstruction in the upper airways
  • Sleepwalking – typically occurs during stage 3 or 4 sleep
  • Nightmares – frightening dreams that occur often during REM sleep in the hours prior to awakening
  • Night Terrors – sleeper suddenly sits up and screams
    • No recollection of the episode in the morning
    • Most common during stage 3 or 4 sleep

The Nature of Dreams

  • Dreams most common when brain is most active (brain activity highest during REM sleep, and during final hours of sleep)
  • Freud’s psychoanalytic theory
    • Main purpose of dreaming is wish fulfillment (gratification of unconscious desires and needs)
      • Desires are too unacceptable to be consciously acknowledged and fulfilled in real life
    • Manifest content – story the dreamer reports
    • Latent content – the disguised psychological meaning
    • Dream work is the process by which the latent content is transformed into the manifest content
  • Activation-synthesis theory
    • During REM sleep, the brain bombards higher brain centers with random neural activity (activation)
    • Cortex attempts to interpret activity by creating a best fit to the pattern of activation (synthesis)
    • Accounts for the bizarreness of dreams
  • Cognitive approaches
    • Problem-solving dream models – dreams can help us find creative solutions to our problems and conflicts because they aren’t constrained by reality
    • Cognitive-process dream theories – focus on the process of how we dream
      • Propose that dreaming and waking thought are produced by same brain systems
      • Dreaming requires imagery skills and other cognitive abilities that young children have not yet developed
        • Explains why ability to dream develops with age
      • Similar activity between dreaming and waking mental activity
        • Rapid content shifts due to change of thought

Daydreams and Waking Fantasies

  • Involved greater visual imagery than other forms of waking mental activity
  • Less vivid, emotional, and bizarre than nighttime dreams

Drugs and Altered Consciousness

Drugs and the Brain

  • Drugs can pass through the blood-brain barrier and alter consciousness by facilitating or inhabiting synaptic transmission
  • Agonist – drug that increases that activity of a neurotransmitter
    • Activates receptor, enhances production/storage/release, prevents reuptake.
    • Examples:
      • Opiates (pain relievers) – activate endorphin receptors
      • Amphetamines (stimulants) – enhance production and prevent reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine
  • Antagonist – drug that inhibits or decreases the activity of neurotransmitters
    • Many bind to receptors, but do not affect neuron

Tolerance and Withdrawal

  • Tolerance – the decreasing responsivity to a drug
    • Larger doses required to reach same effects
    • Stems from body’s attempt to maintain a state of optimal physiological balance (homeostasis)
    • Brain produces compensatory reactions to oppose effects of drug (e.g. decrease heart rate)
  • Withdrawal – occurrence of compensatory responses after drug use is discontinued, causing the person to experience physiological reactions opposite to those that had been produced by the drug
Drugs: Types & Effects

Learning, Drug Tolerance, and Overdose

  • Tolerance for drugs partly depends on the familiarity of the drug setting
    • Continued drug use in same setting causes progressively stronger compensatory responses, increasing the tolerance
    • Classically conditions drug users to have compensatory responses while in drug setting, causing withdrawal, and increasing craving for drug
  • If drug user takes typical high dose in unfamiliar setting, compensatory responses don’t respond as strongly à leads to overdose

Facts about Drug Addiction and Dependence

  • Drug tolerance does not always lead to significant withdrawal at typical doses
  • Substance dependence can occur even without tolerance or withdrawal
  • Physiological dependence is not the major cause of drug addiction


  • Decrease nervous system activity
  • Alcohol – most widely used recreational drug in numerous countries
    • Increases activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
    • Alcohol myopia – shortsightedness in thinking caused by inability to pay attention
  • Barbiturates (sleeping pills) and Tranquilizers (anti-anxiety drugs) – used as sedatives and relaxants
    • Depress the nervous system by increasing activity of inhibitory neurotransmitters


  • Increase neural firing and arouse the nervous system
  • Amphetamines – increase dopamine and norepinephrine activity
    • Amphetamine psychosis – schizophrenia-like hallucinations and delusions that occur when the brain’s dopamine activity is artificially increased far beyond normal levels by heavy amphetamine use
    • Ecstasy primarily alters serotonin functioning by causing release and blocking reuptake of it
  • Cocaine – increases activity of norepinephrine and dopamine by blocking reuptake

Other Drugs

  • Opiates (morphine, codeine, heroin) are drugs derived from opium
    • Bind to and stimulate receptors normally activated by endorphins
    • Relieve pain and cause intense euphoria
  • Hallucinogens (LSD) – powerful mind altering drugs that produce hallucinations
  • Marijuana – THC binds to receptors on neurons throughout the brain


  • Hypnosis – state of heightened suggestibility in which some people are able to experience imagined test suggestions as if they were real
  • Hypnotic induction – process by which one person leads another person into hypnosis

Hypnotic Behaviours and Experiences

  • Involuntary Control and Behaving against One’s Will
    • Behaviour seems involuntary
    • Studies show that those pretending to be hypnotized will commit same actions that those truly hypnotized will
  • Physiological Effects and Physical Feats
    • Hypnotized people with allergies can be exposed to certain allergens and, if told that it is harmless, most will not have an allergy
    • Can also be seen without hypnosis
  • Pain Tolerance
    • Hypnosis can act as an anesthetic, producing analgesia (an absence of pain)
  • Hypnosis and Memory
    • Hypnotic amnesia can be temporarily produced

Theories of Hypnosis

  • Dissociation Theories
    • Hypnosis viewed as an altered state involving a division of consciousness
    • Person simultaneously experiences two streams of consciousness that are cut off from one another:
      • One stream responds to hypnotist’s questions
      • Second stream (part of consciousness that monitors behaviour) remains in the background but is aware of everything
  • Social Cognitive Theories
    • Hypnotic experiences result from expectations of people who are motivated to take on the role of being hypnotized
    • People motivated to conform to the role of a hypnotized person develop a readiness to respond to the suggestions and to perceive the hypnosis as real and involuntary

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Bea Smith
Bea Smith
12 years ago

Cylert (generic: Pemoline) was an exceptionally effective treatment for Excessive Daytime Sleepiness. I used it daily for many years. Unfortunately, it’s no longer on the market.

Quite by accident, I came across a non-prescription compound which is the only Cylert substitute I’ve found that works for sufferers of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness and, possibly, other narcolepsy symptoms.

Unlike Cylert, it’s not a stimulant. But it does alleviate the symptoms of EDS without any side effects.