States of Consciousness
Textbook Chapter 3
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Difficult to define!
◦ Behaviorists rejected it completely
◦ Interest in consciousness faded through 1960s
◦ Technology helped revive an interest in it
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Today, consciousness is defined as our
awareness of ourselves and our environment
◦ Active mode involves controlled, heightened
awareness such as planning and decision making
◦ Passive mode involves minimal awareness and
includes states such as daydreaming and sleeping
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Naturally occurring altered states of
consciousness
◦ Sleep
◦ Dreaming
◦ Daydreaming
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Artificially induced altered states of
consciousness
◦ Hypnosis
◦ Meditation
◦ Drug-altered consciousness
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Scientists have given various reasons for the
purpose of consciousness
◦ Reproductive advantage
◦ Long-term planning (considering various outcomes
and consequences)
◦ Reading others’ behavior and altering how we
present ourselves for survival
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However, how does our brain create
conscious experience?
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Defined as the branch of psychology that examines
the relationship between the brain and cognitive
processes
◦ Can use fMRI to see what parts of the brain are active when
we are conscious
◦ Beginning to map out neural patterns to correspond with
conscious processes
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Dual processing
◦ We seem to have two neural systems at work
◦ One system is used for conscious processing, the other is for
unconscious processing
◦ The two systems function simultaneously, though we are
only aware of the conscious one
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Selective attention is the focusing of
conscious awareness on a particular
stimulus
◦ we are bombarded with tens of
thousands of stimuli per second
◦ we only focus on a small fraction of these
stimuli
◦ Cocktail Party Phenomenon
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Selective attention and accidents
◦ Cell phones and driving?
◦ Cell phones and walking!?
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Neisser (1979) Experiment
◦ When we focus on one thing, we “miss out” on others
◦ Inattentional blindness occurs when we fail to see things
because we are focused on other stimuli
 Change Blindness (Simons, 1996) occurs when we fail to
notice a change in a the environment when we are focused
elsewhere (change deafness exists, too!)
 Choice Blindness (Johansson, 2005) occurs when we fail to
recognize the choice we have made moments after doing so
(and choice-choice blindness…?)
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In some instances, a stimulus may demand our
attention (e.g. hearing our name in noisy room)
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Something we don’t try to pay attention to
catches our attention.
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We may not be
conscious, but our brain
is active
We continue to process
information while we
sleep
Technology has given
researchers a greater
understanding of brain
activity during sleep
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Circadian Rhythms
◦ 24-hour cycle of biological
functioning (circa-diem)
◦ Humans naturally wake with sunlight
and sleep when it gets dark
 Stimulation of SCN (suprachiasmatic
nucleus in hypothalamus) by bright light
striking retina’s photoreceptive cells
 SCN triggers pineal gland to decrease
melatonin
 Exposure to artificial light and the
circadian cycle?
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Every 90-Minutes, we cycle through 5
sleep stages several times during the
night (Stages 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM)
Researchers monitor brain waves, eye
movement, and facial muscle tension to
study these stages
Generally, as the night progresses, we
experience shorter stage 4 and 3 sleep
and longer periods of REM sleep
Over a third of people report never
dreaming, though they do – they just do
not recall
◦ When these sleepers are awakened during
REM, they can usually remember their
dreams
◦ We spend 20-25% of our sleeping time in
REM, dreaming away…
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Awake and alert: beta waves
dominate
◦ Stress, anxiety, high activity events (like the
HIGHEST gear that our brain is every in)
◦ Caffeine
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Awake but relaxed: alpha waves
dominate
◦ Creativity, healthy immune system
◦ First waves ever discovered
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If we skip over Alpha Waves (i.e.
alarm clock pulls us out of Delta
Waves (deep sleep) and immediately
creates anxiety (beta waves)), then we
may see a decrease in health and
creativity.
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Stage 1 Sleep: slowed breathing,
irregular, larger brain waves (theta
waves), hallucinations, feelings of
falling, paralysis, “Hyponogogia”
Stage 2 Sleep: deeper sleep, more
difficult to awaken, larger theta
waves, sleep spindles,
sleeptalking
Stage 3 Sleep: even deeper sleep,
difficult to awaken, delta waves
begin
Stage 4 Sleep: very deep sleep,
delta waves, sleepwalking,
bedwetting
REM: rapid brain waves, dreaming,
increased heart rate, cortical
activity, sexual arousal,
“paradoxical sleep”
In general, as sleep deepens, sleep
waves increase in amplitude and
decrease in frequency
REM is important, and when we are deprived of it, we may experience
REM Rebound. The loss of muscle tone/paralysis that occurs during REM
helps us avoid acting out our dreams. Sleepwalking and talking must
therefore occur during nREM in most people. REM decreases with age.
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Protective Value: we sleep at night, as we are
not adapted for hunting/gathering in darkness.
Sleeping in darkness keeps us away from
dangerous nocturnal predators. Animals who
need less protection sleep less.
Restorative Value: we restore and repair brain
tissue and prune unused neural pathways
Memory: we recall better after a good night’s
sleep (don’t pull all-nighters!!!!!!)
Creativity: the break that sleep (and dreams)
provide allows us to awaken with a fresh new
approach (Friedrich August Kekule von Stradonitz
and his chemistry break through)
Growth: Pituitary releases more growth hormone
during deep sleep – may explain why we spend
less time in deep sleep as we age (or that we
grow less because we sleep deeply less)
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Nearly half of all Americans are
sleep deprived!
Sleep deprivation is linked with
concentration difficulties, irritability,
unhappiness, fatigue, illness,
obesity, hypertension, and poor
motor performance
William Dement’s research on sleep:
“Sleep deprivation makes you
stupid!”
If you need an alarm clock…if you
fall asleep in class…you are sleep
deprived!
People who report getting enough
sleep also are more likely to report
feeling satisfied with their lives!
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1 in 10 adults; 1 in 4 older adults
Inability to fall asleep or remain asleep
Role of Ventrolateral Preoptic Nucleus
◦ In hypothalamus - “shut off” brain activity
associated with wakefulness by releasing
inhibitory NTs (example???)
◦ Degenerates with age
Treatments
◦ Sleeping pills and alcohol?
◦ Exercise but not before bed
◦ Avoid caffeine and rich foods before bed;
milk for serotonin instead
◦ Unwind before bed – dim lights, no TVWHY?
◦ Keep regular sleep schedule with no napsWHY?
◦ Avoid stressors – looking at clock,
ruminating, etc.
◦ Hypersomnia? (excessive sleepiness, never
“refreshed”)
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Sudden lapse
into sleep – in
severe cases,
REM
Usually brief – 5
minutes
Linked to lack of
neurotransmitter
linked to
alertness, orexin,
produced in
hypothalamus.
Rusty the
narcoleptic dog
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Temporary cessation of
breathing during the
night
Puts great stress on
heart- arrhythmia and
heart attack more likely
Irritability, fatiguework-related/driving
injuries increase
Linked with obesity
Children w/ enlarged
tonsils
CPAP and BiPAP; Surgery
◦ “Positive Airway Pressure”
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Uncontrollable screaming and
arousal without the ability to
be awakened
Seen only in children or adults
on drugs
◦ Linked to CNS overactivity; Rare
(3-6%)
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Occur during stage 4 sleep
typically, not REM like
nightmares
◦ What does this tell us about the
disorder?
◦ How can you tell the difference
b/w a NM and NT?
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Stage 4 sleep disorder
Individuals walk and talk in
sleep and do not recall
anything in the morning
Seems to run in families
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More common in children
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◦ More likely to have children w/
night terrors
◦ WHY?
Linked to fatigue, anxiety,
alcohol, sedatives
Sleepwalkers (somnambulists)
usually return to bed on their
own
◦ Don’t wake them up?
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Occurs in REM sleep and
Stage 4?
◦ Difference in types of dreams?
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We spend 6 years of our
lives in dreams!
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Manifest Content – actual story line of the dreams – often
reflect our experiences and preoccupations (e.g. Tetris
dreams) – (vs. Freud’s Latent)
Sensory stimuli from the outside may intrude – alarm
clock, smells – indicating some level of awareness even
when unconscious
Only stimulus-response learning seems to occur in dreams
◦ Tone + puff of air, no foreign language
To remember dreams, write them down, talk about them
before going back to sleep.
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Freud’s Wish Fulfillment
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Information Processing
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◦ Interpretation of Dreams (1900)
◦ Manifest and Latent Content
◦ Lacks any scientific backing
◦ Sort out our day
◦ Improve and organize memories
◦ Does not explain dreams about places
we have never seen/things never
experienced
◦ Correlation b/w sleep & grades
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Activation Synthesis
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Cognitive Development
Physiological Function
◦ REM sleep brain stimulation develops
and preserves/prunes neural pathways
◦ Infants with developing brains spent
much time in REM
◦ Gives no explanation about the meaning
of dreams
◦ “Mental Housekeeping” Crick and
Mitchison – “reverse learning”
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◦ Hobson and McCarley’s Theory
◦ REM sleep causes neural activity
that the brain weaves into stories
◦ Does not explain meaning of
dreams (no meaning)
◦ Dreams reflect the dreamer’s
knowledge; development; affect
◦ Dreams often continue waking
consciousness
◦ Problem Solving
◦ Fails to address role of
physiological brain activity in
dreams
◦ Rosalind Cartwright and
depression
BIOLOGICAL and
PSYCHOLOGICAL explanations of
dreams work together, not
against one another
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A person is aware that they are dreaming
while the dream is in progress
A.k.a. conscious dream.
Dreamer can actively participate in and
often manipulate the imaginary
experiences in the dream environment.
Lucid dreams can be extremely real and
vivid depending on a person's level of
self-awareness during the lucid dream.
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People deprived of REM sleep (and therefore in overall sleep
time) display irritability, fatigue, increased reaction time,
hallucinations
“The Men Who Did Not Sleep”- Dement
◦ Cats and REM Deprivation
◦ 90 Hours- Decrease in sensory acuity, slowed reaction time,
decreased memory ability, hallucinations.
◦ 201 Hours- Peter Tripp- Mental agility tests were intolerable,
visual hallucinations, conspiring doctors (could’ve been
partially caused by stimulants)
◦ 11 days- Randy Gardner- decline in concentration, motivation,
perception, analytical abilities, memory, motor control, reaction
time, hallucinations, delusions, forgetting tasks, microsleeps
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Speculation of Sleep Deprivation for those involved in:
Exxon Valdez, Chernobyl, Challenger
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Greek root: hypnos, meaning “sleep”
Anton Mesmer (1732-1815) and
“mesmerism” as a cure
Hypnosis is a systematic procedure
used to produce a heightened state of
suggestibility
◦ Not an “altered state”?
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Not everyone can be hypnotized
◦ Hypnotic Susceptibility Scales
◦ Willingness to be hypnotized
◦ Those with good imagination and fantasy
life, who are able to concentrate, and who
have a favorable opinion of hypnosis
◦ Hypnotism as entertainment
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Age Regression: acting like of
reliving one’s child-state
◦ Hypnosis may cause hypnotized people
to feel like children, but they often still
have adult abilities
◦ Memories that have been “hypnotically
refreshed” are often a combination of
fact and suggestion
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Acting against one’s will?
◦ People do not do this because they are
hypnotized
◦ They may perform unlikely acts simply
because anyone in authority can induce
people – hypnotized or nor – to act
against one’s will
◦ Spanos article from reading
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Hypnotherapists try to help clients heal
themselves
◦ Posthypnotic suggestions: suggestion made to
hypnotized client that influence client’s later behavior
◦ Posthypnotic amnesia: client told they will not
remember anything that happened while they were
hypnotized
◦ Hypnotherapy as a supplement to therapy has been
shown to be helpful – particularly in managing
obesity, but not for drugs, smoking or alcohol
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Hypnosis has been successful in pain
management
◦ Hypnotized people can endure things from ice baths
to surgery without anesthesia!
◦ Hypnosis can be used for pain management in lieu of
addictive pain killers
◦ In Europe, the surgical use of hypnosis is on the rise
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Role Theory
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Dissociation Theory
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State Theory
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Combining theories?
◦ Hypnotized individuals are playing a role
◦ If they trust the hypnotist, they will behave
accordingly – as expected
◦ A dissociation is a split in consciousness which allows
thoughts and behaviors to occur simultaneously but
separately
◦ The hypnotized individual gives some control over
these processes to the hypnotist
◦ Automatic writing: subject writes one thing and
discusses an unrelated thing at same time
◦ Hypnosis is a special state of consciousness
◦ Specific, distinct changes in mental processes take
place during hypnosis
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Techniques that attempt to focus
attention and promote relaxation
Deliberate attempt to alter consciousness
Concentrative Meditation attempts to
focus all attention on ONE thing: a word, a
sound, etc. so that the same information
is cycled through the nervous system
repeatedly.
◦ Zen: Focused breathing (Buddhism)
◦ Transcendental : Repetition of a mantra
(Maharishi Mahesh Yogi)
◦ Sufi: Frenzied dancing and prayer (e.g.
whirling dervishes)
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Alpha waves predominate- EFFECTS?!?
Can be used for relaxation, suppression
of sympathetic nervous system
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Psychoactive drugs are chemicals
that influence the brain, alter
consciousness, and produce
psychological changes
Recreational Use involves the selfadministration of drugs in ways
that deviate from medical or social
norms
Drug Abuse – pattern of use that
diminishes fulfillment of
responsibilities at home, work, or
school
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Tolerance refers to a person’s progressively
decreasing responsiveness to a drug, leading to
increased amounts required to produce the same
effect
Reverse Tolerance- Happens with certain
substances- In the immediate short term, the
substance will have more of an effect
Withdrawal, the unpleasant physiological
symptoms (head ache, nausea, tremors) that follow
discontinued use may occur, indicating that…
Physical Dependence has occurred
Psychological dependence may also prompt the
individual to continue using the drug
Addiction results when continued use is necessary
to prevent withdrawal
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Jayden is a graduate student who began drinking
alcohol in college. When he first started
drinking, 3-4 shots of vodka would cause him to
display signs of intoxication. Now, however, he
has to drink at least a half of a bottle of alcohol
to feel the effects. When he ceases to drink,
Jayden experiences tremors, sweating, and slight
nausea. It has come to the point where he has
been slacking on his graduate studies and
missing class. What are some effects of drug use
that Jayden is experiencing? Is he dependent?
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Developing a tolerance
Experiencing
withdrawal
Using substance for a
longer period or in
greater quantities than
intended
Presence of a desire or
repeated attempts to
cut back on use
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Spending a lot of time
using/obtaining the
substance
Reduction or cessation
of usual activities
Continued use despite
awareness of drug’s
harmful effects
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Depress the functioning of the CNS, reduce
neural activity and slow body functions
Withdrawal: tremors, nausea, sweating,
restlessness, irritability, anxiety, possibly
death (stroke, heart attack)….Why???
Long term: Addiction, Tolerance
◦ Increases Serotonin, GABA, Dopamine, causing:
 mild euphoria, relaxation, lowered inhibitions
(misperceived as stimulant)
 Slowed neural processing (don’t drive!)
 Perception, motor processes, judgment, visual acuity,
cognitive functioning are impaired
 Memory disruption (“black outs”)**
 Withdrawal: Delirium Tremens- Death by heart attack??
Behavioral tolerance?- Vogel-Sprott
Promiscuity/Driving and alcohol?
Highly physically and psychologically addictive
~14 million Americans abuse alcohol (NIAAA)
 1 in 13 adults, or 7% of adult population
◦ Men are 3x more likely to become alcoholics than
women
◦ Brain shrinkage; Memory disruption; Korsakoff’s
Syndrome- B1 deficiency
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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
◦ We will return to this in “development” unit
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Sleeping pills and Tranquilizers
◦ Bind to GABA (inh.) receptors and block Glutamate (Exc.)
◦ Calming, sedative effect – reduce inhibitions
◦ e.g. Nembutal (Exorcism of Emily Rose)
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Like Barbiturates, they enhance the effects of
GABA (inhibitory neurotransmitter)
Used to treat anxiety, insomnia, agitation,
seizures, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal
Tolerance and physical dependence result
after time
• Ex: Diazepam (Valium), Lorazepam, Xanax
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Increases effects of GABA
Blocks Sodium Channel (Think back to neural
firing!)
Short term: mild euphoria, hallucinations, and
disinhibition; Used as sedative for anesthesia
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What are some reasons for why people use
depressants?
How do they work? (Mechanisms and effects)
Why are they so dangerous?
Alcohol poisoning kills 79,000/year (College Stats)
Some celebrities who have overdosed at least
partially as a result of depressants:
Marilyn Monroe:
Acute Barbiturate
Poisoning (Nembutal)
Jimi Hendrix:
Acute Barbiturate
Poisoning
Elvis Presley:
Sedatives
Anna Nicole Smith:
Clonazepam, Lorazepam,
Diazepam, Sleeping pills
Heath Ledger:
Diazepam
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Increase central nervous system activity and
speed up body functions; arousal response
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Methamphetamine (Speed)
◦ Euphoria, triggers release of dopamine
◦ Irritability, insomnia, seizures, depression,
violence, psychosis
◦ HIGHLY addictive
Euphoria, triggers epinephrine and norepinephrine release
Suppresses hunger and increases alertness
Stimulates release of dopamine: highly addictive!
Withdrawal leads to insomnia, anxiety, irritability and
weight gain
◦ Philip Morris- “Death saves $$”
◦ Depression, divorce, disabilities
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Caffeine
◦ Wakefulness, increased metabolism (3-4 hours)
◦ Withdrawal leads to fatigue and headaches
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Fast euphoria – fast crash
Blocks _________ reuptake (pleasure)
HIGHLY addictive
Withdrawal leads to fatigue, irritability,
increased appetite, depression
Blow (Johnny Depp)
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Ecstasy (MDMA)
◦ Stimulant and mild hallucinogen
◦ Triggers release of serotonin and prevents its
reabsorption
◦ Destroys serotonin-producing neurons –
permanent depression
◦ Suppresses immune system
Romeo and Juliet (4:30)
Ecstasy and Death article
Though Ecstasy may not be as deadly in the long run as alcohol, cocaine or
heroin use, the drug "has the potential to cause death," said Washington state
toxicologist Barry Logan. "Some people are more sensitive to it than others.“
Marissa Ann Napier was one of them.
Doctors who treated her and the medical examiner who performed her autopsy
think the Ecstasy in Marissa's system -- .87 milligrams of MDMA per liter -caused seizures. The convulsions in turn caused labored and irregular breathing,
which eventually caused her oxygen-starved brain to shut down.
Marissa was brain dead, though her heart was just barely beating, when she
arrived at Harborview, said Shawn Skerrett, the doctor who treated her there.
She was unconscious and breathing ineffectively, Skerrett said. Her pupils had
become fixed and dilated. A pink frothy foam was coming out the side of her
mouth, consistent with pulmonary edema, or lungs that are filled with water.
"This was a horrible case, and not one you easily forget," said Skerrett.
Though Marissa's friends later told sheriff's deputies that she also had taken
hallucinogenic mushrooms at the party, medical examiners found only caffeine
and MDMA in her system.
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Drugs that alter perceptions of reality and
distort sensory and perceptual experiences
“Turn on, Tune
in, Drop out”;
Question
Authority
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Albert Hofmann (Bicycle Day), Timothy Leary
Gov’t experimentation- “Truth Serum”- KK
Hours of mild euphoria, hallucinations, sensory
distortion, and “mind expansion”
Non-addictive, but can produce “bad trips” and
flashbacks
Can result in psychosis, memory loss, paranoia, panic
attacks, nightmares and aggression
Association with Counterculture/Beatniks- KK, JK, TL
RN- TL is “the
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
most dangerous
Ken
Kesey and
the Merry
Pranksters
man in America”
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THC, the active ingredient in
marijuana, produces symptoms
such as
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Mild hallucinations
Euphoria
Enhanced sense of well-being
Relaxation
Distortion of time
Memory disruption
Brain shrinkage
Intensified sensory
experiences(munchies)
ALSO a stimulant at higher
doses/depressant at lower doses
Some users may experience
anxiety and paranoia
Marijuana use and the frontal
lobe development?
Aaron Hernandez on PCP?
◦ Loss of contact with
reality
◦ aggression,
insensitivity to pain
◦ Binds to potassium
channels in brain and
muscle-activating
neurons
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Used to relieve pain and induce
sleep – also called opiates
Opium, morphine, heroin
Laudanum- combo of opiates and
alcohol for headaches?
Oxycodone
Stimulate endorphin receptors to
produce euphoric numbness
Highly addictive
Tolerance and the lethal dose
Withdrawal symptoms include
chills, sweating, anxiety, diarrhea,
spasms
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Biological Influences
◦ Hereditary tendencies: twin and adoptive studies
◦ Dopamine deficiencies may provoke usage
◦ Self medicating for biologically-based disorders?
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Psychological Influences
◦ Feeling life is meaningless
◦ People under stress or experiencing depression
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Social Influences
◦ Peer pressure
◦ Teenage rebellion and thrill-seeking
◦ Seeking social networks with similar interests can
perpetuate usage or help to quit
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Altered state of
consciousness
Temporal lobe
seizures
Oxygen deprivation
induced “tunnel
vision”
“hallucinatory
activity of the brain?”
No way to really
know…
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Drugs that alter perceptions of
reality and distort sensory and
perceptual experiences
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)
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PCP (“angel dust”)
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Marijuana (THC)
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◦ Derived from fungus ergot
◦ Abbie Hoffman, Albert Hofmann, Timothy Leary
◦ Hours of mild euphoria, hallucinations, sensory
distortion, and “mind expansion”
◦ Non-addictive, but can produce “bad trips” and
flashbacks
◦ Loss of contact with reality, aggression, insensitivity to
pain
◦ Binds to potassium channels in brain and muscleactivating neurons
◦ High psychological dependence
◦ Several hours of euphoria, relaxation, hallucinations
◦ ALSO a stimulant at higher doses/depressant at lower
doses
◦ Low physical addiction/moderate psychological
addiction
◦ Impairs motor skills and perception, may trigger
paranoia, disrupts memory, shrinks brain, intensifies
sensory experiences (like taste – “munchies”)
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Increase central nervous system
activity and speed up body
functions; arousal response
Methamphetamine (Speed)
◦ Euphoria, triggers release of
dopamine (long-term deficiency)
◦ Irritability, insomnia, seizures,
depression, violence, psychosis
◦ HIGHLY addictive
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Caffeine
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Cocaine
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Ecstasy (MDMA)
Nicotine
◦ Euphoria, triggers epinephrine
and norepinephrine release
◦ Suppresses hunger and
increases alertness
◦ Stimulates release of dopamine:
highly addictive!
◦ Withdrawal leads to insomnia,
anxiety, irritability and weight
gain
◦ Philip Morris- “Death saves $$”
◦ Depression, divorce, disabilities
◦ Wakefulness, increased
metabolism (3-4 hours)
◦ Withdrawal leads to fatigue and
headaches
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Fast euphoria – fast crash
Blocks dopamine reuptake
HIGHLY addictive
Withdrawal leads to fatigue,
irritability, increased appetite,
depression
◦ Stimulant and mild hallucinogen
◦ Triggers release of serotonin
and prevents its reabsorption
◦ Destroys serotonin-producing
neurons – permanent depression
◦ Suppresses immune system
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Unit 3 - Northern Highlands