Key Terms: States of Consciousness
Types of Conscious States
- Consciousness: A state of being awake and aware of external stimuli and one’s own mental activity.
- State of consciousness: The features of consciousness experienced by an individual at a particular point in time.
- Altered state of consciousness: A temporary state that differs significantly from a normal waking state; includes sleep, meditation, a coma, hypnosis, or the influence of drugs.
- Conscious level: All of the things within one’s awareness at the present moment, including information about one’s self and current environment.
- Non-conscious level: The body’s automatic biological processes, like breathing and heartbeat, which are controlled by the brain but are generally outside of one’s active awareness.
- Preconscious level: In Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, all of the unrepressed stored memories, thoughts, and information that can be recalled and moved from the unconscious to the conscious level in a matter of seconds.
- Unconscious level: In Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, the unconscious mind represents the thoughts, desires, and urges that are actively repressed from consciousness and that affect mental activity outside of active awareness.
- Subconscious level: Information beyond a person’s conscious awareness that affects mental processes.
- Priming: When exposure to a stimulus beneath conscious awareness influences a response to other stimuli.
- Mere-exposure effect: The preference for familiar stimuli over new stimuli, even when exposure to the stimuli does not occur on a conscious level.
Sleep and Dreaming
- Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep: A period of dreamless sleep divided into four distinct, continuous stages.
- Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep: The period of sleep that is most associated with dreaming.
- Hypnagogic hallucinations: Sensory phenomena, like visions and sounds, that a sleeper perceives in the transition between wakefulness and sleep.
- Sleep spindles: Bursts of neural activity that take place in stage 2 of NREM sleep and may be important for memory consolidation.
- Slow wave sleep: Stages 3 and 4 of NREM sleep, the deepest stages of sleep, when neural activity and brain waves are slowest.
- Paradoxical sleep: Another name for REM sleep, due to the contradictory way in which the brain is active but the body is at rest.
- Manifest content: The actual events and imagery within a dream that, according to Freud, serves to mask the unconscious thoughts and desires of the dreamer.
- Latent content: In Freudian terms, the unconscious thoughts and desires underlying the manifest content of dreams.
- Activation-synthesis hypothesis: The theory that maintains dreams are the brain’s interpretations of neural activity during REM sleep.
- Information-processing theory: The theory that maintains dreaming is a way for the brain to deal with stress.
- Night terrors: A sleep disorder that causes the sleeper to wake from NREM sleep suddenly with feelings of extreme fear, agitation, or dread.