Module 2: Biology, Sensation, Perception and Consciousness

Module 2: Biology, Sensation, Perception and Consciousness

“Week 3 … Week 4”
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Summaries

  • Module 2: Biology, Sensation, Perception and Consciousness > Week 3 > Psych Report
  • Module 2: Biology, Sensation, Perception and Consciousness > Week 3 > Lesson
  • Module 2: Biology, Sensation, Perception and Consciousness > Week 4 > Psych Report
  • Module 2: Biology, Sensation, Perception and Consciousness > Week 4 > Lesson

Module 2: Biology, Sensation, Perception and Consciousness > Week 3 > Psych Report

  • It’s also roughly the number of neurons that make up your brain.
  • To understand how we think, we need to understand how our brain works, so we’ll be taking a look at the basic building blocks of the nervous system called neurons, which receive, carry, and pass along information.
  • We’ll also examine the endocrine system, which is a network of glands and hormones the body uses for internal communication.
  • We’ll also learn more about the central and the peripheral nervous systems.
  • Such is the case with movies, television shows, and books where, through some medical breakthrough or technological advancement, the hero is able to access unused portions of his brain.
  • This is all based on the popular belief that humans only use 10% of their brains, and if we used more, we could do amazing things.
  • Jean Pierre Flourens, a cognitive science pioneer and inventor of anesthesia, discovered the regional functionality of the brain’s hemispheres.
  • So how do we know the belief is false? Partly through research involving brain damage due to injury, disease, stroke, or development, but mostly through brain imaging technology.
  • It turns out that essentially every brain cell is important.
  • In their research into medical myths, Dr. Rachel Vreeman and Dr. Aaron Carroll wrote, numerous types of brain imaging studies show that no area of the brain is completely silent or inactive.
  • Detailed probing of the brain has failed to identify the non functioning 90%. In addition, Barry Gordon, a neurologist from the John Hopkins School of Medicine, researched this and concluded, we use virtually every part of the brain.
  • Most of the brain is active almost all the time, even during routine tasks.
  • Doctor Gordon told Scientific American the brain represents 3% of the body’s weight, and uses 20% of the body’s energy.
  • So our brains may seem silent, and it’s fun to imagine 90% is just waiting to be used, let’s not lose sight of how amazing our brains already are and celebrate the miracle of consciousness.
  • What use is a drawer full of bent spoons, anyway? It’s true that we use every bit of our brains and the approximately 100 billion neurons in them.
  • Our neurons are responsible for receiving and sharing some very important information.
  • This system is more like the postal service and it’s called the endocrine system.
  • If we move beyond the building blocks of our bodies communication system, we can now discuss the nervous system as a whole, which consists of the brain, spinal cord, sensory organs, and the nerves that connect these organs to the rest of the body.
  • We will take a close look at both the central and the peripheral nervous systems during this week.
  • We will also better understand the parts of the brain, which is the center of the nervous system.

Module 2: Biology, Sensation, Perception and Consciousness > Week 3 > Lesson

  • Let’s begin with our bodies’ neural communication system.
  • The building blocks of this communication system are neurons.
  • The neural communication is the basis for how our incredibly complex nervous system receives and sends information all over our body.
  • Our nervous system is broken into the central and the peripheral nervous system.
  • The central nervous system consists of the brain and the spinal cord, whereas the peripheral nervous system consists of the somatic and the autonomic nervous system.
  • The autonomic nervous system consists of both the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system.
  • In the case of fight or flight, your sympathetic system jumps to action.
  • After the event is over, your parasympathetic system engages.
  • The endocrine system is also a communication system that our bodies use.
  • The endocrine system supports the communication of critical information, but instead of neurons, it uses hormones as its chemical messengers.
  • Glands secrete hormones to communicate in a way that is slower than the communication system of the nervous system, but still very profound.
  • For an in-depth look at the brain, please make sure to read the text and familiarize yourself with each brain structure and what it supports.

Module 2: Biology, Sensation, Perception and Consciousness > Week 4 > Psych Report

  • What’s your perception of your sensation threshold? No, that’s not right.
  • Uh, what sensations does your threshold perceive? Wait.
  • Sensation is simply the physical detection of stimuli- vision, touch, taste, smell, hearing, and body position and movement.
  • We’ve expanded on that understanding since then and understand that perception is how we select, organize, and interpret our sensations.
  • In the early heady days of psychological study, researchers had to rely on observable behaviors and postulate what was going on in the brain.
  • Beginning in the 1960s, technology began to enable us to observe more of the brain, whether waking, sleeping or dreaming.
  • Speaking of sleeping, one area that has truly fascinated thinkers, researchers, and us normal folks for millennia are dreams.
  • Conversely, has flying played a part in your dreams? It could be that you’re now feeling freedom from something that had trapped you mentally or emotionally.
  • Or perhaps your dreams meant none of these things because dream symbolism has not been substantiated by science.
  • The most thorough research has essentially come to the conclusion that dreaming is really the brain’s effort to properly file away information and experiences from the day.
  • So the next time you dream about food, you might be tempted to think that you’re grappling with new knowledge or that new information might be coming your way.
  • Regardless, it’s important to understand that scientific research does not support symbolic dreaming.
  • It’s too bad, really, because I had a great dream last night.
  • Now that we’ve learned a little bit about dreams, let’s discuss what happens when we’re awake.
  • Specifically, how do we construct our representations of the external world? Are we conscious of everything around us? Every day we inhale and exhale nearly 20,000 breaths of air.
  • Are you conscious of this? What do you feel when you do this? What are you feeling right now? Stop right now and become aware of your breathing.
  • What’s happening around you? What are your senses telling you? Close your eyes.
  • How does this feel different than when your eyes were open? The human brain organizes sensory information and interprets it so quickly that the majority of the time we are not conscious of it happening.
  • How do we construct our representations of the external world? Look at the following images and hit pause.
  • Top down processing is the selecting, organizing, and interpreting of our sensations.
  • We perceive what’s happening in the world through our five senses- vision, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.
  • Millions of pieces of information per second and we are only consciously aware of a very small percent of it.
  • As I mentioned earlier, research in the 1960s allowed us to monitor states of waking, sleeping, and dreaming much more accurately.
  • Speaking of asleep, did you know that research shows that 80% of students are sleep deprived? Well, that’s all for this week’s mini lesson.
  • Become aware of what’s happening around you and in you.

Module 2: Biology, Sensation, Perception and Consciousness > Week 4 > Lesson

  • Today, we are looking at sensation, perception, and consciousness.
  • How do our senses interact with our perceptions and our cognitive thought process? Sensation is the process of detecting, converting, and transmitting sensory information from the external and internal environments to the brain.
  • Perception is the process of selecting, organizing, and interpreting sensory information.
  • Well, how does it all work? Let’s see if we can put this all together.
  • Let’s look at bottom up and top down processing.
  • Bottom up processing is when we experience some kind of emotion, or we rely on our senses, and then we think about it later and engage in our cognitive thought process.
  • Top down processing is when we think about something, and as a result of those thoughts, we experience some emotion and therefore activate our senses.
  • Well, when do we sense? At what point do we sense something? That’s where we look at our sensation thresholds.
  • These three colors, red, green, and blue, allow us to see different colors.
  • These are taking different parts and organizing them into a whole, which we refer to as gestalt.
  • Sensory interaction allows that one sense may influence another.
  • Our next sense is body movement and vestibular sense.
  • Our kinesthetic sense, or our body movement, is a system for sensing the position and movement of individual body parts.
  • Our vestibular sense contributes to our balance and body’s position relative to gravity.
  • Consciousness is an organism’s awareness of its own self and its surroundings.
  • Here, we can see the stages of sleep over an eight hour period, and next we’re able to see how our brain waves differ between being awake and asleep.
  • Why do we even need sleep? While there may be no physiological reason for sleep, it is both restorative and adaptive.
  • One potential reason for loss of sleep could be something as simple as jet lag.
  • As we can see here from this image, some simple sleep disorders are things such as sleepwalking, insomnia, and nightmares.
  • Here, we see the comparison between different drugs and their dependence level.
  • As we can see, the dependence level for heroin is higher than any other drug.
  • The three main classifications of drugs are stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens.
  • We can see here it impacts your central nervous system, your respiratory system, your heart, your circulatory system, your liver, and can cause abscesses.
  • This has been our look at sensation, perception, and consciousness.

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