Beyond awesome | 越而胜己

This note is taken from Prof. Judith McLaughlin's PSYCH 101 lecture at the University of Washington, Winter 2017.



  • Awareness of ourselves, our current environment, and mental processes.
  • Only accessible through conscious subject's viewpoint.

Waking Consciousness

A state of clear, organized alertness.

Selective attention: our ability to focus our awareness on some stimuli to the exclusion of others. Inattentional blindness.

Two ways of approaching waking activities

  • Automatic processing: carrying out activities without conscious attention to them.
  • Controlled processing: carrying out activities with a conscious effort to direct them.

Daydreaming: form of mental drifting, effective way to rehearse goals and explore solutions to problems. Occurs when a person is engaged in a task that doesn't require full attention.

Lack of Awareness

Subliminal Perception: The idea that perception of stimuli without awareness can influence behavior. Has a modest effect on behavior. Doesn't influence behavior as claimed.




  • NREM - quiet sleep
    • Stage 1: Show irregular brain waves (theta) and alpha.
      • Wake up easily.
      • Experience hallucinations: dream-like images.
      • Hypnic jerk: body twitches as one falls asleep.
      • Lasts about several minutes.
    • Stage 2: Brain waves slow and show sleep spindles.
      • More difficult to awaken.
      • Lasts about 20 minutes.
      • K complex.
    • Slow Wave Sleep (SWS Stages 3&4)
      • Brain waves show large proportion of delta waves. (0-4 Hz)
      • Skeletal muscles relax and person difficult to awaken.
      • Lasts about 20-25 minutes.
      • Release of growth hormones and restores body.
  • REM (Rapid Eye Movements), aka Paradoxical Sleep - active sleep
    • Brain activity resembles waking EEG.
    • Increased heart rate and respiration.
    • Genitals become aroused.
    • Show rapid eye movements.
    • Experience vivid dreams.
    • Paralysis of skeletal muscles.

Nightly Sleeping Cycle Stage 1 -> Stage 2 -> SWS -> Stage 2 -> REM 1 -> Stage 2 -> SWS -> Stage 2 -> REM 2 -> ...

As time goes, SWS decreases, REM increases.

Sleep over the life span

  • Infants and children
    • Spend longest time sleeping. Infants ~ 16hr a day; children 8-10hr.
    • Show greater percentage of slow wave sleep.
  • Young adults
    • Sleep 7-8 hours a night.
    • 20% is spent in REM.
  • Elderly auldts
    • Sleep 6 hours a night.
    • 15% is spent in REM.
    • Slow wave sleep decreases from 30-50 years of age.

The older we get, the less we sleep and less time is spent in REM and slow wave sleep.

Sleep disorders and disturbances

  • Insomnia 失眠: chronic inability to get sufficient sleep.
    • Three types:
      • Difficulty falling asleep.
      • Awakens easily and can't go back to sleep.
      • Awakens briefly and frequently.
    • Women suffer from insomnia more than men.
    • Treatment: 1) sleeping pills; 2) natural remedies.
  • Narcolepsy 发作性嗜睡病: irresistible sleep attacks during the day.
    • Triggered by intense emotions.
    • Cataplexy: loss of voluntary muscle control.
    • Enter directly into REM.
    • Inability to produce hypocretin.
    • Treatment: stimulants and antidepressants.
  • Sleep Apnea 睡眠呼吸暂停: temporary failure of breathing during sleep.
    • Abnormally in the medulla, blockage of air passages.
    • Treatments:
      • CPAP mask.
      • Weight loss.
      • Tongue guard.
      • Surgery.
  • Night terrors 夜惊: sudden arousal from sleep and extreme panic.
    • Crying and increased respiration.
    • Occurs during SWS/transitions between stages.
    • No memory of event.
    • Usually occurs in children.
    • Triggers: stress, overtired, sleep deprivation, heredity.
  • REM Behavior Disorder (RBD) 快速眼动期行为失调: No paralysis of muscles during REM.
    • Person acts out his/her dreams
    • Problem with the brain stem.
    • May be an early sign of Parkinson's disease and other degenerative diseases.
    • Can be treated with medication.
    • Important to maintain environmental safety.
  • Sleep Walking (Somnambulism) 梦游
    • Occurs during slow wave sleep.
    • Runs in families.
    • Most common in children and during times of stress.
  • Sleep Talking
    • Ranges from a grunt to clear sentences.
    • Occurs mostly in NREM (can occur during REM)


  • Nature of dreams
    • Characteristic features
      • Intense emotions: increased limbic system activity (Amygdala)
      • Illogical content: prefrontal cortex is shut down
      • Hallucinations: discrepancy between dream events and body feedback
      • Delusional content: uncritical acceptance of dream experience
      • Amnesia
    • REM vs NREM Dreams
      • NREM dreams: more thought-oriented and less visual imagery, associated with more positive emotions
      • REM dreams: more bizarre, more visual imagery, more narrative, action-oriented, and are associated with negative emotions.
        • Lucid dreams: occur during REM and involve the dreamer becoming aware that he/she is dreaming. Can be intentionally induced. Brain areas not typically active during REM are active during lucid dreaming (prefrontal cortex).
        • Nightmares: occur during REM, easily remembered, triggered by stress and traumatic event. Often occur late at night during the longest period of REM.
  • Dream Content
    • Focus on events and people we come in contact with.
    • Reflect our daytime experiences and our emotional state.
  • Functions of Dreams
    • Dreams as "precognition"
      • Belief that dreams can foretell the future
      • Anecdotal evidence (Lincoln)
      • Most can be dismissed as coincidence or hindsight bias
      • Many reflect unconscious feeling or sentiment about a situation that you later dream about.
    • Freud: Dreams as "Wish Fulfillment"
      • Dreams guard sleep by disguising disruptive thoughts with symbols.
        • Manifest content: surface narrative
        • Latent content: hidden deeper meaning
        • Symbolism: objects and actions are transformed to other less threatening objects and actions.
    • Cognitive view
      • We dream about our current concerns.
      • Dream as a means of problem solving: Elias Howe, Einstein.
      • Dreams release us from a mental set.
      • Dreams represent aspects of memory processing.
        • REM up, retention up.
        • Same areas active during learning and REM.
        • Increased hippocampal activity during REM.
    • Activation Synthesis Theory
      • Represent a person's interpretation of random brain activity during REM.
        • Amygdala active during REM (intensive emotions).
        • Visual association areas are active.
        • Activity random -> bizarre content.


A relatively permanaent change in behavior that occurs because of experience.

Antecedents Events that precede a behavior and influence it.
Consequences Events that follow a behavior and determine if that behavior will be repeated.


Learning that involves associations stimuli and responses.

  • Classical Conditioning: focuses on antecedents that influence a response.
  • Operant Conditioning: Focuses on consequences that influence a response.

Basic Terminology
Antecedents --(Classical)--> Behavior <--(Operant)-- Consequences

Classical Conditioning

Pavlov's Observations

  • Put food in a dog's mouth, it will begin to salivate (innate response). Stimulus (food) -> Response (salivation)
  • Soon the dog would salivate to different stimuli (learned response). S (dog dish) -> R (salivation), S(foot steps) -> R(salivation)

Pavlov Study on Learning

  • Before learning:
    * S (food) -> R (salivation)
    * S (tone) -> No response
  • After learning
    * S (tone) -> R (salivation)

Classical Conditioning Terminology

  • Unconditioned Stimulus (US)
    • Example: food.
  • Unconditioned Response (UR)
    • Example: Salivation to food.
  • Conditioned Stimulus (CS) / Neutral Stimulus (NS)
    • Example: Bell.
  • Conditioned Response (CR)
    • Example: Salivation to bell.

Principles of Classical Conditioning

  • Higher-order conditioning: When a NS can become a CS by being paired with an already established CS. (Light -> Bell -> Salivation ===> Light -> Salivation)
  • Extinction: Weakening/disappearance of the CR through repeated presentations of the CS without the US.
  • Spontaneous Recovery: Reappearance of an extinguished response in a weaker form following a rest periods. Show that learned associations aren't totally forgotten.
  • Generalization: When one develops a CR to a stimulus that is similar to the original CS. Ensures that we expand learning beyond the immediate CS.
  • Discrimination: The process by which an organism learns to respond only to a specific stimulus. Guarantees that we don't generalize too broadly.

Real life applications

  • Conditioning positive emotions
    • Plays an important role in our emotional responses to objects, symbols, events, and places.
    • Used in advertising.
  • Conditioning negative emotions
    • Many phobias are a result of conditioning.
    • Environmental cues associated with drug use -> cravings.
    • Taste aversions (Garcia effect).

Factors that influence conditioning

  • How reliably the CS predict the US
    • The more reliable the CS, the greater the CR.
  • Number of pairing of the CS and the US
    • The greater the number of pairings, the stronger the CR.
    • Exceptions: Taste aversions and responses to trauma.
  • Intensity of the US
    • The stronger the intensity of the US, the stronger the CR.
  • Temporal relationship between SC and US
    • Conditioning is fastest if CS occurs shortly before US.

Operant Conditioning

Thorndike (Puzzle box)

Low of effect Positive consequences increase behavior, negative consequences decrease behavior.

Reinforcement: increases behavior in the future.

Types of reinforcement

  • Positive reinforcement: strengthening a behavior by adding something positive to the situation.
    • Example:
      • Behavior: making the bed in the morning.
      • Presentation of positive stimulus: you receive praise for making the bed.
      • Frequency of behavior increases: you make the bed in the future.
  • Negative reinforcement: Strengthening a behavior by removing something negative (positive consequence).
    • Example: air-conditioner / umbrella.
    • Example:
      • Behavior: taking a pain reliever.
      • Removal of a negative stimulus: headache goes away.
      • Frequency of behavior increases: you take pain relievers in the future.

Punishment: decreases behavior in the future.

Types of punishment:

  • Aversive (Positive) Punishment: Adding something negative to decrease a behavior.
    • Example:
      • Behavior: touch a hot iron.
      • Presentation of a negative stimulus: your hand gets burnt
      • Frequency of behavior decreases: not to touch not irons in the future.
  • Response Cost (Negative Punishment): The removal of something positive in order to decrease behavior (negative consequence).
    • Example:
      • Behavior: Coming home after curfew.
      • Removal of a pleasant stimulus: losing driving privileges/
      • Frequency of behavior decreases: not come home after curfew in the future.

Problems with punishment

  • May decrease undesired behavior, but doesn't automatically increase desired behavior.
  • Fear and anxiety may become associated with the punisher and environment.
  • Punisher must pay attention to the offender; attention can be reinforcing.
  • Provides a model of aggressive behavior.
Stimulus Added
Stimulus Removed
Response increased
Positive ReinforcementNegative Reinforcement
Response decreased
Aversive PunishmentResponse Cost


  • Reinforcing behaviors that successively approximate a desired response.
  • Reward one step at a time.

Superstitious Behavior

Behavior that is learned through a coincidental association with reinforcement.

Reinforcement Schedules

  • Continuous reinforcement: reinforcement given on every trial.
    • Continuous reinforced behaviors are easily extinguished.
  • Partial reinforcement: reinforcement only part of the time.
    • Partially reinforced behaviors are more resistant to extinction.
    • Types:
      • Number of responses (ratio)
        • Fixed ratio schedule: reinforcement occurs after a fixed number of responses. (Copy cards, buy one get one free)
        • Variable ratio schedule: reinforcement occurs after a variable number of responses. (Lottery, gambling)
      • Passage of time (interval)
        • Fixed interval schedule: reinforcement occurs after a specified period of time has passed since the previous reinforcer. (Salary, exams)
        • Variable interval schedule: reinforcement occurs after a varying period of time has passed since the previous reinforcer. (Waiting for a text message reply, fishing)

Classical vs. Operant Conditioning

Type of associationBetween 2 stimuliBetween a response and its consequence
State of the subjectPassiveActive
Focus of attentionAntecedentsConsequences
Type of responseInvoluntary, reflexive responsesVoluntary, goal-oriented responses
Range of responseSimpleSimple-complex

Operant and classical conditioning can be combined, such as avoidance learning.

Observational Learning

Observational learning focuses on the role of thought in establishing and maintaining behavior.

Albert Bandura's Studies

Confirmed that people learn through observing and imitating the behavior of others.

Imitation is dependent on the consequences of the behavior modeled. Aggressive behavior is NOT imitated if model is punished.

Components of Observational Learning

  • Vicarious reinforcement: Reinforcement which is received indirectly by observing another person being reinforced.
  • Vicarious punishment: Punishment which is received indirectly by observing another person being punished.
  • Intrinsic reinforcement: An internalized sense of satisfaction when one performs well.
  • Intrinsic punishment: Punishing oneself for a poor performance.

Modeling and Television: Tannis Williams' Study

  • Reading development among children declined.
  • Children's scores on tests of creativity dropped.
  • Children's perceptions of sex roles became more stereotyped.
  • There was an increased tendency toward both physical and verbal aggression.


Three memory processes

  • Encoding: Information is coded and put into memory.
  • Storage: Retention of encoded information.
  • Retrieval: Stored information is recovered from memory.

Three memory stores

  • Sensory memory:
  • Short-term meory
  • Long-term memory

Incoming Info
sensory memory - not attended - forgotten
selective attention
short-term memory - not encoded - forgotten
transfer/retrieval, rehearsal buffer
long-term memory - retrieval failure - forgotten

Sensory memory

  • Function
    • holds info that enters the senses for a short time while we select what is important
    • Iconic storage: visual sensory memory (<1s)
    • Echoic storage: auditory sensory memory
  • Capacity
    • Large capacity
  • Duration
    • Fades quickly
    • 1/4 - 1/2 second for iconic memory; 2-3 seconds for echoic memory.

Short term memory (Working memory)

  • Function
    • pass
  • Capacity
    • Very small capacity.
    • STM span = $7 \pm 2$ items
    • Chunking: Grouping information into smaller more meaningful units. Allows us to overcome the limits of STM
  • Duration
    • Info remains for less than 30 seconds if not rehearsed
  • How is information retained in STM?
    • Maintenance rehearsal
      • Repeat info to keep it from fading while in STM.
      • Involves NO elaboration or interpretation.
    • Elaborative rehearsal
      • Information is actively reviewed and related to information already in LTM.

Long term memory

  • Function
    • Stored representation of all that a person knows.
    • Information remains dormant until retrieved into STM.
    • Information is stored semantically.
  • Capacity
    • Unlimited
  • Duration
    • Information can be stored for a lifetime.
  • Types
    • Procedural (implicit) memory ("knowing how"): Memory for perceptual, motor, and cognitive habits and skills. Automatic processing.
    • Declarative (explicit) memory
      • Semantic memory (General knowledge): mental dictionary and encyclopedia.
      • Episodic memory (Personal recollections): autobiographical memory.

Factors that affect memory

  • Serial position curve
    • Primacy effect: refers to the greater recall of items that were presented first in a list of items. We have greater time to rehearse items. Information gets transferred to LTM.
    • Recency effect: refers to the greater recall of items that were presented last in a list of items. Information is still in STM.
  • Von Restorff Effect
    • The more accurate recall of items that are sallient, distinctive, and unusual.
    • Flashbulb memory: Very vivid memory of an important event that caused an intense emotional reactions; emotional distinctiveness.
  • Constructive nature of memory
    • Putting together an account of past events based partly on memories and partly on expectations of what must have happened.
    • Loftus and Palmer Study: Misinformation effect.
      • How does post-event information influence a person's recall of an event?
      • Shown video and manipulated wording of questions about an accident?
        • How fast were cars going when they made contact with each other?
        • How fast were cars going when they smashed into each other?
      • Post-event information has powerful effect on memory.
      • Memory is highly flexible and malleable.

bed night clock alarm toss mattress insomnia dream pillow tired snore [artichoke]


  • Encoding failure: forgetting that is due to never having entered the information into memory in the first place.
  • Storage failure
    • Decay:
      • When a memory trace fades with time
      • This usually occurs in sensory memory and short term memory
    • Disuse:
      • "Use it or lose it" principle: applies to long term memory
  • Retrieval failure
    • Interference: can occur in both STM and LTM
      • Retroactive interference: tendency of new memories to interfere with the retrieval of old memories.
      • Proactive interference: tendency of old memories to interfere with the retrieval of new memories.
      • More similar the information, greater the interference.
      • How can you reduce interference?
        • Spread out your study time.
        • Sleep in between study sessions.
        • Avoid cramming.
    • Cue dependent forgetting: inability to retrieve info stored in memory because of insufficient cues for recall. Due to context-dependent memory.
      • Encoding specificity principle: the effectiveness of a retrieval cue depends on how well it relates to the initial encoding of the item.
      • State dependent memory: the mmore accurate recall of info learned in a particular physiological state when once again in that same state.
        • Drugs and alcohol
        • Time of day
        • Moods
        • Mental illness
      • How can you use this knowledge to help you study?
        • Try not to study the information in the same order each time (creating a strong cue dependence in retrieval).
        • Try to study during the same time of day that the exam will be administered.
        • Use some of the features of the classroom as retrieval cues.
  • Amnesia: The inability to remember info, usually as a result of physiological damage of the brain.
    • Retrograde amnesia: inability to remember events that occurred before the onset of amnesia. (retrieval failure)
    • Anterograde amnesia: inability to form new memories. (encoding and storage failure).
      • Results from damage to the hippocampus.
      • Damage affects declarative memory, but not procedural memory.
    • Korsakoff's Syndrome
      • Includes both retrograde and anterograde amnesia
      • Associated with alcoholism and severe malnutrition
      • Due to thiamine deficiency, which causes shrinkage of several brain structures including the frontal lobe.
      • Prone to confabulations.