January 2012 Archives

Blog 1- Chapter 5

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Chapter 5 focused on the consciousness of the human brain. The first half of the chapter discusses sleeping and dreams. First they describe the different stages of sleep (stage1o stage 5, from light sleeping to rapid eye movement). There is a long part where they try to give us information about what dreams mean and how people experience them. In my opinion one of the most interesting parts in this section was about lucid dreaming. A lucid dream is when you are dreaming and you recognize you are in a dream. The cool part about it is that once you come to that realization you can do anything you put your mind to in that dream. I personally have had lucid dreams before and the experience is like no other. Where most of my dreams are blurry these ones are vivid with extreme detail and a sense of realness to them. Someone can train themselves to have lucid dreams by repetitively doing a simple action like flicking your bedroom light switch a few times before going to bed. If you flick a light switch in a dream most of the time the lights won't turn on (at least not right away) and you might be able to realize that you are in a dream. However when most people experience a lucid dream for their first time they may wake up right after they realize they are in a dream because their mind gets startled. One of the benefits of being able to have lucid dreams is that you can change the outcome of a bad dream and have less nightmares.

This chapter also dedicates a section to drugs and consciousness. They describe the different effects depressants, stimulants, opiates, and psychedelics have on the brain. A misconception that most people have is that a drug can be addictive and dangerous only if it is illegal. But that fact is that even legal drugs such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and pain killers can be destructive and addicting if not taken with care. Also we have all heard that there are families that are more prone to developing issues like alcoholism because of genetic traits. But What I hadn't really thought about is that there are families that have very low chances of having addictive problems. For example 40% of people of Asian decent have a genetic mutation called aldehyde 2 which, if alcohol is consumed causes red flushing in the face, nausea, and a faster paced heart beat. While it may be hard to systematically prove that culture can have a direct effect on genetic mutation, most of the observations seem to hint that it does

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