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Lesson Four: States of Consciousness

Understanding Human Consciousness

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Lesson Four: States of Consciousness

Welcome to lesson four of the free Introduction to Psychology course! So far in this series of lessons, you have explored the basics, explored research techniques and learned the basics of biopsychology. In this lesson, we'll focus on the various states of human consciousness and some of the things that can have an impact on these states of awareness.

Human consciousness is often compared to a stream, constantly changing but always flowing smoothly.

Syllabus for this week:

  • What is consciousness?
  • Biological and circadian rhythms
  • Sleep
  • Dreams
  • Hypnosis
  • Psychoactive drugs

Click the links below to read the articles and resources related to each topic in this lesson. Don't worry, there's no homework! These lessons are completely self-directed, which means that it is up to you to read the articles and learn the information. Good luck with this lesson!

Understanding Consciousness

Have you ever wondered why you feel more energetic in the morning, tried to analyze your dreams or questioned how hypnosis works? All of these topics are related to human consciousness, which can be altered in a number of different ways. Explore this topic further in this overview of human consciousness.

Body Clocks

Do you usually feel more energetic during mid-morning, but start to feel tired and run-down by mid-afternoon. This daily fluctuation in energy levels is known as your body's circadian rhythm. These 'body clocks' have a major impact on your consciousness as well as a wide number of physiological states. Read this article to learn more about these biological and environmental rhythms.

Sleep and Consciousness

Sleep has fascinated researchers, scientists and scholars for thousands of years. Technological innovations during the last century allowed scientists to study sleep in ways that simply weren't possible in the past, which has helped lead to a number of theories of sleep. Learn more about the stages of sleep, why we sleep and some of the most common sleep disorders:

Dreams and Consciousness

At some point in your life, you have probably had a truly baffling dream that left you wondering, "What did that mean? Learn more about some of the research on dream characteristics, theories and interpretations:

Hypnosis and Consciousness

Hypnosis has been used to for a number of purposes including pain management and weight loss. Is hypnosis really an effective therapeutic tool? Click the following link to find out the answer to this question and many others about hypnosis.

Drugs and Consciousness

Psychoactive drugs can be used to treat serious medical conditions, but they can also lead to addictions and social problems. Learn more about how these drugs affect human consciousness in this overview of some of the most common psychoactive drugs.

Final Thoughts

Congratulations, you have reached the end of lesson four! While this lesson offers just an overview of the basics of human consciousness, it does provide a good foundation for further exploration and study.

Once you feel that you've fully reviewed the information included in this lesson, then feel free to move on to lesson five. If, however, you are still working to understand or remember the material in today's lesson, consider spending a few days reviewing the information before continuing on to the next lesson in the series.

Do you need some extra study help? Then don't miss our selection of psychology study tips, advice on how to take good psychology notes and techniques to help you study for psychology exams.

Sign-Up for the Psychology 101 E-Course

Do you want to also receive these lessons in your email inbox? Consider subscribing to the Psychology 101 E-course. Each lesson in this free e-course will arrive via email each week. Be sure to check out the Psychology 101 e-course FAQ page to learn answers to some of the most common questions about the class.

For even more psychology articles and resources, don't forget to subscribe to the weekly About.com Psychology Newsletter!

Next: Lesson 5

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