Sunday, 19 May 2013

The structure of life: waking and (two types of) sleeping

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Life is a unity - it is not just waking life. And it is divided into three mains parts.

It is divided in order that basic functions may be performed more efficiently -  since specialization allows for increased efficiency; however, the parts are complex and subdivided, and there may be dissociations - the three parts may become mixed or partial.

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The three main functional parts of life are Awake, Deep Sleep and Dreaming Sleep.

(Deep Sleep is also called slow wave sleep and non-REM sleep; Dreaming Sleep is also called Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep.)

Information processed by the brain is two main types: instinctual or 'built-in' and environmental or experiential - i.e. added during living consequent upon interaction between the organism and its environment.

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Awake

When awake, a person interacts with the environment - that is, they are in sensori-motor contact with the environment: getting information via the senses and acting via movement.

Brain activity is open-ended and linear - non-repeating, progressive. Brain waves show disorganized, unpatterned activation

There is awareness of time, and there is typically memory - a record of awake experience is available to introspection for some time afterwards.

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Deep Sleep

The person is mostly cut-off from the environment: information comes from within, there are no purposive actions.

Brain activity seems to be cyclical, recurrent patterns revealed as various types of slow waves on electroencephalogram.

There is no awareness of time (because processing is cyclical, not linear), and no explicit memory of what has happened in Deep Sleep.

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Dreaming Sleep.

The person is mostly cut-off from the environment: information comes from within, there are no purposive actions.

Brain activity is open-ended and linear - non-repeating, progressive. Brain waves show disorganized, unpatterned activation.

There is awareness of time (because processing is linear), and typically no explicit memory of what has happened in dreaming sleep (however, there may sometimes be a partial memory of some of what happens in Dreaming Sleep, and these are dreams).

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We know, introspectively, that Dreaming Sleep is different from Deep Sleep because in Dreaming Sleep we are aware of time, and we may remember a progressively unfolding and non-repeating narrative - i.e. a dream.

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In sum:

Waking is a linear interaction with the environment unfolding over time - this interaction is the focus of awareness, and there may be explicit memories of this acquired information;

Deep Sleep is a cyclical, and therefore timeless, non-linear state focused on recurrent processing of internally generated information (instinctual and from memories);

Dreaming Sleep is a linear state of interaction with internal information unfolding over time - explicit memory of this linear process is possible but not necessary, because internal information comes-from memory (and instinct) and has therefore already been memorized (or was built-in): therefore we do not need to remember dreams.

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So, leaving-out instinct, this simplifies to:

Waking = Linear interaction with environment = Experience being laid down in memory

Deep Sleep = Cyclical interaction with memory

Dreaming sleep = Linear interaction with memory

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