Brain and Behaviour
– multiple choice and non cumulative exams
Intro to Biological Psychology
– table 1.1
Synonyms: biological psychology, biopsychology and psychobiology
– ethology (in bio) and behaviourism (in psych) believed that their discipline should be the science of
observable phenomena, i.e. Behaviour per se (action from striated muscles, at least vertebrates)
– this excludes covert processes, intervening variables and hypothetical constructs
– this approach ignores “states” (emotions) and promotes actions or “motor” behaviour*
*this would exclude behaviour such as phenomenal communication in hamsters, light pulses in fire flies, colour
pulses in squids, flushing in humans, etc.
Ancient greek had an interesting way of thinking about the mind: they talked about intellect/cognition and
affect/emotion and motivation/regulation
Area of psychology dealing with the biological bases of behaviour, from proximate questions (genetics,
biochemistry, physiology, development) to ultimate questions (evolution, adaptive function).
• It includes many sub-ﬁelds, some of which (e.g., “behavioural neuroscience”) are sometimes taken as
- More speciﬁc and deﬁned area of biological psychology dealing with the relationship
between mind and body (including the brain). Physiological psychology, methodologically, tends to be invasive
(i.e., manipulating directly the nervous or endocrine system of animals). The focus is on the central nervous
• Psychophysiology tends to take physiological measures, and correlate them with behavioural or
• It focusses on autonomic nervous system measures for that reason, as well as brain waves,
muscle activity, etc.
• Example: In vivo electrophysiological measures, such as EEG, EMG, EOG, GSR, etc.
• Applications: Biofeedback, sleep studies, polygraph.
• This term is used typically in the human and clinical context (so “clinical neuropsychology”).
• A clinical psychology Ph.D or PsyD is required.
• It is based on assessment of patients (for brain disorders and injuries) and rehabilitation.
• Working with neurologists (MD’s) is often required in hospitals).
• Fundamental (basic) research with both animal models and humans.
• Deﬁnitions vary and depend, in part, on how you deﬁne “behaviour” (do you include intervening variables
and covert processes in your deﬁnition of behaviour?).
• Tends to be deﬁned as “biological psychology” (so quite general) with the exclusion of cognitive neuroscience. • More likely to focus on observable behaviours (i.e., motor behaviour), and emotions (affective processes) and
• Fundamental (basic) research with both animal models and humans. Human research is predominant.
• Heavy reliance on non-invasive neuroimaging techniques (e.g., CAT, PET, fMRI, etc.).
• Focusses on cognitive processes (covert processes) and functions (e.g., behavioural plasticity, communication,
- Learning and memory
- Attention and perception
- Problem solving, decision making
Developmental psychobiology or neuroscience and behaviour genetics
- Study of life-span development, early development (pre-natal, peri-natal, early post natal), aging,
genetic vs. environmental inﬂuences, epigenetics, brain growth and regeneration, neuroplasticity, etc.
- In behavioural endocrinology and toxicology: organizational effects of hormones, endocrine disruptors,
The emerging areas:
• The following three areas are recent, overlapping and very much inter-connected.
- Affective neuroscience: The neuroscience of emotions, affect and mood.
- Social neuroscience: The neuroscience of social behaviour and socio-affective processes.
- Motivational neuroscience [not an ofﬁcial term]: the study of motivational processes. For example,
“sex”, “aggression”, “addiction”, etc. Overlaps with affective neuroscience.
- the physiological study of “drives” and incentives and how the brain responds to “reward”, and
The specialized areas:
The following four areas have a long history in neuroscience and biological psychology (and the two three
are major concentrations in the ﬁeld):
1. Behavioural pharmacology or psychopharmacology: The study of the effects of drugs on brain,
behaviour, cognition, etc.
2. Behavioural endocrinology and psychoendocrinology: The study of the effect of hormones on brain
and behaviour and also the effect of behaviour on the endocrine system.
3. Behavioural toxicology: The study of the effect of neurotoxins (and sometimes endocrine disruptors)
on brain and behaviour.
4. Psychoneuroimmunology: Study of the relationship between the immune system, the nervous system
Game changers of the early 2000’s
• Epigenetics and transgenerational effects
• Mirror neurons: Brain integration of perception, action, emotion and cognition
• Questioning cognitivism
• Questioning “neuroscientism”
Some fundamental (historical) Questions
• Human (conscious, emotional) vs. animal (unconscious, emotionless) • Nature (genes) / nurture (environment) debate
- Neuroethology vs. biological psychology
- Instincts (innate behaviours) vs. learning (acquired behaviours); Fentress study example. Hebb’s
• Mind / body (brain) debate
- Dualism vs. monism (physicalism, materialism)
Brain and or Mind
• Monism: Brain and mind are the same
Similar ideas: “physicalism” or “materialism”
• Dualism: Brain and mind are not the same
But could interact: Interactionism or cartesian dualism (Descartes)
Common in psychology, the cognitive sciences, etc.
• Implications: one or 2+ sciences?
• Some neuroscientists were dualists: Penﬁeld, Sperry. etc.
Two Brains? Brain Dichotomies
Innate Brain: brain at birth, the things built in; instincts, etc.
Changing brain: experience, learning, environment, conditioning, cognitive learning, etc.
Rational brain: cognitions/cognitive neuroscience, cortex and cortical systems
irrational brain: emotions/affective neuroscience, sub cortical, including limbic system
conscious brain: explicit cognition, controlled processes, operant (instrumental) conditioning
unconscious brain: implicit cognition, automatic processes, pavlovian (classical) conditioning
left vs. Right brain hemisphere
• Based on (mostly) telencephalic components:
– Reptilian brain: basal ganglia, extrapyramidal motor system
– Paleo-mammalian brain: “visceral brain”, “ventral brain”, limbic system (mostly) >>> social emotions,
reacting emotionally, found in fish, birds, vertebrates, orders and emotions are very connected
– Neo-mammalian brain: Neocortex (isocortex), “dorsal brain” >>> complex cognitions, reflex like
The Neuron- Lecture 2
Cells of the nervous system: the neurons; the building blocks of the nervous system
Types of neurons:
• Sensory neurons: collecting information from the external world (sensation)
• Interneurons (CNS): connect sensory and motor neurons
• Motor neurons: sending information/commands to muscles (action, execution), basic structure is simple,
input sent along axon, output through axon terminals or buttons
• Motor neurons: basic structure
• Input of information: dendrites
• Travelling of information: axon
• Output of information: axon terminals or buttons >>> synapses
Functional organization: afferent and efferent processes in biological psychology • Behavioural biologists see behaviour as an "output" and often focus on efferent processing (action,
• Psychologists often focus on the "input" (e.g., psychophysics, cognitive psychology), i.e., on afferent
processing (sensation, perception).
• This distinction suggests a dichotomy of functional organization in the behavioural sciences:
– Afferent or sensory or input processing (mainly covert): sensory systems.
Efferent or motor or output processing: something you can see
- Overt: movements, actions (e.g., biting)
- Covert: endocrine secretions (e.g., pheromones).
Integration and organization of information: CNS.
The three major components of a neuron
• Carry electrical impulse (action potentials). Can be more than a meter long.
• Surrounded by myelin sheath.
- release chemical substances called neurotransmitters
• Locus of connection between emitting and receiving neurons.
Communication pattern between neurons:
• Between neurons only: sensory neurons and interneurons.
•Responsible for action: motor neuron (action on muscle cells and gland cells).
– synapse is whole system between output and input
– synapse means connection
– SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
Group or cluster of cell bodies (neurons):
• Ganglion/ganglia: group or cluster of cell bodies in the PNS.
• Nucleus/nuclei: group or cluster of cell bodies in the CNS.
• Exception: basal ganglia (subcortical structures); should be basal nucleus.
"Bundles" of axons:
• Nerves: bundles of axons in the peripheral nervous system (PNS).
• Tracts: bundles of axons in the central nervous system (CNS).
• White matter: because of the white colour of the tracts from the myelin sheaths around the axons. Consists of
neural cells, from presence of axons, in multiple scleorisis you are losing that protection
• Grey matter: because of the grey colour of the nuclei. Consists of groups of nerve ﬁbres.
Structural (anatomical) organization:
Central nervous system (CNS): brain and spinal cord.
• Function: analysis of sensory information and decision for action (motor commands)
Peripheral nervous system (PNS): nerves and peripheral ganglia; many components
• Function: detection of sensory information and execution of action More on the peripheral nervous system (PNS)...
Input level: detection stage (sensations)
-- Cranial sensory receptors: for sensations of smell, taste, vision, hearing, balance.
– Spinal sensory receptors: for sensations of temperature, pressure, pain, touch and monitoring of skin
surface, joints and skeletal muscles.
– Visceral sensory receptors: for monitoring of internal organs (such as the
cardiovascular, respiratory, reproductive, digestive and urinary systems).
Output level: execution stage (actions)
• Somatic (or skeletal) nervous system (SNS) >>> skeletal muscles
• Autonomic nervous system (ANS) >>> smooth muscles, cardiac muscle, glands
– Parasympathetic nervous system (ParaNS): recovery, relaxation, rest
– Symapthetic NS (sympaNS): arousal, alarm, vigilance
pain: when you start feeling your organs, when you have no pain you should not feel your own organs
Autonomic nervous system versus somatic nervous system: Functional relevance to learning
• Classical/Pavlovian/Respondent conditioning: autonomic (visceral), involuntary functions, e.g., emotions,
learning an association between a stimulus
- Implicit processing: can be brought to consciousness/awareness
- ANS easy to develop classical conditioning
• Example: Biofeedback
• Instrumental/Skinnerian/Operant conditioning: somatic (skeletal), voluntary functions, e.g., actions.
- Explicit processing: awareness and to some extent, understanding of the contingencies is necessary. E.g., being
aware of the value of the reward or reinforcer.
Peripheral nervous system:
• Entire set of nerves (spinal & cranial)
– Cranial nerves: from the brain (12 pairs): see next page.
– Spinal nerves: from the spinal cord (31 pairs): see later, below.
One for olfaction, vision, hearing/balance, face muscles/taste, etc.
Spinal Cord: Simple Reflexes
• Link between the spinal nerves and the brain (brain-body).
• Ascending tract: somatosensory information.
• Descending tract: motor-control information.
• Severe spinal cord injury: paralysis AND loss of sensations.
• Pattern generators: for rhythmic component (sequencing and organization) of locomotor movements. Help
organizing spinal reﬂexes (e.g., ﬂexion reﬂex with pin prick). Useful for walking, swimming, etc. and other
rhythmic actions. No cortical control necessary: e.g.,"headless chicken".
Spinal nerves and reﬂexes
• 31 pairs of nerves
• 8 pairs of cervical nerves (neck): C1 to C8
• 12 pairs of thoracic nerves (chest): T1 to T12
• 5 pairs of lumbar nerves (lower back): L1 to L5
• 5 pairs of sacral nerves (pelvic; fused): S1 to S5
• 1 pair of coccygeal nerves (pelvic; fused): Co1 Examples of reﬂexes associated with the spinal cord:
• Withdrawal reﬂex
• Patellar reﬂex (or knee-jerk reﬂex)
• Plantar reﬂex
• Penile erection
2. SUBCORTICAL STRUCTURES
Brainstem: postural reﬂexes and vital reﬂexes
• Medulla oblongata (close to the spinal cord): regulates heart beat & breathing (cardiovascular functions),
digestion, swallowing. Neuronal "junction" responsible for the contralateral structure of the nervous system.
Relays sensory information to the thalamus.
• Pons (means "bridge" in Latin): relay information between the cortex and the cerebellum/thalamus.
• Midbrain (close to the brain): involved in the regulation of basic movement patterns and act on "Pattern
Generators" (grey matter, red nucleus, substantia nigra, ventral region).
• sleep and level of arousal (with the pons).
• Tectum: simple reﬂexes and orientation of eyes and ears; two important nuclei:
– Superior colliculi: involved in vision (visual reﬂexes).
– Inferior colliculi: involved in hearing.
• Tegmentum: with three important structures;
– Reticular formation (or RAS, reticular activating system): control of sleep, arousal, consciousness,
– Red nucleus: control of basic body and limb movements.
– Substantia nigra: integration of voluntary movements (see basal ganglia below)
Cerebellum: Coordination of complex movements, postures
• Cerebellum means "little brain"
• animals that climb or live in a 3D environment have larger cerebellums (birds and primates)
• corrects lack of balance
• Initiation and control of rapid, ﬁne movements (general coordination) and balance.
• Classical conditioning (“implicit” learning) partially resides in cerebellum
• Cognitive functions in humans; timing of language, musical abilities, cognitive “skills”
• developing skills by repetition involves the cerebellum
• cerebellum is affected by drinking, slurs language, lack of coordination and balance
• Exceptionally large in the genus Gnathonemus (weakly electric ﬁsh): Dual function?
– Control of the electrical organ (EOD) used for electroreception, electrolocation and
– Communicate with each other with a simple language using a series of clicks (rhythm)
– cerebellum is so large, cranium runs out of space and inside skull starts to wrap outside of the cranium
– only fish species that engage in play, usually only big brain mammals that do this, but these fish do
– looks like cerebellum is involved in communication, and maybe higher social functions as well – theory that suggests that part of the perceptions that humans have sometimes (ex. Something just isn't
right) is your amygdala that is identifying threatening stimuli, but also that maybe the cerebellum has
something to do with this
Basal Ganglia: Coordination of complex movements, postures
• Control of slower, deliberate movements, muscle tone and posture. Eye movements. Memory for location and
space (like the hippocampus), and some thought processes (e.g., language).
• Involved in the sequencing of movements / actions. Repetitions (perseverations), and alternations of
• theory that says what allows you to remember where you go is in part muscle memory
• more cognitive theory is that the hippo-campus is what allows you to remember direction
• most likely that both of these systems are activated, motor and a mental map allow you to remember
Part of the "motor loop" controlling all voluntary movements:
– cognitive functions
– extremely important for sequencing events, may be responsible for abnormal perseverations
(repetition of a response).
– May also be involved in alterations of movements, some cases you may alternate too quickly may also
be due to basal ganglia
– extremely important for reward system in brain, mostly because basal ganglia is very central to
dopamenergic system, sensitive to dopamine as a neurotransmitter
– switchboard in brain for sensory information
Some common or suspected pathologies of the basal ganglia:
– Parkinson’s disease
– Huntington’s disease
– ADHD: involves the hyperactivity once the “H” is added, evidence something in basal ganglia is wrong,
motor activity, fidgeting
– Schizophrenia (at least the types with dyskinesia): dsyfunction of movements
– Tourette's syndrome: frontal lobe inhibtion (does not tell you what not to say, for example), but core
problem is dsyfunctional basal ganglia
– Addiction(s): eating chocolate, watching a movie, sex, exercise, all raise endorphin levels, two NT's
highly addictive; dopamine and meta???
Structure of Basil Ganglia
seperated into input and output...
• Caudate nucleus
• Globus pallidus, two nuclei just behind the putamen
– substantia nigra: where most of the production of dopamine happens
– red nucleus
– prescense of amygdala: important in processing fear without individual being aware of it
– important to survive that you can identify any kind of threat (innate)
– evidence that threatening stimuli can be presented subliminally and the individual will sense fear
– processing threatening stimulis and immediately motor system becomes engaged preparing to escape
The thalamus ("inner chamber")
• It is the "relay station" or switchboard of the brain (between sensory organs and cortex); sensory info gets
sent to cortical parts of the brain. brainstem <<<>>> rest of the brain.
• Has two lobes connected by the "massa intermedia" although some people lack this structure.
• The only sensory modality not necessarily connected to the thalamus: olfactory system (smell). Can go
through the process, but may not. Difference between sniffing and smelling, smelling you are not necessarily
aware of it, sniffing is analyzing and processing that information consciously
• implications of this explain why olfaction is unique in sense that sometimes after processing odour you will
have an emotion before getting cognition of it, in that case it bypasses the thalamus
• ex. Smell a perfume or cologne and get an emotion, after the emotion comes you remember it was the smell
of an ex boyfriend/girlfriend, the cortex has not been involved yet
• The thalamus seems to be involved in the sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythms).
• It has four sensory/somatosensory pairs of nuclei and one non-sensory pair of nuclei
The Thalamic Nuclei... See table in slide 39
Lateral geniculate nucleus: receives info from visual receptors (eyes), transmits info to visual cortex
medical geniculate nucleus
ventroposterior nucleus: somatic NS, touch, smell
ventrolateral nucleus: receives info from cerebellum, transmits to primary somatosensory cortex
anterior nuclei: involved in emotions and memory
Hypothalamus: regulation of the internal environment, in a way hypothalamus and thalamus are not connected
• Size of a peanut, but has huge function in brain
• hypo means under, it is under the thalamus
• Influences the activity of the autonomic nervous system and endocrine system (in fact, it is the neural
interface of the endocrine system).
• has a metabolic function, attached to motivations, thirst, hunger, temperature
• humans are warm blooded, hypothalamus regulates temperature for us, cold blooded mammals have to
regulate the temperature themselves
• In close interaction with the “limbic system” (see next slide).
• Important for sleep
• may be very central for many anxiety disorders
• part of brain that tells rest of body what to do when sensing a strong emotion
• Regulated the four F's of behaviour (ﬁghting, ﬂeeing, feeding, and fornicating), i.e.,
– Important in regulating motivations (drives) such as hunger, thirst and sex.
– Important in regulating emotions such as the stress response, fear and aggression.
– Cravings Limbic system 1
• Regulates motivations and emotions (amygdala, cingulate gyrus, septum); memory (hippocampus, fornix,
mammillary body); smell.
1. Olfactory bulb: crucial in the processing of olfactory information: smelling (unconscious) & sniffing
(conscious), pheromones (important in sexual, maternal and social behaviours). Tells you that odors and
emotions are very connected, even structurally
- smelling body odors in an experimental group and a control group then complete questionnaires showed
completely different results for the control and experimental group on how they felt
2. Amygdala ("almond"): evaluation and generation of emotions. Fear, anger, aggression (mostly negative
emotions). When activated usually not for good reason
3. Hippocampus ("seahorse"): learning & memory (declarative & spatial & olfactory); consolidation of
memory via LTP or long term potentiation, extremely sensitive to stress. Inhibits its ability to consolidate those
memories. Deﬁcit: anterograde (distant past) & retrograde (recent past) amnesia.
- chronic stress, PTSD, depression can shrink hippocampus
- induces apoptosis, cell death, in hippocampus
4. Cingulate gyrus/cortex: involved in processing positive and negative emotions, role in attention,
receives input from the cortex, movement systems, and limbic structures involved in emotions. Damage to this
structure: walking and talking become impossible.
5. Septum / septal complex: output to the hippocampus (regulating location in space). Involved in anger,
fear and maternal behaviour. Could be also here that septum has connection between emotions and memories,
part of limbic system that could be the link
6. Fornix: info in hippocampus feeds into hypothalamus/mammillary body; involved in (mostly spatial)
7. Mammillary bodies: involved in memory; damaged in Korsakoff syndrome (chronic alcohol
consumption) links to anterograde amnesia. Mentioned minimally in neuroscience. Involved in ability to form
Corpus collosum: most important bridge between two hemispheres, woman's is larger due to more
communication between left and right hemisphere
odour --> olfactory epithelium --> olfactory bulb --> various parts of limbic system and or cortex
– in many diseases, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, olfaction is the first thing to go
– when you process odours, there's one neuron that connects your brain and exterior world, most closely
Lecture 4: Jan 21
Corpus callosum: bridge between 2 hemispheres
LEFT: processes time (temporal), tends to interpret what right hemisphere is processing (less likely to pay
attention to limbic system – emotions), bicameral (2 chambers) theory (jaynes): in terms of evolution, left/right
dichotomy may be relatively recent because connection between hemisphere has recently become
strengthened (in ancient scriptures, people are always hearing voices has been interpreted has right and left
-temporal = cerebellum
-sequential = basal ganglia
Left hemisphere will be most likely to take over these functions RIGHT: more into synthesis than analysis, more into emotions than rationality, may be more active in the dream
state, implicit processing of information
Most left/right handed people follow dichotomy but for a small proportion of left handed people the idea is
Most people are more ambidextrous than they think
Have a dominant eye and leg (most times if you’re right handed your right eye/leg will be dominant as
-stereotypes: non scientific
There are differences in the male female brain due to hormones present soon after conception (corpus
callosum – more communication between both hemispheres in women)
One is slightly more biased toward certain processes (visual) than the other. But both hemispheres have
occipital lobe. If you have damage on right/left side certain processes may be more impaired.
Rhythm: left hemisphere
Melody, harmony, all other things to do with music: right hemisphere
Right: phonology, prosody (tone of voice , detect sarcasm – almost all on right side, very important in Asian
Left: verbal memory: Wernicke’s
Edinburgh (handedness test)
Frontal: executive, makes decisions, slightly stronger bias on left maybe, planning (inlc. of movements), Brocas
area: produces speech, ADHD = typical executive function disorder (blood flow is diminished to frontal lobe,
Ritalin (an amphetamine stimulant) increases blood flow to frontal lobe)
ADHD: kids tend to become delinquent because of dopamine involvement (dopamine = sensation
seeking) and they just need their brain to be stimulated
Prefrontal cortex: gives us intelligence, but gives us ability to worry/think about future
Parietal: sensory integration, picks up info from other sensory modalities and integrates it and sends it to
frontal lobe for it to decide what to do
Occipital: visual processing
Temporal: auditory processing, Wernicke’s, processes emotion (has connection with limbic system)
Longitudinal fissure: separates left/right hemisphere
Central fissure: separates parietal and frontal
Convolutions: gyrus = mountains, fissures = valleys
Gyrencephalic = lots of convolutions
Lissencephalic = no convolutions
Neuroplasticity: other parts of the brain can step in and take over other roles when there is brain damage
Hippocampus = episodic memory (memories that happened in a specific time/place) Somatosensory area: anything to do with body; where it is, what is it doing
Soma = body
Almost every sensory modality has a what (what is this sound), where (where is this sound coming from)
ORGANIZATION OF NS:
Telencephalon**: cortex, basal ganglia, limbic system
Diencephalon: thalamus, hypothalamus (temperature regulation)
Metencephalon: cerebellum, pons
January 24 Lecture
- all connected by spinal cord but not exclusively especially on parasympathetic side
- if you have spinal cord damage on sympathetic side, autonomic nervous system functions are directly
affected as well
- higher the damage on spinal cord, the more significant the damage will be
- lower damage will affect less of motor system
- sympathetic system activated quickly in state of emergency, connected with endocrine system
- parasympathetic shut down in milliseconds when presented with a threatening situation and switches
to sympathetic system
- hypothalamus controls both systems, triggers also endocrine system
- adrenaline tends to be produced when there is uncontrollable fear
- adrenaline and epinephrine are synonyms
- noradrenaline and norepinephrine are synonyms
- adrenaline and noradrenaline are usually used when referencing hormones
- when talking about the NT, they are more likely to use norepinephrine (NE for short) and sometimes
- all of these are in a class of neurotransmitters that will be seen referenced as Catecholamines, they are
all the type to increase arousal and excite
- dopamine is strongly connected to sex
- if body does not produce enough of these NT, body will have issues, especially depression
- people with depression have low motor motivation, caused by low dopamine, prevents them from
reacting to things that normal people would be aroused by (both pos and neg things)
anhedonia: absence of pleasure, from largely norepinephrine and dopamine
dopaminergic: reference to all systems in the brain using or producing dopamine
noradrenergic: reference to all systems in brain using or producing noradrenaline
acetycholine: NT in brain, important in motor function
extremely important in sensory perception
intake of information from environment
disorders affecting this have a huge effect on your communication with the world Overall idea: parasympathetic and sympathetic control things in different, often opposite, ways. One activates,
other doesn’t. sympathetic activates when something is happening, parasymp activates when you are at rest
Brain in More Detail.. Bold is what he wants us to focus most on
- cerebrum (cerebral cortex)
- limbic system
- basal ganglia
- corpus collosum
- Others: optic chiasm, pituitary (the mother gland of endocrine system, in intimate connection with
- Superior culliculi: vision
- Inferior culliculi: auditory processing
- Substantia nigra: big part in producing dopamine
- Reticular formation: reticular activating system, is about basic arousal
- Red nucleus
- Others: periaqueductal grey
- Medulla oblongata; Also: reticular formation
- Pons: cerebellum to rest of brain
- Raphe nuclei or system: nuclei that produce serotonin
The Cerebral Hemisphere
- Table on slide 62
- Fornix: connected to hippocampus and amygdala
- Cingulate gyrus: issues with this lead to psychopathic tendencies
- Amygdala: emotion, fear
- Corpus collosum: connects hemispheres, it is absent in some mammals
- Frontal lobe: executive functions, planning, self-control, inhibition, censorship, broccas area (language