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Psychology 3325 Lecture Notes - Cerebral Cortex, Sensory Cortex, Brainstem

Course Code
Psychology 3325
John Usher

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Brain Stem
Three structures: medulla, pons, and midbrain
contains neural circuits of neurons that control functions vital to survival of organism in
particular and species in general
medulla part of brain stem closest to spinal cord; controls vital functions such as heart rate,
rate of respiration, blood pressure, crawling or swimming motions
pons part of brain stem just anterior to medulla; involved in control of stages of sleep
midbrain part of brain stem just anterior to pons; involved in control of fighting and sexual
behaviour and in decreased sensitivity to pain during these behaviours
plays important role in control of movement
receives sensory information, especially about position of body parts
receives information from cortex of frontal lobes so it knows what movements frontal
lobes intend to accomplish
monitors information regarding posture and balance
produces eye movements that compensate for changes in position of head
exhibits plasticity in response to skilled motor movement
computer that compares location of body parts with intended movements and assists
frontal lobes inexecuting these movements
without it movements would be jerky, uncoordinated, and inaccurate
recently discovered that cerebellum may play important role in cognitive abilities
cerebellar damage can interfere with ability to speak but involves control of speech
PET scans of brain of people working on various cog tasks - discovered that parts of
cerebellum became active even when people not moving
Structures within Cerebral Hemispheres
The Thalamus:
thalamus region of brain near centre of cerebral hemispheres; all sensory information
except smell is sent to thalamus then relayed to cerebral cortex
divided into 2 parts one in each hemisphere
2 functions:
parts receives sensory information, parts integrate information and parts assist in control
of movement through their influence on neural circuits in brain stem
relay station for cortex:
as cerebral hemisphere evolved, cerebral cortex grew in size and its significance for
behavioural function increased
thalamus took on role of receiving sensory infromation from sensory organs,
performing simples analyses, and passing information n to priamry sensory cortex
(all sensory information besides olfactory, sent to thalamus before it reaches cerebral
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