PSYB30H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Electrodermal Activity, Heritability, Grey Matter

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25 Mar 2013
PSYB30 Lecture 7 Purple Text Prof’s Speech
Neuroscience and Personality
[other biological theories]
Relationship of personality and changes in:
bodily responses
brain structures – areas of the brain; relative size of parts of brain to each other
brain activitytransmission of signals throughout the brain
biochemical activity
Division of the nervous system
- central nervous system
o brain
o spinal cord
- peripheral nervous system
o everything else
o divided into:
somatic nervous system (sending and receiving signals from the body to
the brain)
autonomic nervous system (without conscious thought; automatic)
sympathetic and parasympathetic division
Sympathetic nervous system
“fight-or-flight” system
System of nerves that are called into play when you feel threatened (physical or
Non-essential activities are dampened (GI/urinary)
Dampens non-essential functions – anything that your body doesn‟t need to spend
energy on at that time
Increases activity in area that will be needed if you will have to fight or flee
Example: heart rate increases (supplying muscles with more oxygen)
breathing becomes more rapid and deeper (to make sure the blood
contains enough oxygen which can be provided to the muscles)
skin is cold and sweaty
pupils dilate (enabling you take to take in more light; see better)
blood is diverted to sketetal muscles (for more efficient movement)
live releases more glucose into the blood (supplying the muscles with
more energy)
“sympathetic system has sympathy for you, it is trying to help you”
Parasympathetic is opposite – has opposite effects; calms things down
Sometimes feel like vomiting because your body doesn‟t want to be digesting
food when the energy is needed to do other functions
Bodily Responses: Measuring ANS activity
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Heart rate – attach a heart monitor
Body temp and blood flow – see where the blood is being directed
Skin conductance (GSR) – galvanic skin response that measures moisture on skin
Electromyography (EMG) – measures nonvisible muscle movement
Brain Structure
Static differences (not looking at brain activity; taking a snapshot) in relative size and
weight and cell numbers of brain parts
Main ways of looking at brain structures
Computerized tomography (CT) scan
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Measures for Brain Structure during Stimulation
- Cortical stimulation attaching electrodes or implants to different areas of the brain
o Normally done with animals
o Electrodes show what happens in brain when stimulated
- EEG caps with electrodes that fastens to person‟s head
o Looking at electrical activity in different parts of the brain
- PET give person a solution with low level of radioactivity with glucose, scan brain to
see where the glucose is being used, areas of the brain that are most active at that time
will use the most glucose
- fMRI same as MRI (3D image) but fMRI shows activity; which parts of the brain are
more active and are doing different things
o good standard for brain imaging research at this time
o but every expensive
- TMS newest type of technology, transcranial magnetic stimulation, similar to cortical
stimulation but don‟t have to open skull
o Electrode can be placed anywhere on skull and stimulated to provide electrical
stimulation to that part of the brain disrupting activity
o Can be used for research
Biochemical Activity – primarily relates to neurotransmitters
Neurotransmitters: chemicals released by neurons to excite next neuron into action, or inhibit
it; move from one neuron to another so that a neuron can either fire or fail to fire
- Basically responsible for making sure the message is passed along
- 4 main neurotransmitters
Generally, related to energy, to feelings of pleasure, learning, movement,
sensitivity to rewards
Has to do with mood regulation and arousal, control of sleeping and eating
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Too little serotonin often linked to depression
norepinephrine and epinephrine
Norepinephrine and epinephrine are also considered stress hormones
increase blood flow to muscles by increasing heart rate and blood pressure
Research example
- Video: Helen Fisher
o Came up for four personality styles via questionnaire to see why people fall in
love with particular people
o Romantic love is a powerful brain structure, basic drive
o Why do you fall in love with one person rather than another
o Estimate: 40-60% of who you are comes from genetics
o Personality: nurture (childhood, experiences, environment) and nature
(temperament, biology, predisposiitons)
o How does your basic body chemistry drive you to some people rather than others?
o There are a lot of chemicals in the brain, the following four brain systems are
linked to personality; each one is linked to a constellation of personality traits
Dopamine (da) and norepinephrine (ne) explorer
Traits linked to those high in dopamine system: Novelty-seeking,
risk-taking, curious, make more money and also lose more money
than others, energetic, enthusiasm, impulsivity, idea generation,
creativity, susceptible to boredom, reckless, manic, insecure,
Serotonin (5-ht) builder
High in serotonin system: Observe social norms, cautious, calm,
structured, fact-oriented, orderly, literal, good with numbers,
religiosity, must have loyal friends, close-minded, rigid, stubborn
Testosterone (t) director
Analytical, good at music, structural, experimental, rank-oriented,
emotionally-contained, decisive, direct, uncompromising, mind-
blindness, demanding
Estrogen (e) and oxytocin (ot) negotiator
Tied to web thinking, imaginative, good people skills,
understanding, trusting, introspective, intuitive, scattered, decisive,
placating, gullible, hypersensitive, unforgiving
o We all respond to all brain systems
o No 2 people took 56 question questionnaire in the same way
o Dopamine: Explorers want somebody like themselves
o Serotonin: Traditional wants traditional
o Testosterone: opposites attract
o Beginning to map brain circuitry of personality
Important Biological Theories of Personality
Eysenck‟s PEN model
Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (RST)
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