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Organization of the Nervous System I.docx

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Bruce Mc Kay

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Organization of the Nervous System I/II 1/9/2013 12:35:00 PM Hierarchical organization of the human brain parallels the evolution of the brain:  Squids and octopi have incredible nervous systems  As you go to species that have slightly more sophisticated features, they have larger brains.  The size of the brain stem and cerebrum, expands as the sophistication of the organism increases Human Evolution  The earth is 4 ½ billion years old and life inhabited the earth within half a billion of earth creation  In terms of having 50.9% of present human characteristics, creatures occurred about 5 million years ago.  How old is the Earth in Kansas/most of the US? o 7000 years old Why is it important to discuss human (brain) evolution in a biopsychology class? Reason #1  Gene are very important because they are operated on by all of these processes  Genes determine brain organization which then determines specific behaviours that can lead to reproduction  genes  proteins  brains  behaviour  offspring (or not)  Genes contribute an enormous amount to which you exhibit behaviours How powerful is the gene-behaviour link? Is there a monogamy gene?  Prairie voles are monogamous o have an AVPR1a gene (arginine vasopressin receptor 1a)  Meadow voles are promiscuous o Does not have AVPR1a  “Knock-in” (add) the gene for AVPR1a to meadow voles and they become monogamous  Researcher have sequence AVPR1a in humans (2008) o A mutation exists (“Allele 334”) and you can have zero, one or two copies of this mutation  Males with 2 copies of mutation: 35% threatened with divorce in previous year  Males with 0 copies of mutation: 15% threatened with divorce in previous year  Males with 2 copies of mutation: 34% unmarried  Males with 0 copies of mutation: 17% unmarried Why is it important to discuss human (brain) evolution in a biopsychology class? Reason #2  Descent allows us to understand our brain from looking at the brains of other creatures that have similar physiology  A lot of what we do are involved using nonhuman subjects o While some questions about behaviour can only be addressed using human subjects, much can be learned from studying the brains of other species o Species differences are ,pre quantitative than qualitative o The bulk of what you’ll learn in this course is based on animal research, we use this research knowing that sometimes there are some differences o Most (all) of the medicines you will ever take, or a loved one will take, began with animal research o Significant shared properties between living organisms – therefore we can use animals as models of human biology and psychology  Human and nonhuman subjects: o Why we use nonhumans?  Simpler brains makes it more likely that brain-behaviour interactions will be revealed  Comparative approach – gain insight by making comparisons with other species  Fewer ethical restrictions than with humans  Animal rights vs. animal welfare  Animal rights activists are the individuals that exhibit violence, causing bombings, they are wanting animals to be treated as humans  Animal welfare means that they are advocates for treating animals as best as they can o Why we use humans?  They can follow instructions  They can report their introspections  They’re cheaper  Fewer ethical restrictions than with some animals Why are humans so smart?  Does (brain) size matter? OR is it the functionality of the organ that counts? o Probably not just brain mass that is important  Examples: The human brain has the same mass in grams as dolphins, yet they cannot do the same things as humans Behavioural changes in human evolution  Over the period of time in which we have become more human like than ape like  For millions of years we were very close to the ape like ancestor until in a very short period of time we became more human  All of the sudden our behaviours change to develop the desire to find shelter and to draw things, language then develops  Then all of the sudden we got the notation that there existed a higher group or individual deity, we developed religion which caused a massive change in behaviour Human Migrations  We all originated in the same location, Africa!  All brains across all races are fundamentally the same! Evolution of the Human Brain  Each individual has between 3 and 5% of Neanderthelis DNA  The Neanderthalis gene is being sequenced in order to rebuild the Ne
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