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The Brain and Behaviour

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PSYC 2510
Agnieszka Kopinska

THE BIOLOGY OF BEHAVIOUR: THE BRAIN AND OUR GENES  Perception is a function of our brain and nervous system  Constant exchange of information from our environment to our brain, our brain to our body, and back to the brain THE NERVOUS SYSTEM  Get sensory info from our environment  Regulates internal, unconscious processes  Reflexes, digestion, etc.  Central nervous system – the brain, the spinal chord  Meninges protect the CNS  Cerebrospinal fluid – protects CNS from injury and nourishes the brain, the brain floats in it  Buoyancy and circulation  Chemical stability – rinses metabolic waste from CNS to maintain pH levels  Reduced intracranial pressure  Spinal chord – bundles of axons transmit neural impulses from brain to peripheral nerves and vise-versa  The brain – the information processing center  Neurons – cells of the nervous system that receive and relay information throughout the body  Dendrites – pick up signals from other neurons  Axon (not all neurons have it) – messages passed along it to other neurons  Myelin sheath – makes brain tissue appear white, insulates the axon, makes electrical impulses move faster  Schwann’s cells – produce the myelin  Glial cells – provide structural support for neurons  Account for 50% of brain’s volume  Nourish neurons, help remove waste in neurons, contribute to myelin formation  New research suggests that they might send and receive messages  Neural impulses – the electrochemical messages relayed from one neuron to another  Involve the concentration of positively Na and K and negatively + (Cl )charged ions on either side of the cell membrane  Resting potential – when the neuron is inactive, negatively charged, not firing or receiving impulses  Action potential – neuron briefly shifts to a less negative or even positive charge  Like being pregnant - all or none law  The refractory period follows an action potential – neuron can’t receive or produce neural impulses  Synapse – junction where information is passed between neurons  Neurotransmitters – stored in the terminal button, often released by an action potential, chemical transmitters  Blinds to specific receptions on postsynaptic neuron membrane  Play important role in physiological and psychological functioning  Lock and key system with receptors  Postsynaptic potential (PSP) – the voltage change at the receptor site of a postsynaptic neuron upon receiving a neural impulse  Does not follow the all-or-none law  Excitatory PSP increases likelihood that the neuron will fire  Inhibitory PSP decreases likelihood that the neuron will fire  Neurotransmitters’ fate: diffusion, enzyme deactivation, glial cells, reuptake into the presynaptic neuron  Agonist – chemical that mimics a neurotransmitter and binds to its receptors  Antagonist – chemical that counteract the effect of a neurotransmitter by blocking its access to a receptor  Acetylcholine – acts between motor neurons and voluntary muscles to allow movement (e.g. walking) contributes to attention, alertness, memory and REM sleep  Monoamines – regulate many aspects of daily life, linked to many psychological disorders. E.g. dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.  Dopamine – regulates voluntary movements  Involved in learning, attention, emotion and thought  Too much: links to schizophrenia  Too little: Parkinson’s disease, depression  Serotonin – involved in regulation of mood, sleep, impulsivity, aggression, and appetite  Deficits may result in suicide and increased aggressive behavior  Norepinephrine – involved with sleeping, eating and mood  Too little = linked to depression  GABA – produces inhibitory postsynaptic potentials, linked to regulation of anxiety  Glutamate – produces excitatory postsynaptic potential like learning and memory  Endorphins – natural pain killers, similar to opiates (e.g. opium, morphine, heroin)  Opiates act as agonists for endorphins  Contribute to response to stress  Provide relief from pain  Produce feelings of pleasure  Neural networks – the millions of neurons that work together to effect actions  Across development, neural networks get organized and more refined  Pruning – “use it or lose it”  The less you use a certain neural pathway, it’ll be weaker  Peripheral nervous system – the nerves other than those gound in the central nervous system  Nerves – bundles of axons that run through the body  Subdivided into the somatic and autonomic nervous systems  Somatic nervous system – carried sensory and motor information from and to the CNS  Allows for voluntary movements  Afferent nerves – carry information to the CNS  Efferent nerves – carry info from the CNS  Autonomic nervous system – regulates involuntary bodily processes (e.g. breathing, digestion, heart rate)  Sympathetic system – regulates fight-or-flight response  Parasympathetic system – conserves physical resources, maintenance BRAIN RESEARCH APPROACHES  Historically, the brain could only be examined through autopsies  Technological advances allowed for the study of the live brain  Mapping of the brain function  Electrical recording – putting electrodes on the head that measures electrical impulses between neurons in the brain  Non-invasive  Ideal for use with children  Hood measure of brain-behavior relationships  Helpful to measure changes in patterns of activity across development  Lesioning – the controlled, intentional destruction of a part of the brain  Done with animals in humane conditions  Purpose is to study the relationship between brain and behavior more directly  Electrical stimulation of the brain (ESB) – stimulating a part of the brain using a weak electrical signal  Used mainly with animals  Can be used with humans in the context of brain surgery  Has been used in research on learning, seizures, and pain reduction, etc.  Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) – temporarily alters brain activity in a specific brain area  Creates virtual lesions in small, specific surface areas of the brain  Used to evaluate damage from strokes, MS, and spinal chord injuries  Non-invasive
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