The Big Brain

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Psychology & Brain Sciences
David Gross

Corey Reed Psych 330 1/22/14 The Big Brain • An Overview of Brain Function and Structure  brain’s primary function is producing behavior or movement  organs of nervous system convert information from world into biological activity that produces perception (subjective experiences of reality)  brain takes movement of air molecules into ear and perceives ringing sound o Plastic Patterns of Neural Organization  brain is plastic: has the capacity to adapt to world by changing how its functions are organized  connections among neurons in a functional system constantly changing in response to experience  neuroplasticity: the nervous system’s potential for physical or chemical change that enhances its adaptability to environmental change and its ability to compensate for injury o Functional Organization of the Nervous System  central nervous system (CNS) = brain and spinal cord  peripheral nervous system (PNS) = nerve fibers radiating beyond the brain and spinal cord and neurons outside brain and spinal cord  nerves of PNS carry info to and from CNS  somatic division of PNS carry info from world to CNS and directions from CNS to muscles  autonomic division of PNS enables CNS to govern internal organs • parasympathetic nerves control “rest & digest” • sympathetic nerves control “fight or flee”  afferent (incoming) = sensory info coming into CNS  efferent (outgoing) = info leaving CNS o The Brain’s Surface Features  Meninges = tough, triple-layered, protective covering of the brain • outer layer is dura mater = tough double layer of fibrous tissue enclosing brain & spinal cord • middle layer is arachnoid layer = thin sheet of delicate connective tissue following brain’s contours • inner layer is pia mater = moderately tough membrane of connective tissue fibers clinging to brain’s surface  cerebrospinal fluid (CFS) = colorless solution of sodium chloride @ salts between arachnoid & pia mater • cushions brain so it can move or expand w/o pressing on skull  the cerebrum is the major structure of the forebrain and the most recently evolved structure of the CNS  gyri = bumps of the brain  sulci = cracks of the brain (deep sulci are fissures)  brainstem is responsible for most unconscious behavior  brain’s surface covered in blood vessels • cerebral arteries emerge from neck, wrap around brain before piercing surface to inner regions • 3 main arteries are anterior, middle & posterior cerebral arteries  when cerebral artery blocked stroke occurs: causes neurological symptoms as result of interruption of blood flow o The Brain’s Internal Features  gray matter = darker regions composed of cell bodies & capillary blood vessels • collect & modify info or support this activity  white matter = nerve fibers w/ fatty coverings that form connections btwn cells  ventricles = contain cerebrospinal fluid • cells lining ventricles make cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that fills them rd th • ventricles connected, 2 lateral ventricles flow to 3 & 4 ventricles into cerebral aqueduct running length of spinal cord • may play important role in maintaining brain metabolism  corpus callosum contains around 200 million nerve fibers & joins 2 hemispheres of brain, allowing communication  subcortical regions: forebrain structures related to cortical areas that process many different functions  brain shockingly symmetrical, except for pineal gland  brain has 2 main cell types: • neurons = carry out brain’s major functions • glial cells = aid & modulate neurons’activities  cerebral cortex forms layers of similar cells, subcortical regions composed of clusters (nuclei) of similar cells  neurons are connected by fibers called axons • axons that run along together form a nerve or a tract • tract refers to collections of nerve fibers within brain and spinal cord • The Somatic Nervous System: Transmitting Information  somatic nervous system (SNS) controlled by CNS, cranial nerves by brain, spinal nerves by spinal cord segments o The Cranial Nerves  control sensory inputs and motor control of facial muscles, tongue & eyes
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