Psych 2H03: Human Learning and Cognition
Chapter 2: The Brain and Cognition
Trepanning: a surgical process practiced since ancient times in which a hole is
made in the skull.
Neurons: specialized cells in the brain composed of three parts: (a) a cell body that
processes and transmits information; (b) fibres, called dendrites, that conduct input
to the cell body; and (c) an axon that conducts electrical activity from the cell body
to a junction with other cells, called a synapse.
Cortex: the outer surface of the brain, composed of cell bodies and their axons.
Synapse: a junction that allows neurons to communicate.
Neurotransmitters: packets of chemicals that fill the gaps (synapses) between
neurons when an electrical signal is transmitted via the axon.
Hindbrain: the bottom (or ventral) portion of the brain, which controls automatic
processes that regulate life-support functions, such as breathing, heart rate,
swallowing, and sleep cycles.
Midbrain: forebrain: the middle portion of the brain, which serves as a relay center
for sensory information entering the brain, such as hearing and vision; a bundle of
fibres associated with voluntary movement also passes through the midbrain.
Hemisphere: split down the middle, from front to back, the brain contains two
hemispheres, each serving different cognitive functions.
Corpus callosum: the largest of a collection of fibres (commissures) that connects
the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
Split brain: a condition that results when one hemisphere of the brain has little
knowledge of the signals of the other hemisphere; this occurs when the corpus
callosum is not fully developed or has been surgically severed.
Localization of function: a hypothesis that different functions of thought were
performed in different areas in the brain.
Occipital lobe: the area of the cortex that does the complex job of processing
signals from the eyes.
Parietal lobe: each hemisphere contains one (located above the occipital lobe) that
registers sensory experiences such as touch, taste, and sight. Temporal lobes: each hemisphere contains one that processes sound, language,
and long-term memory; damage to one does not necessarily produce complete loss
of cognitive functioning.
Frontal lobes: lobe of the brain that performs many functions, especially those
related to memory, problem solving, and communication.
Neurogenesis: a process in which brain cells grow new connections, which occurs
before birth and throughout life.
Neuroimaging: methods that reveal the structure and functioning of the