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Psyc notes

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Memorial University
PSYC 1000

Older brain networks sustain basic life functions and enable memory emotions and basic drives Newer neural networks within the cerebrumthe two large hemispheres that contribute 85 percent of the brains weightform specialized work teams that enable our perceiving thinking and speaking Covering those hemispheres like bark on a tree is the cerebral cortex a thin surface layer of interconnected neural cells It is your brains thinking crown your bodys ultimate control and informationprocessing centerAs we move up the ladder of animal life the cerebral cortex expands tight genetic controls relax and the organisms adaptability increases Frogs and other amphibians with a small cortex operate extensively on preprogrammed genetic instructions The larger cortex of mammals offers increased capacities for learning and thinking enabling them to be more adaptable What makes us distinctively human mostly arises from the complex functions of our cerebral cortexThe people who first dissected and labeled the brain used the language of scholarsLatin and Greek Their words are actually attempts at graphic description For example cortex means bark cerebellum is little brain and thalamus is inner chamberIf you opened a human skull exposing the brain you would see a wrinkled organ shaped somewhat like the meat of an oversized walnut Without these wrinkles a flattened cerebral cortex would require triple the arearoughly that of a very large pizza The brains ballooning left and right hemispheres are filled mainly with axons connecting the cortex to the brains other regions The cerebral cortexthat thin surface layercontains some 20 to 23 billion nerve cells and 300 trillion synaptic connections de CourtenMyers 2005 Being human takes a lot of nerveGlial cells are worker bees They provide nutrients and insulating myelin guide neural connections and mop up ions and neurotransmitters Glia may also play a role in learning and thinking By chatting with neurons they may participate in information transmission and memory Miller 2005Stepping back to consider the whole cortex each hemisphere is divided into four lobes geographic subdivisions separated by prominent fissures or folds Figure 61 Starting at the front of your brain and moving over the top there are the frontal lobes behind your forehead the parietal lobes at the top and to the rear and the occipital lobes at the back of your head Reversing direction and moving forward just above your ears you find the temporal lobes Each of the four lobes carries out many functions and many functions require the interplay of several lobesfrontal lobesbehind your forehead portion of the cerebral cortex lying just behind the forehead involved in speaking and muscle movements and in making plans and judgments p 67parietalat the top and to the rear puhRYEuhtuhl lobes portion of the cerebral cortex lying at the top of the head and toward the rear receives sensory input for touch and body position p 67occipitalat the back of your head ahkSIPuhtuhl lobes portion of the cerebral cortex lying at the back of the head includes areas that receive information from the visual fields p 67temporal lobesabove your ears portion of the cerebral cortex lying roughly above the ears includes the auditory areas each receiving information primarily from the opposite ear p 67
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