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Chapter 1

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PSYC 271
Monica Valsangkar- Smyth

Brain and Behaviour Book Notes Chapter 1- Biopsychology as a Neuroscience - Brain is an intricate network of neurons- cells that receive and transmit electrochemical signals - Neuroscience- the scientific study of the nervous system - Biopsychology- the scientific study of the biology of behaviour - Publication by D. O. Hebb played a key role in the emergence of biopsychology - Purpose of nervous system is to produce and control behaviour - The adult brain is not a static network of neurons, it is a plastic (changeable) organ that continuously grows and changes in response to the individuals genes and experiences - Biopsychologists are neuroscientists who bring to their research a knowledge of behaviour and of the methods of behavioural research - The difference between the human brain and the brain of related species are more qualitative than quantitative; many of the principles of human brain function can be clarified by the study of nonhumans - Nonhuman animals have three advantages over humans as subjects in biopsychological research: o Brains and behaviour of nonhuman subjects are simpler than those of human subjects o Insights frequently arise from the comparative approach0 the study of biological processes by comparing different species o It is possible to conduct research of lab animals that would not be ethical to perform on human subjects - The experiment is the method used by scientists to study causation—to find out what causes what - You can have within-subjects design where the same group is tested under each condition or between- subjects design in which a different group is tested under each condition - The difference between conditions is called the independent variable; the variable that is measured by the experimenter to assess the effect of the independent variable is the dependent variable - If there is a confounding variable (another variable other than the independent variable that has an effect) it could have an effect on the final result - Coolidge effect the fact that a copulating male who becomes incapable of continuing to copulate with one sex partner can often recommence copulating with a new sex partner - Quasiexperimental studies- studies of groups of subjects who have been exposed to the conditions of interest in the real world - Case studies- studies that focus on a single case or subject o Problem with cases studies is their generalizability- the degree to which their results can be applied to other cases - Pure research- research motivated primarily by the curiosity of the researcher- done solely for the purpose of acquiring knowledge - Applied research- research intended to bring about some direct benefit to human kind - Different branches of biopsychology: o Physiological psychology- studies the neural mechanisms of behaviour through the direct manipulation of the brain in controlled experiments o Psychopharmacology- focuses on the manipulation of neural activity and behaviour with drugs o Neuropsychology- the study of the psychological effects of brain damage in human patients o Psychophysiology- the study of the relation between physiological activity and psychological processes in human subjects o Cognitive neuroscience- the study of the neural bases of cognition, a term that generally refers to higher intellectual processes such as thought, memory, attention, and complex perceptual processes (functional brain imaging is the major method of cognitive neuroscience o Comparative psychology- deals generally with the biology of behaviour rather than specifically with the neural mechanisms of behaviour - Converging operations- the use of several research approaches to solve a single problem - Korsakoff’s Syndrome- largely caused by the brain damage associated with thiamine (vitamin B deficie1cy - Alcohol interferes with the metabolism of thiamine - Scientific inference- scientists carefully measure key events that they can observe and then use these measures as a basis for logically inferring the nature of events that they cannot observe - Morgan’s canon- when there are several possible interpretations for a behavioural observation, the rule is to give precedence to the simplest one - Prefrontal lobotomy- a surgical procedure in which the connections between the prefrontal lobes and the rest of the brain are cut as treatment for mental illness - Prefrontal lobes are the large areas, left and right, at the very front of the brain - Transorbital lobotomy- involved inserting an ice-pick-like device under the eyelid, driving it through the orbit (the eye socket) with a few taps of a mallet, and pushing it into the frontal lobes, where it was waved back and forth to sever the connections between the prefrontal lobes and the rest of the brain Chapter 2 Evolution, Genetics, and Experience- Thinking about the Biology of Behaviour - Zeitgeist- the general intellectual climate of our culture - Cartesian dualism- the philosophical position of Rene Descartes, who argued that the universe if composed of two elements: physical matter and the human mind o The idea that the human brain and the mind are separate entities became even more widely accepted - Nature-nurture issue is a very dichotomic way of thinking - John B. Watson believed that nurture made had the biggest effect- father of behaviourism - Zeitgeist- general intellectual climate of our culture - Ethology- the study of animal behaviour in the wild - Instinctive behaviours- Behaviours that occur in all like members of a species even when there seems to have been no opportunity for them to have been learned - Two lines of evidence against physiological-or-psychological thinking: o First line is composed of the many demonstrations that even the most complex psychological changes (e.g changes in self-awareness, memory or emotion) can be produced by damage to or stimulation of parts of the brain o Second line of evidence is composed of demonstrations that some nonhuman species, particularly primate species, posses abilities that were once assumed to be purely psychological and thus purely human - Self-awareness is widely regarded as one of the hallmarks of the human mind - Asomatognosia- a deficiency in the awareness of parts of one’s own body o Usually results from damage to the right parietal lobe; involves the left side of the body - Neurons become active long before they are fully developed, (2) the subsequent course of their development (e.g. the number of connections they form or whether or not they survive) depends greatly on their activity, much of which is triggered by external experience, (3) experience continuously modifies genetic expression - Model of biology of behaviour premise is that all behaviour is the product of interactions among three factors: o 1. The organisms genetic endowment, which is the product of its evolution o 2. Its experience o 3. Its perception of the current situation - Darwin and evolutions: evidence to support evolution o 1. Evolution of fossil records through progressively more recent geological layers o 2. Striking structural similarities among living species—suggested they evolved from common ancestors o 3. Major changes that had been brought about in domestic plans and animals by programs of selective breeding o 4. Observations of rapid evolution in progress - Darwin argued that evolution occurs through natural selection o Natural selection leads to evolution - Fitness is the ability to survive and contribute its genes to the next generation - Males of many species establish a stable hierarchy of social dominance through combative encounters with other males - Males lower in the hierarchy tend to fight less - Social dominance is an important way to pass genes on - High ranking females produce better offspring - Intricate series of courtship displays precedes copulation in many species - Copulation is unlikely to occur if one of the pair fails to react appropriately to the signals of the other - Species- a group of organisms that is reproductively isolated from other organisms - New species begins to branch off from an existing species when a barrier discourages breeding between a subpopulation of the existing species and the remaining species - Reproductive barrier may be geographic or behavioural (display a different kind of behaviour that separates them) - Conspecifics- members of the same species - Chordates- animals with dorsal nerve cords (large nerves that run along the center of the back or dorsum) - Vertebrates- Chordates that posses spinal bones called vertebrae - First vertebrates were primitive bony fish - Seven classes of vertebrates: three classes of fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals - The first amphibians evolved about 400 million years ago from bony fish - Only adult amphibians can survive on land - Reptiles were first vertebrates to lay shell-covered eggs and be covered by dry scales - Mammals are named after the mammary glands through which they feed their young - Mammals nurture their young in the watery environment of their bodies until they are ready to be born o Platypus is the only mammal that lays eggs - Most classification systems recognize about 20 different orders of mammals - Humans belong to the order primates; there are about a dozen primates - Apes are thought to have evolved from a line of old-world monkeys - Chimpanzees are the closest living relatives of humans; almost 99% of genes are identical in the two species - Hominins- primates of the family that include humans - Family is composed of two genera: Australopithecus and homo - Homo is thought to be composed of two species: Homo erectus (extinct) and Homo Sapiens (humans) - First homo species are thought to have evolved from one species of Australopithecus about 2 million years ago - Distinctive feature of the early homo species was the large size of their brain cavity; larger than that of Australopithecus but smaller than that of modern humans - Spandrels- the incidental non-adaptive evolutionary bi-products; ex. The belly button - Exaptations- evolved to perform one function and were later co-opted to perform another; ex. Wings - Homologous- structures that are similar because they have a common evolutionary origin - Analogous- structures that are similar but do not have a common evolutionary origin - Convergent evolution- the evolution in unrelated species of similar solutions to the same environmental demands - There is no clear relationship between brain size and intelligence o Whales and elephants have bigger brains than humans o Also acclaimed intellectuals have average sized brains - Larger bodies require more brain tissue to control and regulate them - More reasonable approach to the study of the brains evolution has been to compare the evolution of different brain regions - Brain stem evolution- regulates reflex activities that are critical for survival (heart rate, respiration, and blood glucose level) - Cerebrum (cerebral hemisphere) is involved in more complex adaptive processes such as learning, perception, and motivation - Three important points about the evolution of the human brain: o It has increased in size during evolution o Most of the increase in size has occurred in the cerebrum o An increase in the number of convolutions—folds on the cerebral surface- has greatly increased the volume of the cerebral cortex - All brains are constructed of neurons, and the neural structures in the brain of one species can usually be found in the brains of related species - Similar structures tend to perform similar functions - Human abilities appear to result from the modification of abilities found in our closest evolutionary relatives - In most species mating is promiscuous - Most mammals tend to form mating bonds o This may be due to the fact that mammals give birth to small numbers of offspring that need care and nurture. Adaptive for males to stay with the females (proposed by Trivers) - Pattern of mate bonding that is most prevalent in mammals is polygyny o One male, many females - This is prevalent because females make a greater contribution to the raising of the young - Polyandry- mating arrangement in which one female forms mating bonds with more than one male - Monogamy- mate bonding pattern in which enduring bonds are formed between one male and one female - Mendel studied inheritance in pea plants--. Studied dichotomous traits and began his experiments by crossing the offspring of true-breeding lines - Dichotomous traits are traits that occur in one form or the other, never in combination - True-breeding lines are breeding lines in which interbred members always produce offspring with the same trait generation after generation - Dominant versus recessive traits - Phenotype (organisms observable traits) - Genotype- traits that it can pass on to its offspring through its genetic material - Mendel devised a theory comprised of four ideas o Inheriting factors genes o Each organism possesses two genes for each dichotomous traits  Two genes that control the same trait are called alleles  Two identical genes homozygous  Two different genes heterozygous - One of the two kinds of genes dominates - For each dichotomous trait, each organism randomly inherits one gene from the father and one gene from the mother - Chromosomes- threadlike structures in the nucleus of each cell - Occur in matched pairs; humans have 23 - The two genes (alleles) that control each trait are situated at the same location; one on each chromosome of a particular pair - Meiosis produces gametes (egg cells and sperm cells) o Each gamete has only half the usual number of chromosomes - Zygote- fertilized egg cell with the full complement of chromosomes - Genetic recombination- the meiotic process by which pairs of chromosomes cross over one another at random points, break apart and exchange genes - All other cell division occurs through mitosis - Each strand of DNA is a sequence of nucleotide bases (adenine, thymine, guanine, cytosine) attached to a chain of phosphate and deoxyribose - The sequence of these bases on each chromosome constitutes the genetic code - The two strands that compose each chromosome are exact complements of each other - Replication of DNA molecule is important - Most commonly errors in duplication take the form of mutations (accidental alterations in individual genes) - Mutations decrease fitness and therefore die off - In unique cases the mutation may make individual more fit - Autosomal chromosomes- typical chromosomes with come in matched pairs - Sex chromosomes do not (they determine someone’s sex) o Two types: Y (male) and X; YX (male), XX (female) - Sex-linked traits- traits that are influenced by genes on the sex chromosomes - Virtually all sex-linked traits are controlled by genes on the X chromosome - If a trait is dominant it is more likely to occur in females; if a trait is recessive is occurs in males - Structural genes are genes that contain the information necessary for synthesis of proteins - Proteins are long chains of amino acids o Control the physiological activities of calls and are important components of cellular structure - Enhancers- stretches of DNA whose function is to determine whether particular structural genes initiate the synthesis of proteins and at what rate - Gene expression is controlled by enhancers o
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