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PSYCO 275 Ch 1 - 3 textbook and lecture notes

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University of Alberta
Deanna Singhal

CHAPTER 1: WHAT IS BIOPSYCHOLOGY? Biopsychology as a Neuroscience - Neuroscience: the scientific study of the nervous system - Comprises several related disciplines, one of them is biopsychology The Case of Jimmie G. - 49 year old patient who believed he was 19  frozen in time - Tested by Oliver Sacks o IQ tests and cognitive tests, he was fine so not dementia or other mental illness o sensory, motor and cognitive abilities were intact o Impairment was specific to memory, couldn’t recall new info since he was 19 o Forgot everything within a few seconds - Assessment? o Was suffering from amnesia: specifically anterograde amnesia o Couldn’t form new memories for the last 30 years  trouble converting short to long term memory o Etiology: the cause of the amnesia – he didn’t have any brain injuries o Prognosis: recovery, is he going to get better? Four Major Themes 1. Thinking creatively about biopsychology - So much biopsychology info fed to us: so we have lots of opinions and preconceptions - We definitely want to look at the evidence presented: like patient data, animal studies, etc. - But we want to build on these ideas, overcome restrictive effects of conventional thinking - Sometimes we also have to “think outside the box” - Thinking creatively: in a productive and unconventional way - Split brain patients o Sever epilepsy: corpus callosum severed o Unique opportunities for research 2. Clinical implications - Clinical: pertaining to illness or treatment - Two aspects: o Much of what biopsychologists learn about the functioning of the normal brain comes from studying diseased and damaged brains o Much of what biopsychologists discover has relevance for treatment of brain disorders - Heroin users, MPTB, Parkinson like symptoms 3. The evolutionary perspective - Def: the approach that focuses on the environmental pressures that likely led to the evolution of the characteristics (ex of brain and behaviour) of current species o Aka consideration of environmental pressures on human evolution - Use of comparative approach – studying biological phenomena by comparing them in different species o Looking at similar structures but in another species o Ex, brain stem system is present in lower type species  can break down structure and function into a simple form and then you can generalize it to humans 4. Neuroplasticity - Brain is plastic (changeable), not static  capable or reorganizing itself o Continuously grows and changes in response to individual’s genes and experiences o Ex: People who used to have vision then go blind – those cortical areas are now devoted to other areas become more sensitive to hearing, touch ,etc. o those systems have taken up neurons that used to be involved in vision - Use it or lose it principle: the more you engage various parts of the brain, the more you’ll foster solidification of pathways o Ex. piano: the more you practice, then you can play with less focus and attention o Doesn’t end with childhood, puberty  continues throughout whole life o Seniors: doing Sudoku, Tetris, etc = cognitive engagement can protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia What is Biopsychology? - “the scientific study of the biology of behaviour” – Pinel o Aka psychobiology, behavioural biology or behavioural neuroscience - Biological approach to the study of psychology (rather than psychological approach to study of biology) – so psychology dominates - Emerged as a discipline in the late 1940s - Key role in its emergence: Hebb’s “Organization of Behaviour”, 1949 o First theory of how complex psychological phenomena (like perceptions, emotions, thoughts, memories) are produced by brain activity - Hebb  Long term potentiation: neurons engage in structural changes that enhance efficiency – solidify pathway and maintain it for longer time Disciplines of Neuroscience - each studies different aspect of NS  contributes to understanding of what produces and controls behaviour 1. Biopsychology - Compared to other neurosciences, is more behaviour oriented (keeping in mind that the ultimate purpose of NS is to produce and control behaviour) - Integrative: uses knowledge and tools from other disciplines of neuroscience 2. Neuroanatomy: structures of the nervous system 3. Neurochemistry: chemical bases of neural activity 4. Neuroendocrinology: interactions between NS and endocrine system 5. Neuropathology: nervous stem disorders 6. Neuropharmacology: effects of drugs on neural activity 7. Neurophysiology: functions and activities of the nervous system Biopsychological Research 1. Human and nonhuman subjects - Advantages of using humans: o Can follow instructions, report subjective experiences, tell you what they’re feeling, o Mostly: cheaper  only highest standards of animal care are acceptable, so cost of maintaining an animal lab is super expensive o And of course, they have HUMAN brains, which is what we’re studying - Then why bother study nonhumans? Evolutionary continuity - Human brains are different from other mammal brains mainly because of size and extent of cortical development  more quantitative than qualitative differences - Many of the principles of human brain function can be clarified by nonhuman studies - Advantages of using non humans: o Brains and behaviour of nonhumans are simpler, so relationship between structure and function is also more simple, can reveal fundamental brain and behaviour interactions o Insights frequently arise from the comparative approach: studying biological processes by comparing different species comparing species that have and don’t have a cerebral cortex to find about cortical function o Less ethical restraints: for example, you can be more invasive in animals studies and use single cell recording, or creating lesions (damage to the brain) o Most common non-human: rats o Ex. studying hippocampus: completely remove it from a rat and study what happens 2. Experiments and non-experiments - Experiments: studies causation o Experimenter designs two or more conditions under which the subjects will be tested  Between subjects design: different group of subjects tested under each condition  Within subjects design: test same group of subjects under each condition o Confounded variable: other variables that aren’t being manipulate that might affect the dependent variable o Coolidge effect: a copulating male who becomes incapable of continuing to copulate with one sex partner can often recommence copulating with a new sex partner  Females? Males are sexually fatigued more readily, so trying to determine Coolidge effect in females is confounded by fatigue of males - Quasiexperimental Studies o Studies of subjects who have been exposed to conditions of interest in the real world o Sometimes, not ethical to actually assign subjects to particular conditions o Not true experiments because potential confounds are not controlled - Case Studies o Focus on a single case or subject – ex. Jimmie G o More in-depth than experiments/quasi-experiments, but have a problem with generalization o Humans differ from one another in brain function and behaviour, results can’t be applied to other cases 3. Pure and Applied Research (knowledge vs. application) - Pure: for the sake of knowledge, simply learning about something, curiosity - Applied: more about practical problem, trying to solve an issue, to benefit humankind Divisions of Biopsychology – extra notes - Comparative psych examples – hippocampus and spatial memory o Remove from rats, they can’t learn where food is in a maze o Birds that hide their seeds and have to find them later have larger hipocammpus - fMRI – functional: not just looking for structures but for functions  levels of activation, which regions of brain become active when doing this task? o Recording images of activity of uman brain while subject is engaged in a particular cognitive activity o Fusiform gyrus – lights up when seeing faces - EEG: electroencephalogram placing recording electrodes on the s scalp and picking up voltage changes o Schizophrenics have trouble making smooth pursuits with their eyes - Cognition: higher intellectual processes such as thought, memory, attention, complex perceptual processes - The Case of Mr. R o Left handed man, struck his head on dashboard in a car accident o Language functions were represented in right rather than in left hemisphere o right temporal lobe may have been slightly damaged in car accident, so had impaired language skills - The Case of HM o Fell off bike, had epilepsy  erratic electrical activity usually starting in a specific location then spreads through neural networks, in HM, they started in medial temporal regions o Surgery to remove these areas – and it worked o However, he awoke like Jimmie G – had anterograde amnesia and couldn’t form new memories Converging Operations: How Do Biopsychologists Work Together? - When it comes to solving a problem, it’s important to look at different areas of study - Def: the use of several research approaches to solve a single problem  strengths of one approach compensate for weaknesses of others - Back to Jimmie G: turns out that he had Korsakoff’s o Characterized by severe memory loss, commonly occurred in alcoholics o originally believed to be a direct consequence of toxic effects of alcohol to brain - Jimmie G. had been an alcoholic for a chronic period of time and had anterograde amnesia: couldn’t form new long term memories  short term memory, but couldn’t convert that into long term - However, it was also seen in malnourished people who had little or no alcohol intake o not just an alcohol dependent disease?! - Animal studies can be invasive – one guess was that it was a thiamine issue (B1 vitamin important for carbohydrate breakdown) o Thiamine deficient rats exhibit memory deficits o Alcohol accelerates development of brain damage in thiamine-deficient rats - Conclusions: Korsakoff’s is a result of thiamine aka vitamin B1 deficiency, but damage is accelerated by alcohol o Alcoholics get it because a lot of their calories are from alcohol = less vitamins ingested o Alcohol also interferes with thiamine metabolism - Treatment: patients will be told to stop drinking, or else condition will get worse over time  might see some retrograde amnesia, also fed a thiamine rich diet (rich in B1) - Recovery: o will not get better, inability to form new long term memory will remain o Might notice some improvement in general, memory might seem more clear, but can’t recover from damage already down - Want to detect it as soon as possible: stop the process, so it won’t continue as long as the person stops ingesting alcohol and begins a diet rich in thiamine Scientific Inference - A main goal of biopsych: characterize, through empirical methods, the unobservable processes by which the nervous system control behaviour - We can’t always to invasive research in humans, so can’t always observe what’s happening - Instead, we have to make inferences based on behavioural observations we can make - Scientific inference: empirical method that biopsychologists and other scientists use to study the unobservable Hammond, Merton, Sutton - Injected paralytic – movement inhibiting – substance into eye muscles of subject - When he tries to move his eyes, he saw the stationary world moving in the same directing as his attempted eye movements - Send signal to brain to move eyes to the right, the brain assumes the movement was carried out so perceives stationary objects as moving to the right Proof of an efferent copy: - Efferent usually refers to motor signals, afferent usually refers to signals coming in aka sensory o Afferent: sending signals in, so sensory signals o Efferent: motor signals, sending signals out for action - An efferent copy is not necessarily something you can observe - When brain chooses to make an action, it keeps a copy of what has just been sent out - The brain sees as movement the total movement of an object’s image on the retina minus that portion produced by active movement of the eyes  but it doesn’t subtract passive movement of the eye o For example, cerebellum needs copies - Vision: retina at back of eye, so light has to travel all the way through to back Situation 1: - Eye is stationary and object is stationary - Retinal image is stationary - No movement is seen  Perception: that the object is stationary Situation 2: - Eye actively rotates upward, object is stationary - Retinal image moves up, but brain knows that it sent out signal for eye to move o I created the shift so the image shows up where it should be appropriate to movement of the eye - No movement seen  Perception: object hasn’t moved but I moved my eye Situation 3: - Eye is stationary, object moves down - Retinal image moves up  image shifts because the object is actually moving - Brain knows it wasn’t moving to eye, there was no motor signal, so if the image on the retin is moving then the object must have been moving - Perception: object is seen to move down Situation 4: - Eye is passively rotate upward by finger, object is stationary - brain hasn’t told eye to move and hasn’t registered any motor signals, because you have created passive movement of eyeball of course we know this, but visual system doesn’t  it thinks eye is stationary when in fact it has been passively mooved - Retinal image moves up: if the eye is stationary and the image is moving across the retina, then that must mean the object is moving - Perception: object is seen to move down  you see things as moving when they are in fact stationary  Demonstrates existence of an efferent copy  can infer that it must exist for the brain to be able to make these comparisons since we need to be able to distinguish when eyes are moving, and when objects are moving Become a Critical Thinker - It’s ok to ask questions! Sometimes researchers make mistakes, haven’t thought about all possibilities - Need to ask questions: What are you asking me to believe? What’s the evidence? How do you know? Alternate explanations? What were your methods? How did you come to this conclusion? Does that fit with other knowledge? - Critical thinking: carefully assessing the strength of the evidence presented to support an idea - First step: spotting weakness of existing ideas and the evidence on which they are based French Paradox - Lots of research on red wine consumption and cardiovascular health - appeared to be a lower incidence of cardiac diseases in France, particular lower incidences of heart attacks - Lots of surveys, about alcohol consumptions, then looked at hospital data on deaths from heart attacks - Found that France had the lowest rate of death due to heart attack and the higher rates of red wine consumption  negative correlation so increasing red wine consumption decreased risk of heart attacks - Paper was published in peer reviewed journal - Question raised: the diet in France has a lot of fat, saturated fat in particular, and carbohydrates  did red wine counter the effects of that? - After further investigation, when it came to categorizing death, heart attacks were actually referred to as sudden death  no more correlation once that was factored in Case 1: Jose and the Bull - A new method for controlling aggression: went into a bull ring with red cape and small radio transmitter - Radio transmitter could activate battery powered stimulator mounted on horns of bull - Activate stimulator  weak electrical current through electrode implanted in caudate nucleus - “discovered” caudate taming centre, stimulating this would eliminate aggressive behaviour - Other explanations: maybe it just made the bull confused, dizzy, sleepy, blind, etc - Morgan’s Canon: the rule that the simplest possible interpretation for a behavioural observation should be given preference Case 2: Becky, Moniz, Prefrontal Lobotomy - Prefrontal lobotomy: surgical procedure in which the connections between the prefrontal lobes and the rest of the brain are cut as a treatment for mental illness - Dr. Moniz got Nobel Prize for it in 1949 - Prefrontal lobes: large areas, left and right, at the very front of the brain - Based on report of Becky, a chimp that got upset when making errors during performance of a food- reward task  after large bilateral lesion on prefrontal lobes, didn’t do so - Transorbital lobotomy: Walter Freeman, inserting ice pick like device under eyelid, through the orbit (eye socket) with a few tips of a mallet, pushing it into the frontal lobes, waved back and forth to sever connections between prefrontal lobes and rest of brain - Psychosurgery: any brain surgery, performed for treatment of a psychological problem - Analysis: entire thing was based on observation of a single chimp in a single situation - Lack of appreciation for diversity of brain and behaviour within and between species - Became clear that prefrontal lobotomies had little therapeutic benefit and had lots of undesirable side effects: amorality, lack of foresight, emotional unresponsiveness, epilepsy, urinary incontinence - 40 000 patients were lobotomized in the US CHAPTER 2: EVOLUTION, GENETICS, EXPERIENCE Thinking about the Biology of Behaviour - Zeitgeist: general intellectual climate of a culture - we tend to think about things in ways that have been ingrained in us by our Zeitgeist From Dichotomies to Interactions - we tend to think of things as simple, mutually exclusive dichotomies: right or wrong, good or bad, etc Physiological or Psychological? th - Long history: Western culture, prominence after Dark Ages in response to 17 century conflict between Roman Church and science o Truth = whatever was decreed to be true by the Church o Renaissance, 1400 – 1700: interest in observation = birth of modern science - Descartes’ Cartesian dualism: mind and body are completely separate - Physiological-or-psychological thinking: assumption that some aspects of human psychological functioning are so complex that they couldn’t possibly be the product of a physical brain - Evidence against this: o Even the most complex psychological changes like changes in self-awareness, memory, emotion, etc. can be produced by damage to or stimulation of parts of the brain o Some nonhuman species, like primate species, possess abilities that were once assumed to be purely psychological and thus purely human - Now understood that human behaviour has a physiological basis - Any psychological issue is related to underlying physiological function - Brain damage has an impact on psychological functioning Case 1: The Man who Fell Out of Bed - Oliver Sacks: wrote a book about stories about his patients and unique deficits - Individual suffered brain injury, looked down on bed, felt as if cadaver was laying on his bed - Very upset so he bushed the leg out of bed  nurses found him on the floor - Dr. sacks interviewed patient, patient thought his own leg was a cadaver leg - Patient refused to believe it was his leg  Dr. Sacks asks where his leg was, patient freaks out - Asomatognosia: lack of awareness of parts of one’s own body o Usually involves the left side of the body o Usually results from damage to right parietal lobe  posterior region associated with somatosensation - Leg was not damaged, problem is higher in the pathway - Psychological aspect: maybe you think something is wrong with his cognition, but what this condition demonstrates is that the issue has a physiological basis - Damage to a very particular region of his brain, and regions of the brain are involved in higher order processing like perception  particularly vision, somatosensation Case 2: Chimps and the Mirrors - G. G. Gallup’s research on self-awareness in chimpanzees - The point: even non humans, assumed to have no mind, are capable of considerable psychological complexity - Chimps exposed to mirrors: first responded as if they were seeing another chimpanzee – then later used it to groom, inspect own bodies, etc - Chimpanzees reacted to red odorless dye painted on its face = self-aware Nature or Nurture? Inherited or learned? - Generally accepted that it is nature AND nurture - Ethology: study of animal behaviour in the wild - Instinctive behaviour: occur in all like members of a species even with no opportunity for them to have been learned  emphasizes role of nature/inherited factors in behavioural development o Didn’t seem to be learned, so assumed they were entirely inherited o Ethology is all about biology, and the genes you inherit - Behaviourism: all behaviour are due to experiences in environment (Watson) o stimulus response relationship, not about how you think or emotion - Heritability estimates: try to investigate how much a of phenomenon due to genetics, or how much o 50% = 50% is due to genetics, other 50% is due to the environment o Heritability estimates are subject  no set equation to calculate it o Application: applies to groups, can’t be applied to a single individual - Factors other an genetics and learning were shown to influence behavioural development: like fetal environment, nutrition, stress, and sensory stimulation are also influential - Genetic expression can be modified through environmental interaction Three important points - Neurons become active long before they are fully developed o Not fully developed at birth, even at 24 months there is extensive proliferation o Proliferation: every neuron can create neurons that will route more terminal branches that can make more connections - Subsequence course of their development (whether or not they survive, number of connections they form) depends greatly on their activity, much of which is triggered by external experience o Experience can influence these changes: use it or lose it principle - Experience continuously modifies genetic expression o Genes can be influenced by neurotransmitter binding o NT release related to emotions: certain NT depending on type of receptor can signal later changes that can turn on or off genes The question should be: - how much of each? How much is genetic, and how much is experience? o HE: how much of a phenomenon is due to genes, or do to environment - Flaw: incorrect assumption that genetic factors and experimental factors combine in an additive fashion rather than the interaction of genes and experience Case 1: The Thinking Student Student read that intelligence was one third genetic, two thirds experience --- Comparison to music: how much from musician, how much from instrument? Any behavioural trait, including intelligence, is then product of the interaction of genes and experience Nonsensical to understand interactions between two factors by asking how much each factor contributes Model of the Biology of Behaviour All behaviour is the product of interaction among three factors 1. Organism’s genetic endowment, a product of its evolution 2. Its experience 3. Its perception of the current situation Human Evolution - Darwin: the origin of species, 1859 - Suggested that species evolve (gradual orderly change)  amassed evidence and suggested how it occurred - Three kinds of evidence: evolution of fossil records, striking structural similarities among living species, major changes brought about in domestic plants/animals by selective breeding - Natural selection: heritable traits associated with high rates of survival and reproduction are mostly likely to be passed on to future generations - Fitness: ability of an organism to survive and contribute its genes to the next generation - Scientific Theory: explanation that provides the best current account of some phenomenon based on the available evidence Evolution of the Human Brain - no relation between brain size and intelligence  brain size is usually correlated with body size o whales and elephants have bigger brains o Einstein and other intellectuals had average brains - Intellectual capacity: brain weigh expressed as a percentage of total body weight o Also flawed, because the shrew has the largest - A more reasonable approach: comparing evolution of different brain regions o Brain stem: reflex activates critical for survival: heart rate, respiration, blood glucose levels o Cerebrum: cerebral hemispheres, for complex adaptive processes like learning, perception, motivation - Evolution of the human brain o Has increased in size during evolution o Most of the increase in size occurred in cerebrum o Increase in the number of convolutions, greatly increased volume of the cerebral cortex: the outermost layer of the cerebral cortex  Convolution: folds on the cerebral surface - Why are humans special then? o Fundamental similarity between species: same structures connected in the same ways, and similar structures from similar functions o Human abilities result from modifications of abilities found in our closest evolutionary relatives o more extensive convolutions, ridges of cortex, deeper  can extend cortex even more o Packing cortical material into that area – the greatest difference between species - Also: the frontal cortex o Frontal lobe is like CEO of brain, most higher order processing has to route through it o Looking at size of different brain regions: frontal lobe dominant in humans o Gives us so much of our great ability in terms of our consciousness Fundamental Genetics - Genes: inherited factor on chromosomes o 23 pairs of chromosomes: 22 autosomes and two sex chromosomes o some genes are dominant, which is expressed and masks recessive genes - Genotype = genetic code Phenotype = physical expression o ex brown eyes dominant over blue eyes - Sex linked traits: most are controlled by genes on the X chromosome: Y chromosome is small and carries few genes, and doesn’t have anything that can dominate X genes o Dominant: more frequent in females o Recessive: more common in males  ex. color blindness, especially red-green distinction Genetic Code and Gene Expression - Human genome project: thought we were going to find that humans are really different o Mice have same amount ~3 billion bases, 20 000 genes, corn has more  not just about # of genes: - Epigenetics: Mechanisms that influence genetic expression without changing genes themselves o Ex: enhancers, transcription factors, microRNA, alternative splicing - There must be something different in humans related to genetic expression - Only 2% of human DNA is composed of genes aka protein-coding - What about the stretches of DNA that lack structural genes? o Not well understood, but we know that they include portions called enhancers/promoters - Enhancers: stretches of DNA that aren’t genes, function it is to determine whether particular structural genes initiate the synthesis of proteins and at what rate aka turn on or off genes o Control of gene expression: determines how a cell will develop, how it will function at maturity o Are like switches: can be turned on and off by things called transcription factors - Transcription factors: proteins that bind to DNA and influence the extent to which genes are expressed o Many are influenced by signals received by the cell from its environment o So experience can interact with genes to influence development - MicroRNAs: short single strands of RNA o Also have major effects of gene expression through actions on enhancers and mRNA o Influence brain development and synapse function o Disruption is associated with neurodegenerative disorders - Alternative Splicing: o Once thought that every gene codes for a specific protein o But AS occurs when after genes produce mRNA, mRNA gets cut and reassembled with other sections of mRNA  means that a single gene can encode more than one protein o Particularly prevalent in neural tissue - Monoallelic Expression o A mechanism of gene expression that inactivates one gene of a pair of alleles and allows the other gene of the pair to be expressed Interactions of Genes and Experience - Ontogeny: development of individuals over their life span - Phylogeny: evolutionary development of species through the ages Selective Breeding of Maze Bright/Dull Rats - Tryon worked with rats – taught them how to go through a maze by shaping, reinforcing individual steps - Some rats were better than others – maze bright vs. maze dull rats - Wanted to see if he could breed for maze brightness and maze dullness - By the fourth generation, there started to be a segregation of the population – started to become bimodal - By eight, almost had two distinct populations - Ideas was that he selectively bred for maze learning - Questions raised – was this about learning or intelligence? o Not a singular gene, a lot of things can influence it o Selective breeding based on one behavioural trait usually brings other behavioural traits along with it o Maze brightness wasn’t the only bavhoirual trait influenced by the genes segregated by the breeding - More likely that what he actually produced were rats that were less fearful - Rats weren’t smarter, but in terms of their personality they didn’t exhibit a lot of fear in other tests - Additional research wanted to research if this was all genetic, or if it could be affected by experience - Maze bright pups raised by maze dull parents and vice versa – maybe fostering influenced behaviour? o Cross fostering control procedure o Didn’t make a lot of difference, maze bright still did significantly better - Another researcher: what did make a difference was the environment o Took rats and put them in different environments: enriched and impoverished  Enriched: lots of running wheels, tunnels, etc  Impoverished: basic cage with just food and water - Found that in an impoverished environment, - In an enriched environment, not as significant of a difference  Appears that any measurable behavioural trait that varies among members of a specie
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