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Chapter 5

Chapter 5 The Tools of Discovery.docx

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PSYC 1000
Benjamin Giguere

TOOLS OF DISCOVERY AND OLDER BRAIN STRUCTURES The Tools of Discovery: Having Our Head Examined  Scientists can selectively lesion (destroy) tiny clusters of brain cells, leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed  Today’s neuroscientists can also electrically, chemically, or magnetically stimulate various parts of the brain and note effect  Electrical activity is your brain’s billions of neurons sweeps in regular waves across its surface  an electroencephalogram (EEG) is an amplified readout of such waves  PET (positron emission tomography) scan depicts brain activity by showing each brain areas consumption of its chemical fuel, the sugar glucose active neurons are glucose hogs and after a person receives temporarily radioactive glucose, the PET scan can track the gamma rays released by this food for thought, as the person performs a given tasks. A PET scan shows which brain areas are most active as the person does mathematical calculations, looks at images, or daydreams (“hotspots”)  MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) brain scans, the persons head it put in a strong magnetic field which aligns the spinning atoms of brain molecules. Then a radio-wave pulse momentarily disorients the atoms. When the atoms return to their normal spin, they emit signals that provide a detailed picture of soft tissues, including the brain.  A special application of MRI- fMRI (functional MRI), can reveal the brains functioning as well as its structure. Where the brain is active, blood goes. Researchers can watch the brain light up (increased oxygen-laden blood flow) as a person performs different mental functions. reveal that brain areas are most active when people feel pain or rejection, listen to angry voices, think about scary things, feel happy, or are sexually excited Older Brain Structures TOOLS OF DISCOVERY AND OLDER BRAIN STRUCTURES The Brainstem  Brains oldest and innermost region is brainstem  Begins where the spinal cord swells slightly after entering the skull.  Slight swelling = medulla (the controls for heartbeat and breathing)  Above medulla is pons (coordinate movements)  The brainstem is a crossover point where most nerves to and from each side of the brain connect with the body’s opposite side. The thalamus  A pair of egg-shaped structures that act as the brain’s sensory switchboard  Receives information from all senses, but smell, and routes it to the higher brain regions that deal with seeing, hearing, tasting, and touching  Receives some of the higher brains replies, which it then directs to the medulla and to cerebellum The reticular formation  Inside brainstem between ears  A finger-shaped network of neurons that extends from the spinal cord right up through the thalamus  As the spinal cords sensory input flows up to the thalamus, some of it travels through the reticular fo
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