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PSYC1000 - Module 06

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University of Guelph
PSYC 1000
Harvey Marmurek

Course: PSYC*1000 (DE) Professor: Harvey Marmurek Schedule: Summer, 2012 Textbook: Psychology – Tenth Edition in Modules authored by David G. Myers Textbook ISBN: 9781464102615 Module 06: The Cerebral Cortex and Our Divided Brain What are the functions of the various cerebral cortex regions? • Older brain networks sustain basic life functions and enable memory, emotions, and basic drives. Newer neural networks within the cerebrum – the hemispheres that contribute 85% of the brain’s weight – form specialized work teams that enable our perceiving, thinking, and speaking. • Structure of the cortex o The cerebral cortex contains some 20-23 billion nerve cells and 300 trillion synaptic connections o Supporting these nerve cells are 9x as many spidery glial cells (glue cells) which are worker bees – providing nutrients and insulating myelin, guide neural connections and mop up ions and neurotransmitters o Four lobes, separated by prominent fissures or folds  Frontal lobes (behind your forehead)  Parietal lobes (at top and to the rear)  Occipital lobes (at back of your head)  Temporal lobes (just above your ears) • Functions of the Cortex o Motor Functions (Output – left hemisphere section controls the body’s right side)  1870 German physicians Gustav Fritsch and Eduard Hitzig – mild electrical stimulation to parts of an animal’s cortex made parts of its body move – opposite side of the body.  Mapping the Motor Cortex • Otfrid Foerster and Wilder Penfield map • Spanish neuroscientist Jose Delgado  Brain-Computer Interfaces • Richard Andersen speculated that researchers could implant electrodes in speech areas then ask a patient to think of different words and observe how the cells fire in different ways • Clinical trials cognitive neural prosthetics o Sensory Functions (Input – left hemisphere section receives input from the body’s right side)  Area at the front of the parietal lobes, parallel to and just behind the motor cortex  Stimulate a point on top of this band of tissue and a person may report being touched on the shoulder; stimulate some point on the side and the person may feel something on the face  From your occipital lobes, visual information goes to other areas that specialize in tasks such as identifying words, detecting emotions, and recognizing faces o Association Areas  Neurons are busy with higher mental functions – many of the tasks that make us human  Cannot be neatly mapped  Donald McBurney; claim we ordinarily use 10% of our brains  Found in all four lobes  Frontal lobe damage – may have intact memories, high scores on intelligence tests, and great cake-baking skills but not able to plan ahead for baking a cake; may alter personality and remove a person’s inhibitions  Phineas Gage 1848; shot through left cheek and out top of his skull; able to sit up and speak and returned to work, but now irritable, profane and dishonest To what extent can a damaged brain reorganize itself, and what is neurogenesis? • Brains are sculpted not only by our genes but also by our experiences • Brain plasticity – its ability to modify itself after damage  Severed neurons, unlike cut skin, usually do not regenerate  Some brain functions seem preassigned to specific areas o Blindness or deafness makes unused brain areas available for other uses o Similar reassignment may occur when disease or damage frees up other brain areas normally dedicated to specific functions o Although the brain often attempts self-repair by reorganizing tissue, it sometimes attempts to mend itself by producing new brain cells. These baby neurons originate deep in the brain and may then migrate elsewhere and form connections with neighbouring neurons. What do split brains reveal about the functions of our two brain hemispheres? • Lateralization is apparent after brain damage – left side seems to have more dramatic effects •
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