PSYC 2650 Chapter 2: Chapter 2

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16 Nov 2017
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Chapter 2: The Neural Basis for Cognition
Capgras syndrome can result from various injuries to the brain
Someone with this syndrome is fully able to recognize the people in her world
husband, friends, parents but is convinced that these people are not who they appear
to be the “real” brother, for example, has been kidnapped and being replaced by an
imposter
Facial recognition involves two separate systems in the brain, one of which leads to a
cognitive appraisal and emotional appraisal
o The concordance of these two appraisals leads to the certainty of recognition
o In Capgras syndrome, the emotional processing is disrupted, leading to an
intellectual identification without a familiarity response
Explaining Capgras Syndrome
One line of evidence comes from neuroimaging techniques ability to take high-
quality, three dimensional “pictures” of living brains without disturbing the brains’ owners
The Neural Basis for Capgras Syndrome
Scans used to provided physical makeup portraits of the brain (MRI, PET) suggest a link
between Capgras syndrome and abnormalities in several brain areas; concluding that
we will need to consider several elements
Damage in the temporal lobe
o The damage probably disrupts circuits involving the amygdala an almond
shaped structure that seems to serve as an “emotional evaluator”; and helping an
organism detect stimuli associated with threat/danger; as well as identifying
positive stimuli (rewards)
With damaged amygdalae, people with Capgras syndrome wont get the
warm sense (feeling good) when looking at a loved one’s face
Damage in the frontal lobe, especially in the right prefrontal cortex
o fMRI tracts activity levels in different areas of a living brain
o Prefrontal cortex is active when a person is engaged in tasks that require
planning or careful analysis and less active when someone is dreaming
The absence of careful analysis in dreaming is often why dreams are so
illogical/bizarre
Can also relate to the damage of prefrontal cortex in schizophrenic
patients explaining their illogical thinking/hallucinations
Relevance to Capgras syndrome? a patient may be less able to keep
track of what is real and what isn’t – therefore weird beliefs/delusions can
arise
What Do We Learn from Capgras Syndrome?
Perspectives from cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience can be illuminated
by the syndrome we can use the Capgras syndrome to illuminate broader issues about
the nature of the brain and of the mind
Helps to understand the processes that support ordinary remembering or decision
making
Capgras syndrome highlights the fact that many different parts of the brain are needed
for even the simplest achievement illustrating this crucial aspect of brain function
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The Study of the Brain
The human brain weights between 3 and 4 pounds (roughly the size of a small melon)
o Estimated to contain a trillion nerve cells, each connected to 10,000 others for
a total of 10 million billion connections
Brain contains a huge number of glial cells
Phineas Gage - suffered damage in the front most part of his brain leading to sever
personality and emotional problems
o Damage on the left side of his brain led to a disruption of language skills
Hindbrain, Midbrain, Forebrain
The Hindbrain
o Sits directly atop the spinal cord and includes structures crucial for controlling key
life functions
o Regulates the rhythm of heart beats and rhythm of breathing
o Maintains the body’s overall rone – maintaining the body’s posture and balance;
as well as controlling the brain’s level of alertness
o The Cerebellum the largest area of the hindbrain
Coordination of bodily movements and balance
Damage to this organ can cause problems in spatial reasoning, in
discriminating sounds, and integrating the input received from various
sensory systems
The Midbrain
o Coordinating your movements, including the skilled & precise movements of your
eyes
o Contains circuits that relay auditory information from the ears to areas in the
forebrain where this information is processed and interpreted
o Regulate the experience of pain
The Forebrain (largest region in humans most interesting)
o Structure surrounds the entire midbrain and most of the hindbrain
o The cortex the outer surface of the forebrain cerebral cortex
Mere 3mm thick with a great deal of cortical tissue
The cortex constitutes 80% of the human brain
Consists of a large sheet of tissue; if stretched our flat it would
cover more than two square feet however it is all crumpled up
and jammed into the skull
This makes the wrinkles, or convolutions that cover the brain’s
outer surface
Some of the valleys between the wrinkles are actually deep grooves that
divide the brain into different sections
The deepest groove is the longitudinal fissure running from
the front of the brain to the back separating the left cerebral
hemisphere from the right.
Other fissures divide the cortex in each hemisphere into four lobes
named after the bones that cover them
o The frontal lobes form the front of the brain
o The central fissure divides the frontal lobes on each
side of the brain from the parietal lobes the brain’s
topmost part
o The bottom edge of the frontal lobes lies the lateral
fissure and below it are the temporal lobes
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