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PSYCH 211: Module 5.3 Notes

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University of Waterloo
Mathieu Le Corre

The Developing Nervous System Organization of the Mature Brain  Neuron – basic unit of the brain and the nervous system o Specializes in receiving and transmitting information  Neuron has several components: o Cell body – centre of neuron containing the basic biological machinery that keeps the neuron alive o Dendrites – receiving end of the neuron (looks like branches)  Allows neuron to receive input from thousands of other neurons o Axon – thin, long structure that sends information to other neurons o Myelin – fatty sheath that allows neuron to transmit information faster o Terminal buttons – small knobs at the end of the axon that release neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry information to nearby neurons by crossing synapses)  Terminal buttons of one axon don’t actually touch the dendrites of other neurons! o Synapse – the gap between one neuron and the next  Cerebral cortex – wrinkled surface of the brain o Made up of ~10 billion neurons o Regulates many of the functions that we think of as distinctly human o Consists of left and right hemispheres  Hemispheres are linked by millions of axons in a thick bundle called the corpus callosum  Your characteristics/personality are all controlled by different regions of the cortex o Frontal lobe – responsible for personality and ability to make and carry out plans The Developing Brain  At ~3 weeks after conception, a group of cells form a flat structure called the neural plate o 4 weeks – neural plate folds to form a tube that becomes the brain and spinal cord o 10 weeks – production of neurons begin o 28 weeks – brain has virtually all the neurons it will ever have o
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