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Chapter 2

Chapter 2. The Brain: Structure and Function

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Gabriela Ilie

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A full understanding of how cognitive operations arise from the activity of individual neurons, or of distributed brain systems, as
well as the functional interaction of various brain regions is the main goal in the growing field of cognitive neuroscience.
Three groups in the brain: hindbrain, midbrain, and forebrain.
Medullaoblongata: a structure in the hindbrain that transmits information from the spinal cord to the brain and
regulates life support functions such as respiration, blood pressure, coughing, sneezing, vomiting, and heart rate.
Involved in balance and in the processing of both visual and auditory information.
Pons: a structure in the hindbrain that acts as a neural relay center, facilitating the "crossover" of information
between left side of the body and the right side of the brain and vice versa.
One of the most primitive brain structures.
Contains neurons that coordinate muscular activity.
Brain lesions in the cerebellum cause irregular and jerky movements, tremors, and impairment of balance and
of gait.
Cerebellum: part of the brain that controls balance and muscular coordination.
Contains three major structures:
Hindbrain: the part of the brain, containing some of the most evolutionarily primitive structures, that is responsible for
transmitting information from the spinal cord to the brain, regulating life support functions, and helping to maintain balance.
Midbrain: the part of the brain containing structures that are involved in relaying information between other brain regions, or in
regulating levels of alertness (reticular formation).
Thalamus: a structure in the forebrain involved in relaying information, especially to the cerebral cortex.
Hypothalamus: a structure in the forebrain that controls the pituitary gland and so-called homeostatic behaviours, such as
eating, drinking, temperature control, sleeping, sexual behaviours, and emotional reactions.
Involved in the formation of long-term memories.
Hippocampus: a structure of the brain in the medial temporal lobe; damage or removal can result in amnesia.
Modulates the strength of emotional memories and emotional learning.
Located near the basal ganglia, which are involved in the production of motor behaviour.
Amygdala: an area of brain tissue with extensive connections to the olfactory system and hypothalamus, thought to be
involved in mood, feeling, instinct, and short-term memory.
Motorcortex: a structure in the frontal lobe that controls fine motor movement in the body.
Premotor cortexinvolved in the planning of motor events.
Executivefunctioning: cognitive processes including planning, making decisions, implementing
strategies, inhibiting inappropriate behaviours, and using working memory to process information.
Damage to the prefrontal cortex can result in marked changes in personality, mood, affect, and the
ability to control inappropriate behaviour.
Longest period of maturation; one of the last brain regions to mature.
Also the first one "to go" in aging effects seen toward the end of life.
Prefrontal cortex: a region in the frontal lobe that is involved with executive functioning.
Frontal: a division of the cerebral cortex located just beneath the forehead containing motor cortex, premotor
cortex, and the prefrontal cortex.
Organized such that each part of it receives information from a specific part of the body.
As with the motor cortex, the total amount of "brain real estate" devoted to a particular part of the
body is not proportional to the size of the body part (i.e. finger or lips have a correspondingly large
amount of cortex devoted to it).
Primary somatosensory cortex: a region in the parietal lobe involved in the processing of sensory information
from the body.
Parietal: a division of the cerebral cortex located at the top rear part of the head; contains the primary
somatosensory cortex (contained in the postcentral gyrus, behind central sulcus).
Occipital: a division of the cerebral cortex located at the back of the head that is involved in the processing of visual
Involved in the ability to recognize certain stimuli such as faces.
Damage to the temporal lobe may result in memory disruptions as well.
Temporal: a division of the cerebral cortex located on the side of the head, involved in the processing of auditory
information and in some aspects of memory.
Left and right hemispheres connected by the corpus callosum(in the case of frontal, parietal, and occipital lobes),
and theanterior commisure (in the case of temporal lobes).
Cerebral cortex: the surface of the cerebrum, the largest structure of the brain, containing both sensory and motor nerve
cell bodies. Contains four lobes on each side of the head.
Forebrain: the part of the brain containing thalamus, hypothalamus, hippocampus, amygdala, and the cerebral cortex.
Chapter 2. The Brain: Structure and Function
Thursday, January 27, 2011
12:40 AM
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