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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 - The Brain: An Overview of Structure & Function

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Gabriela Ilie

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Memory & Cognition Chapter 2 The Brain: An Overview of Structure &
The grain grows from 0 to 350 grams (~3/4 lbs) during the prenatal period and continues
after birth; maximum brain weight of 1350 grams (~3 lbs) achieved at ~20 years old.
Most post birth brain growth occurs before 4, but changes continue through adulthood.
Bigger =/= better.
Structure of the brain
Develops from one of three bulges in the embryos neural tube
Most primitive structures reside here
Three major structure:
1.Medulla Oblongata
transmits information from the spinal cord to the brain
regulates life support functions (eg. Heart rate, respiration, blood
pressure, etc)
Latin word for bridge
Neural relay centre facilitating the crossover of information from
either hemispheres
Involved in balance and processing visual and auditory information
little brain; one of the most primitive brain structures
Coordinate muscular activity
Governs balance and general motor behaviour and coordination
Brain lesions can cause irregular and jerky movements, tremors,
impairement of balance and gait
Deals with temporal stimuli, eg. rhythm; ability to shift attention
between visual and auditory stimuli
Structures involved in relaying information between other brain regions
Reticular Formation keeps us awake and alert; involved in sudden arousal in
response to threatening or attention-grabbing stimulus
Largest part of the brain; where all the magic happens
Relays information, especially the cerebral cortex
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Controls pituitary gland, through hormone release, and homeostatic
behaviours, eg. Temperature control, drinking, sleeping
Sexual behaviours
Emotional reactions
Formation of long-term memories
Modulates the strength of emotional memories
Emotional learning
5.Basal Ganglia
Production of motor behaviours
6.Cerebral Cortex
~6 layers of neurons with white matter underneath
Carries information between the crotex and thalamus or different
parts of the cortex
The two hemispheres are connected by the corpus collosum (frontal,
parietal, occipital) and the anterior commisure (temporal lobe)
Central sulcus divides the frontal and parietal lobes; lateral sulcus
defines temporal lobe
Consists of 4 lobes:
oThree separate regions:
1) Motor Cortex
Located in the precentral gyrus
Directs fine motor movement
2)Premotor Cortext
Involved in planning fine motor movement
3)Prefrontal Cortex
Involved with executive functioning, eg.
Decision making, implementing
strategies, inhibiting inappropriate
behaviours, using working memory to
process information
Damage results in marked changed in
personality, mood, affect, and ability to
control inappropriate behaviour
Longest period of maturation, one of the
last to mature (this is why teenagers are
impulsive and stupid); one of the first to
start degenerating in old age
Shows most plasticity over the longest
periods; most sensitive to environmental
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