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Chapter 2

Chapter 2. The Brain: Structure and Function

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Gabriela Ilie

Chapter 2. The Brain: Structureand Function Thursday, January 27, 2011 12:40 AM 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. 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. { Contains three major structures: Medulla oblongata: 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. 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. Involved in balance and in the processing of both visual and auditory information. Cerebellum: part of the brain that controls balance and muscular coordination. 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. Dealing with temporal stimuli such as rhythm. 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). Forebrain: the part of the brain containing thalamus, hypothalamus, hippocampus, amygdala, and the cerebral cortex. { 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. { Hippocampus: a structure of the brain in the medial temporal lobe; damage or removal can result in amnesia. Involved in the formation of long-term memories. { 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. Modulates the strength of emotional memories and emotional learning. Located near the basal ganglia, which are involved in the production of motor behaviour.
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