PSY100H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Parietal Lobe, Lobotomy, Orbitofrontal Cortex

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16 Feb 2011
What are the basic brain structures and their functions?
-Phrenology – an early method of assessing personality traits and mental abilities
by measuring bumps on the skull
-Brocas area – the left frontal region of the brain that is crucial to the production
of language
-Parts of the brain are as different in their structure and organization as the roles
the fulfill
-Some of the more basic structures of the brain, which control the utmost basic
function of the human bodies, such as breathing, changed little; but others parts
have developed structures responsible for our capacities to communicate and think
1. The spinal cord is capable of autonomous function
-Spinal cord – part of the CNS, a rope of neural tissue that runs inside the hollows
of the vertebrae from just above the pelvis and into the base of the skull
- The cord seems to be composed of two distinct tissue types
oGray matter – segment of the SC that is dominated by the cell bodies of
oWhite matter – segment of the SC that consists mostly of axons and the
fatty sheaths that surround them
Gray and white matter are distinguishable through the brain as well
a.Stretch reflex
-The spinal cord handles the spinal reflex one of the most basic behaviours
-This is the conversion of sensation into action by a handful of neurons and the
connections between them
2. The brainstem house the basic programs of survival
-The SC continues intro the brain skull, there is thickens and becomes more
complex and becomes the brain stem
-Brainstem is the section of the bottom of the brain that houses the most basic
programs of survival, such as breathing, swallowing, vomiting, urination and
-The brainstem also functions in the same manner as the SC does for the rest of the
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oThe brainstem, for example, carries information from the skin ad the
muscles of the head
a.Reticular formation
-Reticular formation is a large network of neural tissue within the brain involved in
the arousal and the sleep and wake cycle
oProjects up into the cerebral cortex
-The brainstem house the utmost basic behaviours in humans, human beings who
have been born without cerebral cortices act in an extremely basic and reflexive
3. The Cerebellum is essential for movement
-Cerebellum is the large convoluted protuberance at the back of the brainstem that
is essential for coordinated movement and balance
-Lesions to different parts of the cerebellum seem to cause different effects, but its
cellular organization seems to be uniform throughout
oThis indicated that the cerebellum produces identical operations on all of
its inputs, with different effects resulting from the differences in origin and
destinations of information
-Extremely important to proper motor function
-Motor learning
-Seems to be trained by the rest of the nervous system and seems to be working
independently and unconsciously
-The cerebellum allows us to ride a bike and simultaneously think of what we will
have for lunch
-Seems to be involved in other more complex processes such as making plans,
remembering events, using language and experiencing emotion
-Somehow may be involved in experiencing empathy
-Damage to the cerebellum might cause:
oHead tilt
oBalance problems
oLoss of smooth compensation of eye position for movement of the head
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oLimb coordination
4. Subcortical structures control basic drives and emotions
-Above the brainstem and the cerebellum is the forebrain, consists of two cerebral
-From outside the most noticeable feature of the brain is the cerebral cortex, under
the cerebral cortex is the Subcortical region
-Sometimes the Subcortical region is called the limbic system, limbic meaning
-Separating the older brain and the newer (cerebral cortex) parts of the brain
-Many structures in the limbic system are important for controlling basic drives
such as eating, drinking and emotion
-Hypothalamus – is a small brain region that is vital for temperature regulation,
emotion, sexual behaviour and motivation
-Master regulatory structure
-Responsible for regulating vital functions of the body, such as the body
temperature, bodily rhythms, blood pressure, and glucose levels
- Impels the body by fundamental drives such as thirst, hunger, aggression and lust
-Received input from almost everywhere and projects its influence, directly or
indirectly to almost everywhere
-Controls the pituitary gland
-Hypothalamus governs sexual and reproductive behaviours, there is a clear
difference between males and females in the way the hypothalamus is organized
and its size
-Differences in the hypothalamus structure might influence sexual orientation
b. Thalamus
-Thalamus is the gateway to the brain that receives almost all incoming sensory
information before it reaches the cortex
oThe only exception to the rule is the sense of smell, its the oldest and the
most fundamental
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