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PSY240H1 Chapter Notes -Phineas Gage, Paralimbic Cortex, Limbic System

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Martha Mc Kay

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Chapter II: Contemporary Theories of Abnormality
Albert Ellis:
- Developed rational-emotive theory, emotional problems are the result of irrational
beliefs, so therapists need to confront their clients with their irrational beliefs
- Suffered from a fear of public speaking and a fear of talking to women, he made
himself do both of these things and overcame the obstacles.
Nurture-Nature Question: Is the cause of this disorder biological (nature) or
psychological or social (nurture)?
Contemporary Theories:
- Diathesis-Stress Models/Vulnerability-Stress Models:
Integrations of biological, psychological, and social approaches
A person must carry a vulnerability to the disorder + has to experience some
type of stress/trigger
Both vulnerability and stress can be biological, psychological, or social
The Vulnerability-Stress Model
Biological factor
(genes, disordered
biochemistry, brain
Biological trigger
(onset of a disease,
exposure to toxins,
Social factor
upbringing, chronic
stress, etc.)
Social trigger
(traumatic event,
major loss, etc.)
Psychological factor
conflicts, poor skills,
cognitions, etc.)
trigger (perceived
loss of control,
violation of a trust,
- Recognize the feedback effects that biological and psychological factors have on
each other (change of one factor causes the change of a second factor, which in
turn changes the first factor again)
Biological Approaches:
- Great example, story of Phineas Gage, damage to a certain part of the brain
changes personality
- Abnormalities in brain structure, imbalance of neurotransmitters or hormones
accumulation of disordered genes
I. Structural Brain Abnormalities
Phineas suffered primarily injuries to the cerebral cortex

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Some of the brain structures are clearly separated while others merge into
each otherdebates about exact boundaries and functions
Major Structures of the Brain
Cerebral Cortex
Corpus Callosum
Reticular Formation
Spinal Cord
- The limbic system: A collection of structures that are closely interconnected with
the hypothalamus and appear to asset some additional control over instinctive
behaviours regulated by the hypothalamus
Monkeys with damage to the limbic system become chronically aggressive or
excessively passive
Structures of the Limbic System
- Schizophrenia: abnormality in the cerebral cortexlose touch with reality
II. Biochemical Causes of Abnormality
- Neurotransmitters: biochemical that act as messengers carrying impulses from
one neuron, nerve cell, to another
Synapse: the gap between synaptic terminals and the adjacent neuron
Receptors: molecules on the membranes of adjacent neurons
- Neurotransmitter Theories: Too much or too little of certain neurotransmitters in
the synapses due to malfunction of reuptake/degradation causes psychopathology
Reuptake: initial neuron reabsorbs the neurotransmitters

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Degradation: receiving neuron releases an enzyme to break down
Possible that neurotransmitters interact, particularly serotonin and
dopaminedysfunction in one lead to dysfunction in another (Ex. Depression
caused by interacting deregulation in serotonin and dopamine)
Norepinephrine (noradrenaline)
Gamma-Amino-Butyric Acid (GABA)
- Endocrine System: System of glands that produces chemicals called hormones
that carries messages through the body
Pituitary gland: Master gland that regulates other endocrine glands,
produces the largest number of different hormones
Stresshypothalamus secretes CRFpituitary secretes ACTHrelease of
about 30 hormones by other glands
Depression and anxiety may have resulted from deregulation of the
hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis)
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