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Chapter 4

Chapter 4

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University of Toronto St. George
Michael Inzlicht

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 o Gray matter segment of the SC that is dominated by the cell bodies of neurons o White 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 orgasm - The brainstem also functions in the same manner as the SC does for the rest of the body www.notesolution.com o The 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 o Projects 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 way 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 o This 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: o Head tilt o Balance problems o Loss of smooth compensation of eye position for movement of the head o Walking www.notesolution.com o Limb coordination 4. Subcortical structures control basic drives and emotions - Above the brainstem and the cerebellum is the forebrain, consists of two cerebral hemispheres - 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 border - 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 a. Hypothalamus - 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 o The only exception to the rule is the sense of smell, its the oldest and the most fundamental www.notesolution.com - During sleep the thalamus shuts down the gate on the incoming sensations while the brain rests - Plays a role in attention c. Hippocampus and amygdala - Hippocampus is the structure important for formation of certain type of memories - New memories - Creates new interconnections within the cerebral cortex with each new experience - Recently has shown to change in size with increased use - May be involved in the way we remember spatial arrangements o Example: the London taxi drivers example Suggested that the volume of gray matter increased to store more accurate and larger representations of the special world Changes with experience - Amygdala is vital to our learning to associate things with emotional responses and for processing emotional information - Amygdala is a brain structure that serves a vital role in out learning to associate thins with emotional responses and for processing emotional information - Amygdalas connection to the cerebral cortex and the hypothalamus allows it to supplement more primitive emotional pathways with new associations - Intensifies memory during times of emotional arousal - Involved in the processing of frightening stimuli - Emotional significance of facial expressions o Actives strongly in response to fearful faces - Implicated in the processing of sexual arousal o Men are more responsive to visual stimuli and amygdala might play a role in the responsiveness - Both the amygdala and the hippocampus can become clinically over-exited due to their heightened responsiveness o Epileptic seizers www.notesolution.com
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