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Don Morgenson

THE BRAIN: SOURCE OF MIND AND SELF - Neuropsychologists and neuroscientists concerned with the biological foundations of consciousness, perception, memory, emotion, stress, and mental disorders of everything that human beings feel and do. THE NERVOUS SYSTEM: A BASIC BLUEPRINT - Function of a nervous system: to gather and process information, produce responses to stimuli, and coordinate the workings of different cells. The Central Nervous System - Consisting of the brain and the spinal cord - Receives, processes, interprets, and stores incoming sensory information - Sends out messages destined for muscles, glands, and internal organs Spinal cord - An extension to the brain - Acts as a bridge between the brain and the parts of the body below the neck - Produces some behaviors on its own without any help from the brain o Spinal reflexes  Automatic; require no conscious effort  Nerve impulses bring a message to the spinal cord, and the spinal cord immediately sends out a command via other nerves The Peripheral Nervous System - Handles the central nervous system’s input and output. - Sensory nerves carry messages from special receptors in the skin, muscles, and other internal and external sense organs to the spinal cord, which sends them along to the brain. o Put us in touch with both the outside world and the activities of our own bodies. - Motor nerves carry orders from the central nervous system to muscles, glands, and internal organs. - Enable us to move, and they cause glands to contract and to secrete substances, including chemical messengers called hormones. - Peripheral nervous systems – 2 parts: o somatic (bodily) nervous system  skeletal nervous system  consists of nerves that are connected to sensory receptors  example: when you feel a bug on your hand, when you turn off a light or write your name o autonomic (self-governing) nervous system  regulates the functioning of blood vessels, glands, and internal organs such as the bladder, stomach, and heart  example: when you see your crush (heart pounds, hands get sweaty)  divided into two parts:  the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system  sympathetic – mobilizes the body for action and an output of energy o makes you blush, sweat, and breathe more deeply, and it pushes up your heart rate and blood pressure o when you are in a situation that requires you to fight, flee, or cope  parasympathetic – a brake; tends to slow things down and keep them running smoothly o enables the body to conserve and store energy COMMUNICATION IN THE NERVOUS SYSTEM - the nervous system is made up in part of neurons (nerve cells) - neurons – brain’s communication specialists, transmitting information to, from, and within the central nervous system - neurons are held in place by glia (glial cells) - glial cells provide the neurons with nutrients, insulate them, protect the brain from toxic agents, and remove cellular debris when neurons die o without them neurons could not function effectively o play a vital role in learning and memory - neurons – building blocks of the nervous system The Structure of the Neuron - neuron has three main parts: dendrites, a cell body, and an axon - the dendrites – antennas; receive messages from as many as 10000 other nerve cells and transmit these messages toward the cell body - the cell body contains the biochemical machinery for keeping the neuron alive o determines whether a neuron should transmit a message to other neurons - the axon – transmits messages from the cell body to other neurons or to muscle or gland cells - neuron is first a catcher, then a batter - in the peripheral nervous system, the fibers of individual neurons are collected together in bundles called nerves. Neurons in the News - CNS cells can give birth to new neurons in a process called neurogenesis How Neurons Communicate - Synaptic cleft – neurons separated by a minuscule space - Synapse – the site where transmission of a nerve impulse from one nerve cell to another occurs; it includes the axon terminal, the synaptic cleft, and receptor sites in the membrane of the receiving cell. - Action potential – a brief change in electrical voltage that occurs between the inside and the outside of an axon when a neuron is stimulated; it serves to produce an electrical impulse - Neurotransmitter – a chemical substance that is released by a transmitting neuron at the synapse and that alters the activity of a receiving neuron. - Changes occur in the receiving neuron’s membrane o Excitatory – a voltage shift in a positive direction o Inhibitory – a voltage shift in a negative direction - Without inhibition, we could not sleep or coordinate our movements. The Plastic Brain - Plasticity is the brain’s ability to change and adapt in response to experience–for example, by reorganizing or growing new neural connections. Chemical Messengers in the Nervous System NEUROTRANSMITTERS: VERSATILE COURIERS - Neurotransmitters make it possible for one neuron to excite or inhibit another. - They can affect mood, memory, and well-being. - Neurotransmitters: o Serotonin – affects neurons involved in sleep, appetite, sensory perception, temperature regulation, pain suppression, and mood o Dopamine – affects neurons involved in voluntary movement, learning memory, emotion, pleasure or reward, and, possibly, response to novelty. o Acetylcholine – affects neurons involved in muscle action, cognitive functioning, memory, and emotion. o Norepinephrine – affects neurons involved in increased heart rate and the slowing of intestinal activity during stress, and neurons involved in learning, memory, dreaming, waking from sleep, and emotion. o Gamma-aminobutyric acid – the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain o Glutamate – the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain; it is released by about 90% of the brain’s neurons ENDORPHINS: THE BRAIN’S NATURAL OPIATES - Endorphins are chemical substances in the nervous system that are similar in structure and action to opiates; they are involved in pain reduction, pleasure, and memory and are known technically as endogenous opioid peptides. - They reduce pain and promote pleasure. - Also thought to play a role in appetite, sexual activity, blood pressure, mood, learning, and memory. - Endorphin levels shoot up under stress or when someone is afraid. HORMONES: LONG-DISTANCE MESSENGERS - Hormones are produced in endocrine glands. - Released directly into the bloodstream, which carrier them to organs and cells that may be far from their point of origin. - Hormones: o Melatonin – secreted by the pineal gland deep within the brain, helps to regulate daily
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