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Intro to Psychology. Neurophysiology, Neuroanatomy. The Brain. The brain is a combination of two types of cells, glial cells and neurons The brain consists of 100 billion neurons and 10 12 total cells. Neurons. Cells in the brain that communicate with each other

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Intro to Psychology

Neurophysiology, Neuroanatomy


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The Brain

The brain is a combination of two types of cells, glial cells and neurons

The brain consists of 100 billion neurons and 1012 total cells


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Neurons

  • Cells in the brain that communicate with each other

  • Neurons are “born” early in life

  • Do not regenerate


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Glial Cells

  • Provide support for neurons

    • Structure support

    • Metabolic and nutritional support

  • Can replace themselves

  • Serve to clean up the brain, removes dead tissue and foreign objects

  • Play a large role in neural development

  • May even be communicating with neurons

  • Role is expanding with new research



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Many different types of neurons

Pyramidal neuron

Purkinje neuron



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  • Neurons communicate in two ways

  • Electrical signal: within a neuron

  • Chemical signal: between neurons

  • Electrical signal is sent from one part of the neuron to the other: The signal travels from the dendrite through the cell body to the axon

    • Dendrites receive the signal from another neuron

    • Axons send the signal to other neurons

  • Chemical signal is sent from the axon of one neuron to the dendrite of another neuron


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Properties of the Neuron

  • Neurons contain many ions and are charged

A- are large protein ions that always stay inside the cell

K+ is potassium. At rest it is mostly inside the cell

Cl- is chloride. It exists both inside and outside the cell

Na+ is sodium. It exists primarily outside the cell


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  • When the cell is at rest (i.e., not doing anything), it has a charge of -70 mV. This is called the resting potential.

  • Because of the cell properties, many forces are acting on the cell.

  • 1. Diffusion - substances tend to move from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration.

  • 2. Like charges repel each other and opposite charges attract

  • Charges stay the way they are because of the cell membrane. It is selectively permeable. It does this by ion channels.


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  • Normally the membrane closes Na+ channels a charge of -70 mV. This is called the resting potential.

  • However, if the membrane is given an electrical charge, it causes the membrane to lose some permeability

  • This opens the sodium channels

  • If this electrical charge is large enough, the flood gates will open

  • Change in charge is potentiated down the length of the neuron

  • This wave of charge is called the action potential


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Sodium / Potassium Pump a charge of -70 mV. This is called the resting potential.

  • Once sodium has rushed in, the cell quickly regains its composure

  • Active process in which sodium is removed from the cell

  • Sodium is exchanged for potassium

  • Requires metabolic activity

  • Returns charge inside cell to -70 mV

  • Refractory period


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Communication Between Neurons a charge of -70 mV. This is called the resting potential.

  • When the action potential reaches the terminal button, it causes a release of chemicals called neurotransmitters

  • These neurotransmitters are dumped into the synapse, the space between the axon of one neuron and the dendrite of another


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  • Neurotransmitters come into contact with membrane of the other neuron

  • Receptors on the dendrite detect the neurotransmitter

  • NT binds to the receptor

  • This causes a temporary change in the membrane, allowing a little sodium inside the cell

  • This small charge is called the graded potential

  • This is passed on to the axon and it summates


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When the sum of the potentials reaches the base of the axon, a sufficient charge may be present to cause an action potential.


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  • Myelin – a layer of proteins that are wrapped around the axon.

  • Two functions: to protect the axon, and to speed up transmission

  • Without myelin, neural transmission is inefficient

  • Multiple Sclerosis – an autoimmune disorder in which the myelin is destroyed.

    • Fatigue, pain, motor disorders, cognitive disorders, etc.


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Removal of Neurotransmitter axon.

  • After the NT is initially released, the chemical must be removed

  • This is done in a couple of different ways

    • Biochemical breakdown of the NT

    • Reuptake: NT is pulled back into the presynaptic button and packaged to be released again


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Types of Neurotransmitters axon.

  • Excitatory

    • Glutamate

    • Acetylcholine

  • Inhibitory – What does this mean?

    • GABA

    • Norepinephrine

  • Both

    • Dopamine

    • Serotonin


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Effects of Drugs axon.

  • Psychopharmacology- the study of how drugs affect behavior

  • Nearly all drugs work by affecting neurotransmitter release


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Effect of Prozac axon.

Prozac is an example of a SSRI – a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor


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  • Alcohol axon.

    • Activates GABA receptors

  • Nicotine

    • Activates acetylcholine receptors

    • Changes overall number of ACH receptors

  • Cocaine

    • Blocks reuptake of dopamine

    • Stimulates release of dopamine

    • Anesthetic effect on cells

  • Amphetamine / Methamphetamine

    • Similar to cocaine with no anesthetic effect


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  • Crack axon.

    • Exactly like cocaine, just more efficient

  • Heroin

    • Activates opiate receptors

  • Marijuana

    • Activates cannabinoid receptors (similar to opiate)

  • Ecstasy (MDMA)

    • Selectively destroys neurons that release serotonin

    • Serotonin is dumped out when the cell dies


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Divisions of the Nervous System axon.

  • Central Nervous System: Includes Brain and Spinal Cord


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  • Peripheral Nervous System: All other neural tissue. Specifically, the periphery. This includes muscles, the skin, and even the organs

  • PNS broken down into two parts

  • Somatic nervous system: nerve fibers that send sensory information to the central nervous system AND motor nerve fibers that project to skeletal muscle.


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  • Autonomic nervous system – Controls the "insides" (the "viscera") of our body, like the heart, stomach and intestines

    - functions in an involuntary, reflexive manner

    - does things like constrict blood vessels, dilate pupils, and even makes our heart beat fast on a roller coaster, etc.

    -Has two components

    - A. Sympathetic nervous system:

    - B. Parasympathetic nervous system


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  • Sympathetic NS- Regulates “Fight or Flight” "viscera") of our body, like the heart, stomach and intestines

    • Prepares the body during stressful situations

    • Increases heart beat, blood pressure, speeds breathing, slows digestive function

  • Parasympathetic NS – Regulates "rest and digest"

    • Keeps the body running calmly

    • Shuts down the sympathetic NS when the situation becomes less stressful


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Parts of the CNS "viscera") of our body, like the heart, stomach and intestines

  • Spinal Cord: Two types of material, white matter (Axons) and grey matter (cell bodies)


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  • Afferent neurons: neurons that send their signal TOWARDS the spinal cord

  • Efferent neurons: neurons that send their signal AWAY from the spinal cord

  • Reflex involves two neurons, one afferent and one efferent

  • Reflexive action takes place before it is sent to the brain

  • Allows for extremely efficient processing


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Parts of the Brain spinal cord

  • 3 major divisions

    • Hindbrain: Cerebellum; Pons; Medulla

    • Forebrain: Cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, hypothalamus

    • Midbrain


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Hindbrain spinal cord

  • Cerebellum: Extremely large area, millions of neurons

    • Responsible for coordination of movement

    • Plays a role in learning

  • Pons

    • Important for sleep and especially dreaming

  • Medulla

    • Controls all vital functions of the body including breathing and heart rate


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Forebrain spinal cord

  • Thalamus

    • Primary relay station of the brain

    • Almost all sensory information passes through before going elsewhere

  • Hypothalamus

    • Regulates autonomic nervous system

    • Regulates hormones, “4 F’s”; Feeding, Fighting, Fleeing, and sexual behavior

  • Amygdala

    • Responsible for many aspects of emotion

    • Emotional learning


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  • Hippocampus spinal cord

    • Especially important for learning and memory

    • Resolving conflict

  • Cerebral Cortex

    • Does just about everything

    • Many think that the cortex is what makes humans the way they are

    • Cortex is broken up into 4 lobes:

      • Frontal lobe: the front of the brain

      • Temporal lobe: side, the temples

      • Parietal lobe: kinda middle portion

      • Occipital Lobe: very back


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  • Frontal lobe spinal cord

    • Important for planning

    • Thinking / decision making

    • Primary motor cortex: Generation of movement

    • Broca’s area: Production of Speech

  • Temporal lobe

    • Audition

    • Wernicke’s area: Language comprehension


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  • Parietal lobe spinal cord

    • Somatosensory function (touch, vibration, pain)

    • Combination of all senses with vision

  • Occipital lobe

    • Vision: Primary visual cortex


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Two Halves of the Brain spinal cord

  • Brain is actually two different halves. It is split down the middle, with the right and left side being very similar to the other

  • The two hemispheres are connected by the corpus callosum: a bunch of axons


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  • Each side of the brain controls the opposite side of the body.

    • Ex. Moving right arm controlled by the left side of the brain.

  • Systematic differences in right vs. left.

  • Most language and music on the left.

    • Somewhat different for left-handed people

  • The right hemisphere more involved with visual imagery and creativity.


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Split-brain Patients body.

  • Sometimes the corpus callosum of a person is cut. It is often surgically cut in patients with severe epilepsy.

  • Allows for the study of the role of each hemisphere

  • Experiments have found crazy strange results


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Studying the Brain with Animals body.

  • Many techniques can be used to study the brain of animals

  • Lesioning of the brain

    • Electrical lesions- electricity is passed through an electrode until neurons die

    • Chemical lesions- inject chemicals like acid to kill neurons

  • Injection of drugs


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Studying the Brain of Humans removed, isolated, and studied on its own. Individual neurons can be studied

  • EEG: electroencephalogram – electrodes are placed on the scalp.

    • It records the electrical activity of neurons.

    • Problem: It records from thousands of neurons at a time; not very precise


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EEG printout removed, isolated, and studied on its own. Individual neurons can be studied


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  • PET scan: Positron Emission Tomography get brain scans

    – patients are injected with radioactive glucose. The scanner tracks where the glucose moves to. This is used as an indicator of neural activity.

    - Has problems: very expensive, resolution is fairly low.


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