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The construction and function of the neurons and the brain and their influences on behavior

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The Brain



the basic structure of the nervous system
The Basic Structure of the Nervous System
  • The Neuron


Cell Body

Axon Hillock


Nodes of Ranvier

Myelin Sheath

Axon Terminals

Synaptic Vesicles


  • Glial Cells


the glial cells
The Glial Cells
  • Functions of Glial Cells

There are 9-times more glial cells than neurons in the brain.They communicate with neurons and each other about the messages traveling among neurons. They can alter signals at the synapse and influence where synapses are formed. They may be critical in forming memories and repairing nerve damage and play a major role in diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

the neural impulse
The Neural Impulse
  • The direction of the Action Potential is always left to right. When the neuron is not firing it is in Resting Potential.
  • Neurons have either excitatory or inhibitory influence on each other.
the synapse
The Synapse

Electrical Synapse

Chemical Synapse

  • Neurotansmitters
  • Neurohormones
  • Neuromodulators
  • Neuropeptides
  • The Lock & Key Theory
  • The Classical Biochemicals

Acetylcholine GABA

Dopamine Glutamate

Serotonin (5-HT)

The Endorphins



biochemical effects
Biochemical Effects

Nervous System Chemicals & Their Effects

Type Function Effects Where Produced Examples


Neurotrans- Enable neurons to Diverse, depend- Brain, spinal cord, Serotonin,

mitters excite or inhibit ing on which peripheral nerves, Dopamine,

each other circuits are act- certain glands Norepinepherine

ivated or sup-


Endorphins Usually modulate Reduce pain, pro- Brain, spinal cord (Several varieties)

the effects of mote pleasure;

of neurotrans- also linked to

mitters learning, memory

& other functions

Hormones Affect function- Dozens, ranging Primarily in the Epinephrine, nor-

ing of target from promotion endocrine glands epinephrine,

organs & tissues of digestion to estrogens,

regulation of androgens



Biochemical Interactions

Pleasure Drive









Fight – or - Flight

Health Functions, Growth & Well-Being, Homeostasis

Anxiety, Irritability

the effects of drugs
The Effects of Drugs
  • Drugs increase or decrease the action of the neurotrans-mitters at the synapse

Some (e.g. cocaine) stop reuptake, others take the place of specific neurotransmitters.


Nervous System

Organization of the


The Brain

The Brain contains between

100 Billion & 1 Trillion Neurons

with more than 1000 Synapses

per Neuron.


Brain Scan

The Brain Processes

About 400 BILLION

Bits of Information

At A Time.

We're Aware of Only

About 2000 Bits.

beginning at the top
Left Hemisphere

The Analytic Hemisphere. Dominant in most people. Interprets

actions, moods, & thought

processes. Constructs

theories about actions &

feelings, & tries to bring

order & unity to our

conscious lives. It is

specialized for language

in 95% of right-handed &

75% of left-handed. Makes

causal inferences. Solves problems via established methods & well-ordered plans.

Right Hemisphere

The Synthetic Hemisphere. Specialized in facial recognition. Has its own consciousness. Perceives

melodies, patterns, & analyzes

nonverbal patterns. Judges

grammatical correctness of a

sentence. It is holistic and

has limited language skills.

Has a larger volume of an

“association cortex” for

complex information pro-

cessing. It makes leaps of insight.

Beginning at the Top
corpus callosum
Corpus Callosum
  • The fibers connecting the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
  • Contralateral Control

The left hemisphere controls the right side of the body and the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body.

What purpose does Contralateral Control serve?

the central core
The Central Core
  • The Hindbrain

Consists of:

The Medulla, the Pons, and the Cerebellum

  • The Midbrain

Consists of:

The Thalamus, the Hypothalamus, and the Reticular Formation

the limbic system
The Limbic System
  • Considered the “Seat of the Emotions”
  • Consists of:




Olfactory Bulb



Receives Sensory Input from the Joints,

Muscles, Bones, Skin,

Touch, Pressure,

Pain, & Internal Organs

The Cerebral Cortex

Encodes, Stores, & Recalls Sequences;

Processes Serial Order Information

Within the Context of a Motor Task;

Recognizes & Remembers Sequence of

Events in Time.

Word Production & Grammatical

Processing; Semantic Analysis;

Motor Patterns for Speech Production

Attention to Details; Visual & Auditory

Words; Discriminates Familiar & Un-

familiar Stimuli; STM for Abstract

Symbols; Sentence Memory; Visual

Orienting; Concentration; Shifting of


The Cerebral Cortex

is the outer "Gray Matter"

& the "Association Areas."

Working Memory; Word & Speech Perception

(Left); Visual & Auditory Words; Associates Words;

Analysis & Meanings of Items; Self-Analysis;

Object Identity; Recognizes Facial Features; Action Plans

Organizes Visual Information;

Activates &Processes Color, Shape,

&Motion; Creates Visual Images;

Maps & Analyzes Visual Information;

Processes Visual Words

Listening to Words; Working Memory;

Processes Words Visually & Auditorially;

Visual Computation & Motion; Primary

Auditory Cortex; Monitors Speech;

Generates Verbs; Speech Output

Understanding & Expression of

Language; Listening to Words;

Semantic Analysis & Interpretation

the brain computer connection
The Computer

Operates Sequentially.

Has Open and Closed Gates.

Processes information very quickly.

Components of the computer are reliable but removing 1 or 2 can disrupt processing.

Each gate receives a single input and sends that input on.

Recognizes only precise input.

The Brain

Operates sequentially and in parallel.

Has Open, Closed, and Almost Gates.

Processes information slowly.

Neurons are somewhat unreliable, but deletion of quite a few is not likely to make a major difference in behavior.

Neurons receive input from thousands of other neurons and connects to thousands of other neurons.

Recognizes patterns.

The Brain/Computer Connection
the endocrine system
The Endocrine System
  • The Major Glands

Called “the glands of personality” in the early 20th century.

Thyroid Gland

Parathyroid Glands

Pineal Gland


Pituitary Gland

Posterior & Anterior


Adrenal Glands

pineal gland
Pineal Gland
  • Secretion: Melatonin

Functions: Reproduction & Sleep-Wake Cycles

Low Melatonin: Insomnia

High Melatonin: Decreased Motor Activity, Fatigue, & Lower Body Temperature

pituitary gland
Pituitary Gland
  • Secretions:

Posterior Lobe: Oxytocin, Vasopressin, & Antidiuretic Hormone

Anterior Lobe: Hormones Include Thyroid-stimulating Hormone, ACTH, FSH, & Prolactin

Affects growth and the other glands

thyroid gland
Thyroid Gland
  • Secretions: Thyroxin & Triiodothyronine

Regulates Metabolism

parathyroid gland
Parathyroid Gland
  • Secretion: Parathyroid Hormone

Controls Calcium Levels

High Calcium Levels:

Low Energy

Lack of Concentration




Decreased Sex Drive

adrenal glands
Adrenal Glands
  • Secretions: Epinephrine & Norepinephrine

Regulates Energy Levels & Electrolite & Fluid Balance, Kidney & Sexual Function

High Epinephrine:


Excess Sweating


Anxiety & Nervous Shaking


Weight Loss

  • Secretions: Insulin, Glucagon, & Somatostatin

Controls Blood Sugar & Glucose Metabolism & Digestive Secretions

reproductive glands
Reproductive Glands
  • Ovaries

Secretions: Estrogen, Progestrone, & Androstenedione

Function: Oogenesis

  • Testes

Secretions: Testosterone & Other Androgens

Function: Spermatogenesis

Low Testosterone: Decreases Sex Drive

High Testosterone: Heightened Bisexuality