The brain and behavior
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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



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The Basic Structure of the Nervous System

  • The Neuron


    Cell Body

    Axon Hillock


    Nodes of Ranvier

    Myelin Sheath

    Axon Terminals

    Synaptic Vesicles


  • Glial Cells


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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.

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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.

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The Synapse

Electrical Synapse

Chemical Synapse

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  • Neurotansmitters

  • Neurohormones

  • Neuromodulators

  • Neuropeptides

  • The Lock & Key Theory

  • The Classical Biochemicals

    Acetylcholine GABA

    Dopamine Glutamate

    Serotonin (5-HT)

    The Endorphins



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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


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Biochemical Interactions

Pleasure Drive









Fight – or - Flight

Health Functions, Growth & Well-Being, Homeostasis

Anxiety, Irritability

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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.

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Nervous System

Organization of the

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The Brain

The Brain contains between

100 Billion & 1 Trillion Neurons

with more than 1000 Synapses

per Neuron.

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Brain Scan

The Brain Processes

About 400 BILLION

Bits of Information

At A Time.

We're Aware of Only

About 2000 Bits.

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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

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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?

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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

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The Limbic System

  • Considered the “Seat of the Emotions”

  • Consists of:




    Olfactory Bulb


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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

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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

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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

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Pineal Gland

  • Secretion: Melatonin

    Functions: Reproduction & Sleep-Wake Cycles

    Low Melatonin: Insomnia

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

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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

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Thyroid Gland

  • Secretions: Thyroxin & Triiodothyronine

    Regulates Metabolism

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Parathyroid Gland

  • Secretion: Parathyroid Hormone

    Controls Calcium Levels

    High Calcium Levels:

    Low Energy

    Lack of Concentration




    Decreased Sex Drive

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Adrenal Glands

  • Secretions: Epinephrine & Norepinephrine

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

    High Epinephrine:


    Excess Sweating


    Anxiety & Nervous Shaking


    Weight Loss

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  • Secretions: Insulin, Glucagon, & Somatostatin

    Controls Blood Sugar & Glucose Metabolism & Digestive Secretions

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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