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General Psychology. Scripture. Matthew 5: 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. .

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  • Matthew 5:9

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. .

Those who strive to prevent contention, and strife, and war. Who use their influence to reconcile opposing parties, and to prevent hostilities, in families and neighborhoods. Every man may do something of this; and no man is more like God than he who does it.

the base of the brainstem the medulla
The Base of the Brainstem: The Medulla
  • The medulla controls the most basic functions such as heartbeat and breathing.
  • Someone with total brain damage above the medulla could still breathe independently, but someone with damage in this area could not.
the brainstem the pons
The Brainstem: The Pons

The pons helps coordinate automatic and unconscious movements.

the thalamus inner chamber
The Thalamus (“Inner Chamber”)
  • The thalamus is the “sensory switchboard” or “router.”
  • All sensory messages, except smell, are routed through the thalamus on the way to the cortex (higher, outer brain).
  • The thalamus also sends messages from the cortex to the medulla and cerebellum.
reticular netlike formation
Reticular (“Netlike”) Formation
  • The reticular formation is a nerve network in the brainstem.
  • It enables alertness, (arousal) from coma to wide awake (as demonstrated in the cat experiments).
  • It also filters incoming sensory information.
cerebellum little brain
Cerebellum (“little brain”)

The cerebellum helps coordinate voluntary movement such as playing a sport.

The cerebellum has many other functions, including enabling nonverbal learning and memory.


The Limbic (“Border”) System

The limbic system coordinates:

  • emotions such as fear and aggression.
  • basic drives such as hunger and sex.
  • the formation of episodic memories.

The hippocampus (“seahorse”)

  • processes conscious, episodic memories.
  • works with the amygdala to form emotionally charged memories.

The Amygdala (“almond”)

  • consists of two lima bean- sized neural clusters.
  • helps process emotions, especially fear and aggression.
the amygdala
The Amygdala
  • Electrical stimulation of a cat’s amygdala provokes aggressive reactions.
  • If you move the electrode very slightly and cage the cat with a mouse, the cat will cower in terror.
the hypothalamus
The Hypothalamus:


  • lies below (“hypo”) the thalamus.
  • regulates body temperature and ensures adequate food and water intake (homeostasis), and is involved in sex drive.
  • directs the endocrine system via messages to the pituitary gland.

The Hypothalamus as a Reward Center

Riddle: Why did the rat cross the grid?

Why did the rat want to get to the other side?

Pushing the pedal that stimulated the electrode placed in the hypothalamus was much more rewarding than food pellets.

the cerebral cortex the lobes consist of
The Cerebral Cortex The lobes consist of:
  • outer grey “bark” structure that is wrinkled in order to create more surface area for 20+ billion neurons.
  • inner white stuff—axonslinking parts of the brain.
  • 180+ billion glial cells, which feed and protect neurons and assist neural transmission.

300 billion synaptic connections

The brain has left and right hemispheres

the lobes of the cerebral cortex preview
The Lobes of the Cerebral Cortex: Preview

involved in speaking and muscle movements and in making plans and judgments

  • Frontal Lobes
  • Parietal Lobes
  • Occipital Lobes
  • Temporal Lobes

include the sensory cortex

  • include the visual areas; they receive visual information from the opposite visual field
  • include the auditory processing areas
functions of the brain t he motor and sensory strips
Functions of the Brain: The Motor and Sensory Strips

Output: Motor cortex (Left hemisphere section controls the body’s right side)

Input: Sensory cortex (Left hemisphere section receives input from the body’s right side)

 Axons receiving motor signals FROM the cortex

Axons sending sensory information TO the cortex

  • Try moving your right hand in a circular motion, as if polishing a table.
  • Now start your right foot doing the same motion synchronized with the hand.
  • Now reverse the foot motion (but not the hand). Tough, huh?
  • But easier if you try moving the left foot opposite to the right hand.
  • The left and right limbs are controlled by opposite sides of the brain. So their opposed activities interfere less with each other.
sensory functions of the cortex
Sensory Functions of the Cortex
  • Thesensory stripdeals with information from touch stimuli.
  • The occipital lobe deals with visualinformation.
  • Auditoryinformation is sent to thetemporal lobe.
the visual cortex
The Visual Cortex

This fMRI scan shows increased activity in the visual cortex when a person looks at a photograph.

plasticity the brain is flexible
Plasticity: The Brain is Flexible

If the brain is damaged, especially in the general association areas of the cortex:

  • the brain does not repair damaged neurons, BUT it can restore some functions
  • it can form new connections, reassign existing networks, and insert new neurons, some grown from stem cells

This 6-year-old had a hemispherectomy to end life-threatening seizures; her remaining hemisphere compensated for the damage.

our two hemispheres
Our Two Hemispheres

Lateralization (“going to one side”)

The two hemispheres serve some different functions.

How do we know about these differences?

  • Brain damage studies revealed many functions of the left hemisphere.
  • Brain scans and split brain studies show more about the functions of the two hemispheres, and how they coordinate with each other.
the intact but lateralized brain right left hemisphere differences
The intact but lateralized brainRight-Left Hemisphere Differences

Right Hemisphere

Left Hemisphere

Thoughts and logic

Details such as “trees”

Language: words and definitions

Linear and literal


Pieces and details

Feelings and intuition

Big picture such as “forest”

Language: tone, inflection, context

Inferences and associations


Wholes, including the self

brain studies
Brain Studies


To end severe whole-brain seizures, some people have had surgery to cut the corpus callosum,

a band of axons connecting the hemispheres.

Researchers have studied the impact of this surgery on patients’ functioning.

separating the hemispheres factors to keep in mind
Separating the Hemispheres:Factors to Keep in Mind
  • Each hemisphere controls the opposite side of the body AND is aware of the visual field on that opposite side.
  • Without the corpus callosum, the halves of the body and the halves of the visual field do not work together.
  • Only the left half of the brain has enough verbal ability to express its thoughts out loud.
split visual field
Split visual field

Each hemisphere does not perceive what each EYE sees. Instead, it perceives the half of the view in front of you that goes with the half of the body that is controlled by that hemisphere.

the divided brain in action
The divided brain in action
  • Talent: people are able to follow two instructions and draw two different shapes simultaneously
  • Drawback: people can be frustrated that the right and left sides do different things
is it all right to be left handed
Is it All Right to be Left Handed?

Being a left hander is difficult in a right-handed world.

genetic influences on behavior
Genetic Influences on Behavior

We are going to cover this on Wednesday and talk about the exam – there is too much to cover in this chapter without getting into the collision points.

  • One should be wary of using pictures of brain “hot spots” to create a new phrenology that locates complex functions in precise brain areas (Uttal, 2001).
  • Mental functions don’t reside in any one place. Memory, language, and attention result from the synchronized activity among distinct brain areas (Knight, 2007).
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