UNIT III


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I guess this is somewhat accurate. I'm open to new things and I'm usually pretty lax about things.


Beautiful Brains National Geographic Article Annotations:

I was surprised to find that the teenage brain is still in development. Like many, I also thought that the brain stopped developing after the toddler years. It turns out that the brain undergoes two major stages of development, once during the first few years of one's life, and then again, during the 18-22 age span. I feel that more or less reshaping of the brain than developing. There isn't really any major changes in mental capacity during the second span, but the brain is still going through critical changes. This is why alcohol and drugs during this period of time is so detrimental to the brain. I feel like I can relate to the son in the article. I would've have also said that I procceeded under safe circumstances and wanted to test the capabilites of my car. I feel like they act they way they do because they are adapting to new changes and their brains are still in development. Risks are important for wiring and settling the brain for inportant decisions in our lives.


p. 51-58 Notes: MI: Biological psychologists expand our understanding of sleep and dreams, depression and schizophrenia, hunger and sex, stress and disease through studying biological activity and psychological events.

  • the body is composed of cells.
  • among these are nerve cells that conduct electricity and “talk” to one another by sending chemical messages across a tiny gap that separates them.
  • specific brain systems serve specific functions
  • we integrate information processed in these different brain systems to construct our experience of sights and sounds, meanings and memories,pain and passion.
  • our adaptive brain is wired by our experience.

Neural Communication:
  • systems of humans and other animals operate similarly
    • could not distinguish between small samples of brain tissue from a human and a monkey
    • CCQ: This was very much like the Warm-Up we did in class today. It was a preview of what would be covered in this chapter. I never knew that our brains were similar to that of monkeys, and even snails.
    • help discover how our neural system works
  • Sensory neuronscarry messages from the body’s tissues and sensory organs inward to the brain and spinal cord for processing.
    • The brain and spinal cord then send instructions out to the body’s tissues by motor neurons. Between the sensory input and motor output, information is processed in the brain’s internal communication system via interneurons
      • dendrite fibers receive information and conduct it toward the cell body.
      • From there, the cell’s axonpasses the message along to other neurons or to muscles or glands.Dendrites carry on this message
        • a layer of fatty tissue,called the myelin sheath, insulates the axons of some neurons and helps speed their impulses.
      • action potential,a brief electrical charge that travels down its axon, occurs when neuron fires an impulse
        • When excitatory signals minus ignals exceed a minimum intensity, or threshold, the combined signals trigger an action potential.
  • Axons met with dendrites at synapses
  • Chemical messengers, called neurotransmittersare released when action potential reaches the terminals at the axon's end.
    • the sending neuron reabsorbs the excess neurotransmitters called reuptake
  • CCQ: This heading makes me feel like I'm in biology again. We discussed the effects of neurotransmitters and different types of hormones in that class.
  • Our body releases several types of neurotransmitter molecules similar to morphine in response to pain and vigorous exercise called endorphins.
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PsychSim 4: Neural Messages


This module introduces the structure of the neuron as well as the mechanics of axonal conduction and synaptic
transmission.


Main Parts of a Neuron


1. What is the function of the cell body, or soma?
  • The soma of the neuron contains the nucleus, which controls the functioning of the entire cell.
2. What is the function of the dendrites?
  • Dendrites receive signals from other nerve cells. They carry messages to the soma, which may relay messages to the axon.
3. What is the function of the axon?
  • The axon carries signals from the soma to the neurons. Neurons usually have only one axon, but the axon has several branches.


Axonal Conduction
4. Describe the process of axonal conduction.

  • Axonal conduction is a complicated electrical-chemical process. In simplest terms, it involves an electrical impulse that travels down the axon like a wave. In motor neurons and interneurons, the impulse travels from the cell body to the axon terminals. In sensory neurons, the impulse moves from the dendrite area of the axon to its axon terminals.

Synaptic Transmission
5. Describe the process of synaptic transmission.

  • chemical process by which the neural impulse is passed from the axon terminal of one neuron to the dendrite or cell body of another neuron. The neuron on the left fires, sending an electrical impulse down its axon towards the axon terminal. If conditions are right, the signal is passed across the synapse, and the next neuron produces its own impulse to carry the message down its axon.
6. How are excitatory synapses different from inhibitory synapses?
  • Excitatory synapses are synaptic connections which, when stimulated, increass the likelihood that the receiving neuron will fire. They use sodium channels. Inhibitory synapses use chloride channels, and are synaptic connections which, when stimulated, decrease the likelihood that the receiving neuron will fire.


The Incredible Case of Phineas Gage
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You will view the following video on this incredible story. As you watch, keep a list of Gage's personality traits before and after the accident.

Personality before the Accident
Personality after the accident
  • intelligent, well-balanced man
  • honest, reliable person
  • in charge because he can make rational, intelligent decisions
  • quelled fights --> mediator
  • irrational
  • insistant on staying outside
  • can't control behavior/ emotions
  • never regained intellectual self control, balance
  • decreased in communication with humans, developed affinity for animals
  • became a man out of control
  • hallucinating
  • saying things no one could follow
  • aggressive
  • animal personality in a man
  • change careers


After the video answer the following:

- Why is Phineas Gage’s story important to the study of the brain in psychology?
  • Gage's story shows psychologists that humans can still operate with part of their brain severed, as long as it isn't the most vital part of the brain. Also, Gage was able to survive the spike through his head, but lost control of some of the decision making skills that he once possessed, as well as his control for emotions and balance. This reveals the different parts of the brain control different emotions, and other different characteristics that compose a person.

- How did Phineas Gage change after the accident?

- How did Phineas Gage’s accident change scientists’ understanding of the brain?
  • His accident showed the ability of human response to severe blows to the brain. Gage's accident had adverse affects on him, such as the lost of the ability to control mental processes and behavior, but he did not die; only a part of his brain cortex was affected.

- What else changes personality?