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Neuroscience and


Chapter 2
Introduction to Neuroscience
 Everything psychological is
 In the early 1800’s
phrenology was the
beginning of neuroscience.
Phrenology was the idea
that you could tell about a
person’s personality or
mental skills from the shape
of their head.
Biological Psychologists
 Scientists who study the relationship
between biological activity and
behavior call themselves many things,
behavioral neuroscientists,
physiological psychologists, or
 Humans have the highest brain to
body weight ratio of any animal. Most
of that is due to our large cerebral
cortex or cerebrum.
Neural Communication (p58-

Neurons are
the most basic
building block
of all
and the
 Neurons are a
cell. Cells are
the building
blocks of all
living things,
the smallest
unit of life that
can exist.
 Each Neuron has a cell body, from which branches of dendrites
receive messages from other neurons. Then the large axon fiber
transmits the message to other neurons or muscles or glands.
Axons can actually be several feet long. A myelin sheath covers
the axon and helps speed along the messages, finally the
message is released from terminal branches at the end of the
5 Special Proteins
 In addition to normal cell activities neurons
make some special types of proteins that
help them in their job.
 Ion pumps (provide active transport of
certain ions in the cell membrane)
 Ion channels (passive transport)
 Messenger proteins (neurotransmitter)
 Receptor proteins (are used to receive
chemical signals)
 Enzymes (proteins) that degrade
Types of Neurons

 Sensory neurons – Input: vision, audition,

smell, taste, touch, balance, proprioception
 Interneurons – most numerous, make up
most of the brain and allow internal
communication within the nervous system.
 Motor neurons – Output: movement,
The Action Potential
 Neurons are connected
not to just one other
neuron but to hundreds
or even thousands of
other neurons.
Action Potential
 Every millisecond a neuron will be receiving messages
from these other neurons. Neurons receive only one of
two messages:
- EPSP (excitatory post synaptic potential)
- IPSP (inhibitory post-synaptic potential)
Don’t Fire!
 The neuron will calculate all the messages it gets, if it
gets more excitatory messages than inhibitory
messages it will reach its threshold and fire the action
 The action potential goes down the axon away from the
cell body only.
 Action potentials are an all or nothing action, there are
no partial action potentials.
Action Potential
 The action potential is an electrical charge
created by chemical reactions
 This is done by electrically charged atoms
called ions.
 The interior of an axon has an excess of
negatively charged ions making it negative.
 The outside of an axon has an excess of
positively charged ions making it positive.
 This normal state is called the resting
Action Potential
 When an neuron receives enough
EPSPs it changes the polarity of
the selectively permeable axon
membrane closest to the cell body
and allows positive sodium ions to
rush in.
 This depolarizes the next part of
the axon and so on.
 After the reaction the axon goes
back to normal in a short amount
of time called the refractory
 This process can repeat 100 or
even 1000 times a second.
Active and passive ion
 Ions are moved
in and out of the
membrane by ion
pumps and
channels in the
cell membrane
 http://www.brookscole.com/chemistry_d/templates/student_resourc

Ion channel –
Ion pump – uses energy
doesn’t need energy
The Synapse and
 Action Potentials cause the release of
neurotransmitters from axon terminals into the
synapse, or a tiny space between where one neuron
ends and another begins.
Neurotransmitter release
 Within 1/10,000th of a second neurotransmitters cross
the synaptic gap and bind to receptor cells on the
other neuron, like the action potential this lets ions
enter the receiving neuron making either EPSPs or
 Reuptake is a process
by which
neurotransmitters are
reabsorbed by the
neurons who sent them.
This is important
because if it did not
happen the
neurotransmitters would
continue to trigger
EPSPs as long as they
were in the synapse.

Acetylcholine Enables muscle Undersupply causes

action, learning and Alzheimer’s
(ACH) memory
Dopamine Influences movement, Excess receptors =
learning, attention, schizophrenia, lack of
and emotion = Parkinson’s
Serotonin Affects mood, hunger, Undersupply =
sleep, arousal depression

Norepinephrine Helps control Undersupply =

alertness and arousal seizures, insomnia

Glutamate Major excitatory Oversupply can over

neurotransmitter; stimulate brain;
involved in memory migraines; seizures
Neurotransmitters -
GABA (gamma- Major inhibitory Undersupply linked to
neurotransmitter seizures, tremors and
aminobutyric insomnia

Endorphins - are naturally occurring neurotransmitters that act as opiates.

They are released usually in times of great pain or vigorous exercise.
Because of the body has receptors for these transmitters this is why
opiates (morphine, vicodin, oxy-contin, heroin, etc.) are so effective at
producing a pleasurable, pain relieving feeling in humans. Because
endorphins are not normally occurring in great quantities its very easy to
flood the body with them but then its very hard to replace them naturally –
this is why opiates are so addictive.
How Drugs and other Chemicals
affect Neurotransmission
 Drugs affect
neurotransmission in
one of three ways:
 Agonists – excite…are
shaped enough just like
a regular
neurotransmitter to
trigger the same effect.
 Antagonists – inhibit…
may be shaped enough
like a neurotransmitter
to rest on a receptor site
blocking other
transmitters but it itself
does not trigger a
response at the site.
The Nervous System
The three types of neurons, sensory, interneurons, and motor neurons
make up the Nervous System which is categorized into these major
The Nervous System
(brain and spinal cord)

Autonomic Somatic
(controls self regulated
(controls voluntary movements
Actions of internal organs
Of skeletal muscles)
And glands)

Sympathetic (arousing)

Parasympathetic (calming)
The Peripheral Nervous
 As the chart indicates the peripheral nervous
system is made of 2 parts the autonomic and
somatic systems.
 The somatic nerves control your voluntary
muscles, your movement.
 The automatic system controls all the rest of
the things your body does constantly to keep
you alive that you don’t think about, like
beating your heart.
The Autonomic Nervous
System controls the glands and
internal organs.

The Sympathetic system is

responsible for the arousal of this
system for defensive action.

The Parasympathetic system is

responsible for calming this
system, together they work to
regulate your body’s internal
functions to your everyday needs.
Central Nervous System:
Spinal Cord
 The spinal cord is an information highway
connecting the brain and the peripheral
nervous system.
 The spinal cord is responsible for various
reflexes from sensation and pain such as
yanking your hand away from a flame. These
reflexes are usually caused by an interneuron
connecting the sensory and motor neurons
from a particular area.
Diagram of a reflex – a sensory and motor neuron connected
by an interneuron in the spinal cord

 While reflexes could happen in a headless

warm body any interpretation of sensation or
voluntary movement originates in the brain.
 Therefore, people who have had their spinal
cord damaged or cut often cannot feel or
move below that portion of their body, but
they could have reflexive reactions.
Neural Networks
A grain of sand size speck of your brain contains 100,000 neurons with a billion
talking synapses. Neurons form connections with other neurons nearby them to
make work groups that can carry out specific tasks, like learning the piano.
Practice, repetition of using certain neuro-pathways strengthens them, and makes
you better at that task.
The Brain (tools of discovery)

 Lesion method – destroying a part of an

animals brain and recording the results in
 Clinical Observation – observing someone
who has had brain damage.
 Manipulation – stimulating part of the brain
and using modern instruments to record the
results, such as an EEG.
The Brain (tools of discovery)
 Electroencephalogram
(EEG) – records the overall
electrical activity of neurons
in the brain by recording the
waves of energy that
appear. Like studying a car
by listening to the engine –
not very precise.
 Computed tomography
(CT or CAT scan) – using a
series of x-rays a computer
makes a map of your brain
internally – used to see
brain damage.
The Brain (tools of discovery)
 Positron Emission Topography
(PET scan) – by injecting users
with radioactive glucose (food)
this machine sees which areas of
the brain are most active during
certain stimuli by measuring how
much food is being used by
active neurons. Great for telling
us what different parts of the
brain do.
 Magnetic Resonance Imaging
(MRI) – The MRI puts the brain in
a strong magnetic field and then
distorts very briefly atoms with a
pulse of radio waves, by
recording the movement of atoms
you can create a computerized
picture of the brain and of blood
flow (active areas) into the brain.
The Brain: The Brainstem
 The brainstem is the oldest part of the brain and
is well developed in animals as well as humans.
 The bottom of the brainstem is called the medulla
– it controls your breathing and heart rate
 The reticular formation helps organize
sensation nerves to go different parts of the brain
as well as affects arousal.
 Atop the brainstem is the brain’s primary switchboard for
sensory neuron’s. The thalamus relay’s all senses except
smell to the higher brain and transmits replies to the
cerebellum and medulla.

• Nearby the
Cerebellum is in
charge of
coordination all
movement and
balance as well as
some learning and
memory functions
The Limbic System
 A system of neural
structures right above
the brain stem that
influence emotions
such as fear and
aggression and basic
drives like hunger and
sex. Includes the
hippocampus, and
Limbic System
 Amygdala – primarily influences aggression
and fear
 Hypothalamus – directs several
maintenance activies like eating, drinking,
body temp., has links to emotion and
influences the endocrine system via the
pituitary gland. Around this organ on many
animals is a distinct “reward center” that can
be stimulated to make the animals feel
Cerebral Cortex
 The cerebral cortex is what people usually
think of as “the brain.” It’s the wrinkled top of
the Brain. The reason for the folds is that it
increases surface area and allows for more
 Glial Cells – take care of neurons, they help
guide their connections, give them nutrients,
help cover axons with myelin sheaths, and
they can clean up ions and excess
4 Regions of the Brain
 The Frontal Lobe -
movement, making
plans, judgment.
 Temporal Lobes –
auditory or hearing
 Occipital Lobes –
Visual area
 Parietal – Sensory
Functions of the Cortex

 While we may separate regions of the brain

to help us study it we always have to keep in
mind that the brain is a very complex organ.
There is hardly ever just one region of the
brain that is being used for a particular task,
usually several areas at once are being used
for even the most simple things, like typing.
Motor Cortex
 At the back
of the frontal
lobe is the
motor cortex
which is in
charge of
 Right behind
the Motor
Cortex is the
Cortex where
your touch
 The brain has the amazing ability to reorganize
 If brain damage occurs, neurons do not grow back,
however neurons can change their function to allow
the brain to repair itself.
 Thus if your middle finger were cut off, the fingers
next to it would become more sensitive because that
part of your brain that used to process sensation
from the middle finger will now be used to process
more sensation from the other fingers nearby.
The Divided Brain

 Your brain is divided into two hemispheres.

The left side of your brain controls the right
side of your body and vice versa. The left
side of your brain includes most speech
areas while the right includes a lot of visual
 Each side talks to the other side via the
Corpus Callosum so they can work
Hemisphere Specializations
 Perceptual tasks are performed more in the
right side of the brain (recognizing faces,
pictures, art, subtle interpretation)
 Speaking or calculating are preformed more
in the left side of the brain. (recognizing
 Handedness is probably genetic, 95% of all
humans are right-handed. Left handed
people on average live 3 years shorter for
unknown reasons
The Endocrine System

 The Endocrine system is a system of

communication via chemicals called
hormones that it releases into the blood
 Hormones are chemical messengers mostly
manufactured by the endocrine glands that
affect other parts of the body. Many
hormones act just like neurotransmitters but
are slower and have longer lasting effects.
• Adrenal Glands – Secrete
epinephrine (adrenaline) and
norepinephrine which arouse
the body in times of stress
• Pituitary Gland – the “master
gland” under the influence of
the hypothalamus it regulates
growth and controls other
endocrine glands.
•Thyroid – affects metabolism
•Parathyroid – affects calcium
•Pancreas – regulates blood
sugar levels
•Ovary – secrets estrogen
(female sex hormone)
•Testis – secrets testosterone
(male sex hormone)
Everything psychological
is physiological!