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goal of neuroscience

Identify and explain the mechanisms the brain uses to acquire and regulate higher mental functions AND to produce both basic and skilled actions


Study of the anatomic structures, cellular functions, and physiologic processes of the nervous system


Deals with diseases that disrupt the normal structure and function (physiological properties) of the nervous system

Vascular disorders include...

Thrombosis, embolism, hemorrhage

Neoplastic conditions include...

Benign or malignant tumor

Cortical degenerative conditions include...

ALS, Pick disease, Alzheimer disease

Myeline degenerative disorders include...

MS and Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Motor disorders include...

Parkinson disease and Huntington chorea

Dificiency disorders include...

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

Bacterial and viral infections include...

menengitis and encephalitis

Other brain diseases...

cellular toxicity, epileptic disorders, TBI

Cognitive neuropsychology

Uses brain damaged patients to form the theories of normal cognition


Analyzes aphasic disorders to formulate hypotheses about the normal formulation of language in the brain


Involves surgical intervention to treat a disease of the neurosystem


Study of the structural framework of the nervous system, consisting of nerve cells (neurons) and their tracts (fibers)


Imaging techniques for differentiating pathological tissue of CNS; radiation therapy for nervous system tumors is a sunspecialty


Deals with the growth of the nervous system during the embyonic periods of development extending from conception to 7 weeks (all brain structures should be in place)


Study of fetal malformations...we are particularly interested in cranial malformations


Study of the functional properties of the nervous system (structural/metabolic, chemical, and electrical functions)


Study of characteristics an origins of diseases and their effects on nervous systems; nature, cause, and diagnosis of diseased tissue in brain and spinal cord

Organizational/regulating principles of the brain

1) Interconnectivity of the brain
2) Centrality of the nervous system
3) Hierarchy of neuraxial organization
4) Laterality of brain organization
5) functional networking
6) Topographical representation
7) Plasticity of the brain
8) Culturally neutral brain

Interconnectivity in the brain

All functionally specific primary sensory and motor regions in the cerebrum are connected thru association (indirectly connect) and commissural fibers (directly connect w/eachother); connective network allows constant interactions among functional circuits within and between each hemisphere

Centrality of the nervous system

The central nervous system (CNS) integrates all incoming and outgoing info and generates appropriate responses to the info received; no 2 parts of the peripheral body can communicate with each other w/o going thru the CNS first

Integrated responses

Mental functions

Volitional responses

Internally generated, such as reflexes

Hierarcy in neuraxial organization

the neuraxis of the CNS is hierarchically organized by complexity of function; lowest level is the spinal cord, intermediate is the brainstem and diencephalon, and highest is the cerebral cortex

The lowest level of organization controls...

SPINAL CORD controls simple sensorimotor functions in the form of reflexes (which are also partially influenced by upper levels)

Intermediate level of organization controls...

BRAINSTEM and DIENCEPHALON together react to nonspecific stress and adverse bodily changes to maintain optimal homeostatic states (e.g., blood pressure, sleep)

Highest level of organization controls...

CEREBRAL CORTEX controls complex sensorimotor integration and higher mental functions (e.g., cognition, language, speech)

Laterality of brain organization aspects

1) bilateral anatomic symmetry
2) unilateral functional differences
3) contralateral sensorimotor control

Bilateral anatomic symmetry

The two cerebral hemispheres are almost identical in anatomy (with the exception of the PLANUM TEMPORALE which is enlarged on the left side for language specialization)

Unilateral functional differences

Each hemisphere has an advantage over the other for different specialized functions.
Left hemisphere=language, speech, analytical processing
Right hemisphere=emotions, music, paralinguistic functions, temporospatial attributes

Contralateral sensorimotor control

All sensory and motor fibers in the nervous system are contralaterally organized--> ascending and descending fibers cross (decussate) at the body's midline (usually at the lower [caudal] medulla of the brainstem).............basically the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body and vice versa

Functional networking

Nueronal systems are functionally specified; sensory and motor systems contain specialized nerve cells that analyze and respond to functionally specific stimuli

Topographical representation

The discreteness with which sensorimotor info is retained/spatially organized in the axonal pathways from the specialized peripheral receptors of the body to the brain (remember homunculus)

Neuroplasticity/plasticity of the brain

Brain's adaptive abilities: change as a result of experience AND recognize and gradually modify tissue functions when faced w/pathology....greatest in the early years and diminishes with age..... (relevant topics are sprouting, patterns of brain development, and the critical period)


regeneration of nerves

Patterns of brain development

Predetermined development (genes allocate specific functions to different areas of the brain and dictate what experiences those areas need)
Probabilistic development (represents current neurolinguistic thinking--gene experience can be modified by experience and the internal/external environment)

Critical period

Period when an experience is most rewarding and effective in influencing the brain's potential; suggests that it is not the experience alone but rather the timing of the experience that regulates the potential for functional plasticity)

Culturally neutral brain

Brian operations are not governed by any personal characteristics of gender, race, or cultural variations; also unaffected by normal variations in size, shape, weight

Directional brain orientation terms

Dorsal (North)

Rostral (West) Caudal(East)

Ventral (South)


Brain: Towards the nose/front
Spinal cord and brainstem: towards the brain (dog's nose)


Brain: towards the back of the brain/back
Spinal cord and brainstem: towards the coccyx/tail


Brain: towards the top of the brain/up
Spinal cord and brainstem: towards the back of the body/top of a dog


Brain: lower brain towards the jaw
Spinal cord and brainstem: towards the abdomen/belly of a dog

Orienting terms relating to brain planes

sagittal, coronal, horizontal, transverse, lateral, medial

Sagittal plane

Vertical cut that passes longitudinally and divides the brain into right and left hemispheres

Coronal plane

divides brain into front and back parts

Horizontal plane

divides the brain into upper and lower parts


structures away from the midsagittal plane (center)


approaching the midsagittal (center)


structures relatively close to the specific anatomic site of reference


Structures far from the anatomic site of reference


Flexion=bending movement of a limb
Extension=straightening movement of a limb


Adduction=limb is moved towards the central axis of the body
Abduction=limb is moved away from the cental axis of the body


Pronation=movement that turns the palm downward (lying on belly)
Supination=movement that turns the palm upwards (lying on back)

Muscle fibers

skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscles (differ by histolic structure)

Skeletal fibers

striated fibers under volitional control

Cardiac muscles

Striated fibers not under volitional control...controlled by the cardiovascular reflexes of the autonomic nervous system (ANS)

Smooth muscles

involuntary nonstriated fibers...found in internal organs

Huntington disease

a progressive and hereditary brain disease leading to chorea and dementia

Cerebral palsy

a motor disorder caused by damage to the brain (loss of oxygen) pre, post, or during birth

Parkinson disease

a progressive disease of the brain (motor disorder) characterized by tremor, reduced strength, and slow movements


a degenerative disease of the aging brain associated with dementia


a loss of function due to interruption of blood circulation in the brain


an abnormality in the brain's electrical activity

Multiple sclerosis

a progressive autoimmune demyelinating disease of the CNS affecting nerve conduction speed...muscle weakness, sensory loss, disequilibrium, incoordination, and speech distrubance, which comes and goes

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