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Biological Aspects of Psychology

Chapter 3
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Biological Psychology
a branch of psychology concerned with the links between biology and behavior
Nervous System
the body's speedy, electrochemical communication system, consisting of all the nerve cells of the peripheral and central nervous systems
Neurons
A nerve cell; the basic building block of the nervous system
Glial Cells
Cells in the nervous system that are not neurons but that support, nourish, and protect neurons
Axon
the extension of a neuron, ending in branching terminal fibers, through which messages pass to other neurons or to muscles or glands.
Dendrite
a branch off the cell body of a neuron that receives new information from other neurons
Synapse
location at which a neuron can transfer an impulse to another cell
Action Potential
a neural impulse; a brief electrical charge that travels down an axon. The action potential is generated by the movement of positively charged atoms in and out of channels in the axon's membrane.
Myelin
a fatty substance that helps insulate neurons and speeds the transmission of nerve impulses
Refractory Period
the time following an action potential during which a new action potential cannot be initiated
Neurotransmitters
chemicals that transmit information from one neuron to another
Receptors
sites on the surface of a cell that allow only one type of neurotransmitter to fit through and trigger a chemical response that may lead to an action potential
Postsynaptic Potential
the change in the membrane potential of a neuron that has received stimulation from another neuron
Excitatory Postsynaptic Potential
a postsynaptic potential that depolarizes the neuronal membrane, making the cell more likely to fire an action potential
Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potential
a postsynaptic potential that hyperpolarizes the neuronal membrane, making a cell less likely to fire an action potential
Three Functions of the Nervous System
1. INPUT: the sound of the alarm clock is conveyed to your brain by your ears
2. PROCESSING: your brain knows from past experience that it is time to get up
3. OUTPUT: your brain directs the muscles of your arm and hand to reach out and shut off the alarm clock
How Do Neurons Communicate?
1. An ACTION POTENTIAL shoots down the AXON, away from the cell body.
2. A NEUROTRANSMITTER is release into the SYNAPSE, where the DENDRITES or the neighboring neurons detect it.
3. If there is a receptor for this neurotransmitter on the dendrites, the neurotransmitter and receptor bind, creating an electrochemical signal.
4. If that signal is strong enough, it spreads down the dendrites and across the cell body of the next neuron, and begins another action potential.
Neural Networks
interconnected neural cells that operate together to perform complex functions
Sensory Systems
the parts of the nervous system that provide information about the environment
Motor Systems
the parts of the nervous system that influence muscles and other organs to respond to the environment in some way
Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)
the parts of the nervous system not housed in bone
Central Nervous System (CNS)
the part of the nervous system that are located in bone (the brain and spinal cord)
Somatic Nervous System
(AKA Skeletal Nervous System) the division of the peripheral nervous system that controls the body's skeletal muscles
Autonomic Nervous System
the part of the nervous system of vertebrates that controls involuntary actions of the smooth muscles, heart, and glands; divided into Sympathetic and Parasympathetic systems
Sympathetic Nervous System
a branch of the autonomic nervous system and prepares the body for quick action in emergencies; "fight or flight"
Parasympathetic Nervous System
the division of the autonomic nervous system that calms the body, conserving its energy
Nuclei
collections of nerve cell bodies in the central nervous system
Fiber Tracts/Pathways
axons in the central nervous system that travel together in bundles
Spinal Cord
a column of nerves within the spine that transmits messages to and from the brain
Reflexes
unlearned, involuntary responses that occur automatically in the presence of certain stimuli
Feedback System
cycle of events in which body's status is monitored, changed, and reevaluated; EXAMPLE: when you touch a hot stove, your muscles contract away from the stimulus, but in order to do that, another set of muscles would have had to relax
Afferent Neurons
Neurons that transmit messages from sense organs to the central nervous system.
Efferent Neurons
(AKA motor neurons) nerves that carry impulses away from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles and glands
Hindbrain
division which includes the cerebellum, Pons, and medulla; responsible for involuntary processes: blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, breathing, sleep cycles
Medulla
part of the brain nearest the spinal cord which controls breathing, heart rate and blood pressure
Reticular Formation
a network of cells in the brainstem that filters sensory information and is involved in arousal and alertness
Locus Coeruleus
a small nucleus in the reticular formation that is involved in directing attention
Cerebellum
the "little brain" attached to the rear of the brainstem; its functions include processing sensory input and coordinating movement output and balance; also involved in impulse control, emotion, and language
Brain Stem
the part of the brain that lies between the cerebellum and spinal cord that controls the body's involuntary actions
Pons
a brain structure located at the top of the brain stem that is involved in respiration, movement, and sleep
Midbrain
the middle division of brain responsible for hearing and sight; location where pain is registered; includes temporal lobe, occipital lobe, and most of the parietal lobe
Substantia Nigra
an area of the midbrain that is involved in motor control and contains a large concentration of dopamine-producing neurons.
Striatum
a structure within the forebrain that is involved in the smooth beginning of movement
Occipital Lobe
portion posterior to the parietal and temporal lobes, responsible for vision
Parietal Lobe
portion posterior to the frontal lobe, responsible for sensations such as pain, temperature, and touch
Temporal Lobe
portion that lies below the frontal lobe, responsible for hearing, taste, and smell
Corpus Callosum
the large band of neural fibers connecting the two brain hemispheres and carrying messages between them
Pituitary Gland
endocrine system's most influential gland; under the influence of the hypothalamus, the pituitary regulates growth and controls other endocrine glands
Wernicke's Area
controls language reception - a brain area involved in language comprehension and expression; usually in the left temporal lobe
Brocca's Area
responsible for the production of the sounds of speech; brocca's area and the wernicke's area are only in humans
Forebrain
top of the brain which includes the thalamus, hypothalamus, and cerebral cortex; responsible for emotional regulation, complex thought, memory aspect of personality
Frontal Lobe
front of the brain; associated with reasoning, planning, parts of speech, movement, emotions, and problem solving
Limbic System
neural system (including the hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus) located below the cerebral hemispheres; associated with emotions and drives.
Thalamus
brain structure that receives messages from the sense organs and relays the information to the proper region of the cerebrum for further processing
Hypothalamus
brain structure below the thalamus; directs eating, drinking, body temperature; helps govern the endocrine system via the pituitary gland, and is linked to emotion
Amygdala
limbic system component associated with emotion, particularly fear and anger
Hippocampus
neural centre located in the limbic system that helps process explicit memories for storage.
Suprachiasmatic Nuclei
pair of hypothalamic nuclei, one on the left and one on the right, that play a role in the timing of 24 hour biological rhythims; they are located just dorsal to the optic chiasm.
Cerebral Hemispheres
the right and left halves of the cerebrum
Cerebral Cortex
the layer of unmyelinated neurons (the gray matter) forming the cortex (outer surface) of the cerebrum
Sensory Cortex
the area at the front of the parietal lobes that registers and processes body touch and movement sensations; includes visual, auditory, and somatosensory cortexes
Visual Cortex
located in the occipital lobe; the main information-processing center for visual information
Auditory Cortex
an area in the temporal lobe of the brain that is responsible for hearing
Somatosensory Cortex
a brain area at the front of the parietal lobes that registers and processes body sensations
Motor Cortex
an area at the rear of the frontal lobes that controls voluntary movements
Association Cortex
areas of the cortex that communicate with the sensory and motor areas and house the brain's higher mental processes
Lateralized
referring to the tendency for one cerebral hemisphere to excel at a particular function or skill compared with the other hemisphere
Plasticity
ability to create new synapses and change the strength of synapses
Neurotransmitter System
a group of neurons that communicates by using the same neurotransmitter
Acetylcholine
a neurotransmitter that triggers muscle contraction and enables learning and memory; loss of acetylcholine causes Alzheimer's disease
Norepinephrine
neurotransmitter that is involved in arousal and the fight-or-flight system (also mood, sleep, and learning)
Seratonin
affects mood, appetite, sleep, and arousal; ongoing research suggests that a lack of seratonin is linked to depression
Dopamine
neurotransmitter related to pleasure; addictions are caused by the addict searching for a drug that causes a firing of dopamine through the body; lack of dopamine linked with Parkinson's disease, too much is linked with schizophrenia
Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA)
the body's chief inhibitory neurotransmitter, which plays a role in regulating arousal; loss of GABA causes Huntington's Disease
Glutemate
major excitatory neurotransmitter (strengthens synaptic bonds in the CNS); affects memory and learning
Endorphins
natural, opiatelike neurotransmitters linked to pain control and to pleasure
The Endocrine System
is a collection of glands that produce hormones which help regulate the body's growth, metabolism, and sexual development and function
Gland
an organ of the body that secretes one or more hormones into the bloodstream
Hormones
chemical messengers released by the endocrine glands that travel through the bloodstream and affect other tissues
Thyroid
gland of the endocrine system that produces hormones that regulate metabolism
Adrenal Cortex (Shell)
regulates carbohydrate/salt metabolism
Adrenal Medulla (Core)
prepare the body for action
Pancreas
gland that produces hormones that regulate blood sugar by releasing glucagon or insulin as needed
Ovaries
located one on each side of the uterus in the female pelvis, functioning to secrete estrogen and progesterone
Testes
male reproductive organs that produce sperm and secrete male sex hormones
The Immune System
complex group of defenses found in the body that fight against harmful substances and pathogens
Autoimmune Disorders
physical problems caused when cells of the body's immune system attack normal body cells as if they were foreign invaders