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Published by T-Bone02135
MIT DELVE AP Psychology Course Lecture 3 Notes
MIT DELVE AP Psychology Course Lecture 3 Notes

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Published by: T-Bone02135 on Mar 05, 2009
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Lecture 3: Biological Basis of Behavior 1
Cell Staining
Since neurons are very very small, the field of neurobiology did not truly begin until there were good enoughmicroscopes to see neurons. The field was also slow to begin because of the difficulty of harvesting neurons.The consistency of the brain is much like Jello and it was not until the discovery of formaldehyde (which isused to harden the structure of the brain) was it possible to cut the brain into small slices for study. Thesetechnologies allowed for the field of 
histology
to begin. Histology is the microscopic study of the structureof tissues. One problem still remained after the start of histology. Freshly prepared brain has a uniform,cream-colored appearance under the microscope and structures are impossible to make out. This was solvedwith the invention of staining techniques.
Nissl Stain
: Invented by German neurologist Franz Nissl in the late nineteenth century. The Nissl staincan use a variety of dyes (cresyl violet, thionine, toluidin blue O, or methylene blue to name a few) andselectively stains cell nuclei and surrounding nuclear structures.
Golgi Stain
: Invented by Italian histologist Camillo Golgi in 1873. The Golgi stain consists of soaking braintissue in a silver chromate solution. This causes a small percentage of neurons to become darkly colored intheir entirety. This allows for the ability to look at a neuron’s entire structure.Santiago Ramon y Cajal was a histologist and artist that used Golgi’s stain to work out the circuitry of manyregions of the brain. Ironically, Golgi and Cajal drew completely opposite conclusions about neurons. Golgisupported the view that the neurites of different cells are fused together to form a continuous network similarto arteries and veins. Cajal on the other hand said that the neurites are not continuous with one anotherand must communicate by contact, not continuity. Cajal is right. The concept that neurons communicatewith each other by contact rather than continuity is known as the
neuron doctrine
. Although Golgi andCajal both shared the Nobel Prize in 1906, they remained bitter rivals to the end.1
 
The Prototypical Neuron
Soma
: Otherwise known as the cell body. The soma is about 20
µm
in diameter and filled with the cell’s
organelles
that are suspended in
cytosol
(a salty potassium rich solution).
Nucleus
: Contains most of the cell’s genetic material, organized as multiple long linear DNA molecules incomplex with a large variety of proteins, such as histones, to form chromosomes. The genes within thesechromosomes are the cell’s nuclear genome. The function of the nucleus is to maintain the integrity of thesegenes and to control the activities of the cell by regulating gene expression.
Ribosomes
: functions in the expression of the genetic code from nucleic acid into protein, in a processcalled translation. Ribosomes do this by catalyzing the assembly of individual amino acids into polypeptidechains; this involves binding a messenger RNA and then using this as a template to join together the correctsequence of amino acids. This reaction uses adapters called transfer RNA molecules, which read the sequenceof the messenger RNA and are attached to the amino acids.
Endoplasmic Reticulum
: a network of tubules, vesicles and sacs that are interconnected. They may servespecialized functions in the cell including protein synthesis, sequestration of calcium, production of steroids,storage and production of glycogen, and insertion of membrane proteins. Smooth ER has no ribosomes whilerough ER has ribosomes on its surface.
Golgi Apparatus
: a stack of membrane-enclosed disks in the soma that lies farthest from the nucleus thatdoes extensive post-translational chemical processing of proteins. It sorts certain proteins that are destinedfor delivery to different parts of the neuron.
Mitochondria
: sometimes described as ”cellular power plants” because they generate most of the cell’ssupply of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), used as a source of chemical energy.2
 
Protein Synthesis
Protein synthesis is the process whereby DNA encodes for the production of amino acids and proteins.This process can be divided into two parts:1.
Transcription
Before the synthesis of a protein begins, the corresponding RNA molecule is produced byRNA transcription. One strand of the DNA double helix is used as a template by the RNA polymerase tosynthesize a messenger RNA (mRNA). This mRNA migrates from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. During thisstep, mRNA goes through different types of maturation including one called splicing when the non-codingsequences are eliminated. The coding mRNA sequence can be described as a unit of three nucleotides calleda codon.2.
Translation
The ribosome binds to the mRNA at the start codon (AUG) that is recognized only bythe initiator tRNA. The ribosome proceeds to the elongation phase of protein synthesis. During this stage,complexes, composed of an amino acid linked to tRNA, sequentially bind to the appropriate codon in mRNAby forming complementary base pairs with the tRNA anticodon. The ribosome moves from codon to codonalong the mRNA. Amino acids are added one by one, translated into polypeptidic sequences dictated byDNA and represented by mRNA. At the end, a release factor binds to the stop codon, terminating translationand releasing the complete polypeptide from the ribosome.Nucleotides are organic compounds that consist of three joined structures: a nitrogenous base, a sugar, anda phosphate group. The most common nucleotides can be divided into two groups (purines and pyrimidines)based on the structure of the nitrogenous base. The joined sugar is either ribose or deoxyribose. Nucleotidesare the structural units of RNA and DNA. The different types are Adenine, Guanine, Uracil, Thymine, andCytosine. When they chain in a particular way they create codons that are translated into particular aminoacids by the ribosomes of a cell.3

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