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Week 7

Localization of the Brain
October 21, 2015

07.01 The Brain and Behaviour
The focus of this week’s reading is upon the brain and how it matures over a lifespan. You will
learn about the fascinating case studies of Phineas Gage and how his behaviour changed after a
massive brain injury, and of Tan, a man who could only utter one word - “tan”.
brain plasticity, the brain’s ability to remake itself as it adapts to the environment.
localization of function and discuss the use of brain-imaging technologies

Read pp. 41-45 from your Course Companion eText.

Read pp. 11-12 of the Pamoja Supplementary eText: The Biological
Level of Analysis: Section 2 Physiology and Behaviour: A
Localization of brain function and brain plasticity (neuroplasticity)
and pp. 24-27 Section 2. Physiology and Behaviour and F. Biology
and Behaviour - the use of technology.

chapter 2-1: pages 41-45

“Once again, most psychologists consider that neurotransmitters play a role, but do
not rely solely on neurotransmission to explain behaviour.”

the brain and behavior

brain: command centre of human activity

before modern technology, case studies of brain damage
o

ethically can’t reproduce in a lab

o

longitudinally: over a long period of time, to observe short-term and longterm effects of the damage

Case study: Phineas Gage

Dr John Harlow 1848

Phineas Gage: 25-year-old railroad foreman who unfortunately had a metal pole
sent through his skull during an explosion of a rocky cliff

o

though his left cheek, base of skull, through front of brain and out of the top
of his head, landing 100 feet away

o

awake and alert

o

lost vision in left eye, no paralysis, no speech difficulty

o

lost balance between intellectual abilities and emotional control had been
destroyed

o

profanity, impatient, highly agitated

o

frontal lobe: where behaviors as localized

Localization of brain function
o

Paul Broca (1861) studied stroke victims

Broca’s area: left frontal lobe, if damaged, unable to understand and
form sentences

Broca’s aphasia: condition including problems producing speech,
but able to understand

Broca studied Tan

o

o

could only say the word “tan” because of a specific brain
trauma

Carl Wernicke (1874)

Wernicke’s aphasia: patients could produce speech, but couldn’t
comprehend it

left posterior superior temporal gyrus

Broca and Wernicke’s studies lead to post-mortem studies → language
processing is localized

“Auditory and speech information is transported from the auditory
area (the temporal lobe) to Wernicke’s area for evaluation of
significance of content words, and then to Broca’s area for analysis
of syntax. Auditory and speech information is transported from the
auditory area (the temporal lobe) to Wernicke’s area for evaluation

of significance of content words, and then to Broca’s area for
analysis of syntax.”

Karl Kim and Joy Hirsch (1997)

Localization of brain function and ethics in research

o

nucleus accumbens, “pleasure centre” of the brain

o

Robert Heath (1950s)

o

electrically stimulating brains of depressed patients

press button themselves to experience pleasure

B-19 electrically stimulated himself 1500 times, in 3 hours

James Olds

electrical stimulation of nucleus accumbens

rats walked across electrified grids to get to “pleasure lever”

“electrical activation of the nucleus accumbens is based chiefly on
dopamine—a neurotransmitter that promotes desire—and serotonin
—a neurotransmitter that promotes satiety and inhibition”

all drugs increase production of dopamine in nucleus accumbens
(cocaine, nicotine)

“Through research on the nucleus accumbens, psychologists have
gained insight into the nature of addiction.”

The use of technology in brain research

o

study localization of function in the living human brain

o

invasive techniques

o

ablation (removing) or lesioning (scarring) brain tissue to study
behavioral changes

Hetherington and Ranson (1942)

lesioned a part of the brain called the ventromedial hypothalamus in
rats

more food, doubled weight


o

invasive techniques raise serious ethical concerns

o

o

o

lesioning and ablation: harm to animal can’t be predetermined and
can’t be reversed, unknown if there’s pain

EEG (electroencephalogram): print out of brainwaves, neurons transporting
information

how behaviors differ in sleep, emotions, and epilepsy

limited information, doesn’t show deeper brain regions or functions

PET (positron emission topography)

monitors glucose metabolism in the brain

injected with a harmless dose of radioactive glucose, and the
radioactive particles emitted by the glucose are detected by the PET
scanner

coloured maps of brain activity

diagnose abnormalities (tumors, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia)

ongoing activity, such as thinking, unlike MRI

Gur et al. (1995)

o

hypothalamus acts as a brake on eating

more active metabolism in primitive brain centres controlling
violence in men than in women

fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging)

three-dimensional pictures of the brain structures, using magnetic
fields and radio waves

which areas of brain are active when engaged in a behavior

higher resolution than PET and easier

BLOA: Section 2 Physiology and Behaviour: A Localization of brain function and brain
plasticity (neuroplasticity)
pg. 11-12

theory that the mechanisms for thought, behaviour and emotions are located in
different areas of the brain

Franz Josef Gall (1758-1828), who introduced phrenology

Paul Broca located the ability for speech in the third convolution of the left frontal
lobe

case studies are conducted into people with brain injury

Dr. Ramachandran has also identified, through case studies and modern scanning
technology, that a small structure inside the brain, called the fusiform gyrus, is
responsible for face recognition
o

Jenni Ogden (2005)
o

inability to recognise faces is called prosopagnosia

Clearly the right parietal lobe was responsible for recognition of the left side
of her body and the left side of her visual attention.

Brain plasticity (Neuroplasticity)
o

if one part of the brain is damaged, depending on the extent of the damage,
the area of the brain and (often) the age of the person affected, other parts
of the brain can to a greater or lesser extent take over the function of the
damaged part

o

Kolb et al. (2000)

worst time for cortical (frontal lobe) injury is likely the first month or
so of life

most favourable time is around 1 to 2 years of age, because this is
the age of maximum growth of neurons

BLOA: Section 2. Physiology and Behaviour and F. Biology and Behaviour - the use of
technology
pg. 24-27

modern technology
o

encephalogram (EEG)

o

measures and records the electrical activity in the brain (brain
waves)

computer tomography (CT)

combine computer and X-Ray technology to produce static images

o

o

o

detect changes in the structure of the brain due to a brain tumour or
brain damage

exposes the individual to X-ray radiation

magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

produce 3-D images of the brain

use a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make
pictures

to detect brain abnormalities

functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)

magnetic resonance imaging to measure the tiny metabolic changes
that take place in an active part of the brain

investigating the correlation between behaviour and brain activity in
certain areas

positron emission tomography (PET)

nuclear medicine imaging

detects these rays and turns them into computer images of brain
activity.

early diagnosis

CT and MRI scans can only show structure, while the other three types also show
brain activity, with the fMRI showing both structure and activity

Thinking Point: Can brain imaging technologies provide definitive answers to questions about
how humans think, or what thinking is?

07.02 Ethics and Animal Research
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/animals/using/experiments_1.shtml
I read the BBC article Experimenting on Animals in the Ethics Guide and believe
using animals in labs has had a huge impact in the history of medical science,
but should no longer be the preferred method because of the improving modern

technology. Experimenting on animals should always be unacceptable because
animals suffer, humans may not necessarily be benefiting, information can be
found in other ways. In order to create the transition from animal research to
technology based research scientists need to follow the three Rs, Reduction,
Refinement, and Replacement. The number of animals used must be decreased,
which can easily be done by researchers sharing findings, better care of the
animals, and using computer models or human volunteers instead of animals.
Not all research conducted can be applied to human beings, thus science cannot
be said to follow the morals or ethics of research. Animal research is a very
debatable situation because that's how humans have been collecting information
for hundreds of years. Scientists will not willing switch their methods because
some people told him that he wasn't following the rights of animals.

07.03 Localization of Function in the Brain
modern study of taxi drivers by Maguire (2000)
http://holah.co.uk/summary/maguire/
Aim: The aim of the study was to investigate whether changes could be detected in
the brains of London taxi drivers and to further investigate the functions of the
hippocampus in spatial memory.
comparing the data of taxi drivers and non-taxi drivers
Results: The first main findings of the research were that the posterior hippocampi
of taxi drivers were significantly larger relative to those of control subjects and that
the anterior hippocampal region was larger in control subjects than in taxi drivers.

07.04 Independent Assignment on Localization of Function in the Brain
Building on your knowledge of Maguire (2000), write a description and evaluation the study as an
independent assignment. Lastly explain how this study is relevant to the learning outcome
concerning localization of brain function.

The aim of the study was to investigate whether changes could be detected in the
brains of London taxi drivers and to further investigate the functions of the
hippocampus in spatial memory.

Independent Assignment Activity
Write three paragraphs about the Maguire (2000) study:

Describe the study.

Evaluate the study (methodological considerations are particularly
relevant).

Explain why this is a good study to show localization of function.

Save your work to your ePortfolio.
Maguire’s Study of Localization of the Brain
Natalie Cassello
27 October 2015
Psychology
Helen Loughran
In 2000, Maguire conducted a modern, natural experiment of taxi drivers in London. He had a
MRI for 16 healthy right-handed male taxi drivers between the ages of 32 and 62 and compared
those to the MRI of 50 right-handed healthy men who were not taxi drivers. Each of the taxi
drivers had been employed for more than a year and a half after two years of training. Correlation
analysis was used in order to compare the brain scans and the length of time that the taxi driver
had been licensed. The amount of gray matter found in the hippocampus was analyzed with the
3D image from the MRI. It was found that the posterior hippocampi of the taxi drivers were much
larger than those of the control participants. Also, the volume of the hippocampal correlated to the
length of time that the taxi driver had been licensed.
This experiment was completely ethical, as it was a natural experiment and the researcher had
no effect on the natural experiences. Maguire simply was observing and taking MRIs for the 66
participants. His methodology included collecting samples and then choosing the independent
events, being healthy male taxi drivers between the ages of 32 and 62. Data collection used
structural magnetic resonance imaging in order to create pictures of the brain that could be
converted into a 3D image. Gray matter of the hippocampus was calculated with voxel-based
morphemetry (VBM) and pixel counting. The data was then compared between a taxi driver and
non-taxi driver participant of the same age to investigate the functions of the hippocampus in
spatial memory.

Maguire’s investigation is a good study to show localization of function because it
is directly relating spatial memory, from being a taxi driver, to the size of the

hippocampus. The conclusions show that taxi drivers have larger hippocampus
than the control participants, who tend not to use spatial memory as often as the
London taxi drivers, and that the taxi drivers who have spent more time driving
have hippocampi with more volume than those who haven’t been licensed as
long. The direct correspondence of the job and brain plasticity, or the brain’s
ability to remake itself as it adapts to the environment, is evidently shown through
Maguire’s study of 2000.

Name: Natalie Cassello
October 2015
Teacher: Helen Loughran

27

IB Psychology
Pamoja Essential Skills
Linked closely to the attitudes and dispositions highlighted in the IB
Learner Profile are Pamoja's Essential Skills or what the IB categorizes
as Approaches to Learning (ATL). In a sense, these are the skills
deemed critical for success in this course, in school, and in your future.
Keep in mind that all of us have our own unique strengths, interests
and personalities. It is not expected that you will be expert in any of
these skills after just a few weeks in the course, but rather the goal is
to continue to monitor, reflect and improve upon your existing skill set.
Using the rubric below to reflect on and then rate your skill level (either
novice, learner, practitioner, or expert) for each of the 5 essential skills
of thinking, communication, social, research, and self-management.
Here is an example:
I am at the learner level of research skills. I tend to follow my
teacher and classmates’ lead on gathering and using research. I
usually need some assistance when conducting research and do
not always cite or use information appropriately.
Write a blog post of five short paragraphs for each skill explaining the
rating you gave yourself.

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4

Novice
(Observation)

Learner
(Emulation)

Practitioner
(Demonstration
)

Expert (Selfregulation)

Observes others
performing tasks
and using the
skill.

Copies others’
performance of
the skill.

Can demonstrate
the skill on
demand.

Can teach others
the skill.

High levels of
scaffolding from
teacher needed.

Medium level of
scaffolding
needed.

Minimal teacher
scaffolding
required.

No teacher
scaffolding
required.

(Dreyfus and Dreyfus 2000, Berliner 2004)
My Essential Skills
I am at the practitioner level of thinking skills. I thoroughly sort through
my thoughts while going through the readings, take notes, respond in
discussions, and answer questions. I am able to automatically
demonstrate this skill without a teacher reminding me.
I am at the practitioner level of communication skills. I am able to talk
with others pertaining to the course. I don’t refrain from asking others
questions. I have Skyped and emailed my teacher. I have the
communication skills in place and can show them, however I do need a
little structure from the teacher. I could improve by asking more
questions and possibly joining more conferences.
I am at the learner level of social skills. I believe my weakest essential
skill is social. If I need to talk with others, I can, but I seem to be more
independent, especially when it comes to an online course. I do require
class structure, such as working with a partner, in order to start
conversations. After a time is set, however, I am able to hold a
conversation.
I am at the practitioner level of research skills. I tend to look at more
research if I’m confused or interested in the material, but don’t
necessarily use this skill as often as I could. I do need a tiny push from
the syllabus in order to research a topic into more depth.

I am at the expert level of self-management skills. Out of all five of the
essential skills, self-management is by far my best. More often than
not, I complete all my work before the due date, so there is no rush or
procrastination. I am able to stay organize and divide up my time
equally.