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Title: Brain Response of Behavior Submitted by: Travis Hance Course: BEH225 Instructor: Gigi Sofia University of Phoenix

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Part I Note: Parts II and III follow below, complete all three. Write a 350- to 700-word response to the following: Explain the communication process of neurons in the brain. List some common neurotransmitters and describe their effect on behavior.

Neurons play a key role in both the communication process of the brain, and therefore directly affect human behaviors. Neuron communication begins with fibers called dendrites, which translate information into a nerve impulse sending information along a single fiber called an axon, sending axon, or presynaptic neuron. At the end of the axon neurotransmitters created in tiny sacs known as synaptic vesicles send the information to the next neuron. The neurotransmitters pass through a space along the axon known as the synaptic cleft, with the receiving dendrites also being known as the postsynaptic neuron. On the receiving end there is a period of binding that occurs. The receptor only accepts certain types and shapes of neurotransmitters, meaning that certain information cannot pass.

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Some of the more common neurotransmitters are dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. The National Institute of Mental Health (hereafter referred to as NIMH) provides a wealth of information on the effects of neurotransmitters and how they affect our actions, emotions, and behaviors. Dopamine affects voluntary movement, emotion, learning ability, and even memory. “Problems in producing dopamine can result in Parkinson's disease, a disorder that affects a person's ability to move as they want to, resulting in stiffness, tremors or shaking, and other symptoms. Some studies suggest that having too little dopamine or problems using dopamine in the thinking and feeling regions of the brain may play a role in disorders like schizophrenia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).” (NIMH 2012) Endorphins provide a sense of wellbeing and even euphoria, aiding in the reduction of pain. This can be seen in the example of athletes who feel a high after serious exertion. “Endorphins flood the space between nerve cells and usually inhibit neurons from firing, thus creating an analgesic effect. On a lower level they can excite neurons as well. When endorphins do their work, the organism feels good, high, or euphoric, and feels relief from pain” (PBS 2012).

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Serotonin regulates emotional responses including mood and aggression, and can also help regulate sleep. “Research shows that people with depression often have lower than normal levels of serotonin. The types of medications most commonly prescribed to treat depression act by blocking the recycling, or reuptake, of serotonin by the sending neuron. As a result, more serotonin stays in the synapse for the receiving neuron to bind onto, leading to more normal mood functioning.” (NIMH 2012).

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Part II Write a 350- to 700-word response identifying the major regions of the brain and what functions of behavior the systems of each region control.

The cerebral core, central core, and limbic system comprise the three regions of the brain. Within the central core are located the hypothalamus, thalamus, cerebellum, medulla, and pons. The thalamus is the section of the brain responsible for transmission of information. The hypothalamus is located directly beneath the thalamus, and affects emotion and desire for base physical needs such as food, water, and sex. “Some functions are intrinsic to the hypothalamus. These are functions that require a direct input to the hypothalamus and where the response is generated directly via hypothalamic outputs. Included are such things as temperature and osmolality regulation. There are many functions where the hypothalamus monitors the internal milieu and produces a regulatory response. These include the regulation of endocrine functions and appetite.” (Swenson, 2006). The pons regulates chemicals that control our sleep cycles. The medulla controls respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure. The cerebellum controls balance and coordination.

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The limbic system “is the area of the brain that regulates emotion and memory. It directly connects the lower and higher brain functions. It influences emotions, the visceral responses to those emotions, motivation, mood, and sensations of pain and pleasure.” (Matheson, 2012). Within the limbic system the hippocampus, amygdale, and various other structures. New memories are aided in their formation by the hippocampus. The amygdale works in conjunction with the hippocampus and controls the need for self-preservation. The outer layer of the cerebral hemisphere is the cerebral cortex. This occupies the largest portion of the skull. The cerebral cortex is made up of the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, occipital lobe, and temporal lobe. The frontal lobe helps us solve complex tasks including problem solving and communication with other areas of the cortex. Sensory information and special abilities are processed by the parietal lobe. The occipital lobe processes visual information received by the eyes. The temporal lobe receives information from the ears and helps process the signals. It also uses such information to aid in balance, language recognition and comprehension. “Language can be effected by temporal lobe damage. Left temporal lesions disturb recognition of words. Right temporal damage can cause a loss of inhibition of talking.The temporal lobes are highly associated with memory skills.” (Blumer and Benson,1975).

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Part III Consider the following chain of events. Describe in 350-700 words the sensory process that takes place as the scenario unfolds.

The sensory process in this scenario begins as the ear senses the sound of the ball being struck by the bat. As the sound passes through the auditory passages it is received at the temporal lobe. This information is passed or transmitted by neural message. The dendrite at the end of the neuron carries it forward. Once enough information is received it is transmitted as a nerve impulse across the synaptic cleft to the next neuron. Once it has bound with the receptor and, assuming the proper fit, will continue along. In the second image of this scenario the eyes come into play. As the individual sees the ball, this information is processed by the occipital lobe. Again information is passed along from cell to cell. In the third image, the brain has combined the two sources of input and the resultant triggers a physical response. The frontal lobe combines and processes both sets of previous information and prepares the body for movement. The message sent results in reflexive movement causing the individual to move to intercept the ball based on training and instinct.

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References Blumer and Benson,1975. “Occipital Lobe” Downloaded from: http://library.thinkquest.org/19910/data/occipital_lobe National Institute of Mental Health, 2012. “The Working Brain.” Downloaded from: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/educational-resources PBS, 2012. “Heroin in the brain” Downloaded from: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/ Rand Swenson, 2006. “Review of Clinical and Functional Neuroscience” Downloaded from: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~rswenson/NeuroSci/ Carla Matheson, 2012. “Intro to the brain” Downloaded from: http://its.sdsu.edu/multimedia/