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Lecture

2

The Biological Basis of
Behavior

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psychobiology-the area of psychology that focuses on the

biological founda7ons of behavior and mental processes.


(physiological, gene7c, developmental mechanisms)

Neuropsychology-the area of psychology that focuses on the

rela7onship between the brain and behavior.


neuroscience - the study of the brain and the nervous system.

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Neurons: The Messengers


neurons - individual cells that are the smallest unit of

the nervous system.

Average human being has 100 billion neurons


Neurons vary in size and shape.
All are specialized to receive and transmit informa7on.

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Parts of the Neuron



Soma-cell body
dendrites - short bers that branch out from the cell

body and receive incoming messages.


axon - single long ber extending from the cell body;
it carries outgoing messages.
Axon terminals- branches of the axon

Terminal bu>ons- located at the end of the axon; send

informa7on onto other neurons

myelin sheath - white faJy 7ssue covering axons.


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Types of Neurons
sensory (or aerent) neurons - neurons that carry messages from

sense organs to the spinal cord or brain.

motor (or eerent) neurons - neurons that carry messages from the

spinal cord or brain to the muscles and glands.

interneurons (or associaBon neurons) - neurons that carry

messages from one neuron to another.

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Glial cells (or glia)


Glia-

supporting cells
-hold neurons in place
-provide nourishment
-remove waste products
-protect the brain from harmful substances
-form myelin sheath
(neurons in blue- green; glia in red)

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The Neural Impulse


Neurons communicate through
electrochemical impulses.
acBon potenBal - the ring of a nerve cell.
resBng potenBal - electrical charge across a

neuron membrane as a result of posi7ve ions outside


and nega7ve ions inside the membrane.
PolarizaBon - the condi7on of a neuron when the

inside is nega7vely charged rela7ve to outside; when a


neuron is at rest.

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Action potential
Positively (+) charged ions flow
into the cell, creating the
electrical impulse (spike,
firing)

All or none

Rules for the action potential


1. A neuron will re only when it reaches the
threshold of excita7on
threshold of excitaBon the level an impulse must
exceed to cause a neuron to re (is the inside of the
neuron posi7vely charged enough to re?)

2. All-or-none law - principle that the ac7on poten7al


in a neuron does not vary in strength; either the neuron
res at full strength, or it does not re at all.

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The incoming
message must be
above a certain
threshold to cause a
neuron to fire
After it fires, the
neuron is returned to
its resting state
Then, the neuron is
ready to fire again

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The Synapse
Neurons never touch
synapBc space (or synapBc cleG) - 7ny gap
between the axon terminal of one neuron and the
dendrites of the next neuron.
synapse - area composed of
-axon terminal of one neuron,
-synapBc cleG
-dendrite of the next neuron.
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reserved

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PresynapBc /PostsynapBc neurons


terminal bu>ons (or synapBc knob) -

structure at the end of an axon


terminals (here neurotransmiJers are
released).


receptor sites - loca7ons on a

receiving neuron into which a specic


neurotransmiJer ts like a key into a
lock.
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reserved

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synapBc vesicles - 7ny sacs in a


terminal buJon that release
chemicals into the synapse.

Neurotransmi>ers - chemicals
released by the synap7c vesicles that
travel across the synap7c space and
aect adjacent neurons.

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reserved

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Neurotransmitters
Acetylcholine-

arousal, attention, memory,


movement, Alzhemers disease
Dopamine- pleasure, motivation, schizophrenia,
Parkinsons disease
Serotonin-sleep, mood, eating, depression
Norepinephrine- arousal, wakefulness, learning
and memory
Glutamate- learning and memory
GABA- inhibitory, sleep, eating disorder

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Neural Plas7city and Neurogenesis


Experience can change the brain structurally and
chemically

neural plasBcity - the ability of the brain to change
in response to experience.
Neurogenesis - the growth of new neurons.

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In Rosenzweigs experiment, young rats lived in two kinds of cages: impoverished, with nothing to manipulate or explore, or
enriched, with a variety of objects. When Rosenzweig examined the rats brains, he found that the enriched group had larger
neurons with synap7c connec7ons (shown as dendrites in the drawing) than the rats that lived in the bare cages. Experience,
then, can actually aect the structure of the brain.

Source: From Brain changes in response to experience by M. R. Rosenzweig, E. L. Bennett, and M. C. Diamond.
Copyright 1972, Scientific American, Inc.

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The Organiza7on of the Nervous System


The nervous system has two

parts:

The central nervous system (CNS)


the brain and spinal cord

The peripheral nervous system

(PNS)

linking all of the body's parts to the

CNS

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Fight or flight response


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Functional organization of the


human brain

Brain
Hindbrain
Midbrain
Forebrain

Hindbrain

Cerebellum
Pons
Medulla

Hindbrain

medulla -

-breathing
-heart rate
-blood pressure.
pons

-sleep and wake cycles


-dreaming
cerebellum

-certain reexes
-body movements coordina7on
-balance
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Midbrain

controls sensory processes (hearing,


sight) and brain activity
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Forebrain

Cerebral cortex
thalamus
hypothalamus
limbic system

Forebrain
Cerebral cortex -

-most complex behavior (thinking, reasoning, judgment)


Thalamus-

-relay sta7on between sensory receptors and the brain


Hypothalamus

-emo7ons
-mo7va7on
-stress
-ea7ng and drinking
Limbic system
-learning
-emo7onal response
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Forebrain
cerebral cortex

- most complex behavior.


limbic system

- learning and emo7onal behavior


thalamus-

-major sensory relay center between sense receptors and


the brain
Hypothalamus-

-mo7va7on
-emo7onal responses
-stress


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Eyes

Cerebral Cortex
frontal lobe
-voluntary movement
-planning goal-directed behavior
-concentra7on
-problem solving

parietal lobe-

-sensory informa7on (visual/spa7al/taste/touch)


Temporal lobe
-language
-hearing

Occipital lobe
-vision
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prefrontal cortex

-impulse control
-judgment
-conscious awareness.
primary motor cortex (B)

-voluntary movement
primary somatosensory cortex (C)

-sensa7on

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Limbic System
-A system of brain structures (thalamus, hypothalamus,
hippocampus, amygdala, and olfactory bulb)
-involved in learning, mo7va7on, emo7onal behavior

hippocampus - plays an essen7al role in the
forma7on of new memories.
Hypothalamus- emo7ons, mo7va7on, stress, eaBng
amygdala - in conjunc7on with the hippocampus
regulates emo7ons. FEAR.
olfactory bulb - the smell center in the brain.

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Hemispheric Specializa7on
The cerebrum has two separate hemispheres
(not iden7cal):
right hemisphere
-
-

controls the LEFT side of the body


nonverbal, visual, and spaBal tasks.

leG hemisphere
-
-

Controls the RIGHT side of the body


language

Corpus Callosum- bers that connect both


hemispheres
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Evidence for hemispheric


specialization
The most drama7c evidence for the role of the
corpus callosum and hemispheric specializa7on has
come from pa7ents with severe epilepsy that have
had the corpus callosum cut.

Split brain
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(A) When split-brain patients stare at the X in the center of the screen, visual information projected on the right side of the screen
goes to the patients left hemisphere, which controls language. When asked what they see, patients can reply correctly. (B) When
split-brain patients stare at the X in the center of the screen, visual information projected on the left side of the screen goes to the
patients right hemisphere, which does not control language. When asked what they see, patients cannot name the object, but can
pick it out by touch with the left hand.
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More evidence for hemispheric


specialization
Pa7ents who have had le8 hemisphere stroke in
areas of the brain associated with language have:
aphasias - impairments of the ability to either use
or understand language as a result of brain damage.
Brocas area- expressive language
Wernickes area- recep7ve language

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Processing of speech and language

Brocas and Wernickes areas, generally found only on the left side of the brain, work
together, enabling us to produce and understand speech and language.
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Tools for Studying the Brain


Microelectrodes

- to record the ac7vity of a single neuron


Macroelectrodes (EEG)

- to record the overall ac7vity of many neurons


Structural imaging (CT & MRI)-

-to study brain structures


Func7onal imaging (EEG imaging, PET, fMRI)

- to study brain ac7vity


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EEG - electroencephalograph

the measurement of the


brains electrical activity,
recorded from electrodes
placed on the scalp.
To study sleep, seizures,
wakefulness

Computerized axial tomography, CAT


threedimensonal
image of the
brain from a
large series of
twodimensional Xray images
To study brain
structures

MRI - magnetic resonance


imaging
The brain is exposed to radio waves, which causes
hydrogen atoms to release energy
The released energy by different brain structures
generates an image

-more detailed image


of brain structures
- Images of brain
slices can be made at
any plane

PET Scanning - positron emission


tomography
Measuring the
brain's blood flow
and metabolic
activity.
Hot colors-

greater activity

radioactive substance
(tracer) is injected
into the blood

fMRI imaging functional


magnetic resonance imaging
Measures changes
in the oxygen level
(the brains blood
flow)
shows the brain
activity
Hot colors-greater
activity

-very detailed image


- No radioactive
chemicals

Genes, Evolu7on, and Behavior


Two dierent but related elds contribute to the
understanding of how heredity inuences behavior.
Both try to seJle the nature/nurture debate.

behavioral geneBcs - study of the rela7onship
between heredity and behavior.
evoluBonary psychology - study of the evolu7onary
roots of behaviors and mental processes.

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Gene7cs

deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) - the code for all gene7c

informa7on.
genes - elements found on chromosomes that control
the transmission of traits.
chromosomes 23 pairs of threadlike bodies within the
cell nucleus that contain the genes.
human genome - the full set of genes (35,000 genes)
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Genes run in pairs:



dominant genes - member of a gene pair that controls the
appearance of a certain trait.
recessive genes - member of a gene pair that can control the
appearance of a certain trait only if it is paired with another
recessive gene.

Most traits are determined by many genes

genotype - an organisms en7re unique gene7c makeup (she
carries genes for schizophrenia).
phenotype - the observable characteris7cs determined by
both gene7cs and experience ( she has schizophrenia)
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Behavior Gene7cs
Nature or nurture?
A variety of methods are used to study the contribu7on of
genes:
Twin studies - studies of iden7cal and fraternal twins to
determine the rela7ve inuence of heredity and
environment on human behavior.
idenBcal twins - from a single fer7lized egg; share 100% of

gene7c makeup at concep7on.


fraternal twins - twins developed from two separate fer7lized
eggs; share only 50% of gene7c makeup.

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Behavior Gene7cs (cont.)


family studies
- does the trait run in the family?
- assump7on: if genes inuence a certain
trait, close rela7ves should be more similar on
that trait than distant rela7ves.
e.g. homosexuality; au7sm

adopBon studies - research carried out on
children, adopted at birth by parents not
related to them, to determine the rela7ve
inuence of heredity and environment on
human behavior.

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Average Risk of Schizophrenia Among Biological Relatives of


People with Schizophrenia

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Evolu7onary Psychology
EvoluBonary psychology- examines the adap7ve
value of behaviors from an evolu7onary perspec7ve

Natural selecBon:
-based on Darwins theory of evolu7on
-organisms best adapted to their environment tend
to survive and carry their genes
- organisms with less adap7ve characteris7cs tend to
vanish from the earth.

e.g. innate fear of spiders/snakes; language
acquisi7on
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