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By: Mark Bancroft, MA
Part One: The Major Structures of the Brain.
The human brain is a mass of pinkish-gray tissue containing a neural network involving approximately 10 billion nerve cells, called neurons. Glial cells serve as the brain's support system, in addition to blood vessels and secretory organs. Weighing in at a mere three pounds, the brain operates as the central control system for movement, sleep, hunger, and thirst. It controls nearly every vital activity necessary for survival. Emotions are controlled by the brain: anger, fear, joy, love, elation, contentment, and happiness find their origin inside the brain. Furthermore, the brain receives and interprets the multitude of signals being sent by other parts of the body and the outside environment. There are three major divisions of the brain: the forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain.
A. Forebrain: For anatomical study the forebrain is divided into two subdivisions: the telencephalon and the diencephalon. The primary structures of the telencephalon include the cerebral cortex, basal ganglia, and the limbic system. The diencephalon includes the thalamus and the hypothalamus.
Telencephalon: Cerebral Cortex: Likened to the bark on a tree, the cerebral cortex surrounds the cerebral hemispheres. The cerebral cortex is the folded, convoluted tissue commonly imagined when an image/thought of the brain is recalled from memory. The folded, crumpled structure contains an enormous amount of small and large grooves (sulci and fissures) and bulges (gyri). This type of structure is beneficial for it greatly increases the overall surface are of the cortex. In fact, because of the convoluted design the area of the cerebral cortex is tripled!
The cerebral cortex is commonly referred to as gray matter. This is based upon the appearance of the cortex which, due to the predominance of cells appears grayish brown. The neurons of the cerebral cortex are connected to other neurons within the brain via millions of axons located beneath the cortex. This area is white in color due to the concentration of myelin; it is often called white matter .
One of the most apparent visible features of the brain is the division between the left and right hemispheres of the cerebral cortex. Through evolutionary advances the functions of each hemisphere have evolved. Mental and emotional differences between men and women are speculated to result from different modes of functioning between the two hemispheres. In most cases the left hemisphere is deemed the dominant half of the brain. This is due to its superior language abilities as well as its analytic, sequential.
In general terms it is well understood that the left hemisphere controls linguistic consciousness, the right half of the body, talking, reading, writing, spelling, speech communication, verbal intelligence and memories, and information processing in the areas of math, typing, grammar, logic, analytic reasoning, and perception of details. The right hemisphere is associated with 'unconscious' awareness (in the sense it is not linguistically based), perception of faces and patterns, comprehension of body language and social cues, creativity and insight, intuitive reasoning, visual-spatial processing, and holistic comprehension. Communication between the two hemispheres takes place through the corpus callosum, which, by the way, is more fully developed in women than men- likely giving rise to women's intuition.
The surface of the cerebral hemispheres is divided into four lobes corresponding to the names of the skull plates that protect them: the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe, and the occipital lobe. In addition to these four lobes, a fifth lobe exists called the insula. This lobe is internal and is not visible from the surface of the brain.
The frontal lobes went through a tremendous evolutionary expansion 50,000 years ago. Subsequently, the capacities for long-term planning, goal development, and the ability to override immediate gratification in favor for future goals greatly expanded. The frontal lobes are sometimes associated with what it means to be human. Absence of the frontal lobes typically results in a person who is deemed emotionally shallow, listless, apathetic, and insensitive to social norms. According to Candace Pert, "If God speaks to
The corpus callosum is the primary connection between the left and right hemispheres of the cerebral cortex. and difficulty with initiating movements. along with portions of the hypothalamus. Connection between the two halves takes place through axons that unite geographically similar regions of the two cerebral cortices. Diencephalon: The diencephalon is the second major division of the forebrain. Some anatomists consider the amygdala (primary component of the limbic system) a part of the basal ganglia given its location. The Limbic System: The limbic system is a collection of brain structures involved with emotion. as well as organizes survival behavior. and septum function together to form the limbic system. Hearing is processed in the primary auditory cortex within the temporal lobe. Visual information is received by the primary visual cortex located within the occipital lobe.man. if man speaks to God. and occipital lobes are specialized for perception. The parieto-occipital fissure separates the parietal and occipital lobes. caudate nuclei. rigidity of the limbs. The parietal. weakness. The principle . The hippocampus (sea horse) and the amygdala (almond). which is the part of the brain that has undergone the most recent evolutionary expansion. and memory storage and recall. thalamus." Furthermore. tremors. The central sulcus (fissure of Rolando) divides the frontal lobe from the parietal lobe. and pain. which controls the autonomic nervous system and endocrine system. pressure. Control of movement is associated with the frontal lobes via the primary motor cortex located within this lobe. [see question #4 for further information]. it would be through the frontal lobes. Parkinson's disease has an effect upon the basal ganglia resulting in poor balance. the frontal lobes exert a degree of control over the hypothalamus. motivation. temperature. multifaceted behavior. The lateral fissure (fissure of Sylvius) separates the temporal lobe from the overlying frontal and parietal lobes. Within the parietal lobe is the primary somatosensory cortex which receives information pertaining to the senses of the body: touch. temporal. Basal Ganglia: The basal ganglia are a collection of subcortical nuclei situated beneath the anterior portions of the lateral ventricles. they are involved with the control of movement.
such as: eating. Because of this the anterior pituitary gland is sometimes referred to as the Master Gland.structures include the thalamus and hypothalamus. emotional behavior. and the red nucleus and substantia nigra are part of the tegmentum. The reticular formation. Thalamus: The thalamus is the relay station for incoming sensory signals and outgoing motor signals passing to and from the cerebral cortex. The anterior pituitary gland is directly connected to the hypothalamus via a special system of blood vessels. . It receives sensory information and is involved with attention. The reticular formation is comprised of more than 90 nuclei and an interconnected neural network located at the core of the brain stem. Tectum: The primary structure of the tectum include the superior colliculi and the inferior colliculi. The inferior colliculi are part of the auditory system. Function in mammals relates to visual reflexes and reaction to moving stimuli. Most hormones secreted by the anterior pituitary gland control other endocrine glands. The superior colliculi form part of the visual system. With the exception of the olfactory sense. Tegmentum: The tegmentum is situated below the tectum. It is located just beneath the thalamus and lies at the base of the brain. B. The Mesencephalon: Two primary parts comprise the midbrain : the tectum and the tegmentum. The thalamus consists of two large connected lobes. The autonomic nervous system and endocrine system are controlled by the hypothalamus. It is comprised of gray matter and is deemed a noncritical part of the brain. and sexual activity. absence of which is outwardly unnoticeable. periaqueductal gray matter. Neurosecretory cells released by the hypothalamus act upon the anterior pituitary gland which then secretes its hormones. all sensory input to the brain connected to nerve cell clusters (nuclei) of the thalamus. temperature regulation. Hormones of the posterior pituitary gland are also governed by the hypothalamus. The structures appear as four small bumps located on the brain stem. drinking. Hypothalamus: The hypothalamus is comprised of distinct areas and nuclei which control vital survival behaviors and activities. The massa intermedia serves as a bridge connecting the two lobes of the thalamus. Midbrain. sleep.
Visual. vasoconstrictor. and somatosensory information is received by the cerebellum. The periaqueductal gray matter consists of neural circuits that control sequences of movements constituting species-typical behavior. auditory. Processing of this information results in the cerebellum's ability to guide bodily movements in a smooth and coordinated fashion. damage to this area typically results in immediate death. Myelencephalon: The myelencephalon is comprised of one structure: the medulla oblongata (oblong marrow). It is the origin of the reticular formation and consists of nuclei which control vital bodily functions. Voluntary and involuntary bodily movements are controlled by the cerebellum. The Hindbrain: Metencephalon: Cerebellum (little brain): The cerebellum's primary function involves control of bodily movements. Appearing as a pyramid-shaped enlargement of the spinal cord. . The pons contain a portion of the reticular formation as well as nuclei believed important in the role of sleep and arousal. The red nucleus serves as one of two major fiber systems bringing motor information from the brain to the spinal cord. It serves as a reflex center for the coordination and precise maintenance of equilibrium. as is information on the movements of individual muscles.sleep and arousal. Pons: The pons appear as a large bulge in the brain stem between the mesencephalon and the medulla oblongata. The medulla oblongata is the control center for cardiac. C. Reflex activities. The red nucleus and substantia nigra are parts of the motor system. vestibular. The substantia nigra affects the caudate nucleus via dopamine-secreting neurons. are controlled by this structure of the hindbrain. including vomiting. and respiratory functions. muscle tonus. and various vital reflexes. movement.
Dendrites: The dendrites branch out from the soma resembling branches of a tree (dendron is Greek for Tree). With the exception of sensory neurons. Each branch of an axon receives a full charge. certain neurons reach up to three feet long. . Soma: The soma is the cell body of the neuron. While differences exist between particular neurons given their specialization. The action potential is a brief electrical/chemical event which starts at the end of the axon near the soma and travels downward to the terminal buttons. also known as a nerve cell. the three principal types of neurons are classified by the manner in which their axons and dendrites leave the soma. The most common type of neuron is the multipolar neuron which has one axon and many branches of dendrites. It houses the nucleus and the majority of cell components which sustain the life processes of the cell. Axon: The axon is a long. Sensory neurons transmit information where the incoming signal is generated by specialized receptors in the skin.Part Two: The Neuron: A. They come in a variety of shapes. the dendrites are the mechanism through which a neuron receives communication. The action potential is consistent. and terminal buttons. The shape of the cell body varies greatly between the different types of neurons. Messages between two neurons are transmitted across the synapse. from other neurons. sizes. dendrites. Communication between neurons is a one-way affair. Axons are usually covered by a myelinated sheath. Basic Neuron Description: A neuron. slender tube that carries information away from the soma to the terminal buttons. a junction between the receiving dendrites of one neuron and the information sending terminal buttons of another. and types. I remains the same size and duration even through axonal branches. In the human body. Furthermore. is the information processing and transmission device of the nervous system. axons come in different shapes. most neurons are comprised of four primary structures: the soma. axon. As with the dendrites. incoming information. The axon carries a basic message called termed an action potential. Signals are sent out by one neuron through the terminal buttons and received by the cell membranes of the receiving neuron.
At the center of the neuron is the nucleus which is round or oval and covered by a nuclear membrane. called ribosomes. Other proteins serve as the cell's gatekeeper. the terminal buttons of a neuron can form synapses at the dendrites and/or cell body membranes of adjacent neurons.Bipolar neurons are depicted by having one axon and one dendritic tree. Internal Structure: The boundary of the nerve cell is defined by the cell membrane. When portions of the chromosomes (genes) are active they cause the production of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA). Additionally. The nucleolus manufactures small structures that are involved with protein synthesis. allowing some substances to pass into the cell while barring others. Inside are the nucleolus and chromosomes. Messenger RNA exits the nuclear membrane and attaches itself to ribosomes where the production of a specific protein takes place. They have a dendrite which receives information from a receptor which gets sent onto the central nervous system informing it of external events. and pass the information onto the interior of the cell. semiliquid substance that fills the space within the membrane. specialized structures essential for the . Some of the proteins detect substances outside the cell. Some proteins functions as transporters carrying certain molecules into and out of the cell. it is not static. Cytoplasm streams and flows. Unipolar neurons. It is a jellylike. Within the membrane are protein molecules which serve special functions for the cell. The nature of the neurotransmitter determines whether the receiving cell will send a message down its axon and communicate with the connected to its terminal buttons. directing the chemical processes of a cell by controlling chemical reactions Cytoplasm makes up the bulk of the cell. Proteins provide structure and serve as enzymes. Bipolar neurons are typically sensory. A single neuron can receive information from hundreds of other neurons thus creating an intricate neural network. as found in the somatosensory system. At the ends of the branches there are small knobs which are called terminal buttons. consist of one stalk containing terminal buttons at one end and a dendritic tree at the other. Genetic information is contained on long strands of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) which make up the chromosomes. Contained within it are small. Neurotransmitters can be either excitatory or inhibitory. Terminal Buttons: Most axons divide and split many times. such as the presence of hormones. The terminal buttons secrete neurotransmitters which affects the receiving cell. each located at opposite ends of the cell body.
a process and phenomenon known as symbiogenesis. It makes new synaptic vesicles out of the membranes of old vesicles which have served their purpose. The Golgi apparatus assembles some complex molecules made up of simpler. Unlike most other types of cells found inside the body. In addition. Lipid molecules are also produced here. In this sense the apparatus functions as the cell's recycling center. The Golgi apparatus also operates as a packaging facility. B. The microtubule is the scaffolding of the cell. How the Neuron Works (electrically): Neurons have a negative electrical charge inside their cell membrane which . neurons possess a very high rate of metabolism requiring a constant supply of nutrients and oxygen. The needs of the neuron must be met by support cells in order for the neuron to survive. Endoplasmic reticulum is a structure that serves as a storage reservoir and channel for transporting chemicals through the cytoplasm. Because it has its own DNA mitochondria are believed to have been their own organism which later merged inside of larger cells. It is the skeleton of the cell and is involved with the transportation of substances from one place in a cell to another. It prepares and wraps proteins destined for export. They are small sacs which contain enzymes used to break down substances no longer needed by the cell. individual molecules. Lysosomes can cause cell death or suicide. Lysosomes are produced by the Golgi apparatus. All the neurons a person will have are present at birth.cell to perform its duties. neurons cannot be replaced when they die. The small structures include the: Mitochondria: This structures takes food and breaks it down into energy which the cell can use to carry out its job. once a neuron is destroyed it can never be replaced.
on the surface of the adjacent neuron. An active process keeps positively charged sodium ions outside the cell. How the Neuron Works (chemically): When the internal electrical signal of the neuron reaches the tip of an axon. The released neurotransmitters attach to specialized sites.makes them polarized. a unique event takes place. The neurotransmitters are then released into the synaptic cleft. C. The stimulus of a neurotransmitter has a limited duration. At a certain moment. The duration of a stimulus from a neurotransmitter is limited by two factors: the breakdown of chemicals in the synaptic cleft. and the reuptake by the neuron which sent the neurotransmitters. it moves down the axon via ion exchange at specific points called nodes of Ranvier. the electrical processes of a neuron constitutes inner-cellular communication. Stimulation of the neuron causes potassium ions to flow into the cell which reduces the negative charge. negatively charged molecules within the cell. but when a stimulating current is applied to neuron. receptors. Every cell has this difference in electrical charge. Neurons are now known to produce more than one type of neurotransmitter. small presynaptic vesicles that contain neurotransmitters within the cell are stimulated. Thus. The size of the action potential is self limiting. The attainment of action potential results in the release of neurotransmitters at the terminal buttons. the process is called depolarization. The process can be repeated after the refractory period. the membrane changes and the cell becomes permeable to sodium which quickly enters the cell causing a positive charge to occur within the neuron. The entire process takes under 1/1000 of a second. and the retention of large. a submicroscopic space between two neurons. Polarization is caused by the free movement of positively charged potassium ions through the cell membrane. This restores the negative charge within the cell membrane causing the neuron to be repolarized. Once the action potential is reached at one area of the neuron. This event is called the action potential. Once a neurotransmitter is received by the receptors of a neuron the cell depolarizes and generates its own action potential. A high internal concentration of sodium results in the pumping out of potassium followed by sodium ions. .
Neuromodulators are more dispersed and travel farther than neurotransmitters. Artificial ligands include the substances of some plants and the venom of animals. When pheromones contact such receptors. and hormones. urine. Affected neurons can alter behavior. Neurons containing the appropriate receptors are affected by the presence of the hormones. and hormones affect nerve cells by attaching to a specific region of the receptor molecule called the binding site. Such ligands can also be manufactured in a laboratory. neuromodulators. They are released in larger amounts which allows them diffuse over a greater area of the brain. Pheromones are known to attract potential mates. In their natural form ligands are the neurotransmitters. Hormones are released into the extracellular fluid and travel about the body through the bloodstream. However. much like a lock and key. they typically affect the reproductive behavior of other members of the same species. They are chemicals which enter the environment through sweat. How the Synapse Operates (inhibitory/excitatory): Neurons communicate to each other by means of synapses. cause sexual arousal.their duty is to allow only the "right" kind of neurosubstance into the cell. Chemical that attach to a binding site are called ligands. inhibit aggression. Synapses are formed where neurotransmitters diffuse across the gap between the terminal buttons of one neuron and the membranes of adjacent neurons. The transmitter substance can produce brief depolarizations or hyperpolarizations which are termed postsynaptic potentials. they release neurotransmitters which diffuse across the synapse. and alter the activity of the endocrine system. Neurotransmitters. the receptors act as a lock. This is the site at which neurosubstances and the receptors of nerve cells match one another. two other types of transmitter substances are released by the terminal buttons of a neuron: neuromodulators and hormones.In addition to neurotransmitters. Postsynaptic potentials may either increase or decrease the firing of the axon in the postsynaptic neuron. neuromodulators. or the secretion of specialized glands. Whereas the neurosubstance functions as the key. The gap (synaptic . Hormones can affect a neuron by stimulating receptors on either the surface of the cell membrane or deep inside their nuclei. thus stimulating more neurons than do neurotransmitters. Their odor can be detected by receptors in the noses of other animals. D. other chemicals found outside the body can function the same way as the natural ligands. Pheromones can also function as artificial ligands.
along with mitochondria and a Golgi apparatus. Voltage-dependent calcium channels are located at the release zone of the presynaptic membrane. Small synaptic vesicles are found in all terminal buttons and contain molecules of the transmitter substance. small synaptic vesicles located just inside the postsynaptic membrane attach themselves to the membrane and then break open. Depolarization by an action potential causes the calcium channels to open. While this is occurring the membrane of the synaptic vesicle fuses with the presynaptic membrane. The large vesicles contain one of a number of different neuropeptides. The event takes only a few milliseconds. Large synaptic vesicles are produced in the soma where they are subsequently transported down to the terminal buttons. The way in which an action potential causes synaptic vesicles to release their transmitter substance is as follows: Some of the synaptic vesicles are docked against the presynaptic membrane where they are ready to release their contents into the synaptic cleft. This causes the vesicle to be "pulled apart" causing the release of the vesicle's neurotransmitter into the synaptic cleft. Synaptic vesicles are located in the cytoplasm of the terminal button. The Golgi apparatus operates as a recycling center.cleft) between the terminal buttons of one neuron and the membrane of another is very small. the newly acquired vesicle membrane is received by the Golgi apparatus where it is recycled in the production of new synaptic vesicles. The gap is filled with extracellular fluid through which the neurotransmitter diffuses. When an action potential reaches the terminal buttons. The neurotransmitters released by the synaptic vesicles diffuse across the . The vesicles are small rounded objects which generally come in two sizes: small and large. their contents are expelled into the synaptic cleft. calcium ions flows into the cell propelled by electrostatic pressure and the force of diffusion. After the synaptic vesicle has released its payload. The entering calcium causes the fusion pore to open. normally measuring a mere 200 angstroms wide. the terminal button gains the vesicle's membranes that have fused with it causing the terminal to become larger. In order for the terminal button membrane to maintain its optimum size and cease its expansion. The new vesicles are packaged with molecules of transmitter substance and transported to the presynaptic membrane. At this moment. They are produced in the terminal buttons by the Golgi apparatus. It makes new synaptic vesicles out of the membranes of old vesicles which have since released their substance into the synaptic cleft.
One way in which ion channels are opened via the indirect method involves the binding of the transmitter substance with the receptor which then causes activates a G protein located nearby.synaptic cleft and attach to the "lock and key" binding sites of special protein molecules attached to the postsynaptic membrane. The opening of ion channels by neurotransmitters can take place in one of two ways: direct or indirect. This causes the ion channel to open permitting ions to pass through the channel causing a postsynaptic potential. Sodium is kept outside the cell by sodium-potassium transporters which wait for the forces of diffusion and electrostatic pressure to push it in. alterations in membrane permeability must be caused by the movement of particular types of ions. an excitatory postsynaptic potential takes place. The direct method involves the presence of the appropriate transmitter molecular in the synaptic cleft. but instead of the alpha subunit binding directly with an ion channel. initiate another series of chemical steps that causes the ion channel to open resulting in a postsynaptic potential. The enzyme then causes the production of one of several different chemical in the cytoplasm of the cell. inhibitory. The . When a molecule of neurotransmitter attaches to the binding site it causes the ion channel to open allowing sodium ions to enter the cell. The most important source of excitatory (depolarizing) postsynaptic potentials is the neurotransmitter-dependent sodium channel. When activated the alpha subunit breaks away from the other subunits and attaches to a special binding site of an ion channel. potassium (K+). the postsynaptic receptors open up one or more neurotransmitter-dependent ion channels that permit the passage of specific ions into or out of the cell. and calcium (Ca2+). Within the postsynaptic membrane there are four types of neurotransmitter-dependent ion channels: sodium (Na+). The postsynaptic receptor/ion channel is called an ionotropic receptor. When binding takes place. called second messengers. The inactive G protein contains three subunits. Postsynaptic potentials can be either depolarizing. chloride (Cl-). Therefore. or hyperpolarizing. Presence of transmitter substance in the synaptic cleft allows certain ions to pass through the membrane which the local membrane potential. it attaches to and activates an enzyme located in the membrane. The newly produced chemicals. and a neurotransmitter-dependent ion channel equipped with its own binding site on the postsynaptic membrane. excitatory . When sodium channels are opened depolarization occurs. The second method mimics the first indirect method in the first two steps. The indirect method of opening ion channels is more common and involves a series of chemical events. Receptors involved with the indirect method are called metabotropic receptors for they require the cell to expend energy in opening the channels.
When potassium channels are opened. The efflux of positively charged potassium ions hyperpolarizes the membrane generating an inhibitory postsynaptic potential. if the membrane potential has already been depolarized by the activity of nearby excitatory synapses the opening of chloride channels will permit chloride to leave the cell bringing the membrane potential back to rest. as well as the target organs of the parasympathetic nervous system. depolarization or hyperpolarization. and peptides. Part Three: The Major Neurotransmitters (mode of action/s): Although neurotransmitters have two types of effects. On the membrane of skeletal muscle fibers ACh has an excitatory effect. amino acids . outside the central nervous system. This means that effect that a transmitter . many of them are not hard-wired. potassium channels. Calcium ions are positively charged ions located in high concentrations outside the cell. nothing will happen because the forces of diffusion and electrostatic pressure are perfectly balanced for the chloride ion. When calcium channels are opened the membrane is depolarized causing an excitatory postsynaptic potential. some of these cations will leave the cell. it exhibits an inhibitory effect upon the membrane muscle fibers in the heart. Many transmitters do not always have the same effect. Opening of chloride channels operate in neutralizing excitatory postsynaptic potentials. it has been extensively studied by neuroscientists. Acetylcholine (ACh): ACh is released at synapses on skeletal muscles and can also be found in the ganglia of the autonomic nervous system. such as the production of biochemical and structural changes in the postsynaptic neuron. The effect of opening chloride channels is dependent upon the membrane potential of the neuron. or in addition to. They have a variety of effects. Because the substance is located in "convenient" places. monoamines. If in rest. The nature of the ion channels that are controlled by the postsynaptic can determine the effects of some transmitters. But. Inhibitory transmitter substances open chloride channels at many synapses rather than.sodium-potassium transporters also maintain a small surplus of potassium ions within the cell. Certain enzymes are activated by the release of the calcium. Transmitter substances are generally categorized into four groups: acetylcholine. A.
Epinephrine. and can also produce physiological processes within the cell to occur. Additionally. Ionotropic receptors produce rapid postsynaptic potentials. The axons of these cells branch repeatedly giving rise to an enormous number of terminal buttons widely distributed throughout the . and serotonin. norepinephrine. B. This enzyme is present in the postsynaptic membrane and cytoplasm of the terminal buttons. metabotropic receptors produce slower and longer potentials. The substance is composed of choline and acetate. dopamine .substance has is not determined by the chemical itself. two substances which require internal bioengineering for use as ACh. These receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system. smaller amounts of this receptor are found in the central nervous system. The molecular structures of these chemicals are similar to each other causing some drugs to affect the activity of all of them at the same time. ionotropic and metabotropic. and dopamine belong to the subclass of monoamines called catecholamines. Monoamines are produced by several systems of neurons within the brain. Serotonin belongs to the monoamines subclass called indolamines. but by the nature of the postsynaptic receptors it stimulates. Acetylcholine is found in the brain as well. some receptors are sensitive to neuromodulators causing a single neurotransmitter to have a variety of effects in different locations of the nervous system. norepinephrine. and are hence referred to as muscarinic receptors. The reason that several types of receptors exist for the same neurotransmitter substance has to do with the receptor's coupling to different kinds of ion channels. ACh is deactivated by the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE). There. a poison found in mushrooms. The majority of these systems consist of a small number of cell bodies located in the back of the brain. Monoamines: The monoamines include the four chemicals: epinephrine. as well as in controlling the stage of sleep during which dreams occur. it is involved with learning and recall. Such receptors are exclusively found in muscle fibers. and to different G proteins which have different physiological effects. Two types of ACh receptors exist. ACh ionotropic receptors are stimulated by nicotine and are referred to as nicotinic receptors. Metabotropic ACh receptors are stimulated by muscarine.
The two most important ones are the D1 and D2 dopamine receptors. Dopamine has been discovered to perform various important functions associated with movement. a patient's symptoms can be alleviated. The enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO) regulates the production of the catecholamines. The enzyme DOPA decarboxylase causes the l-DOPA to lose a carboxyl group causing it to become dopamine. and the disruption of normal. Drugs which block activity of dopaminergic neurons reduce these symptoms causing researchers to speculate that schizophrenia is caused by overactivity of these neurons. all of which are metabotropic. D2 receptors are found both presynaptically and postsynaptically in the brain. The cell bodies of these neurons are located in the brain's substantia nigra. attention. Furthermore. . Dopamine (DA): Dopamine produces both excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic potentials depending upon the receptor site. This disease is characterized by tremors. patients with Parkinson's disease being treated with l-DOPA occasionally display schizophrenic symptoms. When tyrosine receives OH it becomes l-DOPA. Those with Parkinson's disease are given l-DOPA which serves to stimulate the production of dopamine. delusions. Consequently. and learning. rigidity of the limbs. Dopamine may also prove to have a connection with the mental disorder schizophrenia. The D1 receptors appear to be exclusively postsynaptic. Monoaminergic neurons serve to modulate the function of widespread regions throughout the brain. poor balance. When the enzyme beta-hydroxylase attaches a hydroxyl group to dopamine it creates norepinephrine.brain. They serve as volume controls that increase or decrease the activities of particular brain functions. Stimulation of these receptors increases the production of the second messenger cyclic AMP. logical thought processes. The disorder involves hallucinations. MAO is found in the blood where it deactivates amines which could potentially cause dangerous increases in blood pressure. There are at least five types of dopamine receptors. Tyrosine is the precursor molecule for both dopamine and norepinephrine. and difficulty in initiating movements. stimulation of the D2 receptors casuses a decrease in AMP. Parkinson's disease is caused by the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons which serve to connect two parts of the brain's motor system.
yet it is not as important as norepinephrine. The transmitter is produced from dopamine with its final step of synthesis occurring inside synaptic vesicles. The transmitter substance is referred to as norepinephrine. Several types of noradrenergic receptors exist. The amino acid tryptophan is the precursor for serotonin. 5-HT is known to play a role in the regulation of mood. LSD hallucinations appear to be caused by the drug interfering with the activity of serotonergic synapses which causes the user to dream while he/she is awake. They form synapses with the base of the dendritic spines or the dendritic shaft. The receptors are usually called adrenergic receptors for they are sensitive to epinephrine and norepinephrine. the dopamine is converted to norepinephrine through the action of dopamine beta-hydroxylase. The serotonergic neurons are involved with the control of dreaming. Monoamine oxidase destroys excessive amounts of norepinephrine in the terminal buttons. whereas its adjectival form is noradrenergic. . The enzyme 5-HTP decarboxylase removes a carboxyl group from 5-HTP resulting in 5-HT. The enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase adds a hydroxyl group which produces 5-HTP. and in the regulation of pain. the control of sleep and arousal. beadlike swellings of the axonal branches. Once the vesicles are filled with dopamine. The varicosities give the axonal branches the appearance of beaded chains. The chemicals are also referred to as Adrenalin and noradrenalin. Neurons in the central nervous system contain both B1 and B2 adrenergic receptors and alpha1 and alpha2 adrenergic receptors. Serotonin (5-HT): Serotonin produces inhibitory postsynaptic potentials at most synapses. Epinephrine / Norepinephrine (NE): Like ACh. It has also been discovered that epinephrine serves as a transmitter substance in the brain. the control of eating. norepinephrine is also found in the autonomic nervous system and has been subjected to extensive research.Most of the neurons that release catecholamines do so through axonal varicosities. These four types of receptors are also found in various organs where they are responsible for the effects of the catecholamines when they function as hormones. Noradrenergic neurons within the brain are involved with the control of alertness and wakefulness. At the target organs of the sympathetic nervous system they typically have an excitatory effect. Their synapses in the central nervous system produce inhibitory postsynaptic potentials. Most of its behavioral effects are also inhibitory. All four receptors are also coupled to G proteins that generate AMP. Epinephrine is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal medulla.
The GABAA receptor is ionotropic and controls a chloride channel. Because GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It is believed that the presence of these receptor sites implies that the brain produces neuromodulators that cause a stress reaction by either blocking or activating these receptors. Of the seven 5-HT2 receptors are found exclusively in postsynaptic membranes. The main site is for GAGA. Some research suggests that epilepsy is caused by an abnormality in the biochemistry of GABA-secreting neurons. and produce muscle relaxation. C. which includes Valium and Librium. Glutamic acid has direct excitatory effects on axons. Gamma-aminobutyric Acid (GABA): GABA is produced from glutamic acid through action of the enzyme GAD which removes a carboxyl group. The other six have been found presynaptically and postsynaptically.serotonin. These drugs reduce anxiety. GABA is an inhibitory transmitter substance with widespread distribution throughout the brain and spinal cord. all serotonin receptors are metabotropic. contains the sodium salt of glutamic acid that can cause the mild neurological symptoms of dizziness and numbness in some people. The NMDA receptor has been linked to producing some of the synaptic changes responsible for learning. The two substances serve to raise and lower the threshold of excitation which affects the rate at which action potentials occur. Three are ionotropic. the other two metabotropic. Amino Acids: Glutamic Acid (glutamate): Glutamic acid and GABA produce postsynaptic potentials by activating postsynaptic receptors. GABA has inhibitory effects. Five types of Glutamic receptors have been found. and alcohol are the increase of neural inhibition. whereas a second site binds with a class of tranquilizing drugs known as the benzodiazepines. Glutamate is found throughout the brain where it appear to be the principal excitatory transmitter substance. as found in some Oriental food. The third site binds to barbiturates and alcohol. barbiturates. MSG. Glycine: This amino acid is thought to be the inhibitory neurotransmitter in the spinal cord and lower portions of the brain. GABAA receptors contain binding sites for at least three transmitter substances and neuromodulators. Seven types of serotonin receptors have been discovered. The GABAB receptor is metabotropic and controls a potassium channel. With the exception of the 5-HT3 receptor. promote sleep. GABA-secreting neurons normally produce an inhibitory influence and are present in large numbers throughout the brain. reduce seizure activity. the effects of benzodiazepines. Although more research is .
Peptides: Peptides consist of two or more amino acids that are linked together by peptide bonds. Stimulation of the body's internal reward system helps explain why opiates are abused. These are the brain's natural opiates which help to reduce pain. This causes mild secretion of saliva. while some serve as neurotransmitters. The reason for this is that peptides can regulate the sensitivity of presynaptic or postsynaptic receptors to the neurotransmitter. Peptide hormones are also found in the brain where they serve as either neurotransmitters or neuromodulators. the terminal buttons of the salivary nerve in a cat release both ACh and the peptide VIP. Example: Outside the nervous system the hormone angiotensin acts directly on the kidneys and blood vessels helping them cope with the loss of fluid. another inhibits species-typical defensive responses. while another stimulates a system of neurons involved with internal reward/ reinforcement. The additional presence of VIP causes a dramatic in increase in the sensitivity of the muscarinic receptors in the salivary gland to ACh which causes much more saliva to be released. The endogenous opioids comprise one of the most important families of peptides. both ACh and VIP are released. When the axon fires at a higher rate. Three different types of opioid receptors have been detected. Neurons release several different peptides. They are synthesized by the ribosomes according to the instructions contained on the chromosomes of the nucleus. Released peptides are deactivated by enzymes and are not returned to the terminal buttons and recycled. . Only ACh is released while the axon fires at a low rate. For example. Sometimes the peripheral and the central peptide perform related functions. it is known that the bacteria that cause tetanus release a chemical that blocks the activity of glycine synapses. The releasement of peptides is done in combination with one of the "classical" neurotransmitters.needed to better understand glycine. D. The removal of the inhibitory effect of these synapses causes the muscles to contract continuously. One system produces analgesia. When opiate receptors are stimulated several different neural systems are activated. most acting as neuromodulators. and inside the nervous system circuits of neurons that use angiotensin as a neurotransmitter perform similar functions.
and the amygdala is believed to have perceptual and memory functions. and is associated with learning and memory. it is clear that the limbic is directly involved with emotion. Early experiments on the limbic system demonstrated that specific limbic sites triggered emotion. while the site of emotion was discovered. The limbic system is the seat of emotion. and plays a role in learning and memory. MacLean has also developed the triune brain theory. The system was later expanded by Paul MacLean in 1949 to include additional structures. Electrical stimulation of one region produced sudden anger. Parts of the limbic cortex. In addition to regions of the limbic cortex. The system appeared to consist of a set of interconnected structures surrounding the core of the forebrain. yet another. In addition to coining the term limbic system. . elation the next. The cingulate gyrus is also associated with the limbic system. joy. While studying the evolution of the limbic system. were also included in Papez's system. the structures of the site were revealed not to be hard-wired. Today. The three brains of MacLean's triune brain theory are: the reptilian brain. and the development of emotional responses. it was later discovered that the hippocampal formation and the regions of the limbic cortex that surround it function in the processes of learning and memory. The hippocampus is known to consolidate and store memory. In 1937 neuroanatomist Papez discovered a set of interconnected brain structures that formed a circuit which functioned as the brain's center for motivation and emotion. another rage. However. The triune brain theory looks at the evolutionary stages of the brain and postulates that the human brain is actually three brains in one. another form of the cerebral cortex located around the edge of the cerebral hemispheres. and the "human" brain. it became known as the limbic system in 1952. Originally associated with emotion. MacLean discovered that its evolutionary appearance is marked by the initial appearance of the cerebral cortex.Part Four: The Limbic System (components + functions). Stimulation of the amygdala would produce fear one day. the mammalian brain. the primary structures of the limbic system are hippocampus and amygdala. In time it was discovered that both the hippocampus and amygdala plays a role in memory.
the limbic system is capable of producing sensations of deja-vu. and mating. From the limbic system's perspective all experiences are judged in the dualistic fashion of pain or pleasure. fleeing. Electrical stimulation of this part of the limbic system produces feelings that are either emotionally positive or negative. Whereas the neocortex processes sensory information from the external world. waking dreams. produces the overwhelming feeling of experiencing truth.The reptilian brain includes the brain stem and its primary functions of keeping the organism alive. Research indicates that it provides an interface between the decision-making processes of the frontal cortex. even religious conversions. The limbic brain scans for differences. Its primary purpose is survival and preservation of self and species. including humans. The three behaviors are exhibited my mammals which have a cingulate gyrus. the cingulate gyrus plays an excitatory role in emotions and motivated behavior. and not by reptiles who lack a cingulate gyrus. and the brain mechanisms controlling movement. messages from God. thinking. Behavior of the mammalian brain is said to revolve around feeding. feel pleasure when engaged in activities that enhance their preservation or the preservation of their species. Temporal lobe epilepsy. Pain is experienced when survival needs are thwarted. Without the reality check of the neocortex. all emotions are either agreeable or disagreeable. the emotional functions of the limbic system. and communicating. Hippocampus: . In general. sudden memories. The cortex covering the cingulate gyrus is an important part of the limbic system. The limbic brain can be seen as receiving its cues from the inside. and audio-vocal communication. typically when one is found it is deemed a threat to survival. play. The cerebral cortex comprises the "human" brain and is associated with advanced functions such as planning. The mammalian brain resides in the limbic system. a loose grip on reality. For the mammalian brain there are no neutral emotions. analyzing. the limbic system has. Through the mammalian brain mammals. resulting in limbic storms. fighting. Cingulate Gyrus: MacLean states that the cingulate gyrus involves three distinct behaviors: nursing and maternal care. The cingulate gyrus communicates with the rest of the limbic system and other regions of the frontal cortex. according to MacLean.
subtle clues into the physiological aspects of schizophrenia have been linked to the hippocampus. emotional. Cellular disarray of the hippocampus as seen in schizophrenics is believed to be genetic. Ultimately. Interestingly. Being the most primitive part of . thirst. Traditionally. evidence has been found showing that the cells of the hippocampus which are normally arranged in an ordered manner. Amygdala: The job of the amygdala is to discern the emotional significance of all aspects of experience. Damage to the amygdala can cause a person to misperceive or fail to perceive societal cues which are emotionally based. the basis for this was founded upon research that showed amygdalectomy being capable of taming vicious animals. While still controversial. and the ability to feel extreme pain or pleasure. Visual and auditory perceptual information is received by the amygdala causing an emotional influence on our perception and thought. The hippocampus in the left hemisphere stores verbal and mathematical memories. If the hippocampus or pathways to it are damaged the ability to make new memories disappears.The hippocampus is comprised of rows of 40 million nerve cells. and nonverbal memories. Such cells were seen to be rotated ninety degrees and some had their dendrites upside down. are grossly misaligned in the brains of schizophrenics. Other Structures of the Limbic System: Hypothalamus: The hypothalamus controls and monitors hunger. The amygdala is extremely sensitive to tactile stimulation and is involved with memory. tactile. The hippocampus in the right hemisphere of the brain is concerned with visual. It adds color to thoughts and is responsible for the capacity to feel complex emotions like love and anxiety. its function is to work on converting short-term memory into longterm memory. the amygdala has been linked to violent tendencies and behavior. This limbic structure is interconnected with the hypothalamus. septal nucleus. The hippocampus is considered important for localization memory. Its success with the inmates was insignificant. This association dates back to 1968 when three prison inmates had parts of their amygdala burned out with electrodes to exorcise their violent nature. the hippocampus stores in memories that are of emotional and motivational significance. and hippocampus. or the consequence of a viral infection in the womb.
undirected feelings. This structure represents the emotional core of our being. Consideration of this fact yields insight on emotional gender differences. However. by the frontal lobes of the brain and the more recent limbic structures such as the amygdala. Differences between the hypothalamus of a man and woman indicate that the hypothalamus of females is more intricate and complex than males. the hypothalamus it is the source from which all emotions originate as raw. Part Five: The Autonomic Nervous System: Essentially. Stimulation of the septum is known to generate strong feelings of pleasure. the nervous system is one system. it is normally controlled. it is divided into two primary parts based upon their different locations. Septal Nuclei: This structure is involved with humankind's ability to form emotional and social bonds with one another. The parts of the nervous system within the brain and spinal cord are considered the central nervous system. By tapping into the emotional reservoir of the hypothalamus. ejaculation. Fortunately. the peripheral nervous system serves as a network of nerves that allows the brain and spinal cord to interact and communicate with parts of the body existing outside the central nervous system. The hypothalamus is capable of exerting tremendous influence over the rest of the brain. powerful.the limbic system. With this distinction in mind. and in some ways it serves to counteract the amygdala. . It is also interconnected with the hippocampus (thus likely to influence memory). the septal nuclei is able to exert emotional influence upon the rest of the brain. The hypothalamus is also closely involved with all aspects of sexual behavior: postures. The parts of the nervous system extending outside the brain and spinal cord are classified together as the peripheral nervous system. in part. [also see hypothalamus discussed in question #1]. and hormonal secretions relating to pregnancy and menstrual cycles. The septal nuclei also exerts dampening effects on mood.
It can be found in the skin where it enables hair to assist in bodily temperature regulation. The system is influenced by hormones to a certain degree. The autonomic nervous system is involved with the self-governing (automatic) regulation of three aspects of the body: smooth muscle. The gall bladder. urinary bladder. circulatory. This system serves to prepare the organism for fighting in order to help ensure survival in face of an environmental threat. each system having a different effect. cardiac muscle. blood vessels. and inhibits the digestive system during moments of danger. In this respect the purpose of the autonomic nervous system involves the automatic regulation of "vegetative processes" in the body. Two antagonistic and anatomically separate systems comprise the autonomic nervous system. and walls and sphincters of the gut contain smooth muscle. and the glands. The somatic nervous system involves the part of the peripheral nervous system which receives sensory information from the sense organs and controls movement of the skeletal muscles. Smooth muscle is found in various places throughout the body and is regulated by the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls the actions of the glands. Furthermore. The impulses are controlled by nerve centers in the lower part of the brain. The effect of the sympathetic division deals with the rapid accumulation and concentration of energy reserves stored in the body which can be utilized and .Further distinction results in a peripheral nervous system that is broken down into two primary parts: the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system. the two subdivisions influence and act upon the organs of the body. With few exceptions. Smooth muscle controls the eye's pupil size and accommodates the lens. digestive. The two systems are called the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions. It controls the functions and involuntary muscles of the respiratory. contracts the arteries. The autonomic nervous system regulates these parts of the body by sending impulses to them. the autonomic nervous system has a reciprocal effect on the internal secretions. The Sympathetic Division: The sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system stimulates the heart. and urogenital systems. and it reciprocates this by influencing the rate of hormone production. dilates the bronchi.
kidneys and adrenals. The fibers of these neurons exit the ventral roots and. Rather than having energy being expended upon digestion while the immediate survivability of the organism is threatened. Some of the axons connect to other sympathetic ganglia located among the internal organs. These neurons send axons to one of the target organs of the sympathetic nervous system. With the exception of the medulla adrenal. salivary gland. Closely resembling a sympathetic ganglion. pancreas. sweat glands and blood vessels in the skin. intestines. Also under control of the sympathetic nervous system is the adrenal medulla. . In addition to other physiological changes. joins the sympathetic ganglionated chain (sympathetic preventebral ganglia). The secretory cells of the adrenal medulla are similar to postganglionic sympathetic neurons. Synaptic connection occurs in one of the ganglia. heart. This system of nerves connects the sympathetic division to the eyes. the adrenal medulla is infused with preganglionic sympathetic neurons. a cluster of cells located in the center of the adrenal gland. Postganglionic neurons are nerves which have formed a synapse with preganglionic axons inside one of the ganglia. all sympathetic preganglionic axons enter the ganglia of the sympathetic chain. stomach. and courses throughout the spinal nerves. lungs. When stimulated the cells secrete epinephrine and norepinephrine which aid sympathetic functioning. the sympathetic division harnesses such energy reserves in preparing the body for fight or flight. It arises from the middle portion of the spinal cord. the secretion of epinephrine is stimulated causing the heart rate and blood sugar level to rise. Motor neurons of the sympathetic division are located in the gray matter of the thoracic and lumbar regions of the spinal cord. and piloerection occurs. The sympathetic division is widely distributed throughout the body. For this reason the sympathetic nervous system is also called the thoracicolumbar system.directed toward ensuring survival. when the sympathetic division is activated blood flow to the skeletal muscles is increased. Axons leaving the spinal cord through the ventral root form part of the preganglionic neurons. though not all of them synapse there. external genitalia. once joined with the spinal nerves. and bladder. branch off and pass into spinal sympathetic ganglia.
gastric and intestinal motility. the three major of the brain stem. secretion of digestive juices. the parasympathetic division prepares the organism for feeding. the intermediate horn of the gray matter in the sacral region of the spine. Activities include: salvation. and. Because of this the parasympathetic division is sometimes called the craniosacral system. The formation also regulates muscle tonus by controlling the activity of the gamma motor system. and increased blood flow to the gastrointestinal system. Ganglia of the parasympathetic division are located close to the target organs. Whereas the sympathetic division prepares the organism for optimum fight/flight functioning. With the exception of the adrenal medulla. It is likened to an all-important sentinel that keeps the brain "awake" even during sleep. This makes postganglionic parasympathetic relatively short. Cell bodies giving rise to preganglionic axons in the parasympathetic division are found in two areas: the nuclei of some of the cranial nerves. and rest.The Parasympathetic Division: The parasympathetic nervous system arises above and below the sympathetic nervous system from the brain and from the lower part of the spinal cord. Part Six: The Reticular Formation (function and location): The reticular formation is composed of more than 90 nuclei located in the core of the medulla. The parasympathetic division produces the opposite effect of the sympathetic division. It has an intriguing netlike appearance (reticulum means little net) of diffuse neurons with complex dendritic and axonal processes. The terminal buttons of both pre and postganglionic neurons in the parasympathetic division secrete acetylcholine. and midbrain. The reticular formation receives sensory information through various pathways and has axonal connections to the cerebral cortex. is distributed along the length of a cerebrospinal fluid canal that runs longitudinally through the brain stem. and spinal cord. The parasympathetic division supports activities which assist in increasing the body's supply of energy. the parasympathetic division has connections with the same organs as the sympathetic nervous system. thalamus. Damage to the reticular formation can result in a coma. The reticular formation functions as the brain's on/off switch. This network of cells. digestion. pons. the reticular formation. .
non-REM sleep. This research may suggest that the reticular formation plays an important role in controlling movements. In 1977 research on cats showed that specific bodily movement generated responses in certain neurons located in the reticular formation. Part of the reticular formation is also found in the medulla oblongata which controls vital bodily functions. . Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation. vestibular nuclei.In addition to these two functions the reticular formation also plays in a role in motor activity. "Brain. Furthermore. Copyright (c) 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation.this could serve to instruct the brain to be alert and pay attention. and reticular formation indicates that the reticular formation plays a role in the control of posture. The pons are another part of the reticular formation serving as the controls for dreaming and waking. ventromedial pathways originating in the superior colliculi. sends axons to the cortex. including reflex activities such vomiting." Microsoft (R) Encarta. the function of these specific neurons and the range of motion they control is unknown. and alertness. Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation." Microsoft (R) Encarta. Understanding of the reticular formation is far from complete. the transition between sleep and wakefulness. It has been discovered that when something interesting or threatening happens to an animal. However. and that another part of the reticular formation produces dreamless. Other evidence indicates that the reticular formation plays a part in locomotion. In the 1950's French physiologist Michel Jouvet was able to prove that the pons controlled REM sleep. the cells of the locus coeruleus fire excitedly. New research shows the reticular formation playing roles in a variety of physiological functions. BIBLIOGRAPHY "Autonomic Nervous System. called the locus coeruleus. One of the subregions of the pons.
. EnSpire Press. R. All rights reserved. D. EnSpire Publishing. EnSpire Press.. The Right Brain and the Unconscious: Discovering the Stranger Within. "Neurophysiology. EnSpire Audio. 5th ed. The 3-Pound Universe. Carlson. Joseph.com with questions or comments regarding this site. MA: Allyn and Bacon. All rights reserved. Dr." Microsoft (R) Encarta. Physiology of Behavior.Copyright (c) 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation. Copyright 1998-2008. Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation. [ Home] [ Articles] [ Writings] [ Catalog] [ FAQ] [Mark Bancroft] [ Guest Book] [ Site Map] Contact webmaster@enspirepress.P. New York: G." Microsoft (R) Encarta. EnSpire Publishing. New York: Plenum Press. Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation. Boston. Copyright (c) 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation. (1977). Copyright 1998. EnSpire Audio. "Nervous System. & Teresi. Putnam's Sons. Copyright (c) 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation. N. Hooper. J.
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