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CHAPTER 44

NEUROSCIENCE II:
EVOLUTION AND
FUNCTION OF THE
BRAIN AND
NERVOUS SYSTEMS
Prepared by
Brenda Leady, University of Toledo

1 reprod
Copyright (c) The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Permission required for
 Nervous system is the product of
hundreds of millions of years of evolution
 Development provided advantages that
promoted reproductive success
 Organization ranges from simple network
of a few cells to complexity of human brain

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Representative nervous systems
 Except for sponges,
all animals have a
nervous system
 Nerve net
 Simplest nervous
system
 Cnidarians (jellyfish,
hydras, anemones)
 Neurons connect to
each other in a
network 3
 Echinoderms
 Slightly more sophisticated
 Nerve ring around mouth
connected to larger radial
nerves extending to arms
 Planaria
 Nerve cords extend length
of animal connected by
transverse nerves
 Collection of neurons in
head form ganglia
 Perform basic integration

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 Annelids
 Same basic structure
 More neurons
 Ventral nerve cords
have ganglia in each
segment
 Simple mollusks
 Similar to annelids
 Pair of anterior ganglia
 Paired nerve cords

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 Trend toward
cephalization –
increasingly complex
brain in the head
 Drosophila
 Brainhas several
subdivisions with
separate functions
 Advanced mollusks
 Brains with well-
developed
subdivisions
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 Vertebrates and
simpler chordates
have a CNS (brain
and spinal cord)
and PNS
 Organization
shows similarities
to segmentation of
invertebrates

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3 divisions of vertebrate brain
 Entire nervous system develops from
neural fold in embryo
 Hindbrain
 Metencephalon
 Myelencephalon
 Midbrain
 Mesencephalon
 Forebrain
 Telencephalon
 Diencephalon
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 Hindbrain
 Medulla oblongata – coordinates many basic
reflexes and bodily functions
 Pons and cerebellum – responsible for
monitoring and coordinating body movements
 Midbrain
 Processes several types of sensory input
 Controls sophisticated tasks
 Forebrain
 Higher functions of conscious thought,
planning and emotion
 Cerebrum
 Cerebral cortex – outer layer of cerebrum
 Thalamus and hypothalamus
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Increased brain complexity

 Size of cerebrum and surface area of


cerebral cortex (convolutions) increased
with more complex nervous systems

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 Body mass and brain mass proportional
with exceptions (humans and dolphins)
 Greater size and folding provides more
surface area for greater processing and
interpretation of information

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Human nervous system
 Central nervous system (CNS)
 Brain and spinal cord
 Peripheral nervous system (PNS)
 Neurons and axons of neurons outside the
CNS

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 Nucleus – cell bodies of neurons involved
in a similar function in the CNS
 Ganglion – similar structure in PNS
 Tract – myelinated axons that run in
parallel bundles in the CNS
 Nerves – similar structure in PNS
 Cranial nerves are connected directly to
the brain
 Spinal nerves are connections between
the PNS and spinal cord
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 White matter
 Myelinated axons grouped together
 Gray matter
 Neuronal cell bodies, dendrites and some
unmyelinated axons
 Spinal cord gray matter forms
 Dorsal horns – connects to dorsal root, part
of spinal nerve, incoming information
 Ventral horns – connects to ventral root,
part of spinal nerve, outgoing information

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 CNS encased in bone and 3 layers of
meninges
 Dura mater – outer thick layer
 Arachnoid mater – numerous connections
to inner layer
 Pia mater – inner thin membrane on
surface of brain and spinal cord
 Cerebrospinal fluid circulated through
subarachnoid space
 Between arachnoid mater and pia mater
 Absorbs physical shocks
 Transport
 Ventricles and central canal
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PNS divisions
 Somatic nervous system
 Sensory neurons (afferent) receive stimuli such as
heat, vision, smell, taste, hearing, touch and transmit
to CNS
 Motor neurons (efferent) control skeletal muscles –
voluntary
 Autonomic nervous system
 Predominantly composed of motor neurons (efferent)
control smooth muscles, cardiac muscles and glands
– involuntary
 Sensory neurons (afferent) detect internal body
conditions
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 Efferent nerves of autonomic further divided
 Act on same organs with opposing actions
 Sympathetic division
 “fight
or flight”
 Increased heart rate, faster breathing

 Parasympathetic division
 “rest
and digest”
 Slow heart rate, promote digestion

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Hindbrain
 Medulla oblongata
 Coordinates many basic reflexes and bodily
functions that maintain the normal
homeostatic processes of a person
 Involved in the control of heart rate, breathing,
cardiovascular function, digestion, swallowing,
and vomiting
 With pons and areas of the midbrain,
collectively called the brainstem, contain
additional nuclei (groups of cell bodies) whose
axons project dorsally to many other parts of
the brain
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Hindbrain
 Cerebellum and pons
 Responsible for monitoring and coordinating
body movements
 Pons serves as relay between cerebellum and
other areas of the brain
 Overall function of cerebellum to maintain
balance and coordinate hand-eye movements

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Midbrain
 Forms part of the reticular formation
 Processes several types of sensory
inputs, including vision, smell, and hearing
 Tracts that pass this information to other
parts of the brain for further processing
and interpretation

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Forebrain
 Thalamus and
hypothalamus
(diencephalon)
 Cerebrum
(telencephalon) –
basal nuclei, limbic
system and cerebral
cortex

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Forebrain
 Thalamus
 Major role in relaying sensory information to
appropriate parts of the cerebrum and, in turn,
sending outputs from the cerebrum to other parts of
the brain
 Receives input from all sensory systems
 Hypothalamus
 Major role of production of hormones regulating
pituitary gland which regulates hormone secretion
from other glands

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Forebrain
 Basal nuclei
 Involved in planning and learning movements
 Involved in initiating or inhibiting movements
 Affected in Parkinson disease

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 Limbic system
 Not all agree on members of limbic system
 Primarily involved in formation and expression of
emotions
 Role in learning, memory, and perception of smells
 Amygdala – understand and remember emotional
situations, recognize emotional expressions in others
 Hippocampus – establish memories for spatial
locations, facts, and sequences of events

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Forebrain
 Cerebral cortex
 Surface layer of gray matter on the cerebrum
 Neocortex layer evolved most recently in
mammals with only 6 layers of cells
 Contains 10% of neurons in the brain
 Sensory and motor information integrated
 Initiation of voluntary acts, generation of
speech, learning, memory, and production of
emotions
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 Frontal – conscious thought and social
awareness
 Parietal – attention and making association
between events and incoming information
 Occipital – vision
 Temporal – language, learning, and some
types of memory

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 Sensory inputs come
into the cortex and
motor outputs leave
the cortex in areas
that stretch like a map
 Amount of space
proportional to
sensitivity or number
of muscles
 May change
depending on use or
disuse of body part

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 Cerebral hemispheres connected by
corpus collosum
 Severing connection used in the past to
treat severe epilepsy
 Hemispheres can function independently
 Process different types of information
 Left hemisphere – understanding
language and producing speech
 Right hemisphere – nonverbal
memories, recognizing faces, and
interpreting emotions
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Several Genes Have Been Important in the
Evolution of the Cerebral Cortex
 Genes identified by studying developmentally
disabled individuals or comparing human genes to
other species
 Polymicrogyria – results in mental impairment,
disrupted gait and language production
 Abnormal surface folds and fewer layers of cells
 Mutations alter receptors’ ability to bind ligand
 Microcephalin and ASPM genes
 Determinants of brain size
 May be involved in brain evolution – greater changes in
humans and great apes
Learning and memory
 Learning – process by which new information is
acquired
 Memory – involves retention of that information
over time
 Long-term potentiation (LTP)
 Long-lasting strengthening of connections between
neurons
 Experiments with rabbits showed short, electrical
stimulations to a neuron strengthened synapses with
adjacent cells
 Neurons communicated more readily
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 Work with California
sea slug (Aplysia
californica)
 Has only 20,000
nerve cells
 Some neurons
extremely large
 Can isolate proteins
and mRNA to identify
biochemical and
genetic changes
during learning
 Gill-withdrawal reflex
subject to learning
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 Sea slugs process in 2 phases
 Short-term memory lasts for minutes or hours
 Typically single stimulus
 No new proteins
 Intracellular second messengers make it easier for
neurons to communicate
 Long-term memory lasts days or weeks
 Repeated stimuli
 Activates genes, leads to mRNA synthesis, new
proteins for additional synaptic connections
 Learning does not change neuron pathways but
changes strength of signals along those
pathways

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Neurogenesis
 Until recently, adult brain thought incapable of
producing new neurons through cell division
 Late 1990s, stem cells found in primate and
human CNS
 1998, found new hippocampal cells in recently
deceased patients
 Some evidence suggests that neurogenesis is
involved in learning and memory

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Brain images in assessment
 Computerized tomography (CT) scan – 3D
image based on density but not great detail
 Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – detection
of structures as small as 1/10th mm
 Function MRI (fMRI) – modification to assess
functional activity based on oxygen in active
tissue
 Oxygenated hemoglobin increases in metabolically
active areas

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Gaser and Schlaug Showed That the Sizes of
Certain Brain Structures Differ Between Musicians
and Nonmusicians
 Used MRI to examine sizes of brain structures in
professional musicians, amateur musicians, and
nonmusicians
 Brain areas involved in hearing, moving the fingers, and
coordinating movements with vision and hearing were
larger in professional musicians than in amateur
musicians, and larger in amateurs than in nonmusicians
 Have not determined underlying reason(s) for increased
brain size
 People with increased brain size in these areas may be more likely
to become musicians or musical training may cause these areas to
enlarge
Impact on public health
 Meningitis
 Viral or bacterial infection of meninges
 Increased pressure effects range from severe
headaches to death
 Bacterial infection can be treated with antibiotics
 Viral form less serious and short lasting
 Vaccine has reduced cases but still dangerous and
prevalent disease (especially close quarters like
college dorms)

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 Alzheimer’s disease (AD)
 Leading worldwide cause of dementia
 Characterized by memory loss and intellectual and
emotional function
 Definitive diagnosis can only be made after death
 2 noticeable changes – senile plaques and
neurofibrillary tangles
 Not clear how changes influence function
 Genetics plays a role but not the only possible cause
 Impact on public health enormous – especially as
baby boomers age

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