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CHAPTER

CHAPTER 2
2
Neuroscience and
Behavior
CHAPTER CONTENTS
Overview

Learning Objectives
Chapter Outline

Approaching Your Lecture

14

Class Activities
I.

Introduction: Neuroscience and Behavior


Activity: Neurophysiology and the Internet, p. 17
Discussion: Ethics and the Biology of Behavior, p. 17
ActivePsych: Video: Program 2, Neuroimaging: Assessing Whats Cool, p. 18
Web Resources: Neuropsychology Central, p. 17
Neuroscience for Kids, p. 17
Neurosciences on the Internet, p. 18

II.

The Neuron: The Basic Unit of Communication


ActivePsych: Flash-based Interactive Demonstrations: Nerve Cell Demonstrations, p. 18
Synaptic Transmission and Neurotransmitters, p. 18
Web Resources: Basic Neural Processes Tutorials, p. 18
A. Characteristics of the Neuron
Video: Psychology: The Human Experience: Segment 6, Neurological Disorder, p. 18
B. Communication Within the Neuron: The All-or-None Action Potential
Activities: Using Dominoes to Illustrate the Action Potential, p. 18
Racing Neurons! p. 18
C. Communication Between Neurons: Bridging the Gap
PsychSim 5: Neural Messages, p. 19
In the News: Neural Inhibition and Excitation, p. 19
Videos: The Brain Teaching Modules, Second Edition: Module 17, Learning as Synaptic Change,
p. 19
Digital Media Archive: Segment 1, Neural Communication, p. 19
ActivePsych: Video: Segment 1, Neural Communication: Impulse Transmission Across the
Synapse, p. 19
Video Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology: Neural Communication: Impulse Transmission
Across the Synapse, p. 19
1

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

D. Neurotransmitters and Their Effects


Lecture: Parkinsons Disease, p. 20
Videos: The Mind Teaching Modules, Second Edition: Module 5, Endorphins: The Brains
Natural Morphine, p. 19
The Brain Teaching Modules, Second Edition: Module 31, Brain Transplants in
Parkinsons Patients, p. 20
Moving Images: Exploring Psychology Through Film: Program 2, Neural
Communication: Neurotransmitter Acetylcholine, p. 20
Video Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology: Compulsive Gambling and the Brain's Pleasure
Center, p. 20
Parkinson's Disease: A Case Study, p. 20
Treating Parkinson's Disease: Deep Brain Electrode
Implantation, p. 20
Popular Films: Iris, p. 20
Eden, p. 20
E. How Drugs Affect Synaptic Transmission
III.

The Nervous System and the Endocrine System: Communication Throughout the Body
A. The Central Nervous System
B. The Peripheral Nervous System
Activity: Reaction Time, p. 20
In the News: Nerve Therapy to Treat Depression, p. 21
C. The Endocrine System
Popular Film: Open Water, p. 21
In the News: Hormones Build Trust, p. 21

IV.

A Guided Tour of the Brain


Activity: Viewing the Brain, p. 22
ActivePsych: PowerPoint Demonstration: Name That Brain Damage, p. 22
PsychSim 5: Brain and Behavior, p. 22
Video: The Brain Teaching Modules, Second Edition: Module 1, Organization and Evaluation
of Brain Function, p. 22
A. The Dynamic Brain: Plasticity and Neurogenesis
Videos: Psychology: The Human Experience: Segment 5, Brain Plasticity, p. 22
The Brain Teaching Modules, Second Edition: Module 7, Brain Anomaly and Plasticity:
Hydrocephalus, p. 22
ActivePsych: Video: Program 3, Brain Plasticity: Rewiring the Visual Cortex, p. 22
Video Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology: Language and Brain Plasticity, p. 22
Rewiring the Brain, p. 22
B. Neurogenesis
Videos: The Brain Teaching Modules, Second Edition: Module 32, Neurorehabilitation, p. 22
Moving Images: Exploring Psychology Through Film: Program 4, Brain Reorganization:
Phantom Limb Sensations, p. 22
C. The Brainstem: Hindbrain and Midbrain Structures
D. The Forebrain
Lectures: Experimental Treatments for Brain Injuries and Degeneration, p. 22
The Thalamus and Consciousness, p. 23
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and the Brain, p. 23
The Curious Case of Phineas Gage, p. 24 (Handout 2.1, p. 50)
Activities: Demonstrating the Somatosensory Cortex, p. 24
How the Brain Takes a Blow, p. 24

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

Videos: The Mind Teaching Modules, Second Edition: Module 7, The Frontal Lobes: Cognition
and Awareness, p. 24
Psychology: The Human Experience: Segment 7, Brain Surgery for Neurological Illness,
p. 24
The Brain Teaching Modules, Second Edition: Module 25, The Frontal Lobes and
Behavior: The Story of Phineas Gage, p. 24
Moving Images: Exploring Psychology Through Film: Program 3, A Contemporary
Phineas Gage, p. 24
The Brain Teaching Modules, Second Edition: Module 24, Aggression, Violence, and
the Brain, p. 24
Digital Media Archive: Segment 26, Self-Stimulation in Rats, p. 24
ActivePsych: Video: Program 1, Brain and Behavior: Phineas Gage Revisited, p. 24
Video Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology: Mapping the Brain Through Electrical Stimulation,
p. 24
Planning, Life Goals, and the Frontal Lobe, p. 24
V.

Specialization in the Cerebral Hemispheres


Discussion: Left Brain/Right Brain: Which Is Right? p. 25
ActivePsych: Flash-based Interactive Demonstration: Hemispheric Pathways, p. 25
Video: Program 4, Achieving Hemispheric Balance: Improving Sports Performance,
p. 25
PsychSim 5: Hemispheric Specialization, p. 25
Dueling Brains, p. 25
Video: Scientific American Frontiers Video Collection: Segment 8, Old Brain, New Tricks, p. 25
A. Language and the Left Hemisphere: The Early Work of Broca and Wernicke
Videos: Psychology: The Human Experience: Segment 16, Language Centers in the Brain, p. 25
The Mind Teaching Modules, Second Edition: Module 8, Language Processing in the
Brain, p. 25
The Mind Teaching Modules, Second Edition: Module 26, The Bilingual Brain, p. 25
The Brain Teaching Modules, Second Edition: Module 6, Language and Speech: Brocas
and Wernickes Areas, p. 25
B. Cutting the Corpus Callosum: The Split Brain
Activities: Integrated Functioning and the Cerebral Cortex, p. 25
Testing Hemispheric Lateralization, p. 26
Right-Brain/Left-Brain Quiz, p. 26 (Handouts 2.2 and 2.3, pp. 3031)
Cerebral Lateralization, p. 27
The Interdependence of the Brain and Both Hands, p. 27
Videos: Scientific American Frontiers Video Collection, Second Edition: Segment 7, Severed
Corpus Callosum, p. 25
The Brain Teaching Modules, Second Edition: Module 5, The Divided Brain, p. 25
Psychology: The Human Experience: Segment 4, A Case Study of Brain Damage, p. 28
Video Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology: The Split Brain: Lessons on Language, Vision, and
Free Will, p. 25
The Split Brain: Lessons on Cognition and the
Cerebral Hemispheres, p. 25

VI.

Enhancing Well-Being with Psychology: Pumping Neurons: Maximizing Your Brains Potential
Discussions: Keeping the Brain Healthy: Exercise Your Mind, p. 28
Should We Enhance Humans Through Neuroendocrine Treatments? p. 29
Video: The Mind Teaching Modules, Second Edition: Module 18, Effects of Mental and Physical
Activity on the Brain, p. 28
ActivePsych: Videos: Segment 2, Activity, Exercise, and the Brain, p. 28
Program 12: Experience and Exercise: Generating New Brain Cells, p. 28

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

OVERVIEW

LEARNING
OBJECTIVES

Chapter 2 first outlines the scope and diversity of biological psychology and notes
that it is one of the scientific disciplines that makes important contributions to
neuroscience. Biological psychologists (biopsychologists or psychobiologists) investigate the physical processes underlying psychological experiences, mental
processes, and behavior. The first section describes the structure and functions of
the neuron. Next, neural activation, synaptic transmission, and the role of neurotransmitters are outlined. The functions and effects of several neurotransmitters
are discussed, as are the effects of certain drugs on neurotransmission.
The next section discusses the structures and functions of the divisions of the
nervous system: the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and
spinal cord; and the peripheral nervous system, which includes the somatic and
autonomic nervous systems. The sympathetic and parasympathetic systems,
which make up the autonomic nervous system, are described. This section ends
by focusing on the endocrine system, its glands, and its chemical messengers,
called hormones.
The section on the brain begins with a discussion of plasticity and neurogenesis, providing an emphasis on plasticity as an important theme in brain functioning. The section then takes you through the regions of the hindbrain, midbrain,
and forebrain, including their structures and functions. The different roles of the
four lobes of each of the brains cerebral hemispheres (temporal, occipital, parietal, and frontal) are explained, and the functions of forebrain structures in the
limbic systemthe hippocampus, thalamus, hypothalamus, and amygdalaare
described.
The chapter ends with a discussion of hemispheric specialization and the part
played by split-brain patients in discovering the specialized functions of the
brains hemispheres. Enhancing Well-Being with Psychology suggests ways of
maximizing your brains potential.

When your students finish studying this chapter, they should be able to:
Introduction: Neuroscience and Behavior
1. Define biological psychology and neuroscience, and explain why psychologists
study the biological basis of behavior.
The Neuron: The Basic Unit of Communication
2. Describe the functions of neurons and glial cells, and distinguish among the
three types of neurons.
3. Identify the basic components of the neuron, describe the action potential, and
explain the processes that take place within the neuron when it is activated.
4. Explain how information is communicated between neurons, and distinguish
between excitatory and inhibitory messages.
5. Describe how neurotransmitters affect synaptic transmission, identify six
important neurotransmitters, and explain their effects on behavior.
6. (Focus on Neuroscience) Explain what is meant by runners high and discuss
the role of endorphins in this phenomenon.
7. Identify and explain several ways in which drugs can affect brain activity by
interfering with synaptic transmission.
The Nervous System and the Endocrine System: Communication
Throughout the Body
8. Describe the functions of the two major parts of the central nervous system,
and explain how spinal reflexes work.
9. Identify the divisions and subdivisions of the peripheral nervous system, and
describe their functions.
10. Describe the general functions of the endocrine system, and explain the role
hormones play.

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

11. Identify the functions of the major endocrine glands, and explain the relationship between the hypothalamus and the endocrine glands.
A Guided Tour of the Brain
12. Discuss how the pseudoscience called phrenology evolved, and how it ultimately helped advance the idea of cortical localization.
13. State what neural pathways are, distinguish between functional and structural plasticity, and explain what neurogenesis is.
14. (Focus on Neuroscience) Summarize the research involving juggling and brain
plasticity, and explain what the findings suggest about how learning a new
motor skill affects the adult brain.
15. Identify the structures of the brainstem, and describe their functions.
16. Describe the forebrains cerebral cortex, and explain the functions of its four
lobes and association areas.
17. Describe the limbic system and the functions of the brain structures that comprise it.
Specialization in the Cerebral Hemispheres
18. (Critical Thinking) Describe the differences in male and female brains, and
explain what these differences do and do not mean.
19. State what cortical localization is, and explain how the findings of Broca and
Wernicke provided early clinical evidence for lateralization of function, the
development of different types of aphasia, and language specialization in the
left hemisphere.
20. Describe the work of Roger Sperry, discuss the split-brain operation, and
explain how it provided evidence for the differing abilities of left and right
hemispheres.
21. (Science Versus Pseudoscience) Identify and discuss the myth about how much
of our brain we use, explain left and right hemisphere functioning, and list the
facts related to being left-handed or right-handed.
Enhancing Well-Being with Psychology: Pumping Neurons: Maximizing
Your Brains Potential
22. Describe the research findings from studies on enriched versus impoverished
environments using both nonhumans and humans, and list some of the practical implications of this research.

CHAPTER
OUTLINE

I.

Introduction: Neuroscience and Behavior


Biological psychology (also called biopsychology or psychobiology) is the
scientific study of the biological bases of behavior and mental processes.
Biological psychology makes important contributions to neurosciencethe
scientific study of the nervous system.

II.

The Neuron: The Basic Unit of Communication


1. Communication throughout the nervous system takes place via
neurons, cells that are highly specialized to receive and transmit
information from one part of the body to another.
2. The human nervous system is made up of other types of specialized
cells, called glial cells or glia, which support neurons by providing
structural support and nutrition, removing cell wastes, and provide
an active role in brain development and function.
3. There are three basic types of neurons.
a. Sensory neurons convey information from specialized receptor
cells in the sense organs, the skin, and the internal organs to the
brain.

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

b. Motor neurons communicate information to the muscles and


glands of the body.
c. Interneurons communicate information between neurons; they
are the most common type of neuron found in the human nervous system.
A. Characteristics of the Neuron
Most neurons have three basic components.
1. The cell body (also called the soma) contains the nucleus, which
provides energy for the neuron to carry out its functions.
2. Dendrites are short, branching fibers extending out from the cell
body that receive information from other neurons or specialized
cells.
3. The axon is a single, elongated tube that extends from the cell body
and carries information from the neuron to other neurons, glands,
and muscles. Axons vary in length from a few thousandths of an inch
to about four feet.
a. Many axons are surrounded by a myelin sheath, a white, fatty
covering that insulates axons from one another and increases the
neurons communication speed.
b. Nodes of Ranvier are small gaps in the myelin sheath.
B. Communication Within the Neuron: The All-or-None Action Potential
In general, messages are gathered by the dendrites and cell body and
then transmitted along the axon in the form of a brief electrical impulse
called an action potential.
1. Each neuron has a stimulus thresholda minimum level of stimulation from other neurons or sensory receptors to activate it.
2. While waiting for sufficient stimulation to activate it, the neuron is
polarized; that is, the axons interior is more negatively charged than
the fluid surrounding the axon. The resting potential, or the negative electrical charge of the axons interior, is 70 millivolts. It has
more sodium ions outside and more potassium ions inside.
3. When sufficiently stimulated by other neurons or sensory receptorsthat is, when the neuron reaches its stimulus thresholdthe
axon depolarizes, beginning the action potential.
a. Sodium ion channels open; sodium ions rush into the axon.
b. Then sodium channels close, and potassium ion channels open,
allowing potassium ions to rush out of the axon.
c. Finally, potassium channels close.
d. This sequence of depolarization and ion movement continues in a
self-sustaining fashion down the entire length of the axon.
e. The result is a brief positive electrical impulse (+30 millivolts)
that progressively occurs at each segment down the axonthe
action potential.
4. The all-or-none law is the principle that either a neuron is
sufficiently stimulated and an action potential occurs or a neuron is
not sufficiently stimulated and an action potential does not occur.
5. Following the action potential, a refractory period occurs during
which the neuron is unable to fire. During this thousandth of a
second or less, the neuron repolarizes; that is, it reestablishes the
resting potential conditions.
6. Two factors affect the speed of the action potential.
a. Axon diameterthicker axons are faster.
b. Myelin sheathmyelinated axons are faster.

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

C. Communication Between Neurons: Bridging the Gap


1. The point of communication between two neurons is called the
synapse.
a. The message-sending neuron is referred to as the presynaptic
neuron.
b. The message-receiving neuron is called the postsynaptic neuron.
c. Synaptic gap: the tiny, fluid-filled space only five-millionths of
an inch wide between the axon terminal of one neuron and the
dendrite of the adjoining neuron.
2. Transmission of information between neurons occurs in one of two
ways.
a. Electrical: Ion channels bridge the narrow gap between neurons;
communication is virtually instantaneous.
b. Chemical: The presynaptic neuron creates a chemical substance
(a neurotransmitter) that diffuses across the synaptic gap and is
detected by the postsynaptic neuron (over 99 percent of the
synapses in the brain use chemical transmission).
(1) An action potential arrives at the axon terminals; these
branches at the end of the axon contain tiny pouches or sacs
called synaptic vesicles, which contain special chemical
messengers called neurotransmitters.
(2) The synaptic vesicles release the neurotransmitters into the
synaptic gap.
(3) Synaptic transmission is the process through which neurotransmitters are released by one neuron, cross the synaptic
gap, and affect surrounding neurons by attaching to receptor
sites on their dendrites.
(4) After synaptic transmission, the following may occur.
(a) Reuptake: the process by which neurotransmitter molecules detach from a postsynaptic neuron and are reabsorbed by a presynaptic neuron so they can be recycled
and used again.
(b) Enzymatic destruction or breakdown.
(5) Each neurotransmitter has a chemically distinct, different
shape. For a neurotransmitter to affect a neuron, it must
perfectly fit the receptor site.
3. Excitatory and inhibitory messages
A neurotransmitter communicates either an excitatory message or an
inhibitory message to a postsynaptic neuron.
a. An excitatory message increases the likelihood that the neuron
will activate; an inhibitory message decreases the likelihood that
it will activate. The postsynaptic neuron will depolarize only if
the net result is a sufficient number of excitatory messages.
b. Depending on the receptor site to which it binds, the same neurotransmitter can have an inhibitory effect on one neuron and an
excitatory effect on another neuron.
c. On the average, each neuron in the brain communicates directly
with 1,000 other neurons.
D. Neurotransmitters and Their Effects
Researchers have linked abnormal levels of specific neurotransmitters to
various physical and behavioral problems.
1. Important Neurotransmitters
a. Acetylcholine stimulates muscles to contract and is important
in memory, learning, and general intellectual functioning. Levels

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

of acetylcholine are severely reduced in people with Alzheimers


disease.
b. Dopamine is involved in movement, attention, learning, and
pleasurable or rewarding sensations.
c. Degeneration of neurons that produce dopamine in one brain
area causes Parkinsons disease. Symptoms of Parkinsons
disease can be alleviated by a drug called L-dopa, which converts
to dopamine in the brain.
d. Excessive brain levels of dopamine are sometimes involved in
the hallucinations and perceptual distortions that characterize
schizophrenia. Some antipsychotic drugs work by blocking
dopamine receptors and reducing dopamine activity in the brain.
e. Serotonin is involved in sleep, moods, and emotional states,
including depression. Antidepressant drugs such as Prozac
increase the availability of serotonin in certain brain regions.
f. Norepinephrine activates neurons throughout the brain,
assists in the bodys response to danger or threat, and is involved
in learning and memory retrieval. Norepinephrine dysfunction is
also involved in some mental disorders, especially depression.
g. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) usually communicates an
inhibitory message to other neurons, reducing brain activity.
Antianxiety medications work by increasing GABA activity.
2. Endorphins: Regulating the Perception of Pain
a. Pert & Synder (1973) discovered the brain contains receptor sites
specific for opiates.
b. Endorphins are chemicals released by the brain in response to
stress or trauma.
c. Endorphins are associated with the pain-reducing effects of
acupuncture.
3. Focus on Neuroscience: Is Runners High an Endorphin Rush?
a. Runners high, the rush of endorphins experienced after sustained aerobic exercise, was the subject of an experiment by
Boecker et al., using a PET scan to detect a chemical that binds
to opioid receptors.
b. The experiment provided the first real evidence that runners
high is at least partly due to the release of endorphins in the
brain.
E. How Drugs Affect Synaptic Transmission
Many drugs, especially those that affect moods or behavior, work by
interfering with the normal functioning of neurotransmitters in the
synapse.
1. Drugs may increase or decrease the amount of neurotransmitter
released by neurons.
2. Drugs may affect the length of time the neurotransmitter remains in
the synaptic gap, either increasing or decreasing the amount available to the postsynaptic receptor.
3. Drugs may prolong the effects of the neurotransmitter by blocking
its reuptake by the sending neuron.
4. Drugs can mimic specific neurotransmitters.
5. Drugs can mimic or block the effect of a neurotransmitter by fitting
into receptor sites and preventing the neurotransmitter from acting.

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

III. The Nervous System and the Endocrine System: Communication


Throughout the Body
The nervous system is the complex, organized communication network of
neurons; its two main divisions are the central nervous system and the
peripheral nervous system. In the peripheral nervous system, nerves are
made up of large bundles of neuron axons.
A. The Central Nervous System
1. The central nervous system includes the brain and the spinal
cord, which are suspended in cerebrospinal fluid for protection.
2. Spinal reflexes are simple, automatic behaviors that are processed
in the spinal cord.
3. One of the simplest spinal reflexes involves a three-neuron loop of
rapid communicationa sensory neuron that communicates sensation to the spinal cord, an interneuron that relays information within
the spinal cord, and a motor neuron leading from the spinal cord
that signals muscles to react.
B. The Peripheral Nervous System
The peripheral nervous system comprises all the nerves outside the
central nervous system; its two subdivisions are the somatic nervous
system and the autonomic nervous system.
1. The somatic nervous system communicates sensory information
received by sensory receptors along sensory nerves to the central
nervous system and carries messages from the central nervous
system along motor nerves to perform voluntary muscle movements.
2. The autonomic nervous system regulates involuntary functions
such as heartbeat, blood pressure, breathing, and digestion; its two
branches are the sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic
nervous system.
a. The sympathetic nervous system produces rapid physiological
arousal in response to perceived threats or emergencies. These
bodily changes collectively represent the fight-or-flight
responsethey physically prepare you to fight or flee from a
perceived danger.
b. The parasympathetic nervous system conserves and maintains the bodys physical resources.
C. The Endocrine System
The endocrine system is made up of glands located throughout the
body that secrete hormones into the bloodstream. Communication in the
endocrine system takes place much more slowly than in the nervous
system.
1. Hormones are chemical messengers secreted into the bloodstream
primarily by endocrine glands. They interact with the nervous
system and affect internal organs and body tissues. Some of the
processes they regulate are metabolism, growth rate, digestion, blood
pressure, and sexual development and reproduction.
2. A brain structure called the hypothalamus serves as the main link
between the nervous system and the endocrine system. It directly
regulates the release of hormones by the pituitary gland.
3. The pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland just under the brain, controls hormone production in other endocrine glands. It also produces
some hormones directly, such as growth hormone and prolactin.

10

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

4. A set of glands called the adrenal glands is involved in the human


stress response.
a. The adrenal cortex, the outer portion of each adrenal gland,
also interacts with the immune system.
b. The adrenal medulla, the inner portion of the adrenal glands,
secretes epinephrine (or adrenaline) and norepinephrine.
5. The gonads, or sex organs, are the ovaries in females and testes in
males. These sex hormones regulate sexual development, reproduction, and sexual behavior.
IV.

A Guided Tour of the Brain


Brain functions involve the activation of neural pathways that link different brain structures; however, the best way to think of the brain is as
an integrated system.
1. Science Versus Pseudoscience: Phrenology
a. In the early 1800s, Franz Gall developed phrenology, which
was based on the idea that specific skull locations were associated with various personality characteristics, moral character, and
intelligence.
b. Although later shown to be a pseudoscience, phrenology triggered scientific interest in the possibility of cortical localization (or localization of function)the idea that specific psychological and mental functions are localized in specific brain areas.
A. The Dynamic Brain: Plasticity and Neurogenesis
Plasticity is the brains ability to change structure and function. Until
the mid-1960s, it was believed that the brains physical structure was
hard-wired or fixed for life.
1. Functional plasticity is the brains ability to shift functions from
damaged to undamaged areas.
2. Structural plasticity is a phenomenon in which brain structures
physically change in response to environmental influences.
3. Focus on Neuroscience: Juggling and Brain Plasticity
a. Research by Draganski et al. (2004) provides evidence that
learning a new skill produces structural changes in the brain.
b. Participants in a study, divided into jugglers and nonjugglers,
were given MRI brain scans to detect changes over time.
B. Neurogenesis
1. Neurogenesis is the development of new neurons after birth.
a. Research by Gould (1998) showed generation of new neurons
every day in the hippocampus in adult marmoset monkeys.
b. Further research by Eriksson and Gage (1998) on adult cancer
patients provided the first evidence that the human brain has
the capacity to generate new neurons.
C. The Brainstem: Hindbrain and Midbrain Structures
The brainstem is made up of the hindbrain and the midbrain, which
are located at the base of the brain.
1. The hindbrain connects the spinal cord with the rest of the brain.
In the hindbrain, incoming sensory messages cross over to the other
side of the brain, and outgoing motor messages cross over to the
other side of the body. This is referred to as contralateral organization. Three structures make up the hindbrain: the medulla, the pons,
and the cerebellum.

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

11

a. The medulla lies directly above the spinal cord and controls
vital autonomic functions such as breathing, heart rate, and
digestion.
b. The pons lies just above the medulla. Large bundles of axons on
both sides of the pons connect it to the cerebellum. Information
from other brain regions higher up in the brain is relayed to the
cerebellum via the pons.
c. The cerebellum bulges out behind the pons; it is involved in the
control of balance, muscle tone, coordinated muscle movements,
and the learning of automatic movements and motor skills.
d. The reticular formation (or the reticular activating system) is
a network of neurons at the core of the medulla and the pons.
The neurons project up to higher brain regions and down to the
spinal cord. The reticular formation plays an important role in
regulating attention and sleep.
2. The midbrain
a. The midbrain is an important relay station and contains centers important to the processing of auditory and visual sensory
information before sending them to higher brain centers.
b. The substantia nigra is an area of the midbrain that is
involved in motor control and contains a large concentration of
dopamine-producing neurons.
D. The Forebrain
The forebrain, or cerebrum, is the largest and most complex brain
region.
1. The cerebral cortex is the grayish, quarter-inch-thick, wrinkled
outer portion of the forebrain that is sometimes described as being
composed of gray matter. Extending inward from the cerebral cortex
are white myelinated axons, sometimes referred to as white matter,
that connect the cerebral cortex to other brain regions.
a. The cerebral cortex is divided into two cerebral hemispheres.
b. The corpus callosum is a thick band of axons that connects
the two hemispheres of the cerebral cortex and serves as the primary communication link between them.
c. Each cerebral hemisphere is divided into four regions, or lobes.
(1) The temporal lobe, located near the temples, is the primary
receiving area for auditory information (primary auditory
cortex).
(2) The occipital lobe, at the back of each cerebral hemisphere, is
the primary receiving area for visual information (primary
visual cortex).
(3) The parietal lobe, located above the temporal lobe, processes
bodily, or somatosensory, information, including touch, temperature, pressure, and information from receptors in the
muscles and joints. A band of tissue on the parietal lobe,
called the somatosensory cortex, receives information from
touch receptors in different parts of the body. Body parts are
represented in proportion to their sensitivity to somatic sensations.
(4) The frontal lobe, the largest lobe of the cerebral cortex, is
located behind and above the eyes; it is involved in planning,
initiating, and executing voluntary movements. The movements of different body parts are represented in a band of
tissue on the frontal lobe called the primary motor cortex.

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Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

d. The bulk of the cerebral cortex consists mostly of association


areas, which are generally thought to be involved in processing
and integrating sensory and motor information.
2. The limbic system is a group of forebrain structures that form a
border around the brainstem and are involved in emotion, motivation, learning, and memory.
a. The hippocampus is a large structure embedded in the temporal lobe that plays a role in the ability to form new memories of
events and information. Neurogenesis takes place in the adult
hippocampus.
b. The thalamus is a rounded mass of cell bodies that processes
and distributes motor and sensory (except for smell) information
going to and from the cerebral cortex. It is thought to be involved
in regulating levels of awareness, attention, motivation, and
emotional aspects of sensations.
c. The hypothalamus is a peanut-sized structure that regulates
both divisions of the autonomic nervous system and behaviors
related to survival, such as eating, drinking, frequency of sexual
activity, fear, and aggression.
(1) One area of the hypothalamus, the suprachiasmatic nucleus
(SCN), plays a key role in regulating daily sleepwake cycles
and other rhythms of the body.
(2) The hypothalamus produces both neurotransmitters and hormones that directly influence the pituitary gland.
d. The amygdala is an almond-shaped clump of neuron cell bodies
that is involved in a variety of emotional response patterns,
including fear, anger, and disgust. It is also involved in learning
and in memory formation, especially emotional memories.
V.

Specialization in the Cerebral Hemispheres


Although the left and right hemispheres are very similar in appearance,
they are not identical in structure or function.
A. Language and the Left Hemisphere: The Early Work of Broca and
Wernicke
Cortical localization, as noted in the box on phrenology, refers to the
idea that particular areas of the human brain are associated with
particular functions.
1. Pierre Paul Broca was a French surgeon and neuroanatomist who,
in the 1860s, discovered an area on the lower left frontal lobe of the
cerebral cortex that, when damaged, produces great difficulties in
speaking but no loss of comprehension. Today, this area is known as
Brocas area.
2. Karl Wernicke was a German neurologist who, in the 1870s, discovered an area on the left temporal lobe of the cerebral cortex that,
when damaged, produces meaningless or nonsensical speech and difficulties in verbal or written comprehension. Today, this is known as
Wernickes area.
3. Lateralization of function is the notion that one hemisphere
exerts more control over the processing of a particular psychological
function (e.g., speech and language functions are lateralized on the
left hemisphere).
4. Aphasia refers to the partial or complete inability to articulate
ideas or understand spoken or written language because of brain
injury or damage.

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

13

a. People with Brocas aphasia find it difficult or impossible to


produce speech, but their comprehension of verbal or written
words is relatively unaffected.
b. People with Wernickes aphasia can speak, but they often have
trouble finding the correct words and have great difficulty
comprehending written or spoken communication.
5. Critical Thinking: His and Her Brains?
a. Some researchers argue that gender differences in cognitive abilities and personality characteristics are due to differences in
brain structure, organization, and function.
b. Both hormones and genes seem to influence gender differences
in brain development
c. Mens brains tend to be larger, have a higher percentage of white
matter (which is evenly distributed throughout the brain), and
have more cerebrospinal fluid. Womens brains have a higher
percentage of gray matter, have a greater concentration of white
matter in the corpus callosum, and display more cortical complexity.
d. Men and women seem to use their brains equally, but differently.
A recent study found that some of the brain regions correlated
with intelligence were more prominent in women and some were
more prominent in men.
e. Studies of gender differences should be examined critically, keeping in mind that male and female brains are much more alike
than they are dissimilar.
B. Cutting the Corpus Callosum: The Split Brain
1. A split-brain operation is a surgical procedure that involves cutting the corpus callosum in order to stop or reduce epileptic seizures.
2. Roger Sperry was an American psychologist and neuroscientist
who did pioneering research on hemispheric specialization using
split-brain patients.
a. Typical Sperry experiment
(1) Sperry projected the image of an object to the left of the
midpoint on a screen; the image was sent to the right
nonverbal hemisphere.
(2) If a split-brain subject was asked to verbally identify the
image flashed on the screen, he could not do so. However, the
split-brain subjects right hemisphere still processed the
information and expressed itself nonverbally: the subject was
able to pick up the correct object with his left hand.
b. Sperrys experiments reconfirmed the specialized language
abilities of the left hemisphere.
c. Results from other brain research
(1) The left hemisphere is superior in language abilities, speech,
reading, and writing.
(2) The right hemisphere is more involved in nonverbal
emotional expression and visual-spatial tasks that involve
deciphering complex visual clues; it also excels in recognizing
faces and emotional facial cues, reading maps, copying
designs, and drawing; it also shows a higher degree of
specialization for appreciating or responding to music.
d. In the normal brain, the left and right hemispheres function in
an integrated fashion, constantly exchanging information.

14

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

C. Science Versus Pseudoscience: Brain Myths


Six questions about myths are answered, including Do we use only 10
percent of our brain? and Are we left-brained or right-brained?
VI. Enhancing Well-Being with Psychology: Pumping Neurons:
Maximizing Your Brains Potential
A. Studies first conducted in the 1960s demonstrated that rats raised in
enriched environments produce more synaptic connections between brain
neurons, whereas impoverished environments decrease synaptic
connections.
B. The human brain also seems to benefit from enriched, stimulating environmentsthe brains of university graduates were found to have up to
40 percent more synaptic connections than the brains of high school
dropouts.
C. Studies show that the best protection against developing Alzheimers
disease is engaging in intellectually stimulating hobbies.
D. In humans, a mentally stimulating, intellectually challenging environment is associated with enhanced cognitive functioning. Even in late
adulthood, remaining mentally active can help prevent or lessen mental
decline.

APPROACHING YOUR LECTURE


Although this chapter appears at first glance to
contain an overwhelming number of technical
terms that are difficult to pronounce and impossible to spell, students often do well with this material. We think the reason students do better than
expected is that the terms and concepts, while difficult, are concrete and somewhat familiar to them.
Students have had some exposure to this material
in high school biology, whereas few have had any
exposure to such topics as memory, learning, or cognition. Drawings work best; film clips of neurons at
work, while entertaining, do not necessarily make
good teaching devices. If you draw fairly well, draw
the neuron yourself; students will attempt to copy
it and profit from the interactive learning involved
in doing so.
Begin, as the book does, with the neuron. Try to
get the students to think about how the neuron
relates to their personal behavior. You might mention illnesses that are related to neurons or neurotransmitters, such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and
multiple sclerosis.
Draw Figure 2.1, the neuron, on the chalkboard. First, explain the functions of the three
major parts of the neuron: dendrites, cell body, and
axon. Then, point out the other parts of the neuronthe myelin sheath, nodes of Ranvier, and the
axon terminalsand explain how they function.
Explain that degeneration of patches of the myelin

sheath is associated with multiple sclerosis, which


may be why this disease affects young and middleaged adults rather than childrensince childrens
myelination is not completely developed. Put it all
together by describing the major processes involved
in communication within and between neurons.
We suggest that, at the very least, students
should be familiar with the resting potential, the
action potential, reuptake, and the all-or-none law.
To help weaker students understand the action
potential, create a transparency of communication
within the neuron (text Figure 2.4).
We are not aware of any mnemonic devices that
ease the learning process, so visual aids are the
best pedagogical tools. Whenever possible, encourage students to draw, label, and explain the
processes to one another. Use drills, such as labeling the parts of the neuron, defining the processes,
and relating the neurotransmitters to their functions. Additional visual materials are suggested in
the Class Activities section.
Neurotransmitters are not as difficult to teach
as the neuron. You should, however, emphasize
very early on that neurotransmitters either inhibit
or excite transmission. Review for students the several possible effects of drugs on neuronal transmission: (1) Some drugs mimic the neurotransmitter
and produce the same effect (agonists); (2) some
drugs block the receptor sites and prevent the
effect of the neurotransmitters (antagonists); and
(3) other drugs block the reuptake of the neuro-

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

transmitter, increasing its effects. The following


chart can be used to amplify the text material; it
lists important neurotransmitters, the effects of

15

deficits and excesses, and substances that increase


or decrease the activity of the neurotransmitter.

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT NEUROTRANSMITTERS


Effect of
Deficit

Effect of
Excess

Increases
Activity

Decreases
Activity

Nicotine
Nerve gas

Curare
Atropine

L-dopa
Amphet.
Cocaine

Some antipsychotic
drugs

Neurotransmitter

Function

Acetylcholine

Stimulates muscle
contraction; involved
in memory, learning,
and general intellectual
functioning

Alzheimers

Dopamine

Involved in movement
attention, learning, and
pleasurable sensations

Parkinsons

Serotonin

Involved in sleep,
moods, and
emotional states

Anxiety, mood
disorders,
insomnia

Norepinephrine

Involved in increasing
heartbeat and arousal,
as well as learning
and memory retrieval

Mental
disorders,
especially
depression

Anxiety

Lithium
Cocaine
Amphet.
Caffeine

GABA (gammaaminobutyric acid)

Helps to offset excitatory


messages and regulate
daily sleepwake cycles

Anxiety

Sleep and
eating disorders

Alcohol
Valium
Xanax
Barbit.

Endorphins

Involved in pain
perception and positive
emotions

Body
experiences
pain

Body may not


give adequate
warning about
pain

Opiates
Alcohol

The nervous system and its divisions can best


be explained by using the transparency of text
Figure 2.10 (Organization of the Nervous System).
We draw the chart on the board as we explain
briefly how each system functions. We do this by
comparing and contrasting the functions of the parallel systems.
The other topic that is difficult for students is
the brain. To some extent, the amount of difficulty
they experience will be related to the amount of
material you require students to master. If you
plan to go into some depth, we recommend you use
transparencies, enabling students to relate the
information to the structures location in the brain.

Schizophrenia

LSD
SSRIs

Naloxone
Naltrexone

Generally, start with the brainstem and then move


on to the more complex structures. Those brain
areas related to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and those that affect emotions before the cerebral cortex becomes involved
are usually of greatest interest to students.
Because the structures in the cerebral cortex are
involved in sensory and motor functions, as well as
in the thinking processes that differentiate
humans from other animals, these too may be of
interest to students. On the next page is a summary of the major brain structures, which has been
enlarged so you can use it as either a student handout or as a transparency.

16

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

SUMMARY OF THE MAJOR BRAIN STRUCTURES


Structure

Hindbrain

Medulla
Pons
Cerebellum
Reticular
formation
Midbrain
Substantia
nigra
Forebrain
Cerebral
cortex
Temporal lobe
Occipital lobe
Parietal lobe
Frontal lobe
Corpus
callosum
Limbic System
Hippocampus
Hypothalamus
Thalamus

Amygdala

Function
(The brainstem is made up of the hindbrain and the
midbrain)
Incoming sensory messages cross over to the opposite side of the
brain; outgoing motor messages cross over to the opposite side
of the body.
Controls vital autonomic functions, such as breathing, heart
rate, and digestion.
Relays information from higher brain regions to the cerebellum.
Involved in the control of balance, muscle tone, coordinated
muscle movements, and the learning of motor skills.
Network of neurons at the core of the medulla and pons that
helps regulate attention and sleep.
Plays a role in processing auditory and visual information
before sending it to higher brain centers.
Involved in motor control and dopamine production.

Contains centers involved in complex behaviors and


mental processes. Each hemisphere has four lobes:
Processes auditory information.
Processes visual information.
Processes bodily sensations.
Processes voluntary muscle movements and involved in
thinking and planning.
Communication link between the left and right cerebral
hemispheres.

Involved in learning and forming new memories.


Regulates the autonomic nervous system, behaviors related to
survival, and the pituitary gland.
Processes and distributes motor and sensory information going
to and from the cerebral cortex. Involved in regulating awareness, attention, motivation, and emotional aspects of sensations.

Involved in emotional responses (especially fear and rage),


learning, and memory formation.

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

17

CLASS ACTIVITIES

Discussion: Ethics and the Biology of Behavior

I.

Ethical concerns related to the material in this


chapter will provoke heated debate. Following are
several of the issues discussed in the chapter.

Introduction: Neuroscience and Behavior

Activity: Neurophysiology and the Internet


The Internet is a good source for helping students
to learn the material in this chapter. Some students will not venture into the Internet until forced
to do so. We recommend that you do just that,
because once students get involved with the
Internet, all of a sudden, education is interactive
and fun. The following exercises can be completed
by students outside of class.
1. Have students research different termsfor
example, neuron, neurotransmitter, pituitary
gland, hypothalamususing one the Webs
many interesting sites. When they have located
a good site for neurophysiology, have them follow the various links for a set period. To complete the assignment, they should prepare a
brief written report of the sites visited or print
out a few pages of the more interesting sites.
2. Some researchers argue that glial cells actually do transmit messages. Have students check
this out on the Internet and in very recent
research journals. Have them write a brief
statement that describes the form of the glial
cells communication. Tell your students to
search on the key word glial.
3. Consider having students research one of the
following conditions or diseases: Parkinsons,
Alzheimers, multiple sclerosis, pituitary or
thyroid disorders, or neurotoxins, such as the
one present in the Puffer fish. Ask other students to research one of the promising new
treatments for these conditions. The Parkinsons Web site is http://neurosurgery.mgh.
harvard.edu/functional.
4. Encourage students to get updates on brain
research from www.brain.com. This Web site
carries Reuters Health press releases on new
brain research as well as compilations of research in specific areas. Topics covered include
traumatic brain injury, the possible role of
estrogen in treating strokes to minimize longterm damage, the role of various parts of the
brain in forming memories, and new research
on the role of genes and other causes of and risk
factors for Parkinsons and Alzheimers disease.
The reading level is appropriate for an educated layperson.

1. Researchers have developed a number of stem


cell lines. Former President George W. Bush
signed legislation that allowed researchers to
use these lines for research but prohibited
them from developing any stem cell lines
beyond these already existing ones. How do
you feel about such legislation? Would you
want unlimited development if it meant a cure
for some deadly diseases? What about the possibility of using stem cells to clone designer
babies? President Obama is expected to revise
this policy. What do you think?
2. In some severe cases of epilepsy, seizures cannot be controlled by medication. To stop the
neurotransmission from one side of the brain
to the other that causes seizures throughout
the body and can eventually result in death,
the corpus callosum is surgically split. At what
point should a decision be made to perform
this surgery? Do the benefits outweigh the consequences?
3. In the United States, the availability of new
imaging technologies has led to quicker and
better diagnosis. However, the cost of the
machinery to the clinic or hospital and the cost
of administration for the patient are enormous. Government statistics show that 40 million or more people, often the working poor,
have no health insurance. Will the high costs
of new technologies and new procedures exacerbate what some argue is already a two-tiered
health-care system? What, if anything, can be
done? As an out-of-class exercise, assign one or
more students to research the cost to patients,
or their insurance companies, for the administration of the following imaging techniques:
PET, MRI, and fMRI.

Web Resource: Neuropsychology Central


This site (www.neuropsychologycentral.com/index.
html) provides a wealth of information related to
neuropsychology, including imaging, assessment,
and links to related organizations and research laboratories.

Web Resource: Neuroscience for Kids


Dont let the name of this site fool you (http://
faculty.washington.edu/chudler/neurok.html). Dr.
Eric Chudler of the University of Washington has

18

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

created an educational Web site on the brain and


nervous system that appeals to kids of every age.

ActivePsych: Video: Program 2,


Neuroimaging: Assessing Whats Cool
(Scientific American Frontiers, Third Edition)
See the Faculty Guide that
ActivePsych for a description.

accompanies

Web Resource: Neurosciences on the Internet


As of fall 2009, this site (www.neuroguide.com) is
being redesigned to serve two purposes: List the
best neuroscience resources on the Internet in one
location, and present original neuroscience content
not available elsewhere. In the meantime, it still
offers some great material on neuroscience.

II.

The Neuron: The Basic Unit of


Communication

ActivePsych: Flash-based Interactive


Demonstrations: Nerve Cell Demonstrations
Students can participate in demonstrations in
which they will enact neural transmission of an
impulse by playing the roles of either the dendrite,
soma axon, or axon terminal of a nerve cell (neuron).

ActivePsych: Flash-based Interactive


Demonstrations: Synaptic Transmission and
Neurotransmitters
In this activity, students learn about various neurotransmitters and their effects on a persons ability to perceive, feel, think, move, act, and react. A
brief explanation of action potential and synaptic
transmission begins this activity.

Web Resource: Neural Processes Tutorials


John Krantz of Hanover College maintains this
Web
page
(http://psych.hanover.edu/Krantz/
neurotut.html), which is a collection of tutorials
that provide excellent practice for students.
A. Characteristics of the Neuron

Video: Psychology: The Human Experience:


Segment 6, Neurological Disorder
See the Faculty Guide that accompanies Psychology: The Human Experience for a description.

B. Communication Within the Neuron: The Allor-None Action Potential

Activity: Using Dominoes to Illustrate the


Action Potential
Students often have difficulty understanding the
concepts involved in neural transmission. Walter
Wagor suggests an activity using dominoes to help
explain the neural threshold, the all-or-none principle, how the action potential flows along the
length of the axon, and the refractory period. You
will need two sets of dominoes and a smooth tabletop surface at least five feet long. You may wish to
set up the dominoes before the students arrive for
class.
To show how the action potential is passed
along the length of the axon, set up dominoes
on end about one inch apart in a three-foot
row. Then push the first domino in the line.
To help explain the refractory period, point out
to the students that no matter how hard you
push on the first domino of the fallen line,
after the action potential has occurred, the
domino effect (or action potential) cannot be
repeated until the dominoes are set up again.
To help explain the all-or-none principle, set
up two three-foot rows of dominoes. Barely
touch the first domino in one row. Increase the
pressure until the first domino falls and the
domino effect begins. For the second row, push
hard on the first domino. This demonstrates
that a neuron does not fire until the neural
threshold is reached. Once the threshold is
reached, each neuron fires in the same way,
regardless of the strength of the incoming
stimulation. Pushing harder on the first domino does not increase the speed of transmission.
[Adapted from Wagor, W. F. (1990). Using dominoes to
help explain the action potential. In V. P. Makosky, C.
C. Sileo, L. G. Whittemore, & M. L. Skutley (Eds.),
Activities handbook for the teaching of psychology (Vol.
3). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.]

Activity: Racing Neurons!


This is a fun way to teach the action potential and
to help students understand the anatomy of the
nervous system by function and structure.
You will need a bag of any small, enticing candy
(chocolate kisses, fruit chews, caramels) and several sets of 11 index cards, depending on the size of
your class. Each card in a set contains one of the
lists of structures given below (along with the
answers). The students should form teams of 12,
with each team standing in a line. Hand each stu-

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

dent except the last in the line a list and two or


three candies. Instruct the first student to read the
list (omitting, of course, the unifying theme that is
the answer) to the next student in line. When the
listening student gives the correct answer (the
common feature of the listed structures), the student who was reading the list immediately hands
to the listener the candies and that student begins
to read his or her list to the next student.
The sequenceas students answer questions
and pass the candy alongis much like the all-ornone action potential. The passing of the candy represents the release of neurotransmitters when the
action potential reaches the synapse.
If your class is small (under 20 or so), have one
team do the exercise while the rest of the class
watches. If it is a large class, you can have two or
more teams compete to see which team can get
their action potential from the starting neuron
to the terminating neuron most quickly.
Structures (and answers):
1. Glial cells, sensory neurons, interneurons,
motor neurons (types of nervous system cells).
2. Dendrite, axon, cell body, nodes of Ranvier,
myelin sheath, receptors, vesicles (parts of a
neuron).
3. Depolarization, refractory period, all-or-none
law, sodium channels, stimulus threshold,
potassium ions, 70 millivolts (action
potential).
4. Axon terminals, synaptic vesicles, reuptake,
neurotransmitters, excitatory message,
presynaptic neuron, receptor (synaptic
transmission).
5. Acetylcholine, GABA, dopamine, serotonin,
endorphin, norepinephrine, substance P
(neurotransmitters).
6. Somatic, autonomic, sympathetic, parasympathetic (divisions of the nervous system).
7. Hypothalamus, pineal, pituitary, adrenal,
pancreas, thyroid, ovaries, testes (endocrine
system).
8. Melatonin, prolactin, oxytocin, thyroxin,
progesterone, gonadotrophins, adrenaline
(hormones).
9. Medulla, reticular formation, cerebellum,
pons, midbrain, substantia nigra (brainstem
structures).
10. Thalamus, hypothalamus, hippocampus,
amygdala (limbic system).

19

11. Frontal cortex, primary somatosensory cortex,


parietal lobe, temporal lobe, primary motor
cortex, occipital lobe (cerebral cortex).
C. Communication Between Neurons: Bridging
the Gap

PsychSim 5: Neural Messages


This activity explains the structure of the neuron
and the transmission of neural messages. A simple
neuron is drawn and students actively participate
in the naming of the structures and their functions.
The processes of axonal and synaptic transmission
are graphically depicted, including an extremely
clear picture of polarization of the axon.

In the News: Neural Inhibition and Excitation


Researchers Make Surprise Discovery That Brain
Cells Can Transmit Three Signals at Once (March
7, 2005, Pittsburgh, ScienceDaly.com): Findings
suggest that immature brain cells can release up to
three neurotransmitters upon activation, with
opposing functions. This is a good article for
reviewing neural inhibition and excitation. Most
important, the article challenges the earlier view
that each neuron releases only one neurotransmitter.

Videos: The Brain Teaching Modules, Second


Edition: Module 17, Learning as Synaptic
Change
Digital Media Archive: Segment 1, Neural
Communication
See the Faculty Guides that accompany The Brain
Teaching Modulues and Digital Media Archive for
descriptions.

ActivePsych: Video: Segment 1, Neural


Communication: Impulse Transmission Across
the Synapse (Digital Media Archive, Second
Edition)
See the Faculty Guide that
ActivePsych for a description.

accompanies

Video Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology:


Neural Communication: Impulse Transmission
Across the Synapse
See the Faculty Guide that accompanies the Video
Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology for a description.

20

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

D. Neurotransmitters and Their Effects

Video: The Mind Teaching Modules, Second


Edition: Module 5, Endorphins: The Brains
Natural Morphine
See the Faculty Guide that accompanies The Mind
videos for a description.

Video Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology:


Compulsive Gambling and the Brain's
Pleasure Centers
See the Faculty Guide that accompanies the Video
Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology, Volume Two,
for a description.

Lecture: Parkinsons Disease


As noted in the text, the neurotransmitter dopamine is crucial for motor skills; it ensures that
muscles work smoothly, are under precise control,
and do not exhibit unwanted movement. In
Parkinsons disease, the dopamine-producing brain
cells slowly degenerate, eventually robbing victims
of their ability to walk and talk. Over 1 million people in the United States suffer from Parkinsons
disease, including ex-heavyweight champion
Muhammed Ali and actor Michael J. Fox, who left
his hit TV series Spin City to fight this disease and
to help raise funds for research into treatment and
possibly a cure. Early Parkinsons is often treated
with drugs, but side effects may pose a problem,
and the drugs lose their effectiveness after a few
years. A number of years ago, researchers began
experimenting with human fetal brain cell transplants, replacing damaged dopamine-producing
neurons with dopaminergic fetal brain tissue.
Although the therapy has shown great promise,
two serious problems remain: ethical/ moral considerations and the availability of fetal tissue. In
September 1996, surgeons at Boston Medical
Center attempted to remedy these problems by
using fetal pig cells in place of human fetal cells.
They transplanted the fetal pig cells into the brains
of 12 Parkinsons patients. Half the patients have
shown marked improvement . . . the other half have
regained some control over their motor skills. One
of the great successes of the study is Jim Finn.
The following Web sites provide additional
information about Parkinsons disease:
Parkinsons Alliance (www.parkinsonalliance.net)
National Parkinson Foundation
(www.parkinson.org)
The Parkinsons Disease Foundation
(www.pdf.org)

[Sinha, G. (1999, October). On the road to recovery.


Popular Science, 255(4), 7781.]

Videos: The Brain Teaching Modules, Second


Edition: Module 31, Brain Transplants in
Parkinsons Patients
Moving Images: Exploring Psychology
Through Film: Program 2, Neural
Communication: Neurotransmitter
Acetylcholine
See the Faculty Guides that accompany The Brain
videos and Moving Images for descriptions.

Video Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology:


Parkinson's Disease: A Case Study
Treating Parkinson's Disease: Deep Brain
Electrode Implantation
See the Faculty Guide that accompanies the Video
Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology, Volume Two,
for a description.

Popular Film: Iris (2001)


This movie tells the true story of philosopher and
novelist Iris Murdoch and her battle with
Alzheimers disease. Painfully realistic, the film
shows the slow and degenerative process of this
fatal disease. Have students follow Iriss life from
her first symptoms to her final days. This is a great
movie for discussing the devastation that
Alzheimers brings to everyone involved.

Popular Film: Eden (1997)


Show this movie to demonstrate the debilitating
effects of multiple sclerosis. Helen, a mother of two,
develops escape methods for the grim reality of this
progressive disease. Have students discuss
whether her out-of-body experiences could be
beneficial or harmful to her situation.
E. How Drugs Affect Synaptic Transmission

III.

The Nervous System and the Endocrine


System: Communication Throughout the
Body

A. The Central Nervous System


B. The Peripheral Nervous System

Activity: Reaction Time


The text mentions the key role of the somatic nervous system in communicating information from
the sensory nerves to the central nervous system
(CNS) and from the central nervous system to the
motor neurons to perform voluntary muscle movements. The following exercise uses reaction time to
illustrate the differential speed of reactions as a

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

function of the source of sensory input (the closer to


the CNS, the faster the reaction). Follow these
steps:
1. Have students form a line and hold hands.
2. Tell them to close their eyes.
3. Cue the first person in line to squeeze the
hand of the person next to him or her.
4. As each student feels his hand being squeezed,
he or she should squeeze the next persons
hand (gently!).
5. Using a stopwatch, time how long it takes the
squeeze to go down the line. Tell the last student in line to raise his or her hand to signal
completion.
6. Repeat this task several times until a relatively stable estimate is achieved.
Using the same procedure, have students
squeeze each others shoulder instead of the hand.
Repeat the procedure several times. The average
reaction time should be shorter because the sensory information has a shorter distance to travel the
neural pathway. Ask students why their reaction
times were shorter when they squeezed shoulders
as opposed to hands? In real time, how significant
is the difference in reaction time?
An alternative demonstration of reaction time,
from visual input to manual response is the old dollar bill trick, as follows:
1. Select a student who claims to have fast reflexes and invite him or her to stand in front of the
class with you and to copy your movements.
2. With the tip of your fingers and thumb, hold
the top of a dollar bill in your nondominant
hand (left if you are right-handed, and vice
versa). Place your dominant hand so that the
dollar bill is midway between your thumb and
first finger, which should be held about an inch
and a half apart. When you are ready, drop the
bill. You will catch it.
3. Hand a dollar bill to your volunteer and ask
that person to hold the bill as you are holding
yours and to place his or her free hand as you
are holding yours.
4. Tell the class that you and the volunteer are
going to drop your respective dollar bills and
try to catch them with your dominant hands.
Tell your volunteer to drop the dollar anytime
he or she is ready. Then drop your own bill. You
will both catch your bills.
5. Have the student stand sideways to the class.
Put your dollar bill away, and take the dollar
bill you handed the student earlier and hold it

21

in front of the volunteer. Standing beside the


student, tell him or her that the dollar bill is
his or hers if he or she catches it when you
drop it. Have the student spread his or her
thumb and finger apart horizontally so that
the thumb is on one side of the center of the
dollar bill, and the forefinger on the other side.
Say, Are you ready? Count to three silently
and drop the bill. Unless the student grabbed
the bill before you dropped it, he or she will not
be able to grab it as it falls slowly to the floor.
6. Watch the stunned expressions on the faces of
the students. Ask the students why the subject
was able to catch the dollar bill when he or she
dropped it. Then ask them why the student
was not able to catch the dollar when, you, the
instructor, dropped it. In the first, the communication did not involve vision. With the addition of vision, the message has to travel much
further.
[Rozin, P., & Jonides, J. (1977). Mass reaction time
measurement of the speed of the nerve impulse and the
duration of mental processes in class. Teaching of
Psychology, 4(2), 9194; Wertheimer, M. (1981). Chain
reaction time. In L. T. Benjamin Jr., & K. D. Lowman
(Eds.), Activities handbook for the teaching of psychology (Vol. 1, pp. 205206). Washington, DC: American
Psychological Association.]

In the News: Nerve Therapy to Treat


Depression
Device Is Offering Hope on Depression: It
Stimulates Nerve Linked to Mood (December 30,
2005, Philadelphia Inquirer): This article describes
a controversial therapy to treat depression called
vagus nerve stimulation, or VNS. Questions
regarding the effectiveness of the procedure are
raised, and possible applications of VNS for other
disorders are discussed.
C. The Endocrine System

Popular Film: Open Water (2004)


This is a great movie to demonstrate how the fightor-flight response and our cognitions integrate during times of stress. Forgotten at sea while scuba
diving, a married couple passes through stages of
hope, fear, anger, and ultimately resignation. Be
sure to show the scene in which they are surrounded by sharks. Have students discuss their past
reactions to similar threatening situations.

In the News: Hormones Build Trust


Trust-Building Hormone Found (December 8, 2005,
United Press International): Findings from scien-

22

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

tists at the National Institute of Mental Health


support the effectiveness of the hormone oxytocin
in boosting trust. Brain imaging was used in the
study, suggesting new therapies for diseases
involving amygdala dysfunction and social fear.

IV.

A Guided Tour of the Brain

Activity: Viewing the Brain


To enhance your discussion of brain structures and
functions, obtain a plastic, multicolored model of
the brain that can be taken apart. Beginning with
the structures that make up the hindbrain, point
out and discuss all the major brain structures. For
example, point to the corpus callosum and remind
students that it connects the two hemispheres,
allowing them to communicate. They will be able to
see how severing it would make this communication impossible. Similarly, the reticular formation
provides a main communication link between the
hindbrain and the forebrain. When they see that
the reticular formation occurs throughout the
brain, they will be able to understand how the various sections of the brain communicate rapidly with
one another. If your classroom has an overhead projector, show simultaneously the Summary of Major
Brain Structures, the transparency master provided in Approaching Your Lecture. This transparency
will help students understand the organization of
the brain.

See the Faculty Guides that accompany


Psychology: The Human Experience and The Brain
Teaching Modules for descriptions.

ActivePsych: Video: Program 3, Brain


Plasticity: Rewiring the Visual Cortex
(Scientific American Frontiers, Third Edition)
See the Faculty Guide that accompanies ActivePsych for a description.

Video Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology:


Language and Brain Plasticity
Rewiring the Brain
See the Faculty Guide that accompanies the Video
Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology Volumes One
and Two for descriptions.
B. Neurogenesis

Videos: The Brain Teaching Modules, Second


Edition: Module 32, Neurorehabilitation
Moving Images: Exploring Psychology
Through Film: Program 4, Brain
Reorganization: Phantom Limb Sensations
See the Faculty Guides that accompany The Brain
Teaching Modules and Moving Images for descriptions.

ActivePsych: PowerPoint Demonstration:


Name that Brain Damage

C. The Brainstem: Hindbrain and Midbrain


Structures

This activity links specific brain areas with their


functions.

D. The Forebrain

PsychSim 5: Brain and Behavior

Lecture: Experimental Treatments for Brain


Injuries and Degeneration

This activity reviews the major divisions of the


brain, the structures within them, and their functions. The student takes a tour of the brain, discovering the functions of each region or area.

Video: The Brain Teaching Modules, Second


Edition: Module 1, Organization and
Evaluation of Brain Function
See the Faculty Guide that accompanies The
Brain videos for a description.
A. The Dynamic Brain: Plasticity and
Neurogenesis

Videos: Psychology: The Human Experience:


Segment 5, Brain Plasticity
The Brain Teaching Modules, Second Edition:
Module 7, Brain Anomaly and Plasticity:
Hydrocephalus

The text provides an easy-to-understand description of brain structures and functions. Remind the
students that like every other organ in the body,
the brain needs oxygenated blood pumped from the
heart in order to function. Lack of oxygen due to an
obstructed artery or suffocation can cause strokes
that lead to paralysis, speech difficulties, and other
deficits.
In 1998, Dr. Douglas Kondziolka and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh performed
the first trial stroke treatment using stem cells.
Working with rats whose brains had been damaged
in a way very similar to that caused by a stroke,
Dr. Kondziolka injected laboratory-grown immature nerve cells (LSB-neurons) into the damaged
regions of the rats brains. Within one month, the
treatment reversed the brain damage.
Since 1998, more evidence has been found that
the hippocampus has stem cells capable of matur-

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

ing into functioning neurons. In March 2000, Dr.


Steven Goldman of Cornell University Medical
College extracted stem cells from the hippocampuses of eight male patients ranging in age from 5
to 63. The research team was able to culture and
grow functional neurons using these stem cells.
The team successfully reinserted the mature cells
into the brains of the research participants. Similar
procedures are now being pioneered in attempts to
repair the damage caused by degenerative brain
disorders such as Parkinsons and Alzheimers diseases. Some researchers are also trying to develop
procedures that would allow the new neurons to be
stimulated to grow without being removed from the
brain.
Other novel methods for healing brain damage
due to injury and disease have also been tried. For
example, Dr. Gary Steinberg of Stanford University
and his associates have been exploring the use of
induced hypothermiacooling the whole body
down by several degreesto limit the damage
caused by stroke or injury. Patients are wrapped in
special blankets containing networks of hoses that
are pumped full of chilled water. The temperature
in the body and brain is lowered to 88 degrees
Fahrenheit.
The mechanism by which hypothermia protects
neurons is not yet fully understood, but it is
thought that the cool conditions limit the release of
neurotransmitters and toxins and decrease the
brains need for oxygen and nutrients.
More bizarre, but quite successful in some
cases, is a surgical intervention that involves
removing part of the skull, called hemicraniectomy.
This procedure has been performed after closed
head injuries and strokes in order to allow the
brain to swell and to prevent the death of neurons
that would otherwise be squeezed against the
inside of the cranium. Versions of this procedure
were performed as long ago as the 1800s, but little
descriptive research is available. In 1999, Dr.
William Coplin and associates began a long-term,
multicenter study to systematically track the
progress of persons who receive this surgery.
Several more years must pass until enough cases
have been followed for a length of time sufficient
for making a determination of how effective this
drastic procedure may be.
[Fackelmann, K. (1998). Stroke rescue. Science News,
154(8), 120122; Linton, P. (1999). Time and space heal
head injuries. www. med.wayne.edu/wayne%20medicine/wm99/time_and_space.htm; Brain cell research
offers hope for Alzheimers. (2000). Natures Medicine, 6,
249250, 271277.]

23

Lecture: The Thalamus and Consciousness


The role of the thalamus is probably underemphasized in most introductory psychology textbooks.
The thalamus is essentially a gateway into the
brain, a sensory integration and relay station; it is
involved in regulating our level of awareness,
attention, motivation, and emotional aspects of
sensations. As accurate as this description may be,
it does not express the full importance of the thalamus in producing and maintaining consciousness.
The thalamus is part of the older, more primitive layer of the brain; damage to it can have any
number of profound effects, for example, causing
problems that are remarkably similar to those seen
in cases of severe damage to the cerebral cortex.
Experienced neurologists must perform MRIs in
order to correctly distinguish between damage to
the cerebral cortex and damage to the thalamus.
For example, if the part of the thalamus that connects to the visual cortex (the lateral geniculate
nucleus) is damaged, vision may be severely
impaired.
It can be said that consciousness is produced at
least in part by the dialog between the thalamus
and the cortex. This is because the thalamus
assists the cortex in the crucial task of binding
the many sensory messages that bombard our
brains every second of every day. Binding, in simplistic terms, is the process whereby all the separate sensory messages are turned into one smooth
cognitive experience. If disease, stroke, or injury
damages the thalamus, consciousness may no longer be a smooth, comprehensible experience. There
are a number of mental illnesses that may involve
some disruption of the thalmo-cortical dialog,
which neuroscientist Rodolfo Llins (2001) refers to
as a dance or a rhythm in the communication of
the neurons in the thalamus and cortex. Autism,
schizophrenia, and dyslexia are thought to have
their origins in a disruption in this system, along
with other biological or genetic problems.

Lecture: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity


Disorder (ADHD) and the Brain
To illustrate the practical aspects of knowing about
brain functioning, discuss findings regarding brain
characteristics of children with ADHD. ADHD is a
disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. Studies estimate that
between 2 and 9.5 percent of all school-age children
worldwide have ADHD, with boys being at least
three times as likely as girls to develop ADHD. F.
Xavier Castellanos, Judith L. Rapoport, and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health

24

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

(1996, 1998) have found that the right prefrontal


cortex, two basal ganglia, and the vermis region of
the cerebellum are all smaller in children with
ADHD than in children without ADHD. Most
researchers now believe that ADHD is a polygenetic disorder involving the genes that dictate the way
dopamine conveys messages from one neuron to
another. Barkley (1998) believes that these defects
may underlie the impaired behavioral inhibition
and self-control seen in children with ADHD.
Drugs such as Ritalin are often prescribed for children with ADHD. These drugs act by inhibiting
the dopamine transporter, increasing the time that
dopamine has to bind to its receptors on other neurons. Such drugs improve the behavior of 70 to 90
percent of children with ADHD who are older than
5 years.

were proportional to their representation on the


somatosensory cortex.
This activity demonstrates the varying levels of
sensitivity to touch that correspond to the proportion of the somatosensory cortex devoted to different areas of the body. Divide the class into pairs of
students. Distribute two dull pencils to each pair.
Students should take turns being the subject and
being the one testing and recording the results.
The subjects should close their eyes while the
testers very gently touch the two dull pencil points
at one-half inch, one inch, or two inches apart on
various parts of the body, including the fingers and
thumbs, the lower arm, and the back. The subjects
accuracy when guessing the distance between the
two points should be greatest for the fingers and
thumbs and poorest for the back.

[Barkley, R. A. (1998). Attention-deficit hyperactivity


disorder. Scientific American, 279(3), 6671.]

Activity: How the Brain Takes a Blow

Videos: The Mind Teaching Modules, Second


Edition: Module 7, The Frontal Lobes:
Cognition and Awareness
Psychology: The Human Experience: Segment
7, Brain Surgery for Neurological Illness
See the Faculty Guides that accompany The Mind
videos and Psychology: The Human Experience for
descriptions.

Videos: The Brain Teaching Modules, Second


Edition: Module 25, The Frontal Lobes and
Behavior: The Story of Phineas Gage
Moving Images: Exploring Psychology
Through Film, Program 3: A Contemporary
Phineas Gage
See the Faculty Guides that accompany The Brain
videos and Moving Images for descriptions.

Lecture: The Curious Case of Phineas Gage

Blow up a heavy-duty balloon. On either side of the


balloon, draw the four lobes of the brain. Then
attach a string about 10 inches long to the balloon.
Find a box that the balloon will fit into with only an
inch or two of clearance. Leave the front of the box
open. Have a student hit the box from the front and
observe what happens to the balloon. See which
lobe a blow from the front affects. Students will
notice that the primary damage is to the occipital
lobe. The bounce back will affect the frontal lobe
as well. This helps explain why so much damage is
sustained when a heavy blow is struck to the
human head. Strike the box in various places to
illustrate the different effects of physical blows to
the head.

Videos: The Brain Teaching Modules, Second


Edition: Module 24, Aggression, Violence,
and the Brain
Digital Media Archive: Segment 26, SelfStimulation in Rats

Handout 2.1 describes the unusual case of Phineas


Gage, who, despite having a tamping rod through
his frontal lobe, survived, although as a somewhat
different person.

See the Faculty Guides that accompany The Brain


Teaching Modules and Digital Media Archive for
descriptions.

Activity: Demonstrating the Somatosensory


Cortex

ActivePsych: Video: Program 1, Brain and


Behavior: Phineas Gage Revisited (Scientific
American Frontiers, Third Edition)

The text explains that the parietal lobe is involved


in processing bodily, or somatosensory, information,
including touch, temperature, and pressure. The
somatosensory cortex receives information from
touch receptors in different areas of the body, which
are more or less sensitive to touch. The somatosensory homunculus, as depicted in the text, shows
what the body would look like if the body parts

See the Faculty Guide that accompanies


ActivePsych for a description.

Video Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology:


Mapping the Brain Through Electrical
Stimulation
Planning, Life Goals, and the Frontal Lobe
See the Faculty Guide that accompanies the Video

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology for


descriptions.

V.

Specialization in the Cerebral


Hemispheres

Video: Scientific American Frontiers Video


Collection, Second Edition: Segment 8, Old
Brain, New Tricks
See the Faculty Guide that accompanies Scientific
American Frontiers for a description.

ActivePsych: Video: Program 4, Achieving


Hemispheric Balance: Improving Sports
Performance (Scientific American Frontiers,
Third Edition)
See the Faculty Guide that accompanies ActivePsych for a description.

ActivePsych: Flash-based Interactive


Demonstration: Hemispheric Pathways
This activity illustrates the pathways through
which the hemispheres of the brain receive information and control sensory experiences and motor
functions.

PsychSim 5: Hemispheric Specialization, and


Dueling Brains
Hemispheric Specialization is a graphic demonstration of how messages reach the two sides of the
brain and of the special functions of each sidefor
example, speech is controlled in the left hemisphere. The processing of a visual stimulus through
the brain is the example used. Sperrys work with
split-brain patients is also illustrated, and the
responses of normal subjects are compared with
those of split-brain patients. For Dueling Brains,
see Chapter 7.

Discussion: Left Brain/Right Brain: Which Is


Right?
Locate one or more pop psychology articles contrasting left-brain people with right-brain people. Before you discuss hemispheric specialization,
distribute copies of these articles to the students
and have them read them before the next class. If
students can talk about this material without feeling threatened, they can learn from one another
about some of the pop views that may be more
myth than fact (this also provides a useful application of critical thinking). Take, for example, the
notion that right-brain people are more artistic,
and left-brain people are more logical. The differences that have been discovered are not statistically significant. Students should be reminded that

25

left-brain/right-brain research is correlational and


deals with percentages. For instance, even the idea
that speech is located in the left hemisphere is not
entirely true. In about 10 percent of those tested,
speech is located in the right hemisphere.
A. Language and the Left Hemisphere: The Early
Work of Broca and Wernicke

Videos: Psychology: The Human Experience:


Segment 16, Language Centers in the Brain
The Mind Teaching Modules, Second Edition:
Module 8, Language Processing in the Brain,
and Module 26: The Bilingual Brain
The Brain Teaching Modules, Second Edition:
Module 6, Language and Speech: Brocas and
Wernickes Areas
See the Faculty Guides that accompany Psychology: The Human Experience, The Brain videos, and
The Mind videos for descriptions.
B. Cutting the Corpus Callosum: The Split Brain

Videos: Scientific American Frontiers Video


Collection, Second Edition: Segment 7,
Severed Corpus Callosum
The Brain Teaching Modules, Second Edition:
Module 5, The Divided Brain
See the Faculty Guides that accompany Scientific
American Frontiers and The Brain Teaching Modules for descriptions.

Video Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology:


The Split Brain: Lessons on Language, Vision,
and Free Will
The Split Brain: Lessons on Cognition and the
Cerebral Hemispheres
See the Faculty Guide that accompanies the Video
Tool Kit for Introductory Psychology Volumes One
and Two for descriptions.

Activity: Integrated Functioning and the


Cerebral Cortex
The various regions of the brain have evolved to
work together and allow us to control our movements in a smooth and coordinated way. Chapter 2
introduces us to the layout and lateralized design
of the cerebral cortex. Efficient cerebral functioning
results from the dedication of cortical areas to body
regions and from the distance between brain
regions that might interfere with each other. In
certain circumstances, neighboring areas of the
primary motor cortex can hamper each others
functioning. Ask for a volunteer to perform the following demonstrations to illustrate this point.

26

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

Demonstration 1:
Have the student sit in a chair at the front of the
classroom (a chair with no desk) and to hold out his
or her right arm, palm down. The student should
then make a continuous counterclockwise rubbing
or polishing motion (as if polishing an imaginary
flat surface). When the student has a good rhythmic motion going, instruct him or her to also start
making a counterclockwise circling motion with the
right foot. Then, when the student has this dual
motion going smoothly, instruct him or her to
reverse the foot motion to a clockwise circling.
The student will almost certainly say that this
is rather difficult. You can then point out for the
class that the neurons controlling arm and leg on
the right side, being close together inside the
brains precentral gyrus on the left side, work
together cooperatively if the activities are basically
the same. If the activities are different (conflicting),
the neurons interfere with each other, just as when
next-door neighbors play two different kinds of
music, both at a loud volume.
Demonstration 2:
After the student has rested for a bit, ask him or
her to repeat the first demonstration, except this
time make the counterclockwise circling motion
with the left foot (so both the right hand and left
foot are simultaneously moving in a counterclockwise motion). When the student has a smooth
motion going, ask him or her to start moving the
left foot in a clockwise motion instead.
The student should report that this is somewhat easier than performing the circling in opposite directions on the same side (as in demonstration 1). The areas of the motor cortex controlling
these two limbs are on opposite sides of the brain
and will not interfere with each other, even when
engaged in conflicting motor activities.
Demonstration 3:
Ask the student to state his or her handedness.
Then instruct the student to continue the circling
motion of the right arm. Instead of making the foot
motion, the student should look down at the floor
and trace an imaginary circle with his or her nose,
first in a counterclockwise direction and then in a
clockwise direction.
Finally, have the student stop polishing with
the right arm and begin the counterclockwise
motion with the left arm. After a short time (3060
seconds) ask the student to compare the level of difficulty in performing the nose-circling task when
moving the right or left arm. Most students will
report that the nose-tracing action was more diffi-

cult when done simultaneously with the circling of


the dominant hand.
Neuroscientists have not yet determined exactly why this happens. It is puzzling because the
neck muscles involved in the nose-tracing activity
are most likely controlled equally by both sides of
the cerebral cortex. One plausible explanation is
that as the person performs this task the dominant
side of the motor cortex (the left side in a righthanded person and either side in a left-handed person) takes up more cortical resources than the nondominant side and creates more interference with
the activity of the neck muscles.
[Haseltine, E. (2002, March). Nosy neighbors: Good
fences make good neurons. Discover, 88.]

Activity: Testing Hemispheric Lateralization


The following activity suggested by Eric Haseltine
should be timed to follow your classroom discussion
of hemispheric lateralization. This activity, which
is easy to do even in a crowded lecture hall, allows
students to determine which of their eyes is the
dominant one.
With both eyes open, hold up your right thumb at
arms length under an object across the room directly ahead of you. Now alternately close your left and
right eyes and see if your thumb appears to jump to
the right or left with respect to the distant object. If
you are right-eyed, like 54 percent of the population,
your thumb will jump to the right when you close
your right eye but stay put when you close your left
eye, because your right eye contributes more to your
perception of the visual world than does your left.
The opposite will occur if you are left-eyed, like 5
percent of the population. If you see little or no jumping, you are among the 41 percent of the population
who are neither strongly left-eyed or right-eyed.

Suggest to students that by closely observing


how people use different halves of their bodies,
they can see brain specialization at workstring
musicians finger notes with their left hands, field
goal kickers usually score with their right feet, and
. . . about 35 percent of eavesdroppers consistently
listen through walls with their right ears.
[Haseltine, E. (1999). Your better half. Discover, 20(6),
112.]

Activity: Right-Brain/Left-Brain Quiz


The Discussion Left Brain/Right Brain, Which Is
Right? focuses on right-brain/left-brain mythology
that most people now accept as truth. Either
instead of or with that discussion you may wish to
give Handout 2.2s quiz on dichotomania, a term
used by Michael Corballis (1980) and others in

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

describing misinformation regarding cerebral lateralization in humans. The term serves as a useful
tool in stimulating thinking about these popular
brain myths. You can also use this quiz as a prelude
to the following activity, which is a clever demonstration of the true behavioral impact of cerebral
lateralization.
After giving the quiz (the answers appear in
Handout 2.3), you might want to show the Scientific American Frontiers video segment 7, Severed
Corpus Callosum, to highlight the different specializations of the two halves of the brain. Afterward,
you may need to clarify some of the points made by
Dr. Gazzaniga. For example, Dr. Gazzaniga says in
effect the left hemisphere is the part of the brain
that draws connections between things. Many students are primed to think that this means that the
left hemisphere is logical when in fact it does not
mean that at all, because some connections that
humans make are rational and supported by evidence and others are incorrect and spurious. This
may lead you to revisit the Chapter 1 discussion of
critical thinking and human fallibility in reasoning
and drawing connections between events, thus
reminding students of some important themes of
the scientific method that should be reinforced
throughout the course.
Dichotomania is a simplistic and stereotypical
way of looking at the world that does no justice to
the complexity of human cognitive processing. Nonverbal reasoning can be quite logical, as architects
and designers know quite well. Verbal processing is
often also very creative. If students resist this
notion, simply mention poetry, prose writing, and
song lyrics. Logic and creativity are whole-brain
processes.
[Corballis, M. C. (1980). Laterality and myth. American
Psychologist, 35, 284295; Hermann, N. (2002).]

Activity: Cerebral Lateralization


The specialized functions of the left and right cerebral hemispheres continue to be debated. However,
most agree that the left hemisphere plays a somewhat dominant role in language comprehension
and production. As noted in the text, the left hemisphere of the brain is also responsible for coordinating the actions of the right side of the body (and,
of course, vice versa). When one hemisphere must
process multiple sources of information simultaneously, a persons performance often is hindered. The
following exercise is designed to illustrate the
effects of interfering with the undivided functioning of the left hemisphere.
To conduct this demonstration, you will need
(a) one wooden dowel (1/2 inch in diameter and 36

27

inches long) for every one to four students, (b) a


stopwatch, and (c) a list of 20 to 30 spelling exercises (for example, repeat the alphabet backward,
spell Mississippi backward, and so on).
First, allow students to practice balancing the
wooden dowel on the tip of the index finger for 5 to
10 minutes, alternating right and left hands. The
students then undergo eight test trials, four with
each hand, in which they balance the dowel on the
tip of their index finger. The trials should be:
1. Twice with the left hand in silence.
2. Twice with the right hand while performing a
spelling exercise aloud.
3. Twice with the left hand while performing a
spelling exercise aloud.
4. Twice with the right hand in silence.
Use a stopwatch to time the number of seconds
before the dowel drops or touches each students
body. Trials should be alternated (cross-balanced)
among students so that each student balances the
dowel.
Trial 2 is an example of a competition task, in
which the simultaneous activities of performing a
spelling exercise and balancing a dowel with the
right hand both tax the resources of the left hemisphere. Typically, students scores (in terms of number of seconds balancing the dowel) will be lower in
this condition. You may examine this phenomenon
by comparing mean scores among participants for
each of the four conditions.
Questions for Discussion
1. How are tasks performed in the real world
affected when a specific cerebral hemisphere
has to process information simultaneously?
2. If gender differences appear in your data, what
might account for these differences?
3. Are womens brains organized differently from
mens?
[Kemble, E. D. (1987). Cerebral lateralization. In V. P.
Makosky, L. G. Whittemore, & A. M. Rogers (Eds.),
Activities handbook for the teaching of psychology (Vol.
2, pp. 3336). Washington, DC: American Psychological
Association.]

Activity: The Interdependence of the Brain


and Both Hands
The following activities can be used to demonstrate
the rich dialog between the two sides of the brain.
They also help students to distinguish between
handedness and myths about right/left brain
preference.

28

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

Ask the students to take out two sheets of


paper and a pen or pencil. On the first sheet, have
them write down all the things that they could not
do if they suddenly lost the use of their dominant
hand. They will have no problem producing a
lengthy list. Then have them list all the things they
could not do if they lost the use of their nondominant hand. The list will be much shorter. To
increase their appreciation for the interactive relationship of their two hands, have them do one or
both of the following.
On the second sheet of paper respond to the
statement, If I ruled the world . . . When they
have been writing for a minute or so, ask them
to note what their nondominant hand is doing.
Most of the students will be using it to steady
or reposition the page. Ask them to continue
writing with the nondominant hand placed in
their laps. Most will realize that this is difficult to do. In fact, we write 20 percent more
slowly when we are not allowed to use our nondominant hands in this fashion. If you have
students in the class who have had any kind of
surgery or disability of the hand, perhaps they
will be willing to comment on this issue also.
Bring a piece of cardboard, a spool of thread,
and a sewing needle to class. Stick the needle
into the cardboard. Place it on a table or desk.
Give a piece of thread to a student volunteer
and instruct him or her to thread the needle
while holding one hand behind his or her back.
This task will be difficult or impossible to
accomplish. Then allow the student to pull the
needle out of the cardboard and thread it in
the usual manner (holding the needle in the
nondominant hand). Of course, this will be
much easier.
Both exercises illustrate the crucial importance
of left-right hemisphere communication. Through a
combination of visual cues and the constant interchange of neural signals that occurs via the corpus
callosum, we perform the most complex fine motor
tasks with relative ease. The fact that we prefer the
use of one hand does not mean that we prefer the
use of one hemisphere over the other.
[Haseltine, E. (2002). One head, two hands. Discover,
23(12), 96.]

Video: Psychology: The Human Experience:


Segment 4, A Case Study of Brain Damage
See the Faculty Guide that accompanies Psychology: The Human Experience for a description.

VI. Enhancing Well-Being with Psychology:


Pumping Neurons: Maximizing Your Brains
Potential

Video: The Mind Teaching Modules, Second


Edition: Module 18, Effects of Mental and
Physical Activity on the Brain
See the Faculty Guide that accompanies The Mind
videos for a description.

ActivePsych: Videos: Segment 2, Activity,


Exercise, and the Brain (Digital Media
Archive, Second Edition)
Program 12: Experience and Exercise:
Generating New Brain Cells (Scientific
American Frontiers, Third Edition)
See the Faculty Guide
ActivePsych for descriptions.

that

accompanies

Discussion: Keeping the Brain Healthy:


Exercise Your Mind
In Enhancing Well-Being with Psychology
Pumping Neurons: Maximizing Your Brains
Potential, the authors discuss the phenomenon of
structural plasticity. The once widely held opinion
that the brain structure is hard-wired for life has
been seriously challenged. Researchers using animal models have provided compelling evidence to
suggest that environmental factors contribute to
the structural integrity of the brain. Correlational
studies using human subjects have presented
impressive results suggesting that structural plasticity is also a human phenomenon. One widely
held public misconception is that the brain (and
mental ability) invariably decreases as a function
of age. However, we tend to ignore the remarkable
mental agility of many senior citizens. Instructors might wish to discuss the phenomenon of
structural plasticity as it relates to age-related
declines in mental functioning. Consider the following individuals.
1. The University of Alabamas perennial head
football coach Paul Bear Bryant was leading
teams to national championships and college
bowl games while in his 70s. Bryant was
known as one of the most intellectually cunning and prescient coaches the game of football has ever seen. Apparently, Bryants acumen had not diminished upon his retirement,
as many professional teams offered lucrative
contracts for his services.
2. Jack LaLanne, the physical fitness guru, is
noted for his impressive feats of physical fit-

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

ness (such as towing a barge through San


Francisco Bay) despite his age. What people
tend to forget is that LaLanne, despite being in
his 90s, continues to oversee the daily operations of a vast conglomerate of business enterprises. Anyone who sees LaLanne speak publicly would be immediately struck by his clear,
cogent thinking. The man is in shapephysically and mentally!
3. The late Winston Churchill, former prime minister of England, retained his brilliant intellect
well into his 80s. Although he retired as prime
minister at the age of 81, Churchill retained
his seat in the House of Commons. Aside from
his accomplishments as prime minister,
Churchill authored numerous literary works,
including a four-volume History of the EnglishSpeaking Peoples, which he completed at the
age of 83. Churchill also retained his keen wit.
After suffering a stroke at the age of 90, he
declared, I am ready to meet my Maker, but
whether he is ready to meet me is another
matter.
Questions for Discussion
1. What personal qualities did these individuals
possess that allowed them to accomplish such
impressive feats in their later years?
2. How were these personal qualities supported
by the environment?
3. What are some activities that we can engage in
that will maximize the potential for maintaining our own intellectual integrity?

Discussion: Should We Enhance Humans


Through Neuroendocrine Treatments?
Ongoing research on the nervous and endocrine
systems has led to increasing knowledge of their
functions. As a result, more deficiencies and diseases have become treatable and millions of people
have benefited. With these new interventions, however, many ethical, social, and economic questions
arise. Should we treat only deficiencies and diseases? Or should we also offer treatment that will
enhance peoples lives, even though they are
already functioning within normal limits? And, if
we offer enhancing treatment, who should pay for

29

it? Ask students to think about where medical


treatment leaves off and enhancement begins in
each of the following situations.
1. Human growth hormone is available to treat
children with proven deficiencies, enabling
many of them to grow to short normal by
adulthood. Few would question this use of
human growth hormone. But, should a boy
who is the shortest child in his class but suffers no deficiency be given growth hormone, so
that he wont be ridiculed and will be socially
accepted? Should a six-foot excellent basketball player be given growth hormone so that he
has the added height advantage?
2. Prozac and other similar antidepressants
are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
(SSRIs); they seem to lift depression by slowing the reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin, leaving more of it in the synaptic gap.
By the early 1990s, far larger numbers of people were being treated with SSRIs than had
been treated with earlier antidepressants.
Should only people who are quite depressed be
given SSRIs? Or should people who feel blue
for a while get them so that their lives are
enhanced?
3. Alzheimers disease involves lower levels of the
neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Researchers
are experimenting with ways to increase the
levels of acetylcholine in the brain or to treat
the progressive memory loss and general deterioration of intellectual functioning. A treatment may be found that not only helps
Alzheimers patients with their memories but
also enhances the memories of people who
have no diseases. Should people who desire to
enhance their memories receive such a drug?
Or should only people with a biologically
caused memory loss receive the drug? And who
should pay for memory enhancement drugs?
Remind students that the future will continue
to provide agents that do not just treat illness but
also hold out the promise of enhancing normal
functioning.
[Konner, M. J. (1999, January/February). One pill
makes you larger: The ethics of enhancement. American
Prospect, 5560.]

30

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

Handout 2.1
The Curious Case of Phineas Gage
On September 13, 1848, a freak accident occurred
an event that was to become a landmark in our
understanding of the brains role in behavior.
Phineas Gage, 25 years old, was the foreman of a
railroad crew that was blasting rock near
Cavendish, Vermont. The crew would drill a hole in
the rock, fill it with gunpowder, and cover the gunpowder with a layer of sand. Then, using a finepointed, 3 1/2-foot-long iron rod, Gage would pack
the sand and gunpowder down into the hole. The
sand kept sparks from igniting the gunpowder
when Gage tamped it down with the iron rod.
On this particular day, Gage and a crew member were momentarily distracted while filling the
hole. When Gage turned back to his task, he
thought his assistant had already poured the sand
into the hole, but this was not the case. Gage thrust
the iron rod into the hole. A spark caused by the
rods scraping the rock ignited the gunpowder.
The iron rod blew out like a javelin, striking
Gage just below his left eye. The rod went completely through his skull, tore through a hole in the
top of his head, and landed some 50 feet away. The
crew stared in horror at Gage lying on the ground,
thinking that Gage must surely be dead.
But after a few minutes, Gage began to speak.
His crew, astonished that he was still alive, rushed
Gage to the town of Cavendish. The towns doctors,
John Harlow and Edward Williams, helped Gage
walk up three flights of stairs to an attic room,
where they cleaned his wounds (Harlow, 1848).
Miraculously, Phineas Gage survived. In many
respects, his recovery was nearly complete. Movement, speech, memory, and the ability to learn new
information were not impaired. Gage appeared to
be as intelligent as he had been before the accident.
But the accident produced a profound change
in Gages personality. The previously friendly,
competent, responsible foreman became stubborn,
ill-tempered, profane, and unreasonable. He also
became incapable of carrying out plans and could
no longer hold down a job. As Dr. Harlow (1868)
later wrote, His mind was radically changed, so
decidedly that his friends and acquaintances said
he was no longer Gage.
Gage survived for more than 12 years following
the accident. After Gages death in 1861, Harlow
persuaded Gages family to have the body exhumed
so that the skull could be recovered and kept as a
medical record. The tamping iron, which had been
buried with Gage, was also recovered.
In 1868, Harlow presented a paper to the
Massachusetts Medical Society detailing the acci-

A Model of Gages Injury Computer-simulated


reconstruction of Gages skull by Damasio and her colleagues (1994) suggests that Gages left and right
frontal lobes were both damaged.

dent. He suggested that the changes in Gages


behavior and cognitive functioning were the result
of damage to Gages frontal lobes. In effect, Harlow
proposed that the frontal lobes were involved in
social and emotional behavior, reasoning, the ability to think and plan, and decision making.
At the time, Harlows ideas about the frontal
lobes were dismissed. Why? One reason was that
Harlow had not performed an autopsy. Without
anatomical evidence, critics discounted Harlows
ideas. Claims for specialization were viewed with
great skepticism by scientists because of the rejection of the pseudoscientific claims of phrenology
(Fancher, 1996). Harlows ideas were too close to
Galls notion of faculties that could be determined
from the bumps on a skull (Damasio & others,
1994).
Harlows suspicions were finally confirmed
almost 125 years after Gages death. In 1994, Drs.
Hanna and Antonio Damasio, of the Department of
Neurology at the University of Iowa, reexamined
Phineas Gages skull. Using X-rays and sophisticated computerized brain-modeling techniques,
they created a three-dimensional model of the
injury to Gages brain (see photograph). In effect,
the Damasios simulated the autopsy that was
never performed on Phineas Gage.
The Damasios found that the specific brain
damage sustained by Gage and the subsequent
behavioral changes fit the same pattern found in
other individuals with similar frontal lobe damage
(Damasio & others, 1994). Damage to this area of
the frontal lobes is associated with an impaired

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

31

ability to make rational decisions in personal and


social matters and also compromises the processing
of emotions (Robin & Holyoak, 1995).
Although Harlows ideas about the role of the
frontal lobe in behavior and emotions was initially
rejected, over a hundred years later the Damasios
confirmed the accuracy of Harlows proposal. As
Hanna Damasio and her colleagues (1994) wrote,
The mysteries of frontal lobe functioning are slowly being solved, and it is only fair to establish, on a
more substantial footing, the roles that Gage and
Harlow played in the solution.

Journal, 39(20), 389393; Harlow, J. M. (1868). Recovery


from the passage of an iron bar through the head.
Publications of the Massachusetts Medical Society, 2,
327347; Fancher, R. E. (1996). Pioneers of psychology
(3rd ed.). New York: Norton; Damasio, H., Grabowski, T.
S., Frank, R., Galaburda, Albert M., & Damasio, A. R.
(1994, May 20). The return of Phineas Gage: Clues about
the brain from the skull of a famous patient. Science, 264,
11021105; Robin, N., & Holyoak, K. J. (1995). Relational
complexity and the functions of the prefrontal cortex. In
M. S. Gazzaniga (Ed.), The cognitive neurosciences.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.]

[Harlow, J. M. (1848, December 13). Passage of an iron


rod through the head. Boston Medical and Surgical

Copyright 2006 Worth Publishers.

32

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

Handout 2.2
Dichotomania Quiz
Think about each of the following skills, qualities, and activities and its designated base in one of
the hemispheres of the brain. Please note that this refers to where the function or skill is predominantly located.
Using your knowledge of the brain, indicate whether the location is supported by research evidence or simply a commonly accepted myth.
Right Hemisphere:
Face recognition

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Mystical experience

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Nonverbal processing

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Creativity

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Spatial processing

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Logic

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Language processing

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Speech production

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Sequential processing

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Right-handedness

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Left Hemisphere:

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and Behavior

Handout 2.3
Answers to Dichotomania Quiz
The correct answers are in bold.

Right Hemisphere:
Face recognition

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Mystical experience

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Nonverbal processing

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Creativity

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Spatial processing

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Logic

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Language processing

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Speech production

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Sequential processing

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Right-handedness

SUPPORTED

MYTH

Left Hemisphere:

33