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Biological Influences on Behavior

8-10% of AP Exam

Physiological Techniques (e.g., imaging, surgical) Neuroanatomy Function Organization of Nervous System Neural Transmission Endocrine System Genetics Evolutionary Psychology

Identify basic processes and systems in the biological bases of behavior, including parts of the neuron and the process of transmission of a signal between neurons Discuss the influence of drugs on neurotransmitters (e.g., reuptake mechanisms) Discuss effect of the endocrine system on behavior

Describe the nervous system and its subdivisions and functions
Central and peripheral nervous systems Major brain regions, lobes, and cortical areas Brain lateralization and hemispheric specialization

Recount historic and contemporary research strategies and technologies that support research (e.g., case studies, splitbrain research, imaging techniques).

Discuss psychologys abiding interest in how heredity, environment, and evolution work together to shape behavior Predict how trains and behavior can be selected for their adaptive value Identify key contributors (e.g., Paul Broca, Charles Darwin, Michael Gazzaniga, Roger Sperry, Carl Wernicke)

Biology Unit
Divided into 3 subunits
Neural Processing and the Endocrine System The Brain Genetics, Evolutionary Psychology and Behavior

Unit will go from a micro level to a macro level

Neural Processing and the Endocrine System

Everything psychological is simultaneously biological To think, feel or act without a body would be running without legs

Weve come a long way

German physician Franz Gall
Invented phrenology
Popular, but ill-fated theory that claimed bumps on the skull could revel our mental abilities and our character traits. Did correctly focus attention on idea that various brain regions have particular functions

Ancient Greek philosopher Plato

Correctly located the mind in the head

A key study to be familiar with

1972 Rosenzweigh Bennett Diamond Research with rats that showed enriched environments contributed to more complex neuronal connections in the cortex
Neural complexity could be influenced by environmental factors
Nature and nurture interacting

What do we know so far?

The body is composed of cells Among these are nerve cells that conduct electricity and talk to one another by sending chemical messages across a tiny gap that separates them Specific brain systems serve specific functions We integrate information processed in these different brain systems to construct our experience of sights and sounds, meanings and memories, pain and passion Our adaptive brain is wired by our experience

We are Biopsychosocial systems

A system composed of subsystems
Composed of smaller subsystems
Tiny cells that organize to make organs

Organ (stomach) to larger system (digestive system) to larger system (you) who belong to a family, culture, and community

The bodys information system handling all these tasks is built from billions of interconnected cells.

What are neurons and how do they transmit information?

Our nervous system has a few million sensory neurons, a few million motor neurons, and billions and billions of interneurons
Each consist of a cell body and its branching fibers
Axons speak Dendrites listen
Remember Axons away!
Dendrites bring info in and axons convey info out

Another category of neural cells that provide support network of cells surrounding the neurons and blood vessels of the brain and nervous system 3 types.

Cells found in the central nervous system (CNS) that produce myelin

Schwann cells
Perform the same function as oligodendroglia, but are found in the peripheral nervous system (PNS)

Star-shaped and form most of the matrix in which neural cells are embedded and envelop blood vessels in the brain. They also absorb dead neural cells.

Myelin Sheath
Insulates some axons and speeds impulses
Myelin is laid down up to about age 25
Neural efficiency, judgment, and self-control grow If degenerates, multiple sclerosis results
Communication is slowed with eventual loss of muscle control

Nodes of Ranvier
Gaps between the myelin cells

Action Potential
Neurons transmit messages when stimulated by signals from our senses or when triggered by chemical signals from neighboring neurons The neuron fires an impulse, called the action potential
A brief electrical charge that travels down its axon

Neurons generate electricity from chemical events

Chemistry-to-electricity process involves the exchange of ions
Electrically charged atoms

Resting Potential
When the fluid interior of a resting axon has an excess of negatively charged ions, while the fluid outside the axon membrane has more positively charged ions **axon surface is selectively permeable

The neuron and ions

Packed with charged ions with the + charged ions outside the cell

When the neuron fires

A small gate opens up and the positively charged sodium ions flood through the membrane causing that section of the axon to depolarize
Which in turn causes another gate to open up, then the next, then the next. Like dominos falling over themselves

Refractory period
The neuron pumps the + charged sodium ions back outside
Then, it can fire again

Sodium-potassium pump
Mechanism by which ions are allowed to pass through the membrane of the neural cell
Named for 2 primary elements present in the ion exchange Pump brings + ions into cell and then pumps them back out when the action potential is over

Neurons membrane
Normally impermeable, but the neurotransmitters weaken it, allowing the ions to move according the natural tendency for matter to move from a more crowded space to a less crowded space

Each neuron is a miniature decision-making device performing complex calculations Excitatory

Like pushing the neurons gas pedal

Pushing the brakes

If excitatory signals minus inhibitory signals exceed a minimum intensity, or threshold, you have an action potential

Action Potential
Travels down the axon, which branches into junctions with hundreds or thousands of other neurons and with the bodys muscles and glands

Neurons Action
All or none
Like a gun, it either fires or it doesnt

A strong stimulus
Can trigger more neurons to fire, and to fire more often, it does not affect the action potentials strength or speed
Squeezing a trigger harder doesnt make the bullet go faster

How do nerve cells communicate with other nerve cells?

Axons and dendrites dont actually touch
Meeting place is called the synapse
Gap is called synaptic cleft

At the synapse, chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters (NT), are released

The process
NTs are released into the synaptic cleft by presynaptic axon Must be a perfect fit in order to allow them in to postsynaptic axon
If so, the electrically charged atoms flow in
Exciting or inhibiting

Then reuptake occurs by presynaptic axon

Whats the big deal with NTs?

NTs are key component for all behavior and mental processes They carry the messages for all that we do The function differently according to where they are located in the nervous system

Some neurons can house more than one NT Usually more than one neuron present at any given synapse

Does location matter?

If NT in the brainstem
Affects basic functions like breathing and heartbeat

If in midbrain
Memory and emotion

If in the cortex
Memory integration, problem solving, and perception

Some NTs and their functions

Acetylcholine (ACh)
Muscle action, learning, memory Too little- Alzheimer's

Movement, learning, attention, emotion Excess- Schizophrenia/ Too little- Parkinsons

Mood, hunger, sleep, arousal Too little- depression

Some NTs and their functions (cont)

Alertness, arousal Too little- depress mood

GABA (gamma-aminobutryic acid)

Major inhibitory NT Too little- seizures, tremors, insomnia

Major excitatory NT/ memory Excess- migraines, seizures

Some NTs and their functions (cont)

Naturally occurring opiate (pain killer) Good feelings such as runners high

Substance P
Signals that the body is in pain and triggers release of endorphins

Drugs and NTs

Dopamine Cocaine Serotonin- LSD and Ecstasy Drugs affect at the synapse
Amplifying or blocking a NTs activity Agonist (excites)
Similar enough to a NT to bind to its receptor and mimic its effects

Antagonists (inhibits)
Bind to receptors to block the NTs functioning

Drugs and the brain

When flooded with opiate drugs (heroin/ morphine), the brain may stop producing its own natural opiates
When drug withdrawn, there are NO opiates in the brain
Therefore, extreme discomfort

Blood brain barrier

Protects the brain from pathogens and harmful substances
Not all substances can pass through Ex: Parkinsons patient cant just take dopamine, it wont pass through, so they take L-dopa that will metabolize into dopamine once it reaches the brain

Nervous System
The brain and spinal cord form the Central Nervous System (CNS) Which communicates with the bodys sensory receptors, muscles, and glands via the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)

Nervous System
Nervous System



Autonomic Sympathetic Parasympathetic


Somatic nervous system
Voluntary control of skeletal muscles

Autonomic nervous system

Glands and muscles of our internal organs Operates on its own (autopilot) Fight or Flight response

Autonomic Nervous System

Sympathetic nervous system
Arouses and expend energy Increase heartbeat, raise blood pressure, slow digestion, raise blood sugar, cool you with perspiration Alert and ready

Parasympathetic nervous system

Produces opposite effect Conserves energy and calms you down

Brains neurons cluster into work groups called neural networks Neurons that fire together wire together

Spinal Cord
Information highway connecting the PNS to the brain Ascending neural fibers send up sensory info Descending fibers send back motor-control info Neural pathways govern our reflexes
Interneurons made reflexes happen, they process quickly to protect the body from harm

To produce bodily pain or pleasure, the sensory info must reach the brain

The movement for reflexes occurs before the brain has a chance to process the incoming sensory info Enable us to respond to stimuli before they have a chance to do us harm

How fast (or slow) does the brain process information? Human-sized neural chain

Sensory neurons connect to the spinal cord dorsally Motor neurons connect in the anterior of the spinal cord

Neural chain or reflex arc

Sensory info enters the body through receptor cells

Brain processes the sensory info and decides what to do

Motor nerves receive commands from the brain and react

Endocrine System
Interconnected with your nervous system Secret hormones
Influence our interest in sex, food, and aggression

Slower moving than the Nervous System Hormones influence

Growth, reproduction, metabolism, mood

Works with Nervous System to keep everything in balance while we respond to stress, exertion, and our own thoughts

Pituitary Gland
Most influential gland in endocrine system Pea sized- located in core of the brain Controlled by the hypothalamus Influence growth and its secretions also influence the release of hormones by other endocrine glands Master gland

Other Important endocrine glands

Anterior pituitary gland
Secretes growth hormone

Posterior pituitary gland

Secretes vasopressin and oxytocin
Constricting blood vessels and raising blood pressure Sparks during labor for women

Releases thyroxine and triiodothyronine
Increases metabolic rate, growth, maturation

Other Important endocrine glands (cont)

Release parathyroid hormone Increase blood calcium, decrease potassium

Secretes insulin, regulating sugar in bloodstream

Secretes estrogen

Secretes androgens

Exocrine vs. Endocrine

Exocrine glands secrete substances outside the body
Saliva, tear, sweat

Endocrine (means within) and secrete from within the body into bloodstream

Feedback System



Other glands



Feedback System
Nervous system directs endocrine system which then affect the nervous system

Hormones vs. NTs

They are the same
Only different based on where they are made and located

NTs made in neurons and other nervous system cells and located in nervous system Hormones are made by glands and based in the body and bloodstream