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The Biological Basis of

Behavior
Chapter 2

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Neurons: The Messengers
 About 100 billion neurons (nerve cells) in
the human brain
 Neurons have many of the same features
as other cells
 Nucleus
 Cytoplasm
 Cell membrane
 What makes neurons unique is their shape
and function
Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Structure of Neurons
 Dendrites
 Carry information to the cell
body from other neurons
 Cell Body (Soma)
 Contains nucleus
 Axon
 Carries information to the
next cell
 Myelin Sheath
 Insulates the axon and
speeds up the neural
impulse

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Types of Neurons
 Sensory neurons
 Carry information from sensory systems to the brain
 Also referred to as afferent
 Motor neurons
 Carry information from the brain to muscles and
glands
 Also referred to as efferent
 Interneurons
 Carry information between other neurons

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Glial Cells
 Cells that insulate and support neurons
 Create the myelin sheath
 Remove waste products
 Provide nourishment
 Prevent harmful substances from entering
the brain

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Neural Impulse

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Neural Impulse
 Ions
 Charged molecules
 Resting Potential
 When more negative
ions are inside the
neuron than outside
 Charge is
approximately -70mV
 Neuron is not
transmitting
information
Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Neural Impulse
 Polarization
 When the electrical charge of a cell moves
away from zero

 Depolarization
 When the electrical charge of a cell moves
toward zero

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Neural Impulse
 Action Potential
 Sudden, massive
change in charge in
the neuron
 Occurs when
depolarization reaches
the threshold of
excitation
 Ions flow across cell
membrane

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Neural Impulse
 Graded Potentials
 Subthreshold depolarization
 Many subthreshold depolarizations are added
together to produce an action potential (a
process known as summation)

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Neural Impulse
 All-or-None Law
 A neuron either fires or it does not
 When it does fire, it will always produce an
impulse of the same strength
 Intensity of a stimulus is coded by the
frequency of action potentials

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Neural Impulse
 Absolute refractory period
 Period immediately after an
action potential when
another action potential
cannot occur
 Relative refractory period
 Period following absolute
refractory period when a
neuron will only respond to
a stronger than normal
impulse

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Synapse
 Synaptic space (synaptic cleft)
 Tiny gap between neurons
 Terminal button
 Enlarged area at the end of an axon
 The synapse
 Composed of the terminal button of one
neuron, the synaptic space, and the dendrites
or cell body of the receiving neuron

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Transmission Between Neurons
 Synaptic vesicles
 Sacs in terminal button
that release chemicals
into synaptic space
 Neurotransmitters
 Chemicals released by
synaptic vesicles
 Receptor sites
 Location on receptor
neuron for specific
neurotransmitter

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Some Well-Known
Neurotransmitters
 Acetylcholine (ACh)
 Released at the neuromuscular junction
 Plays an important role in arousal and attention
 Loss of ACh producing cells is linked to Alzheimer’s
Disease
 Dopamine
 Affects neurons associated with voluntary movement
 Plays a role in learning, memory, and emotions
 Loss of dopamine-producing cells causes symptoms
of Parkinson’s Disease
Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Some Well-Known
Neurotransmitters
 Serotonin
 Found throughout the brain
 Appears to sets an “emotional tone”
 Low serotonin levels are implicated in
depression
 Endorphins
 Reduce pain by inhibiting or “turning down”
neurons that transmit pain information

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Psychopharmacology
 Most psychoactive drugs (and toxins) work
by blocking or enhancing synaptic
transmission
 Botulism
 Blocks release of ACh at the neuromuscular
junction, causing paralysis
 “Botox” is botulism toxin used to prevent facial
muscles from making wrinkles

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Psychopharmacology
 Curare
 Can stun or kill prey quickly
 Blocks ACh receptors causing paralysis
 Antipsychotic medications
 Block dopamine receptors
 Reduces schizophrenic hallucinations
 Caffeine
 Increases the release of excitatory neurotransmitters
by blocking the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Psychopharmacology
 Cocaine
 Prevents reabsorption of dopamine
 Leads to heightened arousal of entire nervous
system

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Neural Plasticity
 The brain can be changed, both
structurally and chemically, by experience
 Rat studies show that an “enriched”
environment leads to larger neurons with
more connections
 Has also been shown in humans
 Recent research has uncovered evidence
of neurogenesis, or the production of new
brain cells, in human brains
Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Nervous System Organization
 Central nervous
system (CNS)
 Consists of the brain
and spinal cord
 Peripheral nervous
system
 Connects the CNS to
the rest of the body
 Somatic nervous
system
 Autonomic nervous
system

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Central Nervous System

Central Nervous System

Brain Spinal Cord

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Brain – The Central Core
 Medulla
 Controls breathing,
heart rate, and blood
pressure
 Pons
 Maintains the sleep-
wake cycle
 Cerebellum
 Coordinates body’s
movements

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Brain – The Central Core
 Thalamus
 Relays information from
sensory receptors to the
brain
 Hypothalamus
 Influences motivated
behavior
 Regulates hunger, thirst,
body temperature, and
sexual drive.
 Directly involved in
emotional behavior

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Brain – The Central Core
 Reticular formation
 Network of neurons found throughout the
brain
 Serves to alert and arouse higher brain in
response to incoming information

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Brain – The Limbic System
 Ring of structures located
between the central core
and the cerebral
hemispheres
 Important to learning and
emotional behavior
 Hippocampus essential in
formation of new memories
 Amygdala, together with
the hippocampus, is
important for regulating
emotions

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Cerebral Cortex
 Occipital lobe
 Receives and processes
visual information
 Temporal lobe
 Complex visual tasks such
as face recognition
 Receives and processed
auditory information
 Involved in balance, some
emotions and motivations
 Some language processing

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Cerebral Cortex
 Parietal lobe
 Receives sensory
information from body
 Involved in spatial abilities
 Frontal lobe
 Coordinated information
from other lobes
 Controls voluntary
movement, attention,
setting goals, and
expression of appropriate
emotions

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Hemispheric Specialization
 Corpus Callosum
 Fibers that connect the
two hemispheres
 Allow close
communication
between left and right
hemishphere
 Each hemisphere
appears to specialize
in certain functions

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Split-Brain Research
 Much information about functions of each
hemisphere has come from studying split-
brain patients

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Tools for Studying the
Nervous System

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Microelectrode Techniques
 Very small electrodes inserted into
individual neurons
 Used to study activity of a single neuron

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Macroelectrode Techniques
 Used to get a picture of overall activity in
the brain
 An example is an EEG, which uses
electrodes placed on a person’s scalp to
measure brain activity

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Structural Imaging
 Computerized Axial Tomography (CT-
scan)
 Uses X-rays to create a 3-dimensional image
of the brain
 Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
 Uses a magnetic field and radio waves to
produce images

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Functional Imaging
 EEG imaging
 electrical activity on the scalp from millions of
neurons is used to produce a continuous
picture of activity in the brain
 Magentoencephalography (MEG) and
Magnetic source imaging (MSI)
 Can localize activity more precisely than EEG

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Functional Imaging
 Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and
Single Photon Emission Computed
Tomography (SPECT)
 Use radioactive glucose to determine location
of greatest brain activity
 Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
(fMRI)
 Shows function and structure by measuring
movement of blood molecules within the brain
Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Spinal Cord

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Spinal Cord
 Complex cable of nerves that connects
brain to rest of the body
 Carries motor impulses from the brain to
internal organs and muscles
 Carries sensory information from
extremities and internal organs to the brain

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Spinal Cord
 The spinal cord controls some protective
reflex movements without any input from
the brain

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Peripheral Nervous System

Peripheral Nervous System

Somatic Nervous System Autonomic Nervous System

Sympathetic Division Parasympathetic Division

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Somatic Nervous System
 Consists of neurons that communicate
between the body and the brain
 Afferent neurons
 Neurons that carry messages from sense
organs to spinal cord
 Efferent neurons
 Neurons that carry messages from the spinal
cord or brain to muscles and glands

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Autonomic Nervous System
 Sympathetic division
 Most active when you
are angry, afraid, or
aroused
 Fight-or-flight
response
 Increases heart rate
and breathing
 Stops digestion

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Autonomic Nervous System
 Parasympathetic
division
 Calms body
 Produces effects
opposite to those of
the sympathetic
division
 Reduces heart rate
and breathing
 Restores digestion

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Endocrine System

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Endocrine System
 Helps coordinate and integrate complex
psychological reactions
 Endocrine glands secrete hormones into
the bloodstream
 Hormones serve to organize the nervous
system and body
 Hormones also activate behavior, such as
sexual behavior
Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Endocrine System
 Thyroid gland
 Secretes hormones
(primarily thyroxin) that
control metabolism
 Parathyroid glands
 Control levels of
calcium and
phosphate which in
turn controls levels of
excitability

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Endocrine System
 Pineal gland
 Secretes melatonin
which regulates the
sleep-wake cycle
 Pancreas
 Regulates blood-sugar
levels
 Secretes insulin and
glucagon

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
The Endocrine System
 Pituitary gland
 Referred to as the
“master gland”
because it regulates
many other glands
 Gonads
 Ovaries and testes
secrete estrogens and
androgens
 Adrenal glands
 Secretes hormones in
reaction to stressCharles
Psychology: An Introduction
A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Genes, Evolution, and
Behavior

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Genetics
 Heredity - transmission of trait from one
generation to next
 Chromosomes
 Pairs of thread like bodies that contain genes
 Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)
 Organic molecule arranged in a double-helix
 Contains the “code of life”

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Behavior Genetics
 Study of behavior from a genetic
perspective
 Animal behavior genetic studies include:
 Strain studies
 Selection studies

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Human Behavior Genetics
 Family studies
 Assume that close family members share
more of a trait than non-relatives
 Used to assess the heritability of
psychological disorders or traits
 Twin studies
 Used to determine how heritable a trait or
disorder may be
 Identical twins would have highest heritability
Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Human Behavior Genetics
 Adoption studies
 Used to assess the influence of environment
 Molecular genetics
 Direct study of the genetic code

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Evolutionary Psychology
 Natural selection
 “Survival of the fittest”
 Evolutionary psychology looks at the
adaptive or survival value of behaviors

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall
Social Implications
 Study of biological origins of behavior
could lead to genocide and eugenics
aimed at eliminating certain types of
people
 Could also be used to create new
categories of people, such as people bred
to be good soldiers or manual laborers

Psychology: An Introduction
Charles A. Morris & Albert A. Maisto
© 2005 Prentice Hall