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32 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back

Why do we have brains?

Because they promote survival & reproduction.

What are brains a product of?

Biological evolution - essential concepts about evolution are relevant.

What is Richard Dawkins - Selfish Gene?

All biological systems produce more offspring then can survive.

Probabilistic nature of conception leads to variability in offspring.

The world is a harsh place, where only those able to solve problems of life, survive & reproduce - natural selection.

Therefore biological characteristics (including the brain!) are 'sculpted' by evolution to solve life's brain - process has been going for millions of years, so there's a profusion of solutions running around.

What are the evolutionary problems solved by the nervous system?

Basic problems associated with staying alive and reproducing.

In a changing world, what is the key to survival? Give examples.

Flexibility is key to survival.

- Ability to model/appreciate many aspects of the physical world accurately - sensory processes.

- The ability to move & interact with the physical world - motor systems

- An appreciation of context - integration of information

Across the phylogenetic scale, we see increasingly sophisticated solutions - but what stays the same? Describe.

The fundamental brain architecture!

Reflected in systematic changes in brain structure - e.g. some have got more elaborate/bigger.

But basic architectural organisation been retained within brain of all vertebrates.

Indicates why studies of lower species, e.g. rats, can inform us about the human brain operates.

What are the three planes of section?

Coronal - front/back

Saggital - medial/lateral

Horizontal - top/bottom

Describe the hierarchy of functional systems providing increasingly sophisticated competences?

Learned threat - Cortex & Limbic system (Avoidance) ==> MOTOR

Loom - Sensorimotor midbrain (Avoidance) ==> AUTONOMIC

e.g. Hot flame - Spinal cord (Escape) ==> ENDOCRINE

What are Motor, Autonomic and Endocrine systems examples of?

Defence-related output.

What is the fundamental concept of processing units of the vertebrate brain?

The localisation of function, i.e. different areas of the brain perform different tasks.

Describe the fundamental function distinction.

1. Structures with specific function


2. Systems with generic function

Give examples of structures with specific function.

Visual cortex/midbrain superior colliculus - primary sensory areas processing information from eye.

Hand area in motor cortex & trigeminal motor nucleus in brainstem - both primary motor structures providing commands for fine movements of finger (cortex) and mouth (trigeminal)

What are structures with generic function?

Structure with repeating micro-architecture that processes information received from regions performing widely differing functions.

Leads to idea of general/genetic functions required for most/all tasks - e.g. attention, reward.

What are the 3 regions of the brain that generate behavioural options?

Sensorimotor structures:

- Cerebral cortex

- Mid brain

- Hindbrain

What do these regions have and do? e.g. an example

Each have sensory areas that project to motor areas that produce movement.

e.g. the Midbrain Superior Colliculus - evoked eye movements bring novel events onto the fovea.

What are 3 structures with generic functions (name the functions too!)?

Hippocampus - Episodic Memory

Cerebellum - Skill

Basal Ganglia - Selection

What is the hippocampus' generic function?

Critical for episodic memory - vital role in STM.

Essential for construction of mental images, spatial memory & navigation.

What is the architecture of the hippocampus?

External inputs:

Different functional systems contact different territories

Territories are spatially distributed - repeating micro-architecture is common to all territories

Where can the hippocampus be found?

Under the cerebral cortex, in the inner region of the temporal lobe.

What is the function of the cerebellum?

Damage makes many movements inaccurate, slow & uncoordinated.

Other parts of the brain issue movement commands, but this part of the brain ensures they're carried out properly.

It predicts sensory consequences of own actions, therefore they can be ignored or improved if there's an error - i.e. skill development.

What is the architecture of the cerebellum?

Structure is very uniform over its entire surface.

Different regions of this component have different inputs & outputs, but the same basic organisation.

Thus repeating micro-architecture performs the same operation on different inputs.

What is the location of the cerebellum?

Most easily seen from underneath the brain, next to the brainstem.

Describe the re-entrant loop architecture of the cerebellum.

All sensorimotor, cognitive & motivation/affective structures connect to the cerebellum via the re-entrant loop.

Describe the structure of origin.

Pons => Cerebellum => Thalamus => Structure of Origin

What is the location of the basal ganglia?

Above cerebellum, behind the thalamus.

What is the function of the basal ganglia?

Decides solution when functional (sensorimotor) systems compete.

Spatially distributed, processing in parallel, and all act through final common motor path.

What problem does the basal ganglia seek to solve?

The selection problem: i.e. at any which point in time, which system should be permitted to direct motor output (behaviour)?

Selection via loops through basal ganglia may provide a solution.

Give an example of the process of the basal ganglia in the selection problem.

A mouse:

Energy balance (food) ->

Fluid balance (drink) ->

Threat (escapes) ->

Motor resources ->

Behavioural output = feeding

Disorders of the basal ganglia.

Parkinson's disease, Schizophrenia, Drug addiction, ADD, and OCD.

What happens in Parkinson's disease?

Degeneration of ascending DA projections.

Treatment: L-DOPA (DA precursor) for many years.

What happens in Schizophrenia?

DA agonists induce/potentiate psychosis.

Treatment: DA antagonists = antipsychotic.

What happens in Drug addiction?

Most "non-therapeutically" used drugs either increase DA transmission directly (amphetamine, cocaine).

OR interact with it indirectly (nicotine, heroin, etc.)