Biopsychology

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THE STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION OF NEURONS

  • Motor neurons carry messages from the CNS to the muscles and organs
  • Sensory neurons carry messages from the PNS to the brain and spinal cord
  • Interconnecting neurons transfer messages between sensory and motor neurons
  • A synapse is a gap between 1 neuron and the dendrites of an adjacent neuron
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LOCALISATION OF FUNCTION

  • Localisation of cortical function refers to specific areas of the brain being responsible for a particular behaviour or action
  • The human brain can be divided into 3 layers: the central core, the limbic system and the cerebrum
  • The brain is divided into 2 halves (hemispheres)
  • The 4 lobes of the brain are: frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital, each with particular functions
  • Split-brain research has shown how each half of the brain is able to function quite independently
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METHODS OF STUDYING CORTICAL SPECIALISATION

  • Invasive techniques such as neurosurgery allows for a great deal of precision and control
  • Post-mortem studies enable scientists to observe rare afflictions in individuals
  • EEGs have contributed a great deal to theories of sleep behaviour
  • CAT, PET and MRI scans allow for the study of the brain in action
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THE AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM

  • The autonomic nervous system operates involuntarily
  • The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for fight or flight
  • The parasympathetic nervous system acts to restore the body to its normal state
  • The endocrine system works in conjunction with the sympathetic nervous system by releasing hormones, e.g. adrenaline, into the bloodstream
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MONOZYGOTIC AND DIZYGOTIC TWINS

  • Monozygotic (MZ) twins are formed when a zygote divides to form 2 separate embryos
  • Dizygotic (DZ) twins are formed when 2 eggs are fertilised by 2 different sperm cells
  • Psychologists are interested in studying twins in order to investigate the genetic basis of behaviour
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GENETIC BASIS OF BEHAVIOUR

  • There is evidence from FAT studies (Family, Adoption and Twin) to suggest that certain behaviours e.g. intelligence, are genetically determined
  • Research has shown that the enviroment can play more of a role in determining behaviour than genetics
  • Selective breeding studies have demonstrated how a number of behavioural characteristics e.g. agression, can have a genetic basis
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