Brain & neuro key theories


James-Lange theory of emotion

3 parts of an emotion: physiological (bodily arousal), cognitive (conscious experience), behavioural (how you respond)

Hypothalamus activates sympathetic division ANS - produces adrenaline - causes physiological arousal e.g heart pounds, muscle tenses - brain interprets this to cause an emotion

No change = no emotion

Stimulus/event - arousal - emotion

Example: meeting a bear in forest activates sympathetic division (fight/flight) - heart pounds - physiological changes interpreted by brain as fear - person runs away

EVAL: arousal doesn't always guarantee an emotion, arousal may come after an emotion, we have identical responses to different emotions (e.g. fear and embarrassment)

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Hebb's theory of learning

The brain is plastic - has the ability to change and develop - synaptic connections in brain get stronger the more they're used. The brain changes structure & connections in response to learning. Learning leaves a trace (engram) which can be made permanent with rehearsal. Cell assemblies - groups of neurons that fire together - more they fire = more the synaptic connections strengthen & grow. Neuronal growth - happens when cell assemblies rewire to manage new learning.


Strength: Scientific theory - explains learning in terms of brain function which provides basis for understanding behaviour - learning can be studied through brain processes.

Strength: can be applied to education - found that rats raised in stimulating settings were more able to navigate mazes as adults - can be applied to education by creating stimulating environments to encourage learning  

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