Brain Structure and functioning as an explanation of aggression

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Who was Hippocrates?
A Greek physician known as the father of medicine. He put forward the idea that each hemisphere of the brain brain served different functions.
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What is Phrenology and when was it introduced?
Phrenology was introduced in the late 18th century and involves measurements of the human skull in attempt to explain how different parts of the brain are related to human behaviour.
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Describe the case study of 'Phineas Gage'.
Railway construction worker - had a series accident; tapping iron was lodged through his face into his skull due to an explosion, damaging his pre-frontal cortex. He survived, but a personality change was noted- more irresponsible and aggressive.
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Describe the case study of 'Tan'.
Neuroscientist Broca treated a stroke patient Tan; could only say the word tan. Post-mortem of his brain showed damage to his left frontal lobe (responsible for speech and motor control), now known as Broca's area.
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What does damage to Broca's area lead to?
Damage to this area allows people to understand speech but not produce any words.
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What is Wernicke's area responsible for?
Wernicke's area is in the left temporal lobe adjoining the parietal lobe which controls understanding of speech.
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What is the result of damage to Wernicke's area, such as Wernicke's aphasia?
People tend to produce nonsense speech.
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What are lesions?
Cutting away and analysing different parts of the brain post-mortem.
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Name the five CORTICAL structures of the brain.
Frontal lobe, Parietal lobe, Occipital lobe, Temporal lobe, and Cerebellum.
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Frontal Lobe:
Deals with attention, processing information, memory making, planning and motivation. Contains many dopamine receptors.
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Parietal Lobe:
Several areas of the parietal lobe are important in language processing.
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Occipital Lobe:
The visual processing centre responsible for visuospatial processing, colour differentiation and motion perception.
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Temporal Lobe:
Controls processing of sensory input into visual memories, language comprehension and emotion association.
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Plays an important role in motor control, some cognitive functions (attention and language) and emotional responses to fear and pleasure.
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Name the six SUB-CORTICAL structures of the brain.
Cerebral cortex, Corpus callosum, Thalamus, Hypothalamus, Amygdala and Hippocampus.
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Cerebral Cortex:
Involved in problem solving, decision making and the storing of information.
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Corpus Callosum:
Connects the two hemispheres and enables communication between the two ("information highway").
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Registers sensory information and passes it on for further processing by the brain.
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Regulates eating, drinking, and release of sex hormones (e.g. testosterone, estrogen, progesterone).
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Primary role in the processing of memory, decision making and emotional responses.
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Responsible for memory consolidation, navigation and spatial awareness.
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Damage to the frontal lobes is thought to be responsible for what?
An increase in aggressive behaviours.
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Why is research in to brain structure and functioning to help explain aggression usually carried out on animals (rather than humans)?
As it is unethical to carry out any such research using humans.
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Research (on animals) has helped identify three types of aggressive behaviours in animals, following the damage to their pre-frontal lobe. Name and describe these.
OFFENSIVE behaviour (attacking other animals), DEFENSIVE behaviour (in response to attack) and PREDATORY aggression (attacking another species to gain food).
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What can damage to the pre-frontal cortex lead to?
The pre-frontal cortex is involved in social interaction and damage to this area can lead to problems with anger management, irritability and impulsivity.
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Hows does the 'Periaqueductal Grey Matter' (PAG) (in the mid-brain) link to aggression?
The PAG links the the pre-frontal cortex to the amygdala and hypothalamus. It deals with the responses we have to stressors both internal and external such as threat and pain. Rats with lesions in this area show aggression towards unfamiliar males.
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How does the 'Amygdala' link to aggression?
Small almond-shaped gland at end of hippocampus. Responsible for controlling instinctive emotional response in any situation, including aggression. The pre-frontal cortex connecting to the amygdala leads to expression of aggression via fighting.
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How does the 'Hypothalamus' (part of the mid-brain which maintains homeostasis - stability of the human body in times of change) link to aggression?
Lesions/stimulations of: MEDIAL hypothalamus in cats produces offensive behaviour; DORSAL hypothalamus creates defensive behaviour; and LATERAL hypothalamus is related to predatory aggression.
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Hypothalamus also regulates hormones e.g. testosterone, which is implicated in aggression. Males naturally produce more testosterone than females and those born with a extra Y chromosome (XYY) tend to display even more aggressive behaviours. Why?
As they produce excessive amounts of testosterone.
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Give a real life example of how having an extra Y chromosome impacts aggression.
Male prisoners with an extra Y chromosome are often imprisoned for violent crimes, linking increased testosterone levels to criminal activity related to violence.
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Card 2


What is Phrenology and when was it introduced?


Phrenology was introduced in the late 18th century and involves measurements of the human skull in attempt to explain how different parts of the brain are related to human behaviour.

Card 3


Describe the case study of 'Phineas Gage'.


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Card 4


Describe the case study of 'Tan'.


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Card 5


What does damage to Broca's area lead to?


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