Effects of Brain Damage and Brain Stimulation

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Why might the the brain use different areas for learning and performing a task?
Some brain regions may be involved in learning, but not required when the task is automatised. Some areas are recruited as 'back up.'
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What is 'epiphenomenal'?
Brain activity that is correlated, but not essential for a process.
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How can we examine causality in the brain?
By looking at whether the behaviour is affected when the process cannot happen, eg. in brain damaged patients.
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What phenomena can we examine in humans to determine causality (6)?
Neurosurgery, strokes, brain trauma, brain tumours, neurodegeneration, infection of brain tissue.
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What is neuropsychology?
The area of psychology that examines the effect of brain damage.
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How do we determine if an area is necessary for a process?
If damage to the area is associated with cognitive impairment.
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What are some examples of neuropsychological studies?
Sperry's "split brain" experiment, patient HM with epilepsy, patient PG's personality change.
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What is fractionation?
The assumption that damage to the brain can produce selective deficits.
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What is transparency?
The assumption that damage to the substrate of a process 'knocks out' this process, without leading to reorganisation of other processes.
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What is universality?
The assumption that mental processes are fundamentally the same across individuals, hence deficits and their effects can be generalised.
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What is blobology?
Seeing whether a certain task is localised in the brain, and if so where.
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What is blobology useful for?
Determining whether two tasks consist of the same processes or not.
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What is cognitive neuropsychology focused on?
Determining the cognitive architecture by identifying processes that rely on different mechanisms, regardless of the locus.
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What is single dissociation?
It occurs when a brain lesion causes impairment in one process but not in a similar process (e.g. understanding of nouns but not verbs).
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What is double dissociation?
Used to draw conclusions about functions of brain areas by showing that lesions in one area impairs process X but not the similar process Y, and lesions in a different area don't impair process X but do impair process Y.
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What are the advantages of using group studies?
Group-level analysis reduces the contribution of irrelevant factors and emphasises the effect of the experimental manipulation.
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When might single cases be useful?
When there is an individual with very specific effects of brain damage.
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What are the strengths of neuropsychology (1)?
It enables causal inferencing.
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What are the limitations of neruropsychology (2)?
Lesions are rarely anatomically selective meaning they tend to affect multiple brain regions, it may be hard to distinguish between effects of brain damage and the effects of these effects.
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What is the process of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)?
Large current briefly discharged into coil of wire on subject's head ---> Current generates rapidly changing magnetic field, which passes into brain ---> Magnetic field generates ionic current through neuron's membranes in the cortex.
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What are the effects of TMS (4)?
Disorganisation of neural activity resulting in impaired performance, similar effects to a lesion, over the primary motor cortex induces muscle contractions, over the primary and secondary visual cortex results in perception of flashing lights.
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What are advantages of TMS (3)?
Can determine causation, relatively good spatial resolution, reversible so can test same subjects in different conditions.
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What are the disadvantages (confounds) of TMS (3)?
Need to control for effects of TMS, hard to obtain a control group, hard to control for somatosensory/ auditory effects of TMS.
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What are the limitations of TMS (3)?
Cannot investigate structure deeper than the cortex, effects of TMS on behaviour are more subtle than the effects of neurological damage, small risk of eliciting seizures.
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Card 2

Front

What is 'epiphenomenal'?

Back

Brain activity that is correlated, but not essential for a process.

Card 3

Front

How can we examine causality in the brain?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

What phenomena can we examine in humans to determine causality (6)?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

What is neuropsychology?

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Preview of the front of card 5
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