Psychology - Approaches to Psychology - Biopsychology

What is the Nervous System?
Consists of the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system
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What is the Central Nervous System (CNS)?
Consists of the brain and the spinal cord and is the origin of all complex commands and decisions
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What is the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)?
Sends information to the CNS from the outside world, and transmits messages from the CNS to muscles and glands in the body
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What is the Somatic Nervous System?
Transmits information from receptor cells in the sense organs to the CNS. It also receives information from the CNS that directs muscles to act
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What is the Autonomic Nervous System?
Transmits information to and from internal bodily organs. It is 'autonomic' as the system operates involuntarily (it is automatic). It has two main systems: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems
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What are the Two Main Functions of the Nervous System?
1. To collect, process and respond to information in the environment. 2. To coordinate the working of different organs and cells in the body
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How is the CNS Structured?
Consists of the brain and spinal cord. The brain is the centre of all conscious awareness. The outer layer of the brain, the cerebral cortex, is highly developed in humans and is what distinguishes our higher mental functions from those of animals
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What are the Functions of the CNS?
The spinal cord is an extension of the brain and is responsible for reflex actions. It passes messages to and from the brain and connects nerves to the PNS
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How is the PNS Structured?
The PNS is sub-divided into the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the somatic nervous system (SNS)
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What are the functions of the PNS?
Transmits messages, via millions of neurons, to/from the nervous system. ANS - governs vital functions e.g. breathing, heart rate, digestion, sexual arousal, stress responses. SNS - controls muscle movement, receives info from sensory receptors
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What does the Sympathetic Nervous System do?
It activates the fight or flight response, so is activated when exposed to a stressor. Inhibits digestion, constricts pupils, increases heart rate, increases breathing, contracts rectum, inhibits saliva production
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What does the Parasympathetic Nervous System do?
It helps the body return to its resting state after being exposed to a stressor. Stimulates digestion, dilates pupils, decreases heart rate, decreases breathing rate, relaxes rectum, stimulates saliva production
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What is the Endocrine System?
One of the body's major information systems that instructs glands to release hormones directly into the bloodstream. These hormones are carried towards target organs in the body
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What is a Gland?
An organ in the body that synthesises substances such as hormones
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What are hormones?
Chemical substances that circulate in the bloodstream and only affect target organs. They are produced in large quantities but disappear quickly. Their effects are very powerful
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What is the Fight or Flight Response?
The way an animal responds when stressed. The body becomes physiologically aroused in readiness to fight an aggressor or, in some cases, flee.
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What is Adrenaline?
A hormone produced by the adrenal glands - part of the human body's immediate stress response system. Adrenaline = strong effect on the cells of the cardiovascular system - stimulating the heart rate, contracting blood vessels, dilating air passages
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What are the Key Features of the Endocrine System?
Works alongside the nervous system to control vital functions in the body through the action of hormones. It works slower than the nervous system but has widespread and powerful effects
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What is the Major Endocrine Gland?
Also known as the 'master gland', the pituitary gland is an endocrine gland located in the brain. It controls the release of hormones from all the other endocrine glands in the body
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Give an Example of a Hormone and Explain how it Works
Thyroxine - produced by the thyroid gland - affects cells in the heart and also cells throughout the body which increase metabolic rates. This in turn affects growth rates
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How does the Endocrine System and the ANS Work Together During Fight or Flight
Stessor perceived - hypathalamus triggers activity in the SNS. The ANS changes from PNS to SNS. Adrenaline - released from adrenal medulla into bloodstream. Adrenaline triggers physiological changes in target organs. Threat gone = SNS to PNS
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What is a neuron?
The basic building blocks of the nervous system, neurons are nerve cells that process and transmit messages through electrical and chemical signals
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What are Sensory Neurons?
These carry messages from the PNS to the CNS. They have long dendrites and short axons
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What are Relay Neurons?
These connect the sensory neurons to the motor or other relay neurons. They have short dendrites and short axons
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What are Motor Neurons?
These connect the CNS to effectors such as muscles and glands. They have short dendrites and long axons
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What is Synaptic Transmission?
The process by which neighbouring neurons communicate with each other by sending chemical messages across the gap (the synapse) that separates them
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What is a Neurotransmitter?
Brain chemicals released from synaptic vesicles that relay signals across the synapse from one neuron to another. Neurotransmitters can be broadly divided into those tha perform an excitatory functions and those that perform an inhibitory function.
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What is Excitation?
When a neurotransmitter, such as adrenaline, increases the positive charge of the postsynaptic neuron. This increases the likelihood that the neuron will fire and pass on the electrical impulse
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What is Inhibition?
When a neurotransmitter, such as serotonin, increases the negative charge of the postsynaptic neuron. This decreases the liklihood that the neuron will fire and pass on the electrical impulse
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How Many Neurons are in the Body and how Many of These are Located in the Brain?
100 billion nerve cells (neurons) in the human body, of which 80% are located in the brain
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What does a Neuron Consist of?
Cell body (soma), Dendrites, Axon and Terminal Buttons
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What is the Cell Body (Soma)?
Includes a nucleus which contains the genetic material of the cell
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What are Dendrites?
Branch-like structures that protrude from the cell body. These carry nerve impulses from neighbouring neurons towards the cell body
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What is an Axon?
Carries the electrical impulse away from the cell body down the length of the neuron. It is covered in a fatty layer of myelin sheath that protects the axon. Gaos in the axon called nodes of Ranvier speed up the transmission of the impulse
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What are Terminal Buttons?
They are located at the end of the axon and communicate with the next neuron in the chain across a gap called the synapse
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How is a Neuron Fired?
Neuron - resting state - inside cell = negatively charged. Neuron - activated - inside cell = positively charged for a split second - causes action potential to occur. Creates an electrical impulse - travels down the axon towards end of the neuron
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What is a Synapse?
It is a tiny gap which separates neurons
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How are Signals Transmitted Within and Between Neurons?
Signals within neurons are transmitted electrically; however, signals between neurons are transmitted chemically across the synapse
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What Events Occur at the Synapse?
Electrical impulse reaches presynaptic terminal - triggers release of neurotransmitter from synaptic vesicles. Nurotransmitter - crossed synapse - taken up by postsynaptic receptor site on next neuron
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What Happens Before the Process of Electrical Transmission Begins?
The chemical message is converted back into an electrical impulse
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How do Neurotransmitters Work?
They diffuse across the synapse to the next neuron in the chain. Several dozen neurotransmitters have been identified. Each has its own molecular structure that fits perfectly into a post-synaptic receptor site like a lock and key
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Give an Example of a Neurotransmitter and Their Functions
Acetylcholine (ACh) found where a motor neuron meets a muscle, causing muscles to contract. Serotonin affects mood and social behaviour (among other things) which is why it has been implicated as a cause of depression
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Give an Example of of Excitatory and Inhibitory Neurotransmitters
Adrenaline - exitatory, increasing positive charge of postsynaptic neuron - more likely that the neuron will fire. Serotonin - inhibitory, increases negative charge of postsynaptic neuron - less likely to fire. Dopamine - inhibitory and excitatory
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Card 2


What is the Central Nervous System (CNS)?


Consists of the brain and the spinal cord and is the origin of all complex commands and decisions

Card 3


What is the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)?


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Card 4


What is the Somatic Nervous System?


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Card 5


What is the Autonomic Nervous System?


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