Lecture_Notes-The_Brain_and_Neuropsychology.docx

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Neuropsychology- The Neuron, the Brain, the Spinal Cord Introduction When students take an introductory Psychology course, most imagine it to be a course about personality, mental processes, mental disorders, etc. However, Psychology is also Biology. We are not only mental, emotional, and social beings, but we are also biological ones. From a biological point of view, all of our functioning can be traced back to the Brain and all of the electrical and chemical activity that occurs there. The field of Psychology that studies how the Brain works and how its processes affect our human behavior is called Neuropsychology. It is a relatively new field, and the research in this area has exploded with the rapid advances in technology – (EEG’s, CAT scans, and MRI’s). It has also fundamentally changed the way we understand human behavior. The Neuron The basic cell of the nervous system is the Neuron. Our brain has over 100 billion of these nerve cells, and they talk to each other by sending electrical and chemical messages. The result of these connections/messages is every thought, emotion, decision, movement, etc. that we have/make. In other words, all human behavior can be linked to the activity of some neuron or neurons in the brain. What does a neuron look like and how does it work to produce our thoughts, feelings, and behavior? The picture below gives you a good idea of what a neuron looks like. Please make special note of the following parts of the neuron as you will be expected to identify the parts and state the basic function of each part. The parts of the neuron include the dendrites, the cell body or nucleus, the axon, the myelin sheath, and the terminal branches. And then you have the neurotransmitters which are the actual chemicals in the brain that stimulate neurons and are also produced by neurons. Here’s a picture of the neuron:
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Figure 1 The Neuron. Source: Creative Commons( ) . On the left side are tentacle-like structures called the dendrites. They extend off of a circular structure called the nucleus or cell-body. Next, protruding from the cell body to the right is a long slender tube called the Axon. Covering the axon are “sausage link” looking structures called the Myelin Sheath. At the end of the Axon tube is a branch-like structure called the Terminal Branches (or axon terminal). Swimming around the neuron but not pictured here are small round molecules or chemicals called neurotransmitters. They are chemical messengers. The function of each part of the neuron will be provided below in paragraph form. The picture above also shows the parts called Node of Ranvier and Schwann Cells. There’s no need to remember these for our class. Let’s talk about each of the other neuron parts and how they work to create the human experience.
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  • Spring '18
  • Steven E Wampler
  • left hemisphere

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