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Psychology 2012 - Chapter 2 - CHAPTER TWO BIOLOGICAL...

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CHAPTER TWO BIOLOGICAL FOUNDATION OF PSYCHOLOGY I. NEURONS, THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM 1. Basic Terminology a- Neuron- Neuron is the basic unit of the nervous system. It is a specialized cell that transmits neural impulses or messages to other neurons, glands and muscles. b- Dendrites- Dendrites receive neural impulses from adjacent (close by) neurons. They conduct incoming neural impulse to the cell body. c- Axon – The axon is a slender tube that extends from the soma and transmits messages to other neurons or to muscles or glands. It terminates at axon terminal or terminal button. d- Synapse- Neurons are not connected with each other. The terminal button does not actually touch the adjacent neuron. There is a slight gap between the terminal button and the dendrites of the receiving neuron. This gap is called a synapse. Some mood-altering drugs create their effects by changing the activity in the synapses. e- Neurotransmitters- These are substances that are released in the synapses, stimulating the next neuron. f- Sensory Neurons- These neurons transmit impulses received by receptors to the central nervous system. If you place your hand in icy water, the sensation of cold is carried to the brain by the sensory neuron. g- Motor Neurons- These neurons carry the signals from the brain or spinal cord to muscles and glands. II. NEUROTRANSMITTERS
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There are more than seventy neurotransmitters that have been identified so far. Certain neurotransmitters are excitatory and some others are inhibitory. The first group excites the behavior and the second inhibits the behavior. Among the most important neurotransmitters we can name norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. III. THE ORGANIZATION OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM 1. The Central Nervous System The Central Nervous System (CNS) includes the brain, the spinal cord, all the neurons in the brain and the spinal cord including the twelve cranial nerves.
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