Biological Psychology Flashcards Preview

Psychology > Biological Psychology > Flashcards

Flashcards in Biological Psychology Deck (151):

what does the cns consist of

brain and spinal cord


what is an axon

part of the neuron that takes information away from the cell body towards the axon terminals


what are axon terminals

hair-like ends of the axon which pass information onto another neuron


what is the cell body

part of the cell that contains the nucleus and mitochondra which provide the neuron with energy


what are dendrites

extensions that receive messages from other neurons to take to the cell body in order to trigger an action potential


what is the myelin sheath

fatty substance that surrounds the axon to protect the nerve fibres, insulate and speed up rate of transmission


what are the nodes of ranvier

gaps in the myelin sheath


what is the nucleus

part of the neuron containing genetic material


what are schwann cells

produce myelin. located within the myelin sheath


how do neurons communicate with eachother

by synapses


what is a synapse

small junctions between neurons where neurotransmitters are released and passed from the end of one neuron to the dendrite of the receiving neuron


what are neurotransmitters

chemical messengers that act between the neurones in the brain


what does the neurotransmitter do

travels across the synapse between the two neurons, and when it reaches it attaches itself to the receptor sites on the surface of the target neuron (like a lock and key)


receptor sites

unique to each type of neurotransmitter and are shaped so that only one particular type of neurotransmitter can fit them


what are the two types of action potential

resting potential and action potential


what is a resting potential

potential maintained by the inactive neuron


what is an action potential

the actual message by which the nerve impulses travel down the axon


what influence speed of conduction

diameter of the axon and axon's resistance to current leak


role of the nodes of Ranvier

natural gap in the myelin sheath - the flow of ions through the channel regenerates the action potential over and over again, jumping from one node to the next, speeding up transmission


what is synaptic transmission

refers to how the nervous system transmits information across a synaptic gap


where does the action potential transmit information from and to

from the axon of the presynaptic neuron to the dendrites of the postsynaptic neuron by secretion of neurotransmitters


what is the synaptic cleft

the gap between the presynaptic and post synaptic neuron


what happens when neurotransmitters are released into the synaptic cleft

after stimulation of the presynaptic neuron, they are released into the cleft and most of the neurotransmitters bind with molecules at the receptors on the dendrites of the postsynaptic neuron


what happens if a neurotransmitter doesn't bind to a receptor

process of reuptake


what do recreational drugs do

alter the brain functioning which can change mood or perception


what does the brain do

process all incoming information from the senses and is responsible for controlling behaviour that may result


what is the spinal column

spinal cord within the vertebrae connecting the brain to the rest of the body, allows messages to be passed from the body to the brain and vice versa


what are motor neurons

receive messages from cns


what are sensory neurons

transmit messages about denses from sensory organ to brain and spinal column


what are interneurons

take messages from neuron to neuron


what are mitochondria

site of respiration


what are terminal boutons

at the end of each terminal


what is the axon hillock

at the top of the axon which triggers the impulse


what are vesicles

store neurotransmitters ready to be released into the synpase


what are glial cells

carry out repairs
act as insulators and remove waste products from the brain
they surround neurons and protect them and provide them with nutrients


what is GABA

the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the cns


what does GABA help work

sedatives and sleep aids


what happens with too much GABA

calms things down but can lead to sleepiness and brain fog, as a result of the body's attempt to reduce abnormal elevated excitatory neuron activity eg stress


what happens with too little GABA

may result in high anxiety, impulsivity, irritability and restlessness


what does dopamine do

functions as both an inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitter dependent on brain location. allows us to focus attention in the moment


what is dopamine linked to

addiction due to involvement in pleasure centres


what may happen with elevated levels of dopamine

may lead to hallucination, mania and frank psychosis - clinically obvious and require medical attention


what is low dopamine levels associated with

smoking, overeating, gambling. can lead to memory problems, concentration and attention problems


what does histamine do

known for role in allergic reactions. controls sleep wake cycle and promotes release of epinephrine and norepinephrine


what are high levels of histamine linked to

obsessive compulsion and depression


what are low levels of histamine linked to

paranoia, low libido, fatigue and medication sensitivity


what is norepinephrine also known as



what does norepinephrine do

operate as a neuromoderator, boosts functions of cells to optimise performance of brain


two modes of NE release

burst and tonic firing


what do excessive bursts of NE lead to

anxiousness, being vigilant, hyperactive behaviour


what happens when the AP/ electrical impulse reaches the terminal button

turns into a chemical message


what does the casing of the vesicle do

fuse with the membrane of the terminal button of the presynaptic neuron


what happens to any neurotransmitter left in the synaptic cleft

destroyed by enzymes or reabsorbed again


what do manufactured drugs do

mimic natural neurotransmitters - they bind like them and henceforth pass the message, and some block the message


what is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor

they are prescribed for depression to increase the serotonin levels in the brain. they block reuptake of the serotonin to increase amount in the synapse


what are drugs

chemicals that have an effect and alter brain function


what does use of drugs do

give an altered sense of consciousness but only recently possible to investigate the effect on the nervous system


what is the mode of action

the way the drug works at the synapse and in the brain


what does the reward pathway do

causes us to experience a pleasant and rewarding feeling. it encourages us to repeat the behaviour that activates the pathway


what do drugs do to the reward pathway

hijack the reward system and produce a pleasurable feeling without any adaptive functioning


what does cocaine do

blocks reuptake of dopamine into the pre-synaptic neurone so more is left in the synapse


what does nicotine do

work on reward pathway to give pleasure - it is addictive, behaviour carried out stimulating the reward pathway. nicotine receptors trigger an electrical impulse in a neuron and in the pathway, releasing more dopamine


what does cannabis do

cannabinoid receptors block the post synaptic receptors, reducing activity.


phineas gage

- learnt that prefrontal cortex may be responsible for personality
- other parts of brain may have faced trauma also affecting his personality or he may have been in a bad mood as a result of the experience
- it was ethical due to not being induced and allowed for research of the frontal lobe


gazzaniga and "jo"

-cut corpus callosum which separates the hemispheres
-could say what he saw on the right hand side but not the left hand side
- may not be generalisable as carried out same way each time and he is an individual
- ethical as not induced for research purposes, lots of same findings


henry molaison

last patient to receive a bilateral medial temporal lobectomy, had anterograde amnesia
- medial temporal lobes involved in formation of new long term memories
- may not be generalisable as he was an individual. trauma of surgery may have led to amnesia
- careful care in hospital in hospital for a long time


strengths of using brain damaged patients

- supporting evidence as if more than one patient found with similar damage - conclusions reliability
- enables psychologists to study what is otherwise unethical
- large bank of evidence to support the methodological assumption that having damage to an area of brain and having an impairment links impairment to damage
- measurements done with neuroimaging which is accurate, picture produced by the scan which is objective to analyse. actual measurements objectively compared. reliable and repeatable


weaknesses of using brain damaged patients

- comparison may not be legitimate
- individual characteristics of patients
- rarely only one part of brain affected
- other damage may be responsible
- neuroimaging may not be sensitive enough to pick up smaller sites of damage
- hard to assume that the brain damage caused the difficulty in functioning
- never identical


limbic system includes

amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus


what is hippocampus involved in



what is amygdala involved in

emotional response


what is hypothalamus involved in



function of limbic system

- self preservation
- controls of temperature
- control of fight or flight response
- linked to autonomic nervous system rather than cns
- responds to danger automatically rather than in a planned way



- regulates autonomic part of nervous system, blood pressure, pulse, breathing and flight or fight
- regulates blood pressure
- homeostasis
- regulates response to pain, anger, aggression, sexual satisfaction
- plays a balancing role
- regulates hunger and thirst
- detects levels of leptin in the body - produced when we overeat - senses of levels of fat in the body



- plays an important role in taking short term memories and converting them into long term ones
- if a person cannot form long term memories they will be trapped in the present



- must be centre for identifying threat and for self preservation
- if removed from an animal it becomes passive and unresponsive
- animal studies show that an animal will show aggression if the amygdala is stimulated with an electric current
- two amygdalae R and L bilateral
- without an amygdala animal will show no fear - evidence that it plays a role in arousal and fight and flight


andy and velamati (1978)

- stimulated hypothalamus and basal ganglia of cats. aggression was measured by level of hissing and growling
- the cats had aggressive seizures. blocking neurotransmitter such as dopamine and noradrenaline increased aggression and vice versa
- stimulation of hypothalamus results in aggressive response


downer (1961)

- removed one amygdala and cut the same optic nerve on monkeys. monkeys received visual signals that went to the intact amygdala and ones that went to the ablated amygdala
- monkeys showed normal aggression towards humans when intact amygdala was stimulated. monkeys were calm and placid when amygdala couldnt be reached
- cannot respond to threat when looking through eye with cut optic nerve. responsible for identifying threat and producing response


hermans (1993)

electrical stimulation of hypothalamus causes aggression


delville (1997)

showed that hypothalamus has receptors that interact with serotonin and vasopressin and determine aggresion levels


difference between lesion and ablation

lesion - cut made to brain deliberately or accidentally
ablation - removal of structure


low levels of serotonin neurotransmitter

linked to aggression



hormone, one role is that it is released in the hypothalamus and is involved in aggression as well as temperature regulation


blanchard and blanchard (2003)

suggest links between aggression in animals and humans
- humans, like animals, protect territory and have competition for resources
- discuss evidence linking the endocrine system and aggression


gorka et al (2013)

- looked at role of alcohol in judging emotions linked to aggresion
- amygdala has a controlling effect on reaction to incoming stimuli
- alcohol affects amygdala
- used fMRI scanning and had a group drinking alcohol and a group not (used placebo)
- looked at links between amygdala and PC
- double blind technique
- 12 heavy social drinkers
- alcohol affected connection between alcohol and pc


strengths of gorka et al (2013)

- lots of evidence from both animal and human studies that link areas like pc and limbic system, particularly amygdala. animal studies show electrical stimulation of hypothalamus gives an aggressive response. negative correlation between volume of amygdala + self response
- scanning has more precision. brain structures isolated and measured and reliable and can be done by multiple people - scientific credibility


weaknesses of gorka et al (2013)

- animal studies might have findings that cannot be generalised to humans due to differences
- validity of scanning - completing an artificial task and people do not function normally during scans, lacks EV



- links the 3 areas of the prefrontal cortex
- the lower the activity in the prefrontal cortex, the more likely that depression will occur
- therefore the pc must play a role in emotions
- pc appears linked to regulation


orbifrontal cortex

linked to our accepting delaying gratification and deferring rewards


ventromedial cortex

linked to the experience of emotions


lateral prefrontal cortex

involved in making behaviour choices - letting us see the options


left hemisphere

involved in positive emotions


right hemisphere

involved in negative emotions


left pc

regulated negative emotions from the amygdala in the limbic system


bechara and van der linden (2005)

- reviewed studies that looked at PC
- linked to decision making with the VC
- damage to the PC may lead to someone focussing on the present and not being able to plan for future, want immediate reward
- suggests pc is involved in regulation of emotions and behaviour
- damage can link to a person being unable to control aggressive reactions


prefrontal cortex amygdala

- has links with amygdala that are inhibitory
- damage to the pc can mean that such messages are not inhibited
- amygdala linked with violent behaviour
- dorsolateral regin of the pc has been linked to inhibition and impulse control


raine not classic study

- see if violence came from emotion was different to planned violence
- study used controls and offenders and pet scans
- found people that had shown emotional impulsive violence differed in their pc compared to those who had shown predatory violence
- found that there was lower left and right prefrontal functioning in the emotional impulse offenders
- the planned predatory offenders had normal prefrontal functioning compared to the controls


conclusion of raine not classic study

offenders who had shown emotional impulsive aggression had not been able to regulate their behaviour because of low prefrontal cortex functioning


aim of raine et al 1997

- investigate brain patterns in murderers compared to non murderers using pet scans
- wanted to see if there was a difference in prefrontal cortex of murderers pleaded NGRI through diminished responsibility and non murderers.
- in particular to see whether they would show brain dysfunction in areas of the brain associated with aggression, namely the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus and corpus callosum


procedure of raine et al

- 41 participants became an experimental group- charged with murder or manslaughter, pleaded NGRI
- consisted of 39 men and two women, 6 had schizophrenia
- control group was also used in which people were matched for sex age and mental disorder and were medication free
- approved by ethics committee and all participants consented
- no participants took any medication for 2 weeks before testing, had to work on a continuous performance task involving presentation of sequence of blurred numbers which ppts had to focus on for 10 mins
- injected with a glucose tracker required to work at a continuous performance task that was based around target recognition for 32 minutes, then asked to perform a visual task that increased activity in the prefrontal cortex
- the NGRI’s were compared with the controls on the level of activity (glucose metabolism) in right and left hemispheres of the brain in 6 cortical areas


results. of raine et al 1997

- the results did support the hypothesis that brain dysfunction in the NGRI group was in those same areas previously associated with violent behaviour
- murderers brains were more active in the right side of the thalamus compared to non murderers
- those not guilty by reason of insanity had less activity in the prefrontal areas/ parietal cortex of the brain
- less activity in subcortical area of the brain and in particular the NGRI group showed
• lower corpus callosum activity
• asymmetrical amygdala activity
• asymmetrical medial temporal lobe inc. hippocampus activity
• higher level activity in the right of the thalamus
- no difference between the two groups in how well they did the task, however the brain scans did show some of the NGRI group had head injuries which may have affected the activity of the corpus callosum
- no injuries in control group


conclusions of raine et al 1997

- areas with abnormal activity levels are associated with lack of fear, lowered self control, increased aggression and impulsive behaviour.
- these could all lead to an increased risk of committing violent crime
- another consideration is that these areas are linked with failure to learn from experiences -> lower IQ, therefore higher chance of unemployment so higher risk of criminality
- the hippocampus and thalamus have been related to learning which could explain how abnormal activity here could result in criminals being unable to modify their own behaviour by learning from the consequences of their actions
- the researchers suggest their study doesn’t show that violent behaviour is only causes by abnormalities in the brain. however they concluded brains of murderers were significantly different from murderers brains
- they also concluded. that there was a difference in corpus callosum activity between NGRI participants and the control group which may suggest a lack of emotional expression and an inability to grasp the long term implications of a situation


what technique did they use in raine to examine the brain

cortical peel technique - slices of brain examined and glucose values for each area of interest


what technique was examined in raine

box technique


where did murderers have lower and higher glucose metabolism

prefrontal cortex (left and right medial superior frontal cortex, the left anterior medial cortex, the right orbifrontal cortex, and the lateral middle frontal gyri on both hemispheres)
- parietal lobe
- corpus callosum
- reduced in left amygdala, more on right
- reduced left in medial temporal lobe and greater in right
- greater thalamatic activity
- higher occipital


any effect of handedness, injury and ethnicity

- not matched for these
- found left handed murderers showed higher medial prefrontal activity land less abnormal amygdala asymmetry but NOT significant
- 14 murderers non white - no effect
- 23 murderers had previous head injury, lower activity in corpus callosum


what is jealousy

emotional response to anticipated loss of affection and or status


what is infidelity

unfaithfulness of sexual partners


what is sexual infidelity

any behaviour involving sexual contact


what is emotional infidelity

formation of affectionate attachment to another person including flirting, intimate conversation


strengths of darwin evolution theory

- large amount of supporting evidence eg moths study

- scientific method - took careful observations and observed visible behaviour - scientific credibility so is widely accepted


weaknesses of darwin evolution theory

- may put themselves at risk whilst trying to protect their genes - may attract aggression in others.
- counter productive may use energy in aggressive behaviour and not use resources successfully
- frustration aggression theory; aggression comes from environmental influence, alternative to evolution theory


frustration aggression theory dollard

aggression can be displaced onto someone or something else if there is frustration and aggression


buss and shackleton 1997

- gathered evidence to see what men do in a response to feeling threatened in a relationship
- men tended to give into the female and do what they want - debasement
- threatened other males (intersexual threats)
- this aids survival of male genes
- for women it’s good to maintain a relationship to reproduce
- women threatened to leave men if they were unfaithful and used verbal rather than physical threats
- woman certain baby has her genes


why would natural selection not occur without variation in a species

- no advantageous characteristics or traits to allow growth in the species
- no competition for resources and each animal would be the same so no natural selection
- slight changes to phenotype could provide a large survival train and allow growth in species


genetic mutation

a permanent change in the gene sequence due to virus, damage from radiation or errors in protein synthesis
- can result in a visible. change in organism
- can prevent a gene from functioning properly
or can have no obvious effect at all


genetic drift

element of chance in which genes are passed onto an offspring, only 50% from each parent so some genes lost by chance and can drift out of the gene pool


heritable traits

- not all traits heritable
- eye colour, temperament likely to be inherited
- many traits not inherited but develop over time through interactions with environment
- mainly characteristics come from an underlying genetic tendency combined with experiences of the environment eg height


what is kin selection

- altruistic behaviour may cause an animal to go against the idea of being an individual and attempt to increase group survival
- eg call out to warn the group
- draws attention to individual who is as a result less likely to survive


direct fitness

an individuals genes are passed on when that individual survives in an environment long enough to reproduce


kin selection supporting natural selection

- off spring of the individual calling out is likely to be close by
- will be carrying the genes of the species of the individual calling out


inclusive fitness

genes survive when relatives survive and reproduce
natural selection is therefore about survival and passing on of genes rather than survival of individual


group selection

behaviour that protects a group and benefits individuals of the group
- individuals in the group may not survive as individuals
- they and their resources are better protected from predators in a group


what are hormones

chemical messengers of the body that travel via the circulatory system via the blood


what system makes hormones and what is it made up of

endocrine system: thyroid adrenal thymus pituitary glands and the pancreas and hypothalamus


pituitary gland hormones

antidiuretic hormone vasopressin
regulates water balance


thymus gland hormones

hormones linked to pubertt


pineal gland hormones



testes hormones

testosterone to maintain sex drive


how do hormones work

bind to receptor proteins in target cells and changing cell function (induce a change)


differences between neurotransmitters and hormonal messaging

- N signals very quick; milliseconds whereas H are over larger distance as over larger distance and over longer period of time
- Hcan travel anywhere in circulatory system
- H can vary in intensity whereas neurotransmitters are all or nothing in terms of signally



- linked to aggression
- produced in spurts so the testosterone levels can rise suddenly and have effect within minutes
- can vary seasonally eg why red deer become aggressive in mating season
- men have more testosterone than women so maybe why they are more aggressive


dabbs et al 1987

measured levels of testosterone in saliva of 89 male prisoners involved in violent and non violent crime
- 10/11 who had committed violent crime had high levels
- those with high levels of testosterone were rated by their peers as being tough
- suggest increase in testosterone = aggressive behaviour in humans


wagner et al

- castrated nice and observed their aggression levels dropped
- when injected with testosterone their aggression levels rose again
- testosterone = aggression in mice
- however when injected with cortisol their levels also increased
possibly just aggressive from being injected


mazur and booth

studies show men with higher levels of testosterone are more likely to:
- divorce or remain single
- be arrested
- buy or sell stolen property
- incur bad debts
- use a weapon in fight


testosterone and dominance

- unattached males need to be socially dominant to attract mates - increased testosterone
- explains why single/ divorced males are more likely to be convicted of crimes
(even when stats are adjusted for individuals with certain characteristics such as calmness and empathy being more likely to marry in the first place) ryan king 2007



hormone produced by adrenal glands. responsible for waking us up and manages stress levels. seems to inhibit aggression, as testosterone increases it



- rats showing activity in the aggression systems in their brain also showed a hormonal stress response
- feedback loop between the hormonal stress response and brain aggression systems may help understanding of aggressive response
- aggression control centres electrically stimulated - hormonal stress response and more hormones in blood
- feedback loop: increased stimulation = increase stress response
- may explain humans aggression leading to stress and vice versa
- another study; stimulated hypothalamus in rats (attack centre) led to release of corticosterone
- threat of aggression triggers hormone
- another study; removed adrenal gland (no hormone released) and corticosterone injected into rat, immediate effect was also the attack response
feedback loop between stress hormone and brain attack centre


chang et al

- looked at fish behaviour (mangrove rivulus fish)
- focused on aggression - measured by how the fish reacted to its mired image in terms of aggressive display + exploring behaviour measured by how ready fish was to approach a new shelter
- measured boldness and learning
- aim was to ooo at the behaviours and uni to hormones - cortisol and testosterone


what is nature

refers to biological causes for behaviour: influence of genes that have been inherited from biological parents


what is nurture

refers to the environmental causes of behaviour: this means the importance of upbringing regardless of who the parents are


adoption studies and twin studies

- always natural
- naturally occurring
- variables can’t be manipulated as morally wrong to force children to be adopted
and scientifically impossible to cause twins


monozygotic twins

single egg which later splits
- same genes
- must be same sex


dizygotic twins

two or more eggs fertilised at same time
- same amount of genes as any brother or sister
- fraternal twins


chance of having twins

1.5% and 0.5% for mz


how to identify zygocity

ultrasound scanning reveals twins sharing placenta or membrane - hugh chance of MZ
genetic testing to reveal a


if mz and dz twins behave differently

nature at work because shared environment not producing same behaviour


If one twin shows a behaviour and other twin does too



gottesman and shields aim

to find out if there is a genetic basis for schizophrenia and replicate previous twin studies into schizophrenia to check reliability


sample for gottesman and shield

- 62 schizophrenic patients half male half female and all aged 19-64
- all had twins


procedure for gottesman and shield

- fingerprint testing, blood testing and physical resemblance
- 24 MZ twin pairs and 33 DZ twin pairs identified
mental health in the twin was measured by a range of tests:
- compared hospital notes between twins
- carried out questionnaires and semi structured interviews with both twins and pairs
- tape recordings of their speech to identify language problems
- personality testing
-psychometric testing