Understanding Brain Science And Cognitive Psychology
The human brain is an amazing and powerful tool. It allows us to learn, see, remember, hear, perceive, understand and create language. Sometimes, the human brain also fails us.
Cognitive psychologists study how people acquire, perceive, process and store information. This work can range from exploring how we learn language to understanding the interplay between cognition and emotion.
New technologies like magnetic resonance imaging allow researchers to see a picture of the brain at work helping them to understand how a brain reacts to a particular stimulus or how differences in brain structure can affect a persons health, personality or cognitive functioning.
All About Brain Science And Cognition
When you meet new people, why do you remember some names but not others? This is an example of a question that psychologists working in brain science and cognition seek to answer through their research.
These psychologists spend most of their time studying human thought processes and the capacity for understanding, interpreting and retaining information. They may choose to work in one particular specialty, such as memory or learning disabilities, or they may focus their career on a specific health issue or population.
Psychologists working in this field apply psychological science to address a wide variety of issues that affect a spectrum of populations. They work with infants and toddlers to address behavioral problems and developmental disorders. They work with adults to address memory disorders, substance use and health-related problems. Others study the brains capacity to do tasks, handle multiple demands or recover from injury.
In their work, many of these psychologists will drill down into intricacies such as how music therapy can help heal degenerative brain disorders or how quickly humans can learn a new language. Some study how the brain interprets smells. Others are working to .
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APÂ® Psychology – Course 2: How the Brain Works
This psychology course will show you how the brain works. You will learn the basics of neuroscience, genetics and evolutionary psychology. We will also cover the visual system and other sensory systems. The course concludes with coverage of the variety of states of consciousness.
This course includes video-based lectures and demonstrations, interviews with real research psychologists and a plethora of practice questions to help prepare you for that APÂ® Psychology exam.
This is the second in a six-course APÂ® Psychology sequence designed to prepare you for the APÂ® Psychology exam.
- The basics of neuroanatomy, neural transmission, and the endocrine system
- The basics of genetics
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Lobes Of The Brain And What They Control
Each brain hemisphere has four sections, called lobes: frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital. Each lobe controls specific functions.
- Frontal lobe. The largest lobe of the brain, located in the front of the head, the frontal lobe is involved in personality characteristics, decision-making and movement. Recognition of smell usually involves parts of the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe contains Brocas area, which is associated with speech ability.
- Parietal lobe. The middle part of the brain, the parietal lobe helps a person identify objects and understand spatial relationships . The parietal lobe is also involved in interpreting pain and touch in the body. The parietal lobe houses Wernickes area, which helps the brain understand spoken language.
- Occipital lobe. The occipital lobe is the back part of the brain that is involved with vision.
- Temporal lobe. The sides of the brain, temporal lobes are involved in short-term memory, speech, musical rhythm and some degree of smell recognition.
Principle : Recipes Not Machines
In the psychological constructionist ontology proposed here, the metaphor for the mind in the 21st century is not a machine, but a recipe book. Psychological primitives are not separate, interacting bits and pieces of the mind that have no causal relation to one another like the cogs and wheels of a machine. Instead, they are more like the basic ingredients in a well-stocked pantry that can be used to make any number of different recipes . The products of the various recipes are not universal, although they are not infinitely variable or arbitrary either . The recipes are not universal. The recipe for anger will differ from instance to instance within a person, and even if there is a modal recipe, it might differ across persons within a particular cultural context, as well as across cultural contexts. At the psychological level, however, the ingredients that make up the recipes might be universal . And as with all recipes, the amount of each ingredient is only one factor that is important to making the end product what it is. The process of combining ingredients is also important . As a result, it is not enough to just identify what the factors are, but also how they coordinate and shape one another during the process of construction.
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Kids Guide To How The Brain Works
The human body is made up of a number of different types of organs, which help us grow and stay healthy. While all of these organs are important, the nervous systemwhich features the brainis one of the most important. Without our brain, our ability to walk, talk, and dress would be very difficult, if not impossible. People who are interested in learning more about the brain are should first understand its parts and the way those parts work. Knowing the responsibilities of the nervous system is also important for those who hope to learn more about this important part of the body.
Your Brain Sees Even When You Dont
A 2013 study published in;The Journal of Neuroscience suggests that the brain can see someone else’s actions even when the ability to visually see has been destroyed.
Cortical blindness refers to the loss of vision that occurs when the primary visual cortex no longer functions, generally as the result of injury. Theres no longer an ability to visually perceive the world in the sense with which were most familiar , but that doesnt necessarily mean the brain no longer sees.
In this study a patient with full cortical blindness could still react to another person’s gaze. While in an fMRI machine, the patient was exposed to gazes directed at him and gazes directed away from him. On the face of it, neither should matter — his visual cortex couldnt perceive any sort of gaze. But the brain scan indicated that another part of his brain definitely could.
The patients;amygdala, the brain area associated with figuring out whether external stimuli is a threat, showed a distinctly different activation pattern when the gaze was directed at the patient than when directed away from him.
In other words, it didn’t matter that his visual cortex couldn’t catch the gazeanother part of his brain did regardless, and thats quite incredible.
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What You Can Do
Most psychologists working in brain science and cognition spend their careers in a university setting where they teach or conduct research or both. However, there has been significant growth in other areas, such as human-computer interaction, software development and organizational psychology. This growth has opened new job opportunities in the private sector.
Cognitive psychologists can also work in clinical settings to help treat issues related to human mental processes, including Alzheimers disease, speech issues, memory loss, and sensory or perception difficulties. These psychologists will often work in government and private research centers and treatment facilities, such as hospitals and mental health clinics, and as consultants or expert witnesses for court cases. Private practice is also an option for psychologists working in this field.
Recording Electrical Activity In The Brain
In addition to lesion approaches, it is also possible to learn about the brain by studying the electrical activity created by the firing of its neurons. One approach, primarily used with animals, is to place detectors in the brain to study the responses of specific neurons. Research using these techniques has found, for instance, that there are specific neurons, known as feature detectors, in the visual cortex that detect movement, lines and edges, and even faces .
A less invasive approach, and one that can be used on living humans, is electroencephalography , as shown in Figure 4.14. The EEG is a technique that records the electrical activity produced by the brains neurons through the use of electrodes that are placed around the research participants head. An EEG can show if a person is asleep, awake, or anesthetized because the brainwave patterns are known to differ during each state. EEGs can also track the waves that are produced when a person is reading, writing, and speaking, and are useful for understanding brain abnormalities, such as epilepsy. A particular advantage of EEG is that the participant can move around while the recordings are being taken, which is useful when measuring brain activity in children, who often have difficulty keeping still. Furthermore, by following electrical impulses across the surface of the brain, researchers can observe changes over very fast time periods.
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The Foundations Of Consciousness Research In The Late 19th And Early 20th Centuries
Although our emphasis will be on the mid-20th century, this period must be contextualized by the fact that research on brain and consciousness, like many other topics in psychology and brain science, began in the late 19th century. This was a time when psychological questions were driven by philosophical understanding of the mind, which was often equated with consciousness. As a result, research on brain and behavior naturally considered the role of consciousness in behavioral control by the brain.
As is still common today, these early researchers explored the effects of surgical ablation or electrical stimulation of brain areas . Several studies demonstrated that decorticated animals could exhibit high degrees of behavioral flexibility . These observations led to a debate as to whether the behavioral responses of decorticated animals were driven by unconscious sensitivity or conscious sensations, and whether having a cerebral cortex was necessary for having conscious experiences .
Ferrier felt that it was essential to study consciousness in humans, warning that researchers cannot rely on behavioral appearances alone in animals: the plaintive cry elicited by pinching the foot of a rabbit may be merely a reflex phenomenon, not depending on any true sense of pain . By contrast, studies of humans can use verbal reports to assess consciousness of impressions .
The Psychology Of The Brain And Behavior
Every year, millions of people are affected by disorders of the brain and nervous system including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and traumatic brain injuries. These illnesses and injuries highlight the importance of the biological bases for our behavior.
Exploring some of the basics of biological psychology means looking into the biological processes that play a role in how we think, feel, react and behave.
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Mini Brains Created With Stem Cells
This past year also saw some groundbreaking news in the stem-cell category of neuroscience: for the first time, scientists grew miniature human brains from stem cells, reported;Reuters;Health. The implications of this development are massive, not the least of which is eventually understanding the inner workings of severe neurological disorders and how to defeat them.
The researchers started with;human stem cellsthe often-controversial, undifferentiated human cells that are capable of giving rise to a host of differentiated cellsand cultured them into cerebral organoids .; Stem cells have been used to grow a variety of organ tissueincluding a;liver;and a;tracheabut never before has brain tissue with multiple, distinct parts been created in a lab.
According to the;Reuters report, Juergen Knoblish and Madeline Lancaster at Austrias;Institute of Molecular Biotechnology;and fellow researchers at Britains;Edinburgh University of Human Genetics;cultured the stem cells with a cocktail of nutrients, and grew tissue called neuroectoderm a layer of cells in the embryo from which all parts of the brain and nervous system develop.
To demonstrate the usefulness of their discovery, the researchers used the organoids to model the development of a rare neurological condition called;microcephalyin which patients develop an abnormally small head. By modeling the condition in a lab, researchers can reverse engineer it and find out why it develops.
Functions Of The Nervous System
The nervous system is the series of nerve cells that send messages back and forth between different parts of the body. As with the brain, there are a number of functions of the nervous system.;Specifically, the nervous system provides a lot of information about the environment, such as temperature, smell, sound, and taste. Without the assistance of the nervous system, the brain would not be able to function properly.
- Your Brain and Nervous SystemDiscusses the various parts of the brain and their individual function.
- ;Brain and NervesInteractive tool for kids who want to learn more about the brain and how it works.
- How the Brain WorksDescription of the different parts of the brain and describes what happens during dysfunction.
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Why Study The Brain
The brain is the most complex part in the human body. This three-pound organ is responsible for our intelligence, interpreting sensation, initiating body movement, and controlling all of our behaviors.
The brain and the rest of the central nervous system are composed of a variety of cells, but the primary functional unit is a cell called a neuron. All sensations, movements, , memories, and feelings are the result of signals that pass through neurons of differing shapes, sizes, and functions. The average brain contains 80-90 billion neurons, the cell bodies of which form gray matter. Many, many more specialized cells called glia protect and support neurons in gray matter, and provide insulation for their delicate interconnections in the white matter. The folds in the human brain form sulci and gyri , adding to its surface area to maximize the number of cells that can pack into our skulls, and increasing the quantity of information we can process.
Animal Neuropsychology Paved The Way
Neuropsychological research on animals is of interest to our discussion of consciousness, not because it necessarily revealed anything about consciousness per se. The work was instead important because it provided a neuroanatomical and conceptual foundation that guided the design and interpretation of studies of human patients.
The most important institute for neuropsychological research on animals in the 1940s was the Yerkes Primate Center in Florida, which was directed by Lashley. Researchers there were trained in the Franz/Lashley approach and used specific behavioral tasks to test specific brain functions. When the neurosurgeon Karl Pribram took over the directorship at Yerkes shortly after the end of World War II, he continued the behavioral approach established by Lashley but with added neurosurgical sophistication. The field of animal neuropsychology flourished during Pribrams decade-long rein at Yerkes. Young researchers who would come to be the face of the field cut their scientific teeth at Yerkes under Pribrams guidance.
Only a few examples of the output and implications of research done at the Yerkes laboratory in the 1950s were mentioned here, but it would be hard to overstate the importance of this group. These researchers paved the way for much future work on the brain mechanisms of perception, memory, emotion, and higher cognition, and also of consciousness.
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Principle : Psychological Primitives
The basic processes that constitute complex psychological categories can be described as psychologically primitive , meaning that they are psychologically irreducible and cannot be redescribed as anything else psychological. These psychological primitives are the ingredients in a recipe that will produce an instance of a complex psychological statewhat we call an emotion, or memory, or thought, and so onalthough they are not specific to any one state . Unlike the culturally relative complex psychological categories that they realize, psychological primitives are universal to all human beings. It might be possible to describe the operations that the brain is performing to create psychological primitives, but these operations would be identified in terms of the psychological primitives that they constitute.
Depictions of three brain states comprised of different combinations of the same three psychological primitives . Depending on the recipe and a psychologists interest and theoretical proclivities, mental states are called seeing or thinking or feeling.
Although identifying specific psychological primitives is beyond the scope of this article, elsewhere, my lab and I nominated three phenomena as psychological primitives. One psychological primitive may be what has been termed valuation, salience, or affect . Another may be categorization . And a third may be a matrix consisting of different sources of attention . And of course there are others.
How Does The Brain Work
With 80-100 billion nerve cells, known as neurons, the human brain is capable of some astonishing feats. Each neuron is connected to more than 1,000 other neurons, making the total number of connections in the brain around 60 trillion! Neurons are organized into patterns and networks within the brain and communicate with each other at incredible speeds.
Psychology And The Brain
Psychology is commonly defined as the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. It has existed since the late 19th;century, with 1879 often being given as a starting date because that was when the first psychological research lab was founded. Many schools of thought within the field have come and gone since then; some, like behaviorism, have persisted and evolved if they stood up to scientific study; others, like phrenology, have faded as they have lost credibility.
One approach has only begun to gain ground over the 20th and 21st centuries as scientific research and technology have improved: the study of the brain. Neuroscience is a relatively new field, but the more research that is done, the more it appears that much of human behavior and mental processesthe key interests for psychological studyare intimately intertwined with activity in the brain. Understanding the brain is important no matter what type of psychology you will be involved with, because its effects permeate all human behavior.