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The Brain

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Peter Baggetta

on 9 October 2015

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Transcript of The Brain

-associating two stimuli-one produces an effect naturally (US), the other becomes associaterespondent behaviors-out of your conscious control (ex: salivating of dog, hunger pains, fear response)
Allows animals to adapt
Biologically adaptive because it helps prepare for good and bad events
Forming associations between stimuli (respondent can’t readily control)
Is one way that virtually all organisms learn to adapt to their environment
-Pavlov showed us how to study learning objectively

Key Terms
Stage 1: Polysomnography (sleep readings) shows a reduction in activity between wakefulness and stage 1 sleep. The eyes are closed during Stage 1 sleep. One can be awakened without difficulty, however, if aroused from this stage of sleep, a person may feel as if he or she has not slept. Stage 1 may last for five to 10 minutes. Many may notice the feeling of falling during this stage of sleep, which may cause a sudden muscle contraction (called hypnic myoclonia).
Stage 2: This is a period of light sleep during which polysomnographic readings show intermittent peaks and valleys, or positive and negative waves. These waves indicate spontaneous periods of muscle tone mixed with periods of muscle relaxation. The heart rate slows and the body temperature decreases. At this point, the body prepares to enter deep sleep.
Stages 3 and 4: These are deep sleep stages, with stage 4 being more intense than Stage 3. These stages are known as slow-wave, or delta, sleep. If aroused from sleep during these stages, a person may feel disoriented for a few minutes
The Brain
Brain Quiz:
We only use 10-20% of our brain.
People are either left-brain or right-brain dominant - right-brained people are more creative.
Male and female brains are different.
Adults can't grow new brain cells.
Brain training will make you smarter.
Google will make you dummer.
The brain receives information from five separate senses.
"As humans, we can identify galaxies light year away, we can study particles smaller than an atom. But we still haven't unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears."
President Obama, April 2013
BRAIN Initiative

Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN)
Your Brain
~ 2,000 bits of info per second
Thinking brain - prefrontal cortex (PFC) - consciously process and reflect
Reactive brain - automatic brain - reacts rather than thinking
What influences how the info is processed?
Emotions, interest and stress
Fight - act inappropriate
Avoid - daydreaming
Learning Neural Networks
The Gatekeeper or Controller
Reticular Activating System (RAS)
Loose network of neurons and neural fibers running through the brain stem
What you focus on most - info that supports your beliefs
Control of consciousness - sleep, wakefulness, arousal and attention
Filters all the sensory data around us and only allows in what it thinks is
Learn better if keep the RAS filter open to what you want to enter your PFC
Helps control our beliefs systems
Focus attention on most valuable and important input at moment = thinking brain
Physically healthy and well-rested
Awareness and control of emotions
Reflecting not reacting - think about what feeling
Brain breaks - 'syn-naps' to replenish neurotransmitters
Active rituals
The Emotional Network
The Limbic System
Routes info based on emotional state/stress levels
Negative = nutrients/oxygen = survival mode = reactive brain
Processing of emotions - fear, anger and pleasure
Motivation, memory and learning
Links new sensory input to long-term memory (LTM)
Memory gateway
Damage = anterograde amnesia
Repeated stimulation/mental manipulation = strengthens the network
Cognitive or executive function processes
Prefrontal Cortex (PFC):
Highly developed nerve communication networks
Judgment, analysis, organizing, problem solving, planning and creativity
Organizes newly coded memories into long-term knowledge
The Reward Pathway
Regulates reward and body movement
Experience enjoyable = releases more dopamine
Activates additional neurons/NT = enhances alertness, memory and executive functions
Helps to stay focused and repeat activities
Hold onto and process info = "Save Button"
Key neurotransmitter
Increasing Dopamine Levels:
Sense of accomplishment
Doing things well
New, challenging and exciting
More interested and motivated =
More Dopamine =
Increased Learning
Engages multiple brain areas and networks
Changes in synapses and neural circuits due to experiences = Plasticity
Changing the Brain
Repeated behaviors/experiences influences synaptic/network development more than single ones
Experiences with emotional stamp more likely to be committed to memory
Physiological status (nutrition, stress, sleep) influences ability to learn, remember, and make decisions
Brain Anatomy
Motor control
Visual Processing
Afferent and Efferent Pathways
Executive Functions
set of general-purpose control mechanisms/processes that regulate the dynamics of human cognition and action

related but separable abilities

core component of self-control/self-regulation
Higher-order EFs:
Core EFs:

cognitive flexibility
working memory
able to control attention, behavior, thoughts, emotions
resisting temptations and acting impulsively
discipline to stay on task despite temptations
delay gratification
resist unwanted thoughts or memories
Inhibitory Control/Response Inhibition:
Cognitive Flexibility:
being able to change/consider other perspectives
being able to change how think about something
being flexible to adjust to changed demands or priorities
Task switching NOT
Ability to keep things in mind while performing complex tasks
The Teenage Brain
Why do teenagers experience and respond to the world in unique ways?
Does the adolescent brain make
risk taking inevitable?
Overgeneralization #1:
Adolescents are incapable of making optimal decisions
Overgeneralization #2:
Adolescents have an immature PFC.
Overgeneralization #3:
All adolescents experience "storm and stress"
Three Common Myths:
Advances in technology and brain science
often has led to over-simplification
i.e. Adolescents have no self-control
Adolescents have a limited PFC
Move from dependence to independence
Increased sensitivity to social cues
Only negative if at expense of long-term goals and overall well-being
Linked to emotional information/context
Cool, less immediate vs hot, immediate
PFC present with all its parts from birth
Strength of connections as learn to adapt to the world
Motivational and emotional networks develop earlier than prefrontal control networks
Imbalance in reliance on different systems
Reward vs Control
Behavior a reflection of environmental and genetics factors
Impact brain's ability to adapt to changing environmental demands
Less self-control = more vulnerable
Ability to adapt function of biological constraints and experience
Alcohol and Teenage Brain
Teenagers drink more than 2-3x as adults per occasion
More sensitive to:
rewarding effects of alcohol
alcohol-induced social behaviors
Less sensitive to:
suppression of social behavior
alcohol-induced motor impairment
aversive effects of alcohol
sedative effects of alcohol
"hangover symptoms"
Alcohol and the Brain:
GABA = main inhibitory NT
Glutamate = main excitatory NT - staggering, slurred speech
Endorphins = "feel-good" - "high"
Norepinephrine/Adrenalin = stimulant
Dopamine = causes increase in reward pathway only NOT receptors throughout the brain
PFC = represses functioning
Brain Myths:
We only use 10-20% of our brain.
People are either left-brain or right-brain dominant - right-brained people are more creative.
Male and female brains are different.
Adults can't grow new brain cells.
Brain training will make you smarter.
Google will make you stupid.
2% of body mass but takes up 20% of energy consumption
Use all of it - no spare neural matter taking a break
Waves of activity seen in the brain even at rest/"doing nothing"
Plasticity - "phantom limb" - hijack neural pathways
Focused, rational Left vs broad-minded, creative Right??
Different styles of processing NOT creative vs logical
Corpus callosum = info and cognitive duties shared
Language - dominated by L
speech in L while intonation/emphasis in R
All use both L and R to different degrees depending on task/activity
Wired differently??
Men = activity localized, one-sided
Women = activity global, both sides
Structural differences:
Average brain size in men larger
Differences in size of some structures
No difference in size of corpus callosum
Brain differences to behavioral differences
Role of experiences
Cultural expectations
Gender stereotypes
Can rewire and form new connections = Synaptogenesis - Brain Plasticity
What about Neurogenesis??
Hippocampus and Ventricles
Environmental factors:
enriched - challenging learning tasks
link btw learning and new neurons
Much unknown still
"remember more, think faster, achieve your full potential"
$24 million
Targets Working Memory
improve performance on those tasks
limited evidence of transfer
physical exercise, learning new skills, socializing
Attention span
Personal communication
Ability to think abstractly
Changing the way we behave
Yes - rewiring our brain
Yes - more distractions:
more opportunities to task-switch
Could also be enhancing our brains
Being a smart consumer:
1. Look out for gratuitous neuro references - just because mention the brain doesn't make it valid
2. Look for conflicts of interest - book to sell, marketing something
3. Watch out for grandiose claims - "revolutionary, permanent, first ever, unlock, hidden, within seconds"
4. Learn to recognize quality research - randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial; peer-reviewed evidence
5. Recognize the difference between causation and correlation - confirmation bias or draw attention to limitations
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