Assignment: Neural Communication
Any and all behaviors originate in the nervous system. If you are reacting to a mosquito biting your arm, sensory receptors in your skin detect the insect in a specific place on your arm. They send that information to the brain using a combination of electrical and chemical signals. Your brain receives that information and reacts to it, generating a motor response. This plan is transmitted back to the muscles of the arm, again using a combination of electrical and chemical signals. Likewise, any other behavior—from a memory of your childhood to the emotional reaction to a movie to the decisions about what to have for dinner tonight—is controlled by electrical and chemical messages exchanged by neurons in your nervous system.
Damage to the nervous system will affect its behavior. If a person has a stroke in the motor cortex, there will be impairments in his or her ability to move part of their body. In some cases of a traumatic brain injury, a person’s brain collides with the inside of the skull. This may tear neurons and cause swelling, which will change how the brain functions in both the short term and the long term. An injury to the spinal cord can result in paralysis. While the brain is exceptionally complicated, researchers are starting to identify ways to minimize or reverse such damage to the nervous system, such as the use of brain-machine interfaces.
In this Assignment, you will consider both the normal electrical and chemical signaling that occurs in the brain and damage that can affect the nervous system. In the first half of your Assignment, you will describe in detail how the neurons of the brain use electrical and chemical signals to collect and transmit information. Then, in the second half, you will be assigned a topic based on the first letter of your last name. You will find a recent research article (published within the past 3 years) that addresses the neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, recovery of function following injury, or a new treatment for your assigned topic. You will summarize your article describing what the researchers did and relating their work back to what you have learned about the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system from the course textbook (Brain and Behavior 5th edition – Garrett and Hough)
To prepare for this Assignment:
Review Chapter 2 of the textbook, focusing on how information is transmitted through the nervous system.
Review Chapter 3 of the textbook focusing on where different functions are localized in the brain.
Choose one of the articles out of the two listed below for each category (the category assignment is based on your last name; you only need to read and report on ONE article in total) and then download the full PDF from the Library (the articles have been pre-selected for you and cover topics such as neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, recovery of function, or novel treatments associated with one of the following conditions). You may choose your own article; however, it must be approved by your instructor by Thursday before the assignment is due.
Last name A–G: Stroke
“Daily repetitive sensory stimulation of the paretic hand for the treatment of sensorimotor deficits in patients with subacute stroke: RESET, a randomized sham-controlled trial”
The Assignment (3–4 pages):
First, describe how information is transmitted through the nervous system. Starting with the dendrites, how does the signal from the previous neuron enter the neuron? How is it integrated? How is information transmitted from the cell body to the presynaptic terminal? How does information leave one neuron to carry the signal to the next neuron?
Then, identify and explain the neurobiology (anatomy and physiology) of your specific topic. What parts of the brain are affected by your assigned injury or trauma? What are the potential manifestations of the trauma based on the location of the injury or trauma? Information on each condition can be found both in your textbook and from outside sources.
Summarize the article you selected. Provide enough detail that your reader can understand the article and talk about it to someone else, similar to what you saw in the articles from BioPsychology.com in this week’s Discussion. What did the researchers do in their study? Were they attempting to understand the neurobiology of the condition, measuring the recovery of function after the injury, or testing out a new treatment?
Explain how the article you read extends your knowledge of this topic from what was described in the textbook.
BioPsychology NewsLink. (n.d.). Home page. Retrieved from http://www.biopsychology.com/news/
Note: This site contains links to online paper and magazine articles related to biological psychology.
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