Brain and Behavior - Basis Concepts of Neuroscience

6 important questions on Brain and Behavior - Basis Concepts of Neuroscience

Why do we study the brain?

As early as 500 BCE Alcmaeon of Croton identified the brain as the physical seat of the mind. Twenty-five hundred years later, modern science has proven this ancient Greek to be absolutely correct. There is no aspect of psychology that is independent of the brain.

What are the costs and benefits of complexity?

In general, complexity allows for more flexibility. Complex systems have a broader repertoire of responses with which to adapt to complicated or changing circumstances.

However, complexity is expensive. Complex systems take more energy and are more fragile than simpler systems. With more parts involved, it is easier for something to go wrong.

How costly is our brain?

Although our brain only weighs about three pounds (two to three percent of the average person's body weight), it uses up about 15 percent of the blood that our heart pumps out and about 20 percent of our body's oxygen and glucose.

In other words, it uses up to ten times as much of the body's resources as would be expected for its weight.

What terminology is important in brain anatomy?

The terms anterior and posterior are used to refer to front and back, respectively, as are the Latin words rostral and caudal.

Superior and inferior refer to top and bottom, respectively, as do the Latin words dorsal and ventral.

Lateral refers to outside, while medial refers to the inside.

How dot the Latin terms differ from the English ones?

The English terms are purely directional while the Latin ones are defined in reference to the body.

Rostral and caudal are the Latin words for head and tail.

Likewise, dorsal and ventral refer to the back and belly of a body (as in the dorsal fin of a shark).

Medial means close to the body's midline while lateral means away from it.

Nonetheless, when we speak about the brain, rostral and caudal are generally understood to mean front and back, dorsal and ventral to mean top and bottom, and medial and lateral inside and outside.

What have we learned from animals?

Our understanding of the human brain is heavily indebted to the study of animal brains. Although the use of animals in biological research raises moral questions about animal rights, there is no question that much of our knowledge about the human brain derives from research on animal brains.

Legally and ethically, we can perform much more invasive procedures on animal brains than we can on living human brains. Additionally, comparison of the brains of many different kinds of animals gives us critical insight into brain evolution.

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