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Understanding Psychology

ELEVENTH EDITION
Charles G. Morris, Albert A. Maisto

Chapter 2 CHAPTER

The Biological
Basis of Behavior 2
Links to Learning Objectives
LO 2.1 Define and differentiate between LO 2.6 Identify the parts and functions of the
psychobiology and neuroscience. brain and nervous system.
Describe a typical neuron. Distinguish
between afferent neurons, efferent LO 2.7 Explain what is meant by "hemispheric
neurons, association neurons, mirror specialization" and the functional
neurons, and glial cells. differences between the two cerebral
hemispheres.
LO 2.2 Describe how neurons transmit
LO 2.8 Discuss how microelectrode
information including the concepts of
techniques, macroelectrode techniques,
resting potential, polarization, action
structural imaging, and functional
potential, graded potential, threshold
imaging provide information about the
of excitation, and the all-or-none law.
brain.

LO 2.3 Describe the parts of the synapse. LO 2.9 Explain how the spinal cord works.

LO 2.4 Explain the role of neurotransmitters LO 2.10 Identify the peripheral nervous system
in the synapse. and contrast the functions of the
somatic and autonomic nervous
systems.
LO 2.5 Explain neuroplasticity and
neurogenesis.
Links to Learning Objectives
LO 2.11 Explain the differences between the LO 2.16 Describe the human genome and
sympathetic and the what can be learned by studying it.
parasympathetic nervous systems.
LO 2.17 Compare and contrast strain
studies, selection studies, family
LO 2.12 Describe the endocrine glands and studies, twin studies, and adoption
the way their hormones affect studies as sources of information
behavior. about the effects of heredity.

LO 2.13 Distinguish between behavior LO 2.18 Identify the key ethical issues that
arise as society gains more control
genetics and evolutionary over genetics.
psychology.
LO 2.19 Describe how evolutionary
LO 2.14 Define genetics. Differentiate among psychologists view the influence of
genes, chromosomes, and DNA. natural selection on human social
behavior

LO 2.15 Describe what is meant by dominant


and recessive genes, polygenic
inheritance, and genotype v.
phenotype.
Enduring Issues in
the Biological
Basis Behavior
Enduring Issues

Person-Situation
To what extent
Mind-Body is behavior caused by
internal processes,
Nature-Nurture as opposed to
environmental
Stability-Change
factors?
iversity-Universality
Enduring Issues

Person-Situation
What is the connection
Mind-Body between what we experience
and our biological
Nature-Nurture processes?

Stability-Change

Diversity-Universality
Enduring Issues

Person-Situation To what extent does


heredity affect behavior?
Mind-Body

Nature-Nurture

Stability-Change

versity-Universality
Enduring Issues

Person-Situation Does the nervous


system change due to
Mind-Body
experience?
Nature-Nurture

Stability-Change

Diversity-
Universality
Enduring Issues

Person-Situation Are there differences


between men and women in the
Mind-Body way that the brain works?

Nature-Nurture

Stability-Change

Diversity-Universality
Neurons: The
Messengers
Psychobiology and Neuroscience
LO 2.1 Define and differentiate between psychobiology and neuroscience. Describe a typical neuron.
Distinguish between afferent neurons, efferent neurons, association neurons, mirror neurons,
and glial cells.

Psychobiology:
Focuses on biological
bases of behavior and
mental processes
Neuroscience:
The study of the brain
and the nervous system
The Neuron

Axon
Terminal
Cell body buttons
(soma)

Dendrites
Myelin
Types of Neurons

• Sensory (or afferent) neurons


• Motor (or efferent) neurons
• Interneurons (or association neurons)
• Mirror neurons
• Glial cells (or glia)
Mirror Neurons
“Found in the brains of humans and other primates, mirror neurons
appear to play a key role in how a primate’s brain is wired to mimic the
sensations and feelings experienced by other related animals and,
thus, to identify and empathize with them (Ramachandran, 2005;
Rizzolatti et al., 2008).”
– Learning Objective 2.1 (Morris & Maisto)
The Neural Impulse
LO 2.2 Describe how neurons transmit information including the concepts of resting potential,
polarization, action potential, graded potential, threshold of excitation, and the all-or-none
law.
What Language Do Neurons Speak?

Neurons communicate through


electrochemical impulses

• Action potential
• All or none law
• Resting potential
• Polarization
• Ions
The Synapse
LO 2.3 Describe the parts of the synapse.

Terminal button
Neurotransmitters
LO 2.4 Explain the role of neurotransmitters in the synapse.

Neurotransmitter Effects
Acts where neurons meet skeletal muscles. It also appears
to play a critical role in arousal, attention, memory, and motivation.
Acetylcholine (ACh) Alzheimer’s disease, which involves loss of memory and severe language
problems, has been linked to degeneration of the brain cells that produce
and respond to ACh

Dopamine Involved in a wide variety of behaviors and emotions, including pleasure


and pain. Implicated in schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease.

Serotonin Involved in the regulation of sleep, dreaming, mood, eating, pain, and
aggressive behavior. Implicated in depression.

Norepinephrine Affects arousal, wakefulness, learning, memory, and mood.

Endorphins Involved in the inhibition of pain. Released during strenuous exercise. May
be responsible for “runner’s high.”

GABA (Gamma A largely inhibitory neurotransmitter distributed widely throughout the


central nervous system. Implicated in sleep and eating disorders, GABA
aminobutyric acid) has also been linked to extreme anxiety.

Glutamate Involved in learning and memory and the perception of pain.

Glycene Principally responsible for inhibition in the spinal cord and lower brain
centers.
Applying Psychology

• Caffeine
• Cocaine
• Antidepressants
• Botulism
• Black widow spider
• Antipsychotics
Effects of Cocaine
Neural Plasticity and Neurogenesis
LO 2.5 Explain neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.

Neural plasticity
• The brain changes in
response to the
organism’s experiences
Neural networks
• Neurons are
functionally connected
to one another forming
circuits
Neurogenesis
• The production of new
brain cells
The Central
Nervous System
The Divisions of the Nervous System
LO 2.6 Identify the parts and functions of the brain and nervous system.

Nervous System

Central Nervous System Peripheral Nervous System

Brain Spinal Cord Autonomic Division Somatic Division

Sympathetic Parasympathetic
Central Nervous System

CENTRAL

Brain Spinal Cord


The Brain
.

The human brain is the


product of millions of
years of evolution in
three stages:
• Central core
• Cerebrum
• Limbic system
The Central Core

Hindbrain
Midbrain
Thalamus
Hypothalamus
Reticular formation
Structures in the Hindbrain
Outer surface
of the two
cerebral erebral
hemispheres
that regulates
cortex
most complex
behavior
Four Lobes of the Cerebral Cortex

Both the left and right hemispheres can be


roughly divided into four sections.
The Limbic System

Limbic system:
Ring of structures
that plays
a role in learning
and emotional
behavior
Hemispheric Specialization
LO 2.7 Explain what is meant by "hemispheric specialization" and the functional differences
between the two cerebral hemispheres.
The Split-Brain Experiment

The corpus callosum


is sometimes severed
to reduce seizures.
• Left visual field 
right hemisphere
• Right visual field 
left hemisphere
Broca’s Area & Wernicke’s Area
Handedness
“A common misconception is that hemispheric specialization is related
to handedness…many people mistakenly believe that in left-handed
people the right hemisphere governs language, analytic, and sequential
tasks, whereas the left hemisphere dominates in visual, spatial, and
nonverbal tasks. The fact is that speech is most often localized in the
left hemisphere for both right- and left-handed people.”

– Learning Objective 2.7 (Morris & Maisto)


Tools for Studying the Brain
LO 2.8 Discuss how microelectrode techniques, macroelectrode techniques, structural imaging,
and functional imaging provide information about the brain.
.

• Microelectrode techniques
• Macroelectrode techniques
– EEG
• Structural imaging
– CAT or CT scanning
– MRI
• Functional imaging
– EEG imaging
– MEG, MSI
– PET scanning
– fMRI
The Spinal Cord
LO 2.9 Explain how the spinal cord works.

Spinal cord:
• Complex cable of neurons
that runs down the spine,
connecting the brain to most of
the rest of the body
• Functions as a “communication
superhighway”
The Spinal Cord and Reflex Action

Motor neurons
Sensory neurons
Interneurons
The Peripheral
Nervous System
Peripheral Nervous System
LO 2.10 Identify the peripheral nervous system and contrast the functions of the somatic and
autonomic nervous systems.

PERIPHERAL

Autonomic Somatic

Parasympathetic Sympathetic
Peripheral Nervous System

Peripheral nervous system


(PNS): Links the brain and
spinal cord to the rest of the
body PERIPHERAL

• Afferent neurons
• Efferent neurons Autonomic Somatic
Subsystems in the PNS

PERIPHERAL

Autonomic Somatic
Parts of the Autonomic Nervous System
LO 2.11 Explain the differences between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous
systems.

PERIPHERAL

Autonomic Somatic

Parasympathetic Sympathetic
Autonomic NS: Sympathetic

“Fight or flight”
Autonomic NS: Parasympathetic

“Rest and digest”


The Endocrine
System
The Endocrine System
LO 2.12 Describe the endocrine glands and the way their hormones affect behavior.

pineal

pituitary

parathyroids

thyroid

pancreas

adrenals

gonads
Genes, Evolution,
and Behavior
Genes, Evolution, and Behavior
LO 2.13 Distinguish between behavior genetics and evolutionary psychology.

Two different but related fields contribute to


the understanding of the influence of heredity
on behavior:

Behavior Evolutionary
Genetics Psychology
Genetics
LO 2.14 Define genetics. Differentiate among genes, chromosomes, and DNA.
Transmission of Eye Color
LO 2.15 Describe what is meant by dominant and recessive genes, polygenic inheritance,
and genotype v. phenotype.

B = dominant
gene
b = recessive
gene
The Human Genome
LO 2.16 Describe the human genome and what can be learned by studying it.

• Genome refers to the full complement of an


organism’s genetic material

• Approximately 20,000 to 25,000 genes


in a human being.
• Humans share 98.7% of their genes
with chimpanzees
• Variation in human genetic code for
any two different people is much less
than 1%.
• Results of Human Genome Project have
identified genes on specific chromosomes
associated with various traits and
disorders
Behavior Genetics
LO 2.17 Compare and contrast strain studies, selection studies, family
studies, twin studies, and adoption studies as sources of
information about the effects of heredity.

Animal behavior genetics


• Strain studies
• Selection studies
Behavior Genetics
Human behavior genetics
• Family studies
• Twin studies
• identical twins
• fraternal twins
• Adoption studies
Average Risk of Schizophrenia Among Biological
Relatives of People with Schizophrenia

.
Social Implications
LO 2.18 Identify the key ethical issues that arise as society gains more control
over genetics.

New challenges have arisen


as a result of our better
understanding of genes.

Modern prenatal screening • Over-simplified reporting


can detect genetic defects; of genetic technologies in
do parents have the right mass media can lead to
to abort because of this? misinterpretation of complex
research findings.
Evolutionary Psychology
LO 2.19 Describe how evolutionary psychologists view the influence of natural selection on human
social behavior.

Evolutionary psychology
examines adaptive value
of behaviors from an
evolutionary perspective.
• Darwin’s natural selection

Charles Darwin
Outline
Physiological
Mechanisms:
Genetics
• Genetic motives in
human and nonhuman
animals
• Early instinct theories
• Classical Ethology
approach to
understanding
behavior
• More recent genetic
theory explanations
for behavior
How do genetically programmed
behaviors develop?

Recall the principle of evolution from last week:

Organisms who are most able to cope with their


environment will survive and pass along their genes
through reproduction.

 Key point is that beneficial behaviors become more


prevalent in the species through heredity (inheriting
genetically-controlled traits from the previous generations).
Instincts
Behaviors that are genetically programmed to occur under
specific circumstances and do not require learning

Let’s start with an example... Why are humans driven to eat


sugary and fatty foods in the present day?

For the answer, watch a clip from the linked video below :
BBC Documentary, “Human Instincts” (from min 7:53 -11:45)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Q-m4lXNL2k
Early instinct theories

1800s to early 1900s: tendency to label common


behaviors as “instincts” without evidence they were
innate (vs. learned) or selected for by evolution 
“nominal fallacy”
E.g., lots of young people go to college, they must have an have
an instinct to go to college

William James (1842-1910): American philosopher and


psychologist
Proposed instincts similar to reflexes, occur in response to
certain sensory stimuli, and occurring “blindly” (automatically)
the very first time – in both humans and non-human animals
But, not all behavior comes from instincts: a) habits can inhibit
instincts, and b) instincts may occur only during specific times
in the life span
List of instincts proposed by James

Rivalry Play Jealousy


Pugnacity Curiosity Parental love
Sympathy Sociability
Hunting Shyness
Fear Secretiveness
Acquisitiveness Cleanliness
Constructiveness Modesty

Thought each of these could provide some


advantage during evolution
Early instinct theories

William McDougall (1871-1938): British psychologist,


later worked at Harvard and Duke
Proposed instincts more than just a behavioral tendency
Proposed three specific components
• Cognitive: knowledge that object will satisfy instinct

• Affective: object arouses emotion in individual

• Conative (striving): individual will strive toward or away from object


Criticisms of early instinct theories

1. Arbitrary lists of instincts do not help us


understand behaviors
• don’t explain anything, just labels (“Where does curiosity
come from? What purpose does it serve?”)
2. Scientists do not agree on how many types of
instincts exist
• no clear criteria to determine an instinct
3. Behaviors are responses to both internal and
external stimuli
Tolman
• instinct theorists put too much emphasis on internal and
underappreciated the power of reinforcement-based learning
Tolman criticized, but thought that by focusing on
observable behaviors, instinct could be studied
and contribute as a useful concept
Rise of ethology (1930s)

Ethology: branch of biology concerned with the study of the


evolution, development and function of behavior of animals
and humans in their natural habitats

Classification of behaviors:
Appetitive Consummatory

Restless searching behavior Stereotyped behavior in


to satisfy a need (e.g., response to a stimulus with
hunting to satisfy hunger), satisfaction of a need (e.g.,
can be modified by learning chewing food)
Ethology assumptions

Behaviors have “action specific energy” (ASE)


that drive them
Behaviors unlocked/activated by specific
biologically important stimuli via an “innate
releasing mechanism” (IRM)
Activating stimuli 
• “key stimuli” (from environment), e.g., female Herring
gulls have a red spot on the beak, instinct for chicks to
peck the spot which triggers mother to regurgitate
food for the the chick, see video

• “social releasers” (behavior from members of the


species), e.g., male stickleback zigzag “dance”
triggers courting behavior in females leading to egg
fertilization, see video here (start at 3:15 mark)
– this series of interacting key stimuli and social releasers is
called a “reaction chain”
Critical contributions from ethology

Key stimuli elicit “fixed action patterns” (work of


Konrad Lorenz) Lorenz
• Species-specific motor pattern (behavior) that is
genetically hardwired in to the nervous system to be
expressed in response to a key stimulus – doesn’t require
learning
• Four components of fixed action patterns
1. They are stereotyped (little/no variation in how it’s performed)
2. Animal will continue action pattern to completion once it is
initiated (*with limited exceptions)
3. They are spontaneous – action specific energy can “build”
internally, making activation of fixed action pattern more likely
4. They do not require learning, and are not modified by learning
(*however, exceptions to this as well)

• But, animals do not have a perfect representation of the


key stimulus – can be tricked by objects that are similar to
key stimuli
– Example: Video shows goose rolling “egg like” objects into its
Critical contributions from ethology

Animals may exhibit “intention movements” before a fixed Lorenz


action pattern occurs – as action specific energy builds
Can communicate motivational intent to others in the species
and, with natural selection, become social releasers
themselves (through “ritualization”)
• Example: pre-attack postures can communicate hostility and
trigger submission or retreat from others in the species

Critical thinking question:


Does this type of behavior
exist in humans? What form
does it take?
Critical contributions from ethology

Animals often have preferences for


“supernormal” or “super optimal” key stimuli
• Can be even more effective at activating innate releasing
mechanisms
• Example: Famous study by Nikolaas Tinbergen –
constructed fake eggs with different features. Found birds
preferred to sit on eggs that were larger, had more defined
markings, and brighter colors than the actual eggs laid by
that species!
Tinbergen
Supernormal stimuli preferences in
humans?
Plastic surgery, body
building, make up, etc…

Critical thinking question: If


supernormal traits are natural (based
on genetics), how might they signal
Other ways animals can be tricked by
their instincts

Parasitic brooding: watch how the


cuckoo takes advantage of the
warbler’s instincts to feed its
babies in this video
Conflict: What happens when multiple key
stimuli are encountered at once?

Four possible outcomes Successive ambivalent


behavior: alternate between
Simultaneous incomplete responses
ambivalent
behavior:
complete both
behaviors at the
same time if Redirected behavior: behavior
complimentary triggered, but directed at
inappropriate object/organism
Posture from fear and aggression:
prepared to attack or flee

Ethological displacement: triggered behaviors


inhibit each other, end up resulting in a different
instinctive behavior; e.g., if male stickleback fish
motives for attacking and escaping both
triggered – can result in nest building – which
can be interpreted as a threat behavior by other
male
Sensitive time periods for instincts:
Case of imprinting
Imprinting: early in development animal attaches to parent(s),
does not require learning/reinforcement, effect is permanent
(major work by Lorenz)

or… objects/organisms that share traits with adults of their


species if presented in the sensitive period

Fly Away Home Harlow’s Monkey


Major impact of early ethology

1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly awarded to

Karl von Frisch, Konrad Lorenz and Nikolaas Tinbergen

for their work on "organization and elicitation of individual and


social behaviour patterns".

Lorenz
Tinberge
n
More modern take on ethology
principles
Genetically determined behaviors may be “open” or “closed”
Closed programs: cannot be modified (true instincts), do not
require experience
Open programs: can be modified by experience
• Still, behaviors are “prepared”

Concept of preparedness (Martin Seligman)

Prepared behaviors: instinctual or very easily


learned (selected for by evolution), e.g., spider
phobias

Contraprepared behaviors: very difficulty to learn


(selected against by evolution), e.g., desire to eat
garbage

Unprepared behaviors: can be trained but if not


selected for by evolution, will be slower to learn,
e.g., salivating to sound of a bell
Modern ethology approaches:
Seek answers to different questions

Behavioral ecology: How are behaviors adaptive


within the context they occur?
Cognitive ethology: What are the cognitive
components of animal behavior?
Evolutionary psychology: What are the evolved
mechanisms of the human mind? Which contexts
activate those mechanisms and how? How is
behavior generated by those mechanisms?
Human ethology

Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt (1928-present) Austrian,


founder of human ethology, important books Love
and Hate (1972) and Human Ethology (1989)
Revealed universality of facial expressions Eibl-Eibesfeldt
• Smiling, frowning, laughing, weeping: observed even in deaf-
blind children
• Eyebrow flick: brief lifting of the eyebrows on seeing an
acquaintance, signals recognition and non-threatening
greeting (appeasement gesture to inhibit aggression)

Universal
language:
People from
around the world
use the same
emojis to express
Additional innate behaviors

Shyness: triggered by environmental stress early in life


Cuddling: triggered by people, animals, objects with childlike features

Foreplay behaviors: Flirting, kissing, hair flipping, baby talk


Staring: typically considered rude, can be used to communicate threat
Speech: verbal language in every culture, sensitive period for peak
language learning
Sex: as already discussed, essential for survival of genes
Aggression: intraspecific aggression (within species) is widespread,
proposed adaptive functions (by Lorenz)
• Drives members of species apart, reduces competition for resources
• Rewards strong individuals with resources (food, space) and access
to mates
• Overall higher aggression increases survival odds against predators,
helps to protect self and offspring
Can you think of any more?