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Lecture 1 - Introduction

Lecture 1
Brain & Behaviour
Gorana Pobric
Lecture overview
Course Introduction
Course organization and overview
Why do we study the brain?
Research methods in behavioural neuroscience
Format of the Course
Lecture session: 1.5 hours, Fri. 11:30 – 13:00, Simon, Theatre E
Seminar sessions: 4 sessions in weeks 4, 6, 8, 10
Seminars will take place on Mondays and Thursdays (e.g. from 13:00-14:00,
Group 1 and from 14:00 – 15:00 Group 2) in University Place rooms
All seminar sessions will be activity based
Seminar teaching staff: Jaydan Pratts, Irem Eraydin, Jayesha Chudasama, Owen
Waddington, Josephine Kearney
Weekly drop-in sessions (weeks 2-5) – Fri. 13:00-14:00, Simon, room 1.34
Your Lecturers
Dr Gorana Pobric
Dr Nils Muhlert
Dr Elizabeth Lewis
Dr Annie Pye
MCQ (50 questions) – 70% of your mark
SAQs (2 short answer questions) – 30% of your mark
3 mini quizzes with answers on Blackboard: week 4, week 8 and week 12
You will have the opportunity to practice both MCQs and SAQs by completing quizzes
The quiz is NOT part of your mark (practice purposes only), so please take them as many
times as needed
Fri. 11:30-13:00 Simon Theatre E
Teaching week 1
Dr Pobric
1 Intro to Brain and Cognition
Teaching week 2
Dr Pobric
2 Structure of the Nervous System
Teaching week 3
Dr Pobric
3 Structure and Functions of cells in the
Nervous System
Teaching week 4
Dr Pobric
4 Neurotransmitters
Teaching week 5
Dr Lewis
5 Emotion I
Teaching week 6
Dr Lewis
6 Emotion II
Teaching week 7
Dr Muhlert
7 Stress I
Teaching week 8
Dr Muhlert
8 Stress II
Teaching week 9
Dr Pye
11 Sleep
30 March -17 April 2020
Teaching week 10
Dr Pye
10 Autism and ADHD THEATRE B
Teaching week 11
Dr Pye
11 Substance abuse
Teaching Week 12
Examination period
11 May - 5 June 2020
1. Carlson, N.R. (2014).
Foundations of Behavioral
Neuroscience (9th ed.).
Boston, MA: Pearson
Education Inc - available in
e-book format]
Intended learning outcomes
• Identify the functions of main brain structures
• Demonstrate an understanding of basic topics in cognition and physiology of
• Understand research methods in behavioural neuroscience, and discuss
their strengths and weaknesses
• Critically reflect current issues in behavioural neuroscience research
• Apply knowledge of brain and cognition to interpret research findings and
everyday situations
Why study the Brain and Behaviour?
How the brain produces behaviour is a major unanswered scientific question.
Understanding brain function will allow improvements in many aspects of our daily
lives: educational systems, economic systems and social systems
The brain is the most complex living organ on earth and is found in many animals.
We would like to understand its place in biological order of our planet
A growing list of behavioural disorders can be explained and treated as we increase
our understanding of the brain
Why study the Brain and Behaviour?
COGNITION – higher mental processes: thinking, perceiving, imagining, speaking,
acting and planning
Cognitive Neuroscience relates to the study of the neural basis of behaviour.
It bridges the gap between biological sciences and psychology and psychiatry.
Psychologists have been investigating the details of mental processes for well
over a century without knowing (or even caring) what part(s) of the brain are
Understanding the neural basis of a mental process can help distinguish
between different theories relating to how that process is performed
Representations in the Head
• Mental representation - the sense in which properties of the outside
world (e.g. colours, objects) are copied/simulated by cognition
• Neural representation - the way in which properties of the outside
world manifest themselves in the neural signal (e.g. different spiking
rates for different stimuli)
Historical perspectives
Plato compared the body to a prison in which the soul is confined
While confined by the body, the soul is forced to seek truth (knowledge) via the organs
of perception
We perceive beautiful things but not Beauty itself.
In the body , the natural place for the immortal soul is the brain
Historical perspectives
Mind / soul / psyche controls behaviour from the heart
According to Aristotle, psyche is a nonmaterial entity responsible for human
consciousness, perceptions, emotions, processes such as imagination, desire,
pain, memory and reason
Mentalism is a philosophical position that a person’s mind (psyche) is responsible for
Behaviour. Behaviour is a function of the nonmaterial mind
Historical perspectives
• Do mental experiences arise in the heart (e.g. Aristotle) or brain (e.g.
• How can a physical substance (brain/body) give rise to mental
experiences? = MIND–BRAIN PROBLEM
• Dualism – mind (eternal) and body (mortal) are separate substances
Dualism – mind and body are separate substances (Descartes)
The “soul” (the mind) controls the movements of the muscles through its influence on
the pineal body
The eyes send visual information to the brain, where it could be examined by the soul.
When the soul decided to act, it would tilt the pineal body (labeled H in the diagram),
which would divert pressurized fluid through nerves to the appropriate muscles.
It did not take long for biologists to prove that Descartes was wrong
Luigi Galvani
Eighteenth-century Italian physiologist found electrical stimulation of
frog's nerve caused contraction of attached muscle
Ability of muscle to contract and ability of nerve to send a message to
muscle were characteristics of the tissues themselves
Brain did not inflate muscles by directing pressurized fluid/air through the
nerve (balloonist theory)
Galvani’s experiment prompted others to study nature of message
transmitted by nerve and means by which muscles contracted
The results of these efforts gave rise to the physiology of behavior
History (cont.)
• Dual-aspect theory – mind and body are two levels of explanation of
the same thing (e.g. photons: wave–particle duality)
• Reductionism – mind eventually explained solely in terms of
physical/biological theory
• These issues still relevant to modern cognitive neuroscience
• Most psychologists deal with generalization
Particular instances of behavior as examples of general laws, which they
deduce from their experiments explained
• Most physiologists deal with reduction
Complex phenomena explained in terms of simpler ones
Modern History of Behavioral Neuroscience
• Written by psychologists who combined experimental methods of
psychology with those of physiology
• Applied them to issues that concern all psychologists
• In recent years, there is specific interest in studying physiology of
pathological conditions, such as addictions and mental health
How to study human consciousness
Split Brains
For patients with frequent and violent epileptic seizures, surgically
splitting the corpus callosum was the only relief
Corpus callosum is a bundle of nerve fibers which serve to connect the
right and left cerebral hemispheres
How does severing the corpus callosum change mental functioning and
conscious awareness?
Split - Brain Phenomenon
Over 30 years ago studies of patients with a severed corpus
callosum discovered some interesting side effects
Roger Sperry & Michael Gazzaniga were in the forefront in
utilizing these discoveries to determine significant ideas
concerning brain function
Language production, right-side
motor control is in left hemisphere
Left-side motor control is in right hemisphere
Things to remember
The RIGHT side of the brain controls limbs on the LEFT half of body
The LEFT side of brain controls limbs on the RIGHT half of body
Visual information
Cognitive testing
A brief tachistoscopic presentation insures that stimuli are presented to one
hemisphere only
Once the callosum is completely sectioned, information can not be shared between the
two hemispheres
However, eye movements can cause loss of lateralization – therefore the stimulus
needed to be presented for 150ms or less (faster than the eye can move from central
fixation to the stimulus)
Testing setup - visual
Testing setup - tactile
Use left hand to find object
Split Brains
Smelling with a split brain
Interim Summary
Brain is the physical organ that makes all our mental life possible
Cognitive psychology has developed as a discipline without making explicit
references to the brain
Biological measures can provide an alternative source of evidence to inform
cognitive theories
The brain provides a constraining factor on development and nature of
cognitive theories
Methods for looking at the brain
• Single unit recording
• Electroencephalography (EEG)
• Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
• Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
• Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
• Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
Methods of Behavioural Neuroscience
Ideally we would like to record from single neurons….
Single unit recording
Electrodes, consisting of
thin wires, are implanted
into specific areas of the
brain. Recordings of brain
cell activities are made by
measuring the electrical
potential of nearby neurons
that are in close proximity
to the electrode.
W. W. Norton
What neuroimaging techniques can we use in
Electroencephalography (EEG) is the measurement of the electrical activity of the
brain by recording from electrodes placed on the scalp. The resulting traces are
known as an electroencephalogram (EEG) and represent an electrical signal from a
large number of neurons
The 10–20 system of electrodes used in a
typical EEG/ERP experiment.
EEG signals represent the the change in the potential difference between
two electrodes placed on the scalp.
The EEG obtained on several trials can be averaged together time
locked to the stimulus to form an Event-Related Potential (ERP)
ERPs are voltage fluctuations that are associated in time with particular event
or stimulus (visual, auditory, olfactory stimuli)
ERPs can be recorded from the
human scalp and extracted
from the ongoing EEG by means
of filtering and signal averaging.
Using ERP to Study Face Recognition
Different ERP peaks associated with different aspects of face processing
• The N170 is relatively specialized for faces,
recorded from right temporal sites
• The P250 – famous and familiar faces
Rousselet et al. (2004).
A comparison between the ERPs from patients with Alzheimer’s disease
and those from control subjects. A markedly reduced P300 is seen for the
demented patients at each electrode site
Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is an imaging technique used to measure
the magnetic fields produced by electrical activity in the brain via extremely
sensitive devices known as SQUIDs. These measurements are commonly
used in both research and clinical settings. Excellent temporal and spatial
Interim Summary – Recording Techniques
Neuronal activity generates electrical and magnetic fields that can be measured
invasively (single cell recordings) or non-invasively (EEG, MEG)
Single cells studies tell us how neurons code information, by measuring their response to
external stimuli
When populations of neurons are active in synchrony, they produce an electric field that
can be detected at the scalp (EEG). When many waves are averaged and linked to the
onset of the stimulus, then an ERP is obtained
An ERP is an electrical signature of all different cognitive components that contribute to
processing of that stimulus. Systematically varying aspects of a stimulus (e.g. any face vs.
famous face) may lead to variations in aspects of ERP waveform. This can tell us about
the timing and independence of cognitive processes
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Uses differential magnetic properties of types of tissue and of
blood to produce images of the brain
Structural vs. Functional imaging
Structural: different types of tissue (skull, gray matter, white matter, CSF
fluid) have different physical properties – used to create STATIC maps (CT
and structural MRI)
Functional: temporary changes in brain physiology associated with cognitive
processing (PET & fMRI)
CT Scan
Computed tomography (CT) scanning
builds up a picture of the brain based on
the differential absorption of X-rays.
CT scans reveal the gross features of the brain but do not
resolve its structure well.
Structural MRI scanning allows:
•Detection of brain damage
•Detection of lesion (brain damage) location
•Measurement of lesion extent
•Detection of damage to connections
PET – functional imaging
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) uses trace amounts of short-lived
radioactive material to map functional processes in the brain. When the
material undergoes radioactive decay a positron is emitted, which can be
picked up be the detector. Areas of high radioactivity are associated with
brain activity.
Functional MRI - fMRI
Basic principles:
• Neuronal activity requires oxygen and glucose (energy)
• Neuronal activity produces changes in blood oxygenation levels
• fMRI uses the contrast between oxygenated and deoxygenated
• They have different magnetic properties and so fMRI can provide
information about brain activity
The BOLD response
Blood oxygenation dependent level (BOLD)
Canonical HRF
Magnitude (arbitary)
Late undershoot
Blood flow increases when stimulus is applied
Study correlation between brain activity
and stimulus timings
fMRI can be used to
produce activation
maps showing which
parts of the brain are
involved in a
particular mental
Measure activity in
voxels — or volume pixels
the smallest distinguishable
box- shaped part in 3D image
fMRI experiment results
Reading in normal participants and dyslexics
(a) Areas of common activation
(b) Controls > dyslexics
(c) Dyslexics > controls
DTI – Diffusion Tensor Imaging
An imaging method that uses a modified MRI scanner to reveal bundles of
axons in the living brain
We can visualize connections in the brain
Transcranial magnetic stimulation
• TMS: a means of disrupting normal brain activity by introducing
neural noise – ‘virtual lesion’
Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
• Faraday’s Coil
• His experiment involved passing an electrical current through one
coil and measuring the effect in an adjacent coil
• The effect in the adjacent coil was present only when magnetic
field was changing (switching on/off)
• This was the first demonstration of magnetic induction the entire
basis of TMS
How does it work?
TMS coil current
Magnetic field pulse
Rate of change of
magnetic field
Induced electric field
Induced tissue current
Why do TMS studies?
Task: (i.e. reading) : a neural network comprised of different
brain areas is active in supporting the reading task.
Apply TMS pulse at any cortical node of the network, TMS
will interfere with the reading relevant neural signal:
– efficacy of that signal will be degraded
– behavioural decrement (speed of response (RT) change
– it will take us longer to read)
Advantages of TMS:
• Interference/virtual lesion technique.
• Transient and reversible
• Control location of stimulation
• Establishes a causal link of different brain areas and a behavioural task
Convergent approach is the best way to explore brain function
Walsh and Cowey (2000). Nat Rev Neurosci.
Why do we study the brain
Split brain patients
Methods for studying the brain
Single cell recording
Electroencephalography (EEG)
Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
Carlson Text Chapter 1 – pgs. 2-8
Carlson Text Chapter 5 – pgs. 119-125