Essay on Problem Set 1

Submitted By yoon15
Words: 747
Pages: 3

1. What three examples does the article give of brain regions with specialized functions? What are the functions of these three regions? (3 points)
Three examples given in the article are the prefrontal cortex, other parts of the cortex (the outer layer of the brain), and the hippocampus. The prefrontal cortex, the foremost part of the frontal lobe of the brain, functions in complex cognitive behavior, such as solving problems. Other parts of the cortex (the outer layer of the brain) contribute in processing sights and sounds. The hippocampus, located in the temporal lobes, is involved in memory storing and navigation.

2. What does fMRI stand for? (1 point) How would a scientist use fMRI to determine which parts of our brain we use when we read? (3 points) fMRI stands for functional magnetic resonance imaging.
The strong magnet of the machine detects the changes in blood flow. So, when we read, the machine shows which area within the brain has highest blood flow. By observing the high blood flow, a scientist can determine which parts of our brain we use when we read.

3. Describe how brain activity changes as we learn and become familiar with a new task. (2 points)
When we first learn to do something, the areas of the brain associated with the learning become most active. As time passes by and we get more familiar with the learning, the areas become less active. At the same time, the areas associated with daydreaming become more active. This correlation shows that as we get more familiar with new learning, our brains require less thinking and focusing than they do when we first learn.

4. Describe how brain cells change as we learn and become familiar with a new task and how this relates to how overall brain activity. (3 points)
When we first learn a new task, the associated neurons send and receive information about the task. Over time, as we get more familiar with the task, the neurons are wired together. Using less energy, the neurons take less effort to transmit information to other cells. And, this allows more neurons associated with the daydreaming to become more active.
The neurons are capable of transmitting the information to many neighboring areas at the same time. One neuron can receive the receptor and transmit the signal (for example, placing fingers on the guitar chords); simultaneously, another neuron can trigger the body to react in response (in this case, plucking the guitar strings). When these neurons signal at the same time, the connections are established among the neurons, which strengthen, as we get familiar with the task.

5. You may have noticed that sometimes an activity you started learning one day suddenly seems easier the next morning. Explain what we know about brain cell function that could explain this. (4 points)
When we sleep, specific neurons in the hippocampus fire in reverse. By doing so,…