Introduction to Biopsychology.

Index of notes made during portions of a Biopsychology class taught by Terry Fetterman.



All living cells have a 'membrane potential' due to the non-uniform distribution of Na+, K+ and large anions [A-] between the inside and outside of its membrane.

Excess of positive outside Excess of negative inside

Cell body
Nucleus and organelles.

meion = less. Number of chromosomes reduced from diploid to haploid number.

mito = thread. Chromosomes split longitudinally.


In CNS. The most numerous glial cells, they are mainly on the outer surface of the brain and around capillaries.

In CNS. Nourish satellite cells.

Axon or nerve fiber
Leaves the cell soma and Conducts action potential away from cell body. Branched endings (axon terminals). Can range from less 1 mm to over 1 meter.

Axon hillock
The start of the axon plus the area of the cell body from which it leaves.

Extend from cell body.

Glial cells
Support of neurons.

In CNS; cells that eat debris.

excitable cell.

Neuron types
(1) sensory neurons; (2) interneurons; (3) motor neurons.

Nodes of Ranvier
In the myelinated neurons.

Create myelin sheath around CNS neurons.


Satellite cells

Satellite cells
In CNS. Nourish satellite cells.

Schwann cells

Terminal button
Small knob at the end of an axon that releases neurotransmitters.

Create myelin sheath around CNS neurons.

PNS and CNS - Neuroanatomy and Physiology

Ascending tracts
Nerve fibers that run toward the brain and are mostly sensory.

Spinal chord and brain (brainstem, cerebellum, cerebrum).

CNS cells
Two major classes are (1) neurons and (2) glial cells.

CNS tract
Carries commands.

Brain Components

In limbic system. Emotions like rage.

Celebral cortex
External layer of grey matter.

Long-term and short-term memory.

Two main structures: (1) Pons; (2) Cerebellum.

Neural Impulse

Action Potential

  1. Action potentials are long-distance signals
  2. Polarization = separation of charges.
    Depolarization = reduction in potential.
    Hyperpolarization = increase in potential.
    Repolarization = return to resting potential.
    Voltage-gated channel = ion channel that opens and closes in response to changes in membrane potential.
  3. Events
    Start at Resting Potential (-70 mV): many K+ channels open; most Na+ (voltage-regulated) channels closed,
    Receives Triggering event.
    Slow depolarization from -70 mV to -50 mV (threshold); some Na+ channels open; at threshold (-50 mV) 'all' Na+ channels are open.
    Abrupt depolarization to +30 mV. Na+ rushes in.
    At +30 mV, voltage-sensitive Na+ channels close. All K+ channels are open; K+ rushes out of cell along concentration gradient and electrical gradient.
    Hyperpolarization (-80 mV); K+ rushes out taking extra positive charges.
    1 millisecond.
    Na+/K+ pump.

Graded Potential

  1. A small (under 10mV) short-range (local) change in membrane potential.
  2. Magnitude of change depends on the size of the triggering event.
  3. A triggering event causes a flow of ions across the cell membrane (e.g., a flow of Na+ into a cell).
  4. A local change in membrane potential results.
  5. Dies out if triggering event fades.



  1. What is a neurotransmitter?
    A chemical that transmits information across nerve synapses.

  2. What is Serotonin [5-HT]?

  3. What is Dopamine [DA]?

  4. What is Norepinephrine (noradrenaline) [NE]?

  5. What is GABA?


Four classes:

Nearly all antidepressants are metabolized in the liver, so anyone with liver abnormalities should use them with caution.

  1. SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors)

  2. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

  3. MAOIs: Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), including newer MAOIs called selective MAOIs

Sensation and Perception.

  1. What do receptors do?
    These cells are specialized to receive chemical, mechanical, or radiant signals from the environment.

  2. What is transduction?
    Changing energy from one form to another.

  3. Anatomical versus functional coding.
    'Somatotopic organization of the motor cortex -> a movement can be learned with one extremity and performed with another. ... there exists a limb-independent coding for movements. ' (2) 'somatotopy in secondary structures in the human motor system seems to be defined functionally, and not on the basis of anatomical representations.'

  4. What is light?
    = Energy.
    The colors of the spectrum?
    = ROY G. BIV.
    How does wavelength relate to color?
    Long = red. Short = blue.

  5. Anatomy and physiology of the eye.

  6. Audition. What is sounds?
    = Pressure waves. Compression and rarefaction. 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.

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