Communication and the body's effects on behavior

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Communication and the body's effects on behavior

Lesson Plan 1

Chapter 2 Neuroscience and behavior/the nervous and endocrine systems


  • Introduce Text

This is David G. Meyer's 7th edition of

Exploring Psychology

(2008).He describes his vision as "to merge rigorous science with a broad human perspective in a book that engages both mind and heart" (p. XIII).His motivation is "my ongoing appreciation for psychological science and its continually expanding understandings, and, second, my commitment to the students and teaching colleagues with whom this book enables me to have conversation" (p. XIII). Discuss and describe the value of knowing both the author and instructors motivation in teaching for learning. 

  • Know what neurons are and how they influence behavior

A neuron is a nerve cell and "the elementary component of the nervous system" (p. 36).

How neurons communicate (transmit information) (p. 36):

  1. The action potential (or electrical impulse) travels down a neuron's axon until reaching a tiny junction known as a synapse
  2. When an action potential reaches an axon terminal, it stimulates the release of neurotransmitter molecules.  These molecules cross the synaptic gap and bind to receptor sites on the receiving neuron.  This allows electrically charged atoms to enter the receiving neuron and excite or inhibit a new action potential
  3. The sending neuron normally reabsorbs excess neurotransmitter molecules, a process called reuptake

How neurons influence human behavior (p. 38):

  1. Neurotransmitters travel along their own designated neural pathways in the brain
  2. Particular neurotransmitters may have specific effects on behavior and emotions


Role play-divide the class into groups and give each group the main players in neural communication (i.e. sending and receiving neurons, neurotransmitter) and have them assign parts and act out the process using a ball as the message being sent...have fun with this and don't forget to demonstrate each step including reuptake.

  • Review table 2.1 (p. 39) Neurotransmitters Function and examples of malfunctions and discuss
  • Be familiar with the parts of the nervous system and their functions

The nervous system is "the body's speedy, electrochemical communication network, consisting of all the nerve cells of the peripheral and central nervous systems" (p. 41).  Neurons are the elementary component.

The Peripheral nervous system consists of sensory and motor neurons that connect the central nervous system to the rest of the body (p. 41):

  • Somatic-enables voluntary control of our skeletal muscles
  • Autonomic-controls our glands and the muscles of our internal organs, influencing such functions as glandular activity, heartbeat and digestions
  • Sympathetic division arouses
  • Parasympathetic division is calming

The Central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord (p. 41).  The spinal cord is an information highway connecting the peripheral nervous system to the brain (p. 43). 

Reflexes (p. 43) are an automatic response to stimuli.  Information is carried from skin receptors along a sensory neuron to the spinal cord and passed via interneurons to motor neurons that lead to muscles.  The reaction generally occurs before information reaches the brain. 


Ball blast-bring in my child's pull up ball blast and demonstrate (in a very elementary and hopefully amusing, yet memorable way) the components of the nervous system and their functions.

  • Know the functions of the Endocrine system and how it differs from neural communication

Endocrine system (p. 44)-The body's slow chemical communication system; a set of glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream

Hormones (p. 44)-the body's chemical messengers-produced in one tissue and affect another

Influences growth, reproduction, metabolism, mood

Working to keep everything in balance while we respond to stress, exertion and our own thoughts

Feedback system (p. 45)-(brain>pituitary>other glands>hormones>brain)

The nervous system directing endocrine secretions, which then affect the nervous system


As an example of the difference between the communication speed of the nervous system and of the endocrine system write the word message on two separate paper airplanes...ask someone from the front row to deliver one to someone in the back row (endocrine system) and throw the other one (nervous system).  Explain that both messages will be received by the desired recipient, they just move in a different manner and at different paces.

Lesson Plan II

Chapter 2 continued -Neuroscience and Behavior/The brain


  • Be familiar with major structures of the brain and their functions
  • Older Brain Structures
  • Brainstem (p. 46)-the oldest and innermost regions that's responsible for automatic survival functions
  • Thalamus (p. 47)-the brains sensory switchboard
  • The reticular formation (p. 48)-a nerve network in the brainstem that plays an important role in arousal
  • The limbic system (p. 49)-includes amygdala, hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and hippocampus

The Cerebral Cortex -functions and how it's organized

(p. 52) The intricate fabric of interconnected neural cells that covers the cerebral hemispheres (like bark on a tree); the body's ultimate central and information-processing center

How it is organized (p. 53)

The cortex on each hemisphere is divided into four lobes, or geographic subdivisions separated by prominent fissures (folds):

Frontal, parietal, occipital, temporal

Functions of the Cortex

  • Motor functions (p. 53)-stimulating parts of this regions (motor cortex) in the left or right hemisphere causes movements of specific body parts on the opposite side of the body
  • Sensory functions (p. 54)-sensory cortex is the area at the front of the parietal lobes that registers and processes body touch and movement sensations
  • Associated areas (p. 55)-Areas of the cerebral cortex that are not involved in primary motor, or sensory functions; rather, they are involved in high mental functions such as learning, remembering, thinking, and speaking
  • Connect important areas of the brain with their impact on communication

Language specialization and integration

Broca's area (p. 56)-controls language expression

Area of the frontal lobe, usually left hemisphere, that directs muscle movements in speech

Wernicke's area (p. 57)-area of left temporal lobe that controls language reception

  • Be familiar with the terms plasticity and split brain and their implications in communication

Brain's Plasticity

Plasticity (p. 59)-the brain's capacity for modification, as evident in brain reorganization following damage (especially in children) and in experiments on the effects of experience on brain development

Our divided brain

(p. 59) Splitting the brain

What is a split brain and what does it reveal about brain functioning

Corpus callosum-the wide band of axon fibers connecting the two hemispheres and carrying messages between them

Split brain-a condition in which the brain's two hemispheres are isolated by cutting the fibers (mainly those of the corpus callosum) connecting them

Study hemispheric differences in the intact brain

"To the brain, language is language, whether spoken or signed" (p. 62).


(p. 61) simultaneously draw two different shapes-with a pencil in each hand try to draw two different shapes at the same time.

"With a split brain, both hemispheres comprehend and follow an instruction to copy-simultaneously-different figures with the left and right hand" (p. 61)

Overriding Principle of Chapter 2

"Everything psychological is simultaneously biological" (p. 63).

Meyers, D.G. (2008). 

Exploring Psychology (7th ed.).

  New York, NY:  Worth Publishers.