By Carl W. Cotman and James L McGaugh (Auth.)
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Additional resources for Behavioral Neuroscience. An Introduction
Organized into subsystems they meet our needs; they determine what we can do. A. Functional Subsystems We shall now examine several subsystems of the nervous system. In the simplest sense the nervous system has three big problems to solve: (1) it must gather environmental stimuli as well as the news from our bodies; (2) it must weigh and consider everything; and (3) it must come forth with an appropriate response, a movement or a feeling, for example. Accordingly, in considering the subsystems we shall first focus on those that gather sensory stimuli (the auditory, visual and somesthetic systems).
ELEMENTS OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM 39 begin to form. Now the neurons are looking for certain features in combination: the simultaneous presence, perhaps, of several colder, sharper places on the palm of the hand. At the highest echelons, in the thalamus and cortex, sharp images appear, with fine colorations and also with perspectives on what might come next: two points of a compass close together, a dime in a pocket or purse, finger positions on the neck of a violin. Individuals with injuries to the primary somesthetic area can feel objects handled with their eyes closed, but cannot evaluate their textures, shapes, weights or temperature.
All four things are happening at once, and almost never stop. nally, we shall introduce two others of overriding importance to the whole, the limbic midbrain area and frontal lobe. The hypothalamus is small in size, but packed with tiny clusters of neurons and neurosecretory cells amid a spider web of fibers and a maze of sensing devices. It plays a cardinal role in the short-term and long-range homeostasis or stability of the body. It is in a sense like an instrument panel. There the brain watches dials of internal and outward conditions of the body, flicks switches that turn on visceral motor neurons below and advances or pulls back throttles that III.