Understanding Psychology

Chapter 6: Body and Behavior

Chapter Overviews

Our bodies and minds work together to create who we are. Chapter 6 describes how our biological processes are connected to our behavioral and psychological processes.

Section 1 explores the nervous system and how it controls emotions, movements, thinking, and behavior. The nervous system is composed of two parts—the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Messages to and from the brain travel along the nerves, which are strings of long, thin cells called neurons. Neurons have three basic parts: the cell body, dendrites, and the axon. This section details neuron connections and the different types of neurons. Some parts of the peripheral nervous system control voluntary activities (somatic nervous system) and some parts control involuntary activities (autonomic nervous system).

Section 2 identifies the different parts of the brain that work together to coordinate movement and stimulate behavior. The brain has three parts: the hindbrain, the midbrain, and the forebrain. The cortex is divided into the right hemisphere, which controls movements of the left side of the body, and the left hemisphere, which controls movements of the right side of the body. Psychobiologists use recording, stimulation, lesions, and imaging to study the brain.

Section 3 explores functions of the endocrine system and its role in growth and behavior. The endocrine system sends chemical messages, called hormones, to specific organs. This section identifies the glands of the endocrine system, the hormones they produce, and the organs that they influence.

Section 4 examines how heredity and environment affect the body and behavior. Heredity is the transmission of characteristics from parents to child through genes, while environment is the world around us. The chapter concludes with a discussion of studies of inherited traits in twins.

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