|Home||Student Resources||Chapter 1: An introduction to neurons, brains and biological psychology|
|Interactive activities, animations with audio commentary, and interactive exercises that provide an opputunity to explore key topics and concepts and test your understanding.
This animation explains how an action potential is produced at the axon hillock of the neuron, and how this electrical impulse is passed down the axon in the form of "small jumps" from gap to gap in the myelin sheath, called the Node of Ranvier. This process is also crucial to the production of exocytosis, in which synaptic vesicles containing neurotransmitter become fused with the axonal terminals, spilling their contents into the synaptic gap (neurotransmitter release).
This animation provides an illustrated introductory guide to the main structures of the brain. The adult brain contains around 12 billion neurons (and 10 times more glial cells) and these are arranged in distinct structures and pathways. In particular, the animation explains how the oldest part of the brain begins as an extension of the spinal cord (called the brainstem) and extends into the expanding midbrain. Lying just above the midbrain is the thalamus, hypothalamus (which controls the pituitary gland - the master gland of the hormone system) and autonomic nervous system. The rest of the brain is known as the forebrain and is made up of a number of complex structures and pathways, including the basal ganglia (which partially surrounds the thalamus) and the limbic system (which is closely associated with old parts of the cerebral cortex). The most recently developed part of the brain, and which reaches its greatest complexity in humans, is the cerebral cortex. It has a distinctive array of ridges (gyri) and fissures (sulci). The cerebral cortex has four main lobes - the occipital, parietal, temporal and frontal. It is involved in a wide range of higher cognitive functions including thought, language and memory.