Localization and Lateralization of the Brain's Function for AP Psychology

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Mar 4, 2011

Practice questions for this study guide can be found at:

Biological Bases of Behavior Review Questions for AP Psychology

Although multiple representations of information can be located within different areas of your brain, specific regions of your brain seem most critical in handling particular functions. This localization of structure and function has been identified for numerous regions (see Figure 7.1). Association areas are regions of the cerebral cortex that do not have specific sensory or motor functions, but are involved in higher mental functions, such as thinking, planning, remembering, and communicating. In general, crossing over of nerves sending information from one side of your body to the other side of your brain results in contralaterality, control of one side of your body by the other side of your brain.

Localization and Lateralization of the Brain's Function

Includes portion of reticular activating system (a.k.a. reticular formation) critical for arousal.
Structure of Brain Function
MEDULLA OBLONGATA Where most fibers cross, resulting in contralateral (opposite side) control.
  Regulates heart rhythm, blood flow, breathing rate, digestion, vomiting.
  Bridge between cerebral hemispheres and both medulla and cerebellum.
CEREBELLUM Coordinates motor function integrating motion and positional information from the inner ear and muscles.
  Helps maintain balance.
BASIL GANGLIA (or basal nuclei) Links the thalamus with the motor cortex and other motor areas.
  Regulates initiation of movements, balance, eye movements, and posture.
  Involved in reward/punishment learning and focus.
  Some nuclei (neural clusters) involved in emotion.
THALAMUS Relay "station" for sensory pathways carrying visual, auditory, taste, somatosensory information to/from appropriate areas of cerebral cortex.
  Some nuclei (neural clusters) involved in emotion.
HYPOTHALAMUS Controls autonomic functions such as body temperature and heart rate via control of sympathetic and parasympathetic centers in the medulla.
  Sets appetitive drives (such as thirst, hunger, sexual desire) and behaviors.
  Sets emotional states, such as rage, with the limbic system.
  Integrates with endocrine system by secretion of hormones that regulate hormones from pituitary.
  Helps determine biological rhythms, such as the menstrual cycle.
AMYGDALA Influences aggression and fear. Coordinates fight-or-flight response.
  Important in formation of sensory memory.
HIPPOCAMPUS Enables formation of new long-term memories.
CEREBRAL CORTEX Receives and processes sensory information and directs movement.
  Center for higher order processes such as thinking, planning, judgment.
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