Counseling/Biopsychology and Neuroscience

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Empathy and neural functionality[edit | edit source]

When I recently retrieved my empathy undergrad learning in anticipation of this course, I realized that I had made many generalizations about the two purported empathy neurons, ===spindle=== and ===mirror===, that over-simplify their functions.

I first attempted to grasp the functions of the neurons, especially to see how the mirror neuron works, and quickly realized that I need a deep-seated knowledge of brain anatomy that was effectively a jolt because I have used my undergrad learning from a purely social perspective. Now I have to be technically expert in neuroanatomy. Another jolt was a "wake-up call" that mirror neurons are still highly theoretical. This was given to me by one of the Wikipedia "neuroscience editors" who says he is highly-technical brain researcher.

Neuroscience may, in the near future, clear up the conflicts between the different psychology theories--not to discount any, but to put help put them all in perspective.

Functional orientation, as an extension of object orientation[edit | edit source]

I am creating lists of neural functionality, of the brain parts that mirror and spindle neurons connect to, and I am attempting to link these two lists with components of the brain's structures. This brought me to an idea, which is probably not original, called "functional orientation" that borrows from object-oriented computer science. Rather than having objects that are "evoked," such as brain components, I have functions that have object components. Emotion, as a function, has the lymbic system as an object includes sub-objects, such as the olfactory bulbs -- a connection? I think there might be, but I don't know. And so far all my attempts at short cuts by making assumptions have been dead wrong!


Functionality[edit | edit source]

biological[edit | edit source]

  • emotion
    • empathy, or emotional communication
  • intelligence
  • memory
  • sense
  • communication
  • motor

technical[edit | edit source]

  • neurotransmitters
  • technology to determine brain activity
  • brain anatomy
  • medication

Emotion[edit | edit source]

Manifestation of emotions[edit | edit source]

  • feelings
  • actions
  • physiological arousal
  • motivational programs

Distinct emotions seen universally in facial expressions:

  • anger
  • sadness
  • happiness
  • fear
  • disgust
  • surprise
  • contempt
  • embarrassment

Emotion systems[edit | edit source]

Lymbic system structure[edit | edit source]

  • nuclei
  • tracts

amygdala[edit | edit source]

  • emotional reactions
    • processing
    • memory

mammillary body[edit | edit source]

  • recognition memory processing
  • smell component of memories (connection to olafactory?)

hippocampus[edit | edit source]

  • long-term memory
  • spatial navigation
  • episodic (autobiographical)
    • formation of new memories about experienced events
  • new neurons continue to be created throughout life

cingulate cortex and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC)[edit | edit source]

  • relays neural signals between the right and left cerebral hemispheres
  • autonomic functions
    • regulating blood pressure and heart rate
    • rational cognitive functions
      • empathy
      • emotion
      • reward anticipation
      • decision-making
      • home of spindle neuron

olafactory bulb[edit | edit source]

  • transmits smell information from the nose to the brain
  • process odor information, and there may be odor memory
  • olfactory receptor cell, small bipolar cell

hypothalamus[edit | edit source]

  • hormone transmitter link to the the pituitary gland that regulates the endocrine system with hormone transmitters:
    • body temperature
    • hunger
    • thirst
    • fatigue
    • circadian cycles

fornix[edit | edit source]

  • bundle axons that carries signals from the hippocampus to
    • mammillary body
    • septal nuclei

Empathy[edit | edit source]

Sees another person experiencing an emotion


  • anterior insula
  • anterior cingulate cortex
  • inferior frontal cortex


  • brain activity of two participants gesturing words to each other using hand gestures
  • mirror neuron system of the receiver reflects the pattern of activity of the activity in the motor system of the sender
  • motor concept associated with the words is transmitted using the mirror system

Special empathy neurons[edit | edit source]

Spindle[edit | edit source]

  • postnatal development
  • become connected with diverse parts of the brain
  • focus on difficult problems
    • conceptualization
    • modeling
    • collaboration

locations:[edit | edit source]

  • anterior cingulate cortex (ACC)
    • transports signals from amygdala to the frontal cortex
  • fronto-insular cortex (FI)
    • insular cortex and limbic-related portion of the cerebral cortex
      • emotion
      • homeostasis
      • perception
      • motor control
      • self-awareness
      • cognitive functioning
      • interpersonal experience
  • dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DL-PFC or DLPFC)
    • planning
    • organization
    • regulation

Mirror[edit | edit source]

locations:[edit | edit source]

  • inferior frontal cortex
  • anterior inferior parietal lobe
  • superior parietal lobe
  • dorsal premotor cortex
  • ventral premotor cortex
  • supplementary motor area
  • somatosensory cortex, primary
  • medial temporal lobe
  • midtemporal gyrus

functions:[edit | edit source]

  • imitation
  • language acquisition
  • mediate understanding of other others' behavior:
    • fires with visual event
    • fires with sound cues of visual event

Neurons[edit | edit source]

  • type
  • function
    • between neurons and internal functions
    • in the scope of psychological function from the exterior
  • pick-up and delivery transports and connections
    • reception
    • transport
    • internal processing(?binary intelligence)
    • conduction
      • exciting
      • inhibiting
  • locations of the connections
  • nature of the connections
    • what types of neurotransmitter connection
      • chemicals
      • other
  • specifics about what is connected to
    • reception
    • transmission

Intelligence[edit | edit source]

Crystalized and fluid[edit | edit source]

Crystallized and fluid intelligence are separate neural and mental systems

Crystallized intelligence (Gc):[edit | edit source]

  • skills that use knowledge and experience
  • accessing information from long-term memory
  • depth and breadth of general knowledge
  • vocabulary
  • reasoning using words and numbers
  • educational and cultural experience
  • not memory or knowledge without intelligent use

Fluid intelligence (Gf):[edit | edit source]

  • logical problem solving
  • patterns and relationships
  • extrapolation using logic
  • novel situations
  • independent of acquired knowledge
  • scientific mathematical
  • inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning

Fluid may only exist as:

  • component of crystallized intelligence
  • laboratory environments
  • purposes of human capital discrimination