The Sophistication of the Brain

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To what extent is it true that the brain is a sophisticated information processor?

The human brain is the most important part of the nervous system. The brain along with the spinal cord makes up the central nervous system and together they control all of the body’s important functions, such as motor functions, speech, vision, hearing and also involuntary functions like breathing. Many of these functions are localised to a specific area of the cerebrum. The cerebrum is split into four lobes; the frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes, which are specialised to carry out their different roles. The cortex is divided into two hemispheres; the left hemisphere is associated with motor control, speech and language functions and logic; whereas the right hemisphere is linked to spatial perception and creativity.

Communication in the brain occurs via neurons which transmit electrical impulses to other neurons by neural conduction (Wickens, 2009). They are connected by synapses which are small gaps between two nerve cells. There are approximately one billion neurons in the brain (Wickens, 2009), meaning that there are even more synapses. Synapses allow electrical impulses to be passed from neurone to neurone as chemical messages in the form of neurotransmitters, since electrical messages cannot cross the synapse.

Cognitivism was developed in the 1960s to help explain what behaviourism and the biological perspective could not. It aims to find out how conscious thought processes can affect behaviours. The theory likens the processes of the mind to the way in which a computer processes information. The modularity of the mind theory was mentioned by Jerry Fodor in his 1983 book ‘Modularity of Mind’. He suggests that the mind is compos...

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...splayed on the screen. However, the brain is not as fast as a computer when completing tasks that involve calculations or retrieving information from the stores. Nevertheless it is capable of understanding emotions and storing data by the depth of processing. It can encode semantically which does not require rehearsal and allows memories to be retrieved easily without cues.

Works Cited

Baddeley, A. (2000). The episodic buffer: a new component of working memory? Trends in Cognitive Science. 4 (11): 417–423.

Jarvis, M. (2000) Theoretical Approaches in Psychology. East Sussex: Routledge.

Lytton, W. W. (2002). From Computer to Brain: Foundations of Computational Neuroscience. New York: Springer-Verlag

Parkin, A.J. (2000) Essential Cognitive Psychology. Sussex: Psychology Press.

Wickens, A. (2009) Foundations of Biopsychology. 2nd ed. Essex: Pearson Education.
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