How Human Brain Cells Affect Behavior?

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Humans vary in all sorts of behavior. Many do or say strange things that others would see as “unnatural” while those others perform a variety of different behaviors to handle certain situations or to cope with them. When people step outside of the line perceived as “natural behavior”, they are questioned and examined for a mental illness. The one thing everyone has in common that makes them act the way they do, is the human brain. Most brains are set up similarly, but some outliers exist that make scientists question, what causes these odd behaviors?

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“How Human Brain Cells Affect Behavior?”

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A difference in cells of the brain is responsible for a lot of human behavior, whether mentally ill or stable.

Another word for a brain cell is a neuron. Humans have a hundred billion neurons, with quadrillions of connections, and scientists still haven’t fully discovered how they operate( ). These many connections between neurons are called synapses. The human brain forms a million new connections every second. The design and strength of each connection is constantly changing, resulting in no two alike brains(Phillips, 2006). This is due to the brain constantly reacting (and changing) in response to the thoughts that run through a person’s mind. In these connections or synapses between the cells, a person’s memories are stored, habits are developed and personalities are molded. This happens as some patterns of brain activity are strengthened, and some are lost(Hampton, 2016). Neuron research is still being performed and the subject is growing in the field of research.

Our cells growth over a lifetime help age the human brain. Part of the brain is shaped by genes, but most of its formation is developed by experience. New brain cells are born throughout our lives. This is called neurogenesis. Also defined as the growth and development of nervous tissue, neurogenesis allows bursts of growth of the brain and then series of densely clumping together memories for long term knowledge. A person’s lifestyle can affect the growth of the brain cells, so a healthy diet, and practicing thought-provoking activities can help brain growth. Things like frequent reading, reflecting or research are all exercises that can help strengthen a person’s mind and mental state(Hampton, 2016). A positive, happy mental state reflects healthy and often successful behavior, while a negative or sad mind state often results in riskier behavior, lower motivation, or the desire to give up. These are just a few of the ways brain cells can affect a person’s behavior.

A person’s thoughts have a huge effect on how their body reacts and changes throughout their lifetime. Simply thinking about something causes one’s brain to release neurotransmitters, that allow the brain to communicate with its other functions and one’s nervous system. These chemical messengers rule all the body’s functions including hormones, digestion, and feelings(Hampton, 2016). This is why the placebo effect works. If a person is tricked into thinking a medication they are taking will make a difference, they can begin to improve because of the power of thought. Brainpower is released by these sham medications and brainpower is linked to overall physical health. Expectations and learned associations can change the chemistry of the brain. This results in physiological and cognitive improvement or change. For example less fatigue, a lower immune system reaction, reduced anxiety, and elevated hormone levels are the result of possible placebo effects(Hampton, 2016). The placebo doesn’t work for everything, it is strictly linked with physical ailments that are linked to a person’s mental state. For example, it cannot help heal a broken bone, an allergy, or cancer because those ailments are not related to things that mental health has high power over.

Some of the chemicals released by the neurotransmitters mentioned above include glutamate, dopamine, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and endorphins. Some neurochemicals such as these work in synapses (connection paths between neurons), and pass messages from release sites to cell surface receptors. Some neurochemicals can spread their messages similar to a radio signal, in vast waves. These neurochemicals are so significant that inconsistencies in them are related to a number of diseases. For example, lacking dopamine in areas of the brain that control movements can lead to Parkinson’s disease. It can also increase the likelihood of developing addiction. A lack of serotonin or dopamine can lead to depression or mood disorders. A shortage of acetylcholine is a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia(Phillips, 2006). Parkinson’s disease frequently results in depression or lack of motivation. Addictive behavior includes dangerous activity such as gambling away all one’s assets or continuing unhealthy habits. Depression can lead to acts of negative or meaningless nature, and in severe cases suicide. Finally, alzheimer’s disease or dementia results in escalated fear and confusion, causing the inflicted to behave abnormally and engage in repetitive conversation.

Brain scanning has revealed which parts of the brain are associated with which functions. Brain scanning is the use of scanning techniques to image the structure and function of the nervous system. The four most common types of brain scanning are the EEG, PET, MRI, and fMRI scans(Phillips, 2006). These scans pick up activity related to sensations, motivations, movement, sexual desire, choices, regrets, motivations and even brain ‘stances’ like racism(Gorman, 2017). For example, an MRI operates by producing a radio frequency that creates a strong magnetic field. Depending on the type of MRI, it detects levels of blood flow or water molecule diffusion, and provided a certain stimulus, the brain or body will respond to the stimulus (usually visual) in a way that reflects a certain feeling, sensation, motivation, or other brain activity(Lewis, 2017).

The hypothalamus is involved in a number of brain operations. It influences urges and appetites, including hunger, thirst, and the desire for sleep. It is even related to the feelings of anger, fear, and rage. Blood pressure and framework of the blood plasma are controlled by the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a thin platform of neural tissue, connected to the pituitary gland below (the brain structure in charge of growth and development) by nerve fibers. Roughly 10 nuclei are stored in the hypothalamus. Some cells in the hypothalamus are designed to detect the levels of molecules such as hormones, circulating in the blood and tissue fluids/blood plasma. They can do this because the networks of blood vessels or capillaries, are specialized. Hormones seep into the tissue and deliver signals to the neurons. These signals include electrical impulses from a variety of sensory sources in the body(Culberson, 2018). This could include pain from hunger or thirst, as well as the urge or impulse to sleep. The result of urges such as hunger or thirst, lead to consumption behaviors. Urges of sexual or overtired nature lead to sexual activity or sleep. Feelings of anger, fear, and rage can lead to violent thoughts, words or acts, and elevated or dangerously low levels of any of these urges can lead to behaviors such as anorexia, gluttony, laziness, reduced/excessive sexual activity, or crime.

It is well known that trauma in the brain is a leading cause of mental illness. Aside from genetics, there are other ways to develop mental disorders. The brain’s ability to reorganize itself, called neuroplasticity, is marked in childhood. The childhood brain is vulnerable because it is not fully developed, so it has a wide range of learning ability. This also makes it sensitive to negative environmental and social factors. When a child is exposed to abusive behavior or is neglected, it can interfere with the natural formation of neural pathways. This affects judgment and self-control. If a child experiences trauma in this developmental stage, the neuroplasticity can be stunted, compromising abilities such as human attachment and relationships(Phillips, 2006). Damage these stunts can cause include mental illnesses such as PTSD, rage disorder, schizophrenia, and more. When humans are fully grown and mature, they seek lifestyles that match the internal mental formations molded during their childhood years. They often tend to alter their new environment to make it correspond with those internal structures. For example, previous victims of child abuse can grow to mistreat their own children(Sarto-Jackson, 2018).

Research has been performed to indicate that certain brain structures and functions can influence political stances in people. Often times, it seems like one political side cannot fathom what the opposition is saying or why they believe what they say. A study done in 2011 at the University College London examined the brain structures in liberals and conservatives. The grey matter (the area in the brain containing the most neural cell bodies) of brain regions related to dealing with risk and uncertainty was examined. The structures involved, (including the right amygdala, left insula, right entorhinal cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex) all made up of bodies of nerve tissue, appeared different in liberals and conservatives. Liberals were shown to have a more powerful Anterior cingulate cortex, while conservatives had a more powerful amygdala. The ACC is more involved with expressing negative emotion and the Amygdala is in control of the fight or flight mechanism. An fMRI scan done on both political opponents displayed conservatives having more brain activity in their left insula (the brain structure involved with emotion) while conservatives had more activity in their right amygdala. It can be concluded that the liberal brain tends to have more self and social awareness when faced with conflict while conservatives tend to rely more on ‘fight or flight”(Murray, 2013). Students being educated in political related issues are more likely to be balanced in these areas of the brain if they are provided with positive feedback and a good controlled environment as they are learning. It is also crucial that the necessary and factual information taught on the subject is given, but with a neutral tone and stance(Li, 2018).

There are a number of other neural structures in humans that lead to a wide variety of behaviors. They all have an intricate way of operation and a specific purpose and outcome, if they are kept uninterrupted and properly carried out. All types of mental disorders, thoughts feelings, opinions, choices, desires, diseases, afflictions, and actions are left up to the nerve cells properly functioning in their designated structure. It isn’t up to them alone to maintain their healthy functions, but the responsible environment surrounding the human encompassing them.

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How Human Brain Cells Affect Behavior?. (2021, Apr 03). Retrieved December 3, 2022 , from

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