Discuss two effects of the environment on physiological processes

Effect 1:

Environmental effects on dendritic branching (brain plasticity)

Environmental stimulation refers to the way the environment provides stimulation in the form of social interaction and learning opportunities for animals and humans. Experiences are processed in the brainís nervous system, and stimulating environments will result in increased numbers of synapses (brain plasticity). Gopnick et al. (1999) describe neurons as growing telephone wires that communicate with each other.


An enriched environment is characterized by multiple opportunities to learn new things. Researchers have used animal models to study synaptic changes in the brain because it is not possible to use humans in deprivation experiments.


Instead researchers use case studies of children who have grown up in total neglect, i.e. with little or no experience of language, touch and interaction with other humans. The brains of neglected children are often smaller and there is scientific evidence of altered brain function (e.g. in intelligence and emotions)


Study to use: Rosenzweig and Bennet (1972)


Effect 2:

Memorization and the hippocampus.

Can the structure of our brain actually change by changing the environment.  In the case below, memorizing.


Study to use: Maguire et al. (2000)