Chapter

Neurons and Muscles: The Sources of Psychophysiological Recordings

Robert M. Stern, William J. Ray and Karen S. Quigley

in Psychophysiological Recording

Second edition

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780195113594
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199846962 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195113594.003.0002
Neurons and Muscles: The Sources of Psychophysiological Recordings

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Psychophysiology focuses on the study of bodily responses that originate as electrochemical changes in neurons (nerve cells), muscles, and gland cells. These signals spread from their sources through the body to the skin surface, appearing to a recording electrode on the body surface in a somewhat altered form. Understanding the genesis of bioelectric potentials will help in interpreting the surface potentials and serve as a reminder that whatever their relation to behavior, psychophysiological responses reflect the functioning of neurons, muscles, and glands. The nervous system controls the bodily functions measured by psychophysiologists, including muscle action, organ function, and glandular activity. For example, the coordinated contraction of thousands of skeletal muscle cells moves us through our environment, enables us to react to its changes, and is the mechanism of singing, smiling, sitting, and eating. This chapter discusses the organization of the nervous system, the function of nerve and muscle cells, and the sources of the bioelectric potentials that can be recorded from the surface of the skin.

Keywords: psychophysiology; neurons; bioelectric potentials; muscle cells; nerve cells; gland cells; nervous system; behavior; bodily responses; skin

Chapter.  8534 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Psychology

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