Describe & Discuss the Biological Approach

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Psychology AS Level
Guy Webber
The Biological Approach

What assumptions do biopsychologists make?

Psychologists from the biological approach assume that behaviour and experiences are caused by activity in the nervous system of the body. The things that people think and feel, say and do are caused, one way or another, by electrochemical events occurring within and between the neurones that make up their nervous system, particular those in the brain. Many biopsychologists also agree that because the development of the brain is determined (at least partly) by the genes a person inherits, that behaviour may be influenced by genetic factors. Furthermore, because the genes we inherit are the result of evolution, many biopsychologists think that behavioural and psychological characteristics may have evolutionary explanations.

How do biopsychologists explain human behaviour?

Biological psychologists explain behaviour by trying to relate it to the functioning of the brain and nervous system. The brain can be subdivided into many different areas and structures and biopsychological explanations often focus on which brain areas are responsible for which types of thinking or behaviour and how they connect with other functions and brain areas. For example, biopsychologists believe that language in humans is governed by two areas of the cerebral cortex, Broca’s area, which controls the production of speech and Wernicke’s area, which controls the comprehension of speech. These ‘speech centres’ are connected to a variety of other brain areas including those involved in thinking and in auditory working memory.

Other biopsychologists focus more on the role of genetic influences in particular types of behaviour. For example, it is widely believed by biopsychologists that schizophrenia, a psychological disorder involving a range of symptoms including hallucinations, delusions and disorganized thinking and speech, is at least partly the result of inheriting a...
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