What is Biological Psychology?
It is the study of the physiological, evolutionary, and developmental mechanisms of behavior and experience. It is synonymous with the terms biopsychology, physiological, and behavioral neuroscience. Much of biological psychology is devoted to studying brain functioning. Physiology is the study of body processes- the dynamic of tissue and organ system of the body. It is the study of the physiological basis of human and animal behavior. Areas of Biological Psychology
Mix of “pure” and “applied” research
Scientific study of brain/behavior in controlled experimental settings Generally uses animal subjects
Psychopharmacology – study of the effect of drugs on the brain, behavior, and well as interactions Neuropsychology – Generally studies the effects of brain damage in humans Deals with clinical populations
Gathers information via case-studies
Works towards treatment
Cognitive Neuroscience – cross between cognitive psychology and physiological psychology Experimental exploration of human cognition and the physiological processes involved E.g., fMRI analysis of attention
E.g., Event-related potentials and dreaming
Behavioral Explanations of Behavior
The explanation of behavior fall into four categories: Physiological, ontogenetic, evolutionary and functional (Tinbergen, 1951). Physiological Explanation relates a behavior to the activity of the brain and organs. Ontogenetic Explanation describes the development of a structure or a behavior. Evolutionary Explanation reconstructs the evolutionary history of a structure or behavior. Functional Explanation describes why a structure or a behavior evolved as it did. The Brain and Conscious Experience
Biological explanations of behavior raise the mind-body or mind-brain problem: “What is the relationship between mind and the brain?” Dualism is the belief that mind and body are different kinds of substance –mental substance and physical substance-that exist independently. The French philosopher Rene Descartes defended dualism but recognized the vexing issue of how a mind that is not made of material that influence a physical brain. He proposed that mind and brain interact at a single point in space, which he suggested was the pineal gland, the smallest unpaired structure he could find in the brain. Monism, the belief that the universe consist of only one kind of substance. There are three various forms of monism:
Materialism-everything exists is material or physical.
Mentalism- the view that only the mind really exists and that the physical world could not exist unless some mind were aware of it.
Identity Position-the view that mental processes are the same thing as certain kinds of brain processes but are described in different terms. Methods or Approaches for Biological Psychology
Philosophical approach – Physiological psychology is actually answering one of the basic questions in philosophy – the mind-body problem. It follows that in the discussion of the subject, a few philosophical observations are made. However, psychology is a science and being such, it is not concerned with theoretical conclusions as for empirical evidence. Clinical approach – Clinical experience is an important source of knowledge for physiological psychology. Illnesses sometimes exhibit symptoms that are psychological in nature. Experimental method. To set up more controlled conditions than those encountered in the clinic, physio-psychological researchers experiment in the laboratory. Using experimental techniques, the researcher can come up with more definite and valid conclusions than what can be had in a clinical setting. Scientific inference. The operation of the scientific method requires the formation of hypotheses and deductions. Deductions arrived at from experiments are actually the sought-after product, the end for which all research is but a means. It does not follow thought that all deductions,...
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