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Biological psychology

Biological psychology

Introduction
Biological psychology is the study of the both the internal and external systems that affect the
behavior of a living organism. This is simply the study of the behavior based on biological
aspects and the mental state. The study is achieved by the analysis of the neural system using
scientific methods Hall (1984). These scientific methods investigate the relationship between the
physiological system and the resulting behavior. In addition they look at the emotional and
mental state of the organism without looking at the physic. According to Snooks (2008) as a
psychologist it is important to understand that not all behaviors are determined by the physical,
social or environmental factors. These behaviors can be as a result of the mental and biological
state of the individual, it is for this reason that biological psychology is studied.
Since the scientific methods used are similar to those of neurology, it has been difficult to
differentiate the study from neuroscience, the reason being that the psychologists use fMRI and
MEG to study the nerves of the organism. Apart from the neural system, they study the genetic,
cellular make up of the behavior and cognition of the human. Scientists try to understand the
neural psychological processes from the neurotransmitters to the cerebral cortex, at the same
time they use the assessments to determine extent to which cognition is affected by brain damage
or diseases Sussman (1998). The study of the neurons will enable a psychologists understand the
mental state of the patient; neurons determine the cognitive abilities of a person. Therefore the
study of the neurons will help the psychologist determine the extent to which these neurons are
affecting the behavior.
The study of biological psychology has helped us to understand the brain and persons with
certain disorders. This science has been used to understand the source of the biological causes of
mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia. The biological psychologists emphasizes on

Biological psychology

the organic aspect of the mental processes. They on the other hand understand that by taking care
of the organic problem they will be able to achieve what a drug would do. To a psychologist this
is very important as it has opened up the possibilities of the proper handling of cases of mental
disorder. A psychologists understanding of mental cases and their biological causes enables them
handle the behavior that is a consequence of the condition.
The Scope of Biological Psychology
Biological psychology currently covers the following themes, the development of the brain and
behavior. It seeks the evolution of the behavior and the nervous system in the life of human. The
fact remains that the brain is the main organ that controls the bodily functions, emotions and
behavior on the other hand are under the influence of the nervous and hormonal aspects that are a
direct consequence of the brain Kalat (2008). Therefore by handling the brain and any mental
factors, a psychologist is able to deal with the various behaviors that are exhibited by the
individual.
It studies the perceptual and sensory aspects of the human being and at the same time the control
and condition of movement. The study also analyses the control of behavioral conditions like
sex, regulation of the internal processes, biological processes and sleep. The study looks into the
emotions and mental disorders that ail people; these are like the neural aspects of learning and
memory, the development of language and cognition. In addition the study looks into the
recovery of bodily functions after damage to the nervous system.
History
This science originated with Darwin, who was the first to make a connection between biology
and psychology. Darwin did not call it biological psychology; he instead named it Instinct for
survival. According to him he studied the mind on the basis of the biology, though he is not

Biological psychology

recognized in this field, his study is closely related to this science McConnell (1977). It is also
found during Aristotles time, he defined the soul as the perfect manifestation of the natural body.
He determined the relationship between the psychology and the physiology. He was followed by
Nemesis who theorized on the functions of the brain McConnell (1977).
The early psychologists who are associated and appreciated for their contribution to this field are
William James and William McDougall. They identified behavior as a result of instincts, they
connected behavior to the survival of the organism. William James studied the discipline in terms
of organic mental structure, while McDougall based his studies on behaviorism.
For many years psychologists and philosophers have associated the biological aspect of the brain
to psychology Freberg (2009). This study did not come into effect until the last century, with the
psychologists Donald Hebb, who put the biological psychology into a study. He had developed a
hypothesis of the brain activity and how it affects the psychological experiences. Though it was
not at first accepted s a study, they embraced Ebbs principles slowly and adopted the study in
the filed of psychology while incorporating it into the training programs Hall (1984).
As A Psychological field
Biological psychology is considered a psychology since it studies the behavior of humans and it
is classified by method. Their studies have been based on animals and have applied the findings
to humans. These conclusions make the assumption that the behavior and biology of organisms is
shared. This is similar to the studies of comparative, evolutionary psychology and neurobiology
Kalat (2008). At the same time biological psychology has the same methodologies as
neuropsychology, this is because it relies on the study of the behavior to the nervous system.
Therefore biological psychology has acquired different synonyms due to these similarities, like
biopsychology, behavioral neuroscience, and clinical neuropsychology. The underlying aspect of

Biological psychology

this field is that it will analyse the biological, genetic, and anatomical with the effort of finding
the relation to behavior.
Biological psychology has greatly affected the area of psychology. As psychologists one cannot
ignore this field, as it is closely related to the various psychological and biological disciplines.
On the other hand of importance is the fact that we can now understand behavior based on the
persons biology factors apart form the social, environmental causes Snooks (2008).
Biological psychology has changed the way a psychiatrist thinks and treats their patients. It has
opened the minds of many who thought that mental disorders and behaviors were a curse and
unfathomable. The treatment of mental disorder patients was cruel with experiments being
carried on them. But the study of biological psychology has helped psychologists to treat them
better Sussman (1998). The discovery that the mind also played an important role in the
determination of the behavior of a person was crucial to how the psychologist treated them. it is
important that a psychologists understand this discipline and how to conduct tests to determine
the diagnosis of the various cases they receive.
Research Methods
The most important aspect of these methods is that though humans can be used as test subjects,
this field studies animals in the laboratory set up. The most common used animals are the
monkey, rat and mice. Basically the experiments study the neurological effects of the nervous
system by any internal and external stimulation. These stimulations are found in the study areas
like the impact of the visual and auditory system on behavior. The other study areas are
cognition, emotion, learning, memory, and mental disorders. As a psychologist I am supposed to
be aware of these methods that are used to diagnose and treat the various biological behaviors.

Biological psychology

The first experiment performed is the disabling or decreasing neural function. For example
lesion, where a section of the brain is enabled, where the part is chosen form the brain map that
shows in dimensional stereotactic coordinates Snooks (2008). This process uses electrolysis to
destroy neural tissue, neurotoxins to destroy tissue and temporarily using anesthetics to disable
neural tissues. The other method under this class is the psychopharmacological manipulation,
which uses chemical receptors to induce neural activity by disrupting neurotransmission
Sussman (1998).
The other biological psychology research method is the enhancing of the neural function. This is
achieved by electrical stimulation to increase neural activity. In addition the use of
psychopharmacological manipulations, which use chemical receptor agonists to increase neural
activity, this is achieved through injections or by surgical procedures. On the other hand they can
use transcranial magnetic stimulation for the study of motor effect.
The psychologist has to their disposal several measuring neurotical techniques. These are used to
measure the neural activity of the brain; the single unit recording technique is the measurement
of any electrical activity on a single neuron that is obtained from the region of the brain that is
associated with the behavior Hall (1984).
The multielectrode recording on the other hand offers the measurement of a bundle of electrodes
of up to a hundred neurons. The other measurement process is the fMRI which is a magnetic
imaging technique that shows the changes in the brains blood flow. The fMRI offers
measurement of up to thousands of neurons, this give a relatively larger scale than the previous
methods Kalat (2008).
The EEG which stands for Electroencephalography is a method that tests the activity of the
neurons in the cortex region. Additionally there is the functional neuroanatomy which takes an

Biological psychology

anatomical marker to show the neural activity. They injection of 2-deoxyglucose before the
behavior is exhibited can show the flow of the chemical in the body and therefore map out the
neural activity which is associated with the behavior Freberg (2009).
Applications
Biological psychology and its aspects can be applied to the field of psychology to qualitatively
analyse the emotions, sense and perceptions. It is a study that gives clear explanation of the
various behaviors that are exhibited as a result of the persons perception, sense and emotions
under the influence of their own brain. The study has further explained the motivated behavior
that is exhibited by individuals; these are like hunger, thirst and sex. On the other hand is has
revealed the control of movement or motor skills, at the same time the learning and memory and
the capacity of the individual to learn new ideas and keep them in memory. Finally the study has
been able to fully explain the sleeping disorders and any biological function that is out of
rhythm.
Conclusion
As a psychologist the study of biological psychology is important. This study helps bridge the
gap between the biological factors and the behavior exhibited by humans. It is a study that has
come to offer explanations to the activity of the brain and its role in the bodily functions. At the
same time it has given a chance to the psychologist to be in a position to handle mental,
emotional disorders and behaviors that were previously hard to treat. Biological psychology has
given them a tool to treat various behaviors without the use of drugs, disorders like insomnia
bipolar disorder and many more.

Biological psychology
References
Freberg, L. (2009). Discovering Biological Psychology. 2 edit, Wadsworth.
Hall, G. (1984). Behavior: an Introduction to Psychology as a Biological Science. Academic
Press
Kalat, J.W. (2008). Biological Psychology. 10 edit, Wadsworth.
McConnell, J.V. (1977). The Journal of Biological Psychology. Worm runners digest, XIX:2
Snooks, M.K. (2008). Health Psychology: Biological, Psychological, and Sociocultural
Perspectives. Jones and Bartlett
Sussman, R.W. (1998). The biological Basis of Human Behavior: A Critical Review. Prentice
hall