BNS Midterm #1 2/11/2012 12:59:00 PM
Lecture Intro, Anatomy, Research Methods, Evolution.
CHAPTER ONE- Biopsychology
Neuroscience: the scientific study of the nervous system
o Neurons: cells that receive and transmit electrochemical signals
Brain has 100 billion neurons and trillions of connections
brain is a plastic (changeable) grows and changes in response to
genes and experiences
Biopsychology the study of the biology of behaviour.
o Developed into a discipline in the 20century (still young)
o The Organization of Behvaiour by D.O Hebb played major role:
developed the first comprehensive theory of how complex
psychological phenomena, might be produced by brain activity.
o Evolutionary perspective: thinking of the environmental pressures that
likely led to evolution of our brains & behaviour.
Biopsychology & other disciplines
D.O.Hebb organization & behaviour
o First comprehensive theory of how complex (perception, emotion,
memories) might be produced by brain activity
Biopsychology integrates knowledge from other neuroscience disciplines &
applies it to the study of behaviour.
o Neuroanatomy study of the structure of the nervous system.
o Neurochemistry study of the chemical bases of neural activity.
o Neuroendocrinology study of interactions between the nervous &
o Neuropathology study of nervous system disorders.
o Neuropharmacology study of the effects of drugs on neural activity.
o Neurophysiology study of the functions/activities of the nervous system.
Type of research
Human & nonhuman Subjects:
o Human brains:
follow instructions, report experiences, cheaper more ethical restraints
brains differ from nonhumans in terms of overall size and the
extent of their cortical development (more quantitative)
o Non-human brians:
Simpler brains & behaviour
(likely to reveal fundamental brain-behaviour interactions)
Comparitive approach understand biological phenomena by
comparing them different species .
Less ethical restrictions
More expensive, require the highest standards of care
Experiments & non-Experiments
different group tested under different condition .
test the same group of subjects under different
when there are several possible interpretations for a
behavioural observation, the rule is to give precedence to
the simplest one.
Ex. Coolidge effect: a copulating male who becomes incapable of
continuing to copulate with one sex partner can often recommence
copulating with a new sex partner (studied hamsters)
Altered experiment to get rid of confound variable of male
Measured lordosis (arched back, tail up posture of rodents)
Females copulated more with unfamiliar hamsters.
o Nonexperimental studies:
studies of groups of subjects who have been exposed to
the conditions of interest in the real world.
Confound variable cannot be controlled
Ex. no random assignment to treatment
extensive studies on a single subject lack generalizability
Pure & applied research:
o Pure Research motivated primarily by the curiosity of the researcher
More vulnerable to vagaries of politic regulation, many dont
understand the drive for research without practical benefit.
o Applied Research intended to bring a direct benefit to mankind
6 Divisions of Biopsychology
1) Physiological psychology studies the neural mechanism of behaviour through
the direct manipulation of the brain in controlled experiments
o surgical/electrical brain manipulation
o lab animals
o pure research to contribute to theories of neural behaviour control.
2) Psychopharmacology focuses on the manipulation of neural activity and
behaviour with drugs
o drug manipulation
o mostly animals
o basic & applied research
3) Neuropsychology the study of the psychological effects of brain damage in
o Effects of brain damage
o most applied.
o Case studies & quasiexperimental
o Focus is on the cerebral cortex (outer layer of the hemispheres.)
4) Psychophysiology studies the relation between physiological activity and
psychological processes in human subjects
o humans, typically non-invasive
o focuses on attention, emotion, information processing
o looks at activity in the autonomic nervous system (ANS)
regulates the bodies inner envronment.
ex. EEG, heart reate, BP
5) Cognitive neuroscience studies the neural bases of cognition (thought,
o Newest division
o focus is on humans, must be non-invasive
o ex.fMRI, PET 6) comparative psychology & ethology deal with the biology of behaviour
rather than neural mechanisms. Compare the behaviour of different species to
understand evolution, genetics and adaptiveness.
o Evolutionary psychology subfield that focuses on understanding
behaviour from evolutionary origins
o Behaviour genetics the study og genetic influences on behaviour.
o Ethological research the study of the animal behaviour in its natural
environment, not in the lab
Converging operations combining different approaches to focus on a single
problem. strengths of one approach compensate for weaknesses of the others.
o ex neuropsychology & physiological psychology can be combined to study
the psychological effects of damage to the cerebral cortex.
strength deals with human patients
weakness its focus on humans precludes experiments.
strength can use experimental method & neuroscientific
technology to do research on animals.
weakness there may be deficits between the research of
animals and that of humans.
Korsakoffs syndrome: severe memory loss, while otherwise quite capable.
o Common in alcoholics, associated with thiamine (vitamin B) difficiency.
o Proved the inadvisability of basing causal conclusions on case studies.
Not caused by alcoholism, but directly correlated.
it is rarely sufficient to consider the results of only one study/experiment type.
o MULTIDISCIPLINARY approach is best!
Scientific Inference the empirical method used to study the unobservable.
o Biopsychologists use to characterize, through empirical methods, the
unobservable processes by which the nervous system controls behavior.
Critical thinking & Biopsychological Claims