PSYC271 Chapter 1: Biopsychology as a Neuroscience
Neurons: cells that receive and transmit electrochemical signals
Neuroscience: the scientific study of the nervous system
The case of Jimmie G ▯Shortterm memory loss. Can’t remember anything after 19
years old but remembers before that.
Four Major themes:
o Thinking creatively about biopsychology ▯thinking in unconventional ways,
thinking outside the box
o Clinical implications
o The evolutionary perspective ▯important here is the comparative approach.
Studying the biological phenomena by comparing different species
o Neuroplasticity ▯brain is not static, but plastic – constantly changing and
1.1 What is Biopsychology?
Biopsychology: the scientific study of the biology of behaviour
1.2 Relationship Between Biopsych and Other Neuroscience Disciplines?
Biopsychology is integrative ▯draws on knowledge from other neuroscience disciplines
and applies it to the study of behaviour
Neuroanatomy: the study of the structure of the nervous system
Neurochemistry: the study of the chemical bases of neural activity
Neuroenocrinology: the study of interactions between the nervous system and the
Neuropathology: study of the nervous system disorders
Neuropharmacology: study of the effects of dugs on neural activity
Neurophysiology: study of the functions and activities of the nervous system
1.3 Types of Research Characterizing Biopsychological Approach
Human and Nonhuman Subjects:
o Rats most common
o Humans more advantageous as subjects ▯follow instructions, report
experiences, cheaper, study human brain directly
o Differences between human and nonhuman brains is quantitative, not
o Nonhuman animal advantages include ▯simpler brains (makes it easier to
understand fundamental brainbehaviour interactions), easier to compare
species, possible to conduct research that would be unethical with humans
Experiments and Nonexperiments:
BetweenSubjects Design: different samples of subjects tested under
WithinSubjects Design: the same sample of subjects tested under
each condition Independent vs. dependent variables; Confounded variables
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 (hamsters)
• Harder to prove the same is true for females because they
require males to copulate and males get fatigues faster than
females. The introduction of a new male gets the female more
excited, but this is a confound variable because it becomes
unclear whether she is excited by the novelty of the second
mate, or because he simply has more energy. ▯however this
problem was overcome and turned out that both males and
females show this effect.
• Studies a group of subjects who have been exposed to the
conditions of interest in the real world (ex. Alcoholism,
because can’t ask a participant to become an alcoholic for their
• Lack control for potential confounds (ex. Lack of random
• Focus on a single case or subject.
• Provide a more indepth picture than experiments or quasi
experiments, but lack generalizability.
Pure and Applied Research:
o Pure Research: motivated primarily by curiosity. Conducted solely for the
purpose of gathering knowledge.
o Applied Research: research intended to bring about some direct benefit to
o Not necessary to adhere to one approach strictly. Many research proj