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Psychology 2220A/B
Scott Mac Dougall- Shackleton

Chapter 1: Biopsychology as a Neuroscience WHAT IS BIOPSYCHOLOGY? • Biopsychology is the scientific study of the biology of behavior • Some refer to this field as psychobiology, behavioral biology, or behavioral neuroscience • Psychology is the scientific study of behavior - the scientific study of all overt activities of the organism as well as all the internal processes that are presumed to underlie them • Biopsychology’s birth was “The Organization of Behavior” in 1949 by D.O. Hebb • Hebb developed the first comprehensive theory of how complex psychological phenomena might b produced by brain activity • Hebb based his theory on experiments involving both humans and lab animals, on clinical case studies ad on logical arguments developed from his own insightful observations of daily life WHAT IS THE RELATION BETWEEN BIOPSYCHOLOGY AND THE OTHER DISCIPLINES OF NEUROSCIENCE • Biopsychology can be further defined by its relation to other neuroscientific disciplines • Biopsychologists are neuroscientists who bring to their research a knowledge of behavior and of the methods of behavioral research • Biopsychologists draw together knowledge from the other neuroscientific disciplines and apply it to the study of behavior • The following are particularly relevant to biopsychology: •Neuroanatomy - the study of the structure of the nervous system •Neurochemistry - the study of the chemical bases of neural activity •Neuroendocrinology - the study of interactions between the nervous system and the endocrine system •Neuropathology - the study of nervous system disorders •Neuropharmacology - the study of the effects of drugs on neural activity •Neurophysiology - the study of the functions and activities of the nervous system WHAT TYPES OF RESEARCH CHARACTERIZE THE BIOPSYCHOLOGICAL APPROACH? • Biopsychological research can involve either human or nonhuman subjects; it can take the form of wither formal experiments or nonexperimental studies; and it can be either pure or applied • Human and Nonhuman Subjects •Humans have several advantages over other animals as experimental subjects •They can follow instructions, they can report their subjective experience, and their cages are easier to clean •Humans are often cheaper •Only the highest standard of animal care are acceptable, the cost of maintaining an animal lab can be prohibitive for all but the most well funded researchers •The greatest advantage that humans have as subjects in a field aimed at understanding the intricies of human brain function is that they have human brains •The brains of humans differ from the brains of other mammals primarily in their overall size and the extent of their cortical development Chapter 1: Biopsychology as a Neuroscience • In other words, the differences between the brains of humans and those of related species are more quantitative than qualitative, and this many of the principles of human brain function can be clarified by the study of nonhumans • Three advantages over humans as subjects in biopsychological research: 1. The brains and behavior of nonhuman subjects are simpler than those of human subjects 2. Insights frequently arise from the comparative approach 3. It is possible to conduct research on lab animals that, for ethical reasons, is not possible with human subjects • Experiments and Nonexperiments • Biopsychological research involves both experiments and nonexperimental studies • Experiments • The experiment is the method used by scientists to study causation, that is, to find out what causes what • The Coolidge effect is the fact that a copulating male who becomes incapable of continuing to copulate with one sex partner can often recommence copulating with a new sex partner • Quasiexperimenal Studies • It is not possible for biopsychologists to bring the experimental method to bear on all problems of interest to them • There are frequently physical or ethical impediments that make it impossible to assign subjects to particular conditions or to administer the conditions once the subjects have been assigned to them • Quasiexperimental studies - studies of groups of subjects who have been exposed to the conditions of interest in the real world • These studies have the appearance of experiments, but they are not true experiments because potential confounded variables have not been controlled • Case Studies • Studies that focus on a single case or subject called case studies • There is a major problem with all case studies: their generalizability • Pure and Applied Research • Biopsychological research can be either pure or applied • Pure research is research motivated primarily by the curiosity of the researcher - it is done solely for the purpose of acquiring knowledge • Applied research is research intended to bring about some direct benefit to human kind • Many research programs have elements of both approaches • One important difference between pure and applied research is that pure research is more vulnerable to the vagaries of political regulation because politicians and the voting public have difficulty understanding why research of no
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