Introducthon to Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience
May 13 - Chapter 1
What is Biopsychology anyways?
- Explain behaviours of animals by their physiology
4 Major Themes
1. Thinking creatively about biopsychology
o Base thinking on the evidence presented
o But also ―think outside the box‖
2. Clinical implications
o Study of diseased or damaged brains leads to new knowledge
o New knowledge leads to new treatments
3. The evolutionary perspective- big* one-way of looking at how we believe the
way we are. Animals function very similar to us
o To study animals helps us figure out humans - we function very similarly
o Consideration of environmental pressures on human evolution
o May use a comparative approach- compare physiology
o Ex: of the horseshoe crab tells us stuff about the human retina
o The brain is plastic, not static, brain is always changing
o Massive change in the early yrs. of life- of growth and neural pruning
o How brain changes in adult life as well
o We used to think that when we hit adult life- brain is set in stone, but
that’s false it is ALWAYS changing.
o Creating new neurons
What is Biopsychology?
―The scientific study of the biology of behavior (psychology)‖
Explain human behavior through physiology
Psychology: the scientific study of behavior
Also called psychobiology, behavioral biology, behavioral neuroscience
Biopsychology emerged as a discipline in the late 1940s combination of the
two. Back in Ancient Greece, people knew that they were tied together.
Hebb (1949) proposed that psychological phenomena might be produced by brain
activity Big person in this area, he said that the physiology of the NS can do
much more than we originally thought- it can create emotion, imagination, etc..
Hebb’s work helped discredit the notion that psychological functions were too
complex to be derived from physiological activities Biopsychology and Other Disciplines of Neuroscience
Biopsychology utilizes the knowledge and tools of other disciplines of
Each discipline studies a different aspect of the nervous system that informs our
understanding of what produces and controls behavior, going to have people
working with cells. Put electrodes into tissues to record neurons.
Using psychology to explain the biological phenomenon
o Structure of the nervous system
o Taking a piece of spinal cord, and looking at the neurons and dendrites,
how is it hook together?
o Chemical bases of neural activity
o How do those bits and pieces talk to each other? How does it take the
electricity and send it to another cell. (Neurotransmitters)
o Interactions between the nervous system and the endocrine system
o Endocrine system- looking at effects of hormones
o Nervous system disorders
o Effects of drugs on neural activity
o How pharmalogical agents effect neural activity
o Someone is depressed, one of the causes are low level of serotonin- we
have many SSRI, that help elevate serotonin level at the synapse
o Functions and activities of the nervous system
o Reflex function
Human and nonhuman subjects
Were interested in humans, and there is a lot we don’t know but, we have millions
of questions to answer but hard to get at. Many questions that we have we can’t
use humans as subjects to get the answers.
FAS- fetal alcohol syndrome- if they inject an amount of alcohol during
pregnancy, more likely the child will get FAS, but we don’t know about causation
But if we want a causation o show what is happening- we use non human subjects
Doing studies, on rats cats, mice, dogs, monkeys - allows us to conduct and
manipulate a variable
o Whether we are looking at animals that are close to us genetically, or not,
while we are very much different we are very much the same, cells and
neurons are wired up the same.
o No qualitative difference.
o Cheaper to use humans, because for animals you have to pay for housing
and feeding, and teaching an experiment to an animal.
Many questions about the biology of behavior are addressed using human subjects
However, much can be learned from studying the brains of other species Species differences are often more quantitative than qualitative
Why use non-humans?
o Simpler brains makes it more likely that brain-behavior interactions will
o Comparative approach – gain insight by making comparisons with other
o Fewer ethical restrictions for nonhumans than with humans
Although nonhuman research also requires extensive ethical
Ex** with the cats, raising them in a vertical lines world, but then 3 months later,
and put him in the world and the cats couldn’t perceive horizontal lines
But we want to usually use humans*** - to an extent to what we can ethically do
and not do.
Why use humans?
o They can follow instructions
o They make subjective reports
o They are often cheaper to work with
2) Experiments and nonexperiments
- Some things we cant do to humans- like lesions sections of brains. But we can take
people that don’t have, ex, someone with hippocampal damage. And conduct a quasi
Experiments involve the manipulation of variables
In nonexperiments, the researcher does not control the variables of interest
o Quasiexperimental studies alcohol consumption, take 1000 London
women and give them a questionnaire after delivery about drinking and
we can’t try drawing correlation.
o Case studies- Pinneus Cage* learn a lot about how the avg person works
from case studies.
Experiments involving living subjects require that subjects be placed in various
conditions, want to manipulate something.
o Between-subjects design: Different group of subjects tested under each
o Within-subjects design: Same group of subjects tested under each
o Ex: Weight loss- half of student have access to anything in the food court
but other half can only in restricted diet area (healthy) and end of yr. you
measure how you do, and compare two groups and see the effect that
manipulation has (diet) that’s a between subject *** different from within
is testing same people twice (within)
The difference between the conditions is the independent variable
The effect of the independent variable is the dependent variable
A confounded variable is a variable that affects the dependent variable but is not
controlled for. - Something’s will sneak in there that will cause an effect, that if
you werent thinking about it can cause the results from going one way or another.
Control of confounded variables example: the Coolidge effect if you have
mating animals, that when a male becomes sexual fatigue, if you bring in a new female, he will react, and get horny right away doesn’t seem to be tired anymore,