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Paul Mallet (111)
Chapter 1

chapter 1 - biopysch.doc

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Paul Mallet

Chapter 1 Biopsychology as a Neuroscience - human brain is an intricate network of neurons (cells that receive and transmit electrochemical signals) - 100 billion neurons, 100 trillion connections among them - infinite number of paths that neural signals can follow through this morass - neuroscience - study of the nervous system - may be brain’s ultimate challenge - does brain have the capacity to understand something as complex as itself? - several disciplines The case of Jimmie G., The man frozen in time - 49 years old - was intelligent man with superior abilities in math and science - tested by neurologist oliver sacks - 49 year old jimmie believed he was 19 - months after meeting sacks, jimmie did not recall ever meeting him - beds and patients - made jimmie think he was in the hospital - forgot everything he saw/heard within seconds - unable to form memories Thinking creatively about biopsych - some of most important advances advances in biopsychological science have often impeded scientific progress - thinking creatively - cornerstore of any science - thinking outside the box Clinical implications - clinical (pertaining to illness or treatment) considerations are woven through the fabric of biopsych Evolutionary perspective - thinking of environmental pressures that likely led to the evolution of our brains and behaviour - often leads to important biopsychological insights - important component - comparative approach - trying to understand biological phenomena by comparing them in different species - proven to be one of cornerstones of modern biopsychological inquiry* neuroplasticity - until early 1990s, most neuroscientists thought of brain as three-dimensional array of neural elements wired together in massive network of circuits - failed to capture one of brain’s most important features - adult brain is plastic - changeable - continuously grows and changes in response to individual’s genes and experiences - discovery of neuroplasticity - arguably the single most influential discovery in modern neuroscience - currently influencing many areas of biopsychological research Biopsychology - scientific study of the biology of behaviour - also known as psychobiology, behavioural biology or behavioural neuroscience - psychology - scientific study of behaviour - scientific study of all overt activities of organism as well as all internal processes that are presumed to underlie them - e.g. learning, memory, motivation, perception and emotion - did not develop into a major neuroscientific discipline until 20th century - publication of the organization of behaviour in 1949 by d.o. hebb - played key role in emergence of biopsychology’s birth - hebb developed first comprehensive theory of how complex psycholoigcal phenomena (e.g. perceptions, emotions, thoughts and memories) might be produced by brain activity - theory did much to discredit view that psychological functioning is too complex to have its roots in the physiology and chemistry of the brain - based his theory on experiments involving both humans and lab animals, on clinical case studies and logical arguments developed from his own insightful observations of daily life - eclectic approach has become a hallmark of biopsychological inquiry - biopsychology is “an infant” compared to other sciences - healthy, rapidly growing though What is the relation between biopsych and other disciples of neuroscience? - neuroscience- team effort biopsych can be further defined by its relation to other neuroscientific disciplines - biopsychologsts - neuroscientists who bring to their research a knowledge of behaviour and of methods of behavioural research - their behavioural orientation and expertise - makes their contribution to neuroscience unique - biopsych - integrative discipline - draws together knowledge from other neuroscientific disciplines and apply it to study of behaviour - disciplines of neuroscience particularly relevant to biopsychology - 1. neuroanatomy - study of structure of nervous system - 2. neurochemistry - study of chemical bases of neural activity - 3. neuroendocinology - study of interactions between nervous system and endocrine system - 4. neuropathology - study of nervous system disorders - 5. neuropharmacology - study of effects of drugs on neural activity - 6. neurophysiology - study of the functions and activities of nervous system What types of research characterize the biopsychological approach - 3 major dimensions - 1. biopyschological research can involve either human or nonhuman subjects - 2. it can take the form of either formal experiments or nonexperimental studies - 3. can be either pure or applied Human and non-human subjects - rats- most common non-human - also use mice, cats and dogs - humans have several more advantages - can follow instructions, can report their subjective experiences - greatest advantage* - understanding intricacies of human brain function - study animals due to evolutionary coninuity of brain - differences between human and animal brain - more quantitiative than qualitative - many principles of human brain function can be clarified by study of nonhumans - non-human animals - 3 advantages over humans in biopsychological research - 1. brains and behaviour of nonhuman subjects are simpler than those of human subjects - 2. insights frequently arise from comparative approach (study of biological processes by comparing different species) - 3. possible to to conduct research on lab animals that, due to ethics, is not possible with humans - all biopsychological research is regulated by independent committees according to strict ethical guidelines Experiments and non-experiments Experiments - method used by scientists for study causation - responsible for knowledge that is the basis for our modern way of life - paradoxical that a method capable of such complex feats is simple - first designs 2+ conditions l - usually different group of subject is tested under each condition - (between-subjects design, within-subjects design) - experimenter assigns subjects to conditions, administers treatments, measures outcome in such a way that there is only one relevant difference between conditions that are being compared - independent variable - dependent variable - measured by experimenter to assess effect of independent variable - any changes to dependent variable must have been caused by independent variable - confound variable - hard to tell if independent variable or unintended difference that ld to observed effects on dependent variable - researchers must constantly be alert about these - lester and gorzalka - demonstration of coolidge effect - copulating male who becomes incapable of continuing to copulate with one sex partner can recommence copulating with a new sex partner - argued it was not studied in females because it was more difficult, not because females do not display this - subjects of study - hamsters - attempts to demonstrate coolidge effect in females are confounded often by fatigue of the males - not a serious problem - devised clever new procedure to control for this confounded variable - when female was copulating with one male, other male to be used in the test was copulating with another female - then, both males were given a rest while the female was copulating with a third male - finally, the female was tested with either familiar or unfamiliar male - dependent variable - amount of time female displayed lordosis (arched back, rump up tail-diverted posture - female responds more vigorously to unfamiliar male - illustrates importance of good experimental design and that males and females are more similar than many people appreciate Quasi-experimental studies - studies of groups of subjects who have been exposed to the conditions of interest in the real world - have appearance of experiments, but are not true experiments because potential confounded variables have not been controlled - i.e. by the random assignment of subjects to conditions Case studies - focus on a single case or subjects - often provide a more in-depth picture than those of an experiment or quasi-experimental study - problem - generalizability - degree to which their results can be applied to other cases Pure and applied research - biopsychological research can be either pure or applied - pure research - research motivated primarily by curiosity of researcher - done solely for purpose of acquiring knowledge - applied research - research intended to bring about some direct benefit to mankind - many scientists believe pure research will ultimately prove to be of more practical benefit than applied research - their view is that applications flow readily from an understanding of basic principles and that attempts to move directly to application without first gaining a basic understanding are shortsighted - important difference between pure and applied research - pure research is more vulnerable to vagaries of political regulation because politicians and the voting public have difficulty understanding why research of no immediate practical benefit should be supported - motor neurons - control muscles - hypothalamus - small neural structure at base of the brain - corpus callosum - large neural pathway that connects the left and right halves of brain Six major divisions of biopsychology - 1. physiological psychology - studies neural mechanisms of behaviour through direct manipulation of brain in controlled experiments - surgical and electrical methods of brain manipulation are most common - subjects are almost always lab animals - 2. psychopharmacology - similar to physiological psych, except it focuses on the manipulation of neural activity and behaviour with drugs - regarded as separate discipline - substantial portion is appliedbehaviour interaction - main purpose of many psychoparmacological experiments - to develop therapeutic drugs - study effects of drugs on lab species, and humans if ethics permits it - 3. neuropsychology - study of psychological effects of brain damage in
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