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1. The Major Issues.pdf

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York University
PSYC 2240

1. The Major Issues Saturday, April 20, 205:52 PM Main Ideas 1) Biological explanations of behavior fall into several categories, including physiology, development, evolution, and function. 2) Nearly all current philosophers and neuroscientists reject the idea that the mind exists independently of the brain. Still, the question remains as to how and why brain activity is connected to consciousness. 3) The expression of a given gene depends on the environment and on interactions with other genes. 4) Research with nonhuman animals yields important information, but it sometimes inflicts distress or pain on the animals. Whether to proceed with a given experiment can be a difficult ethical issue. 1.1 The Mind-BrainRelationship • Biological psychology is the study of the physiological, evolutionary, and developmental mechanisms of behavior and experience ○ Also called: Biopsychology, psychobiology, physiological psychology, behavioral neuroscience • Biological psychology holds that the proper way to understand behavior is in terms of how it evolved and how the functioning of the brain and other organs controls behavior • Dorsal-- top • Ventral-- bottom • Anterior-- front • Posterior-- back • Two kinds of cells in the brain: 1) Neurons-- convey messages to one another and to muscles and glands; vary widely in size, shape, and function 2) Glia-- many functions but do not convey information over great distances; generally smaller than neurons BiologicalExplanationsof Behavior • Four categories of biological explanations of behavior: 1) Physiological-- relates a behavior to the activity of the brain and other organs 2) Ontogenetic-- describes how a structure or behavior develops, including the influences of genes, nutrition, experiences, and their interactions 3) Evolutionary-- reconstructs the evolutionary history of a structure or behavior 4) Functional-- explains why a structure or behavior evolved as it did • How does an evolutionary explanation differ from a functional explanation? ○ An evolutionary explanation states what evolved from what. A functional explanation states why something was advantageous and therefore evolutionarily selected. • Biological explanations of behavior do not necessarily assume that the individual understands the purpose or function of the behavior The Brainand ConsciousExperience • Mind-brain problem-- what is the relationship between the mind and the brain? ○ Dualism-- the belief that mind and body are different kinds of substance that exist independently  Currently rejected by nearly all philosophers and neuroscientists  Contradicts the law of the conservation of matter and energy-- according to that law, the only way to influence matter and energy, including that of your body, is to act on it with other matter and energy ○ Monism-- the belief that the universe consists of only one kind of substance  Materialism-- the view that everything that exists is material, or physical  Mentalism-- the view that the mind really exists and that the physical world could not exist unless some mind were aware of it  Identity position-- the view that mental processes and certain kinds of brain processes are the same thing, described in different terms □ Every mental experience is brain activity (e.g., mind is brain activity) • Solipsism-- the position that I alone exist, or I alone am conscious • The problem of other minds-- the difficulty of knowing whether other people (or animals) have conscious experiences • David Chalmers (1995)-- easy and hard problems of consciousness Easy problems-- problems that are difficult scientifically but not philosophically (e.g., the difference between sleep and Textbook Notes Page 1 ○ Easy problems-- problems that are difficult scientifically but not philosophically (e.g., the difference between sleep and wakefulness) ○ Hard problem-- why and how any kind of brain activity is associated with consciousness Career Opportunities • 1.2 The Genetics of Behavior Textbook Notes Page 2 • Everything we do depends on both our genes and our environment ○ E.g., facial expressions in blind people are very similar to their sighted relatives MendelianGenetics • Gregor Mendel-- late-19th century monk • Inheritance occurs through genes-- units of heredity that maintain their structural identity from one generation to another, composed of DNA • Genes comes in pairs because they are aligned along chromosomes-- strands of genes which also come in pairs (except for the unpaired X and Y chromosomes in male mammals, which carry different genes) • A strand of DNA serves as a template for the synthesis of RNA molecules ○ One type of RNA molecule serves as a template for the synthesis of protein molecules • Enzymes-- a type of protein that serves as biological catalysts that regulate chemical reactions in the body • Homozygous-- two identical genes on the two chromosomes • Heterozygous-- unmatched pair of genes • Genes are dominant, recessive, or intermediate ○ A dominant gene shows a strong effect in either the homozygous or heterozygous condition ○ A recessive gene shows its effects only in homozygous conditions • Sex-LinkedandSex-LimitedGenes ○ Sex-linked genes-- the genes located on the sex chromosomes (typically X-linked genes because the Y chromosome is mu
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