Biopsychology: Critical Understanding
Biopsychology, also referred as physiological psychology, psychobiology, behavioural neurosciences. It is branch of psychology, which deals with analyzing the ways in which brain, neurotransmitters and other biological factors impact our cognitions, emotions and responses. This branch of psychology is also related to some fields of psychology like, evolutionary psychology and comparative psychology. The history of biopsychology can be traced back to the time of early philosophers. Although, this field sound new and seems to have developed recently due to advanced technological tools to study and analyze brain. Early philosophers and psychologists debated over the mind/body concept for long, only now both these terms are used as synonymous to each other. Basically, this field started with the curiousness in philosophers to understand the association between physical aspects and mental aspects.
In the initial exploration no one understood the exact location of mind, until recent philosophers could deduce it according to their own understanding. Like, Aristotle claimed that our heart is the place from where our mental aspect’s function and influence us. Hippocrates and Plato, Greek thinkers, later recommended that our mind is located in our brain and carries out its functions from there, as all the thinking and responding arises from there only. Later Rene Descartes and Leonardo da Vinci gave the theoretical understanding of how nervous system works, which were later disproved but only one concept prevailed through it all, that stimulation through external means can get response from muscles. Later on researcher found that spinal cord played an important role in these muscle responses.
Associations between behavior and biopsychology:
Eventually, researchers were interested in knowing how and which parts of brain regulated and impacted behavioral responses in humans. Phrenology, a pseudoscience was an earlier attempt to understand the same, suggested that the bumps and curves in the brains that touch at the margin of the skull can be connected with human functioning. This idea made phrenology very popular but scientific development later disproved this theory. Although this led the researchers more intrigued to find which parts of brain led to different functions in human body. The accidental brain injury case of Phineas Gage, also played a prominent role in the research of brain and exploring its functioning. It was a terrible brain injury but it made great contributions and thus is still popular in the field. Since then, there have been various development in the field of biopsychology. We can now understand the influence of physiological aspects on our thoughts, feeling and behavior due to advanced researches on neurons, neurotransmitters, localization of functions in brain and role of evolution. To understand this branch of psychology more deeply, it is significant to understand the nervous system, brain, and neurotransmitters.
Nervous System & Brain:
There are two nervous system at work in our body, central nervous system and peripheral nervous system. Central nervous system includes brain and spinal cord.
The brain is divided into 4 lobes, which are described as follows:
- Frontal Lobe - regulates higher-level cognition, motor skills and language of expressing.
- Occipital Lobe - functions for visual information and stimuli.
- Temporal Lobe - includes understanding of meaning of words and sound we hear, the memory functions, and other processes.
- Parietal Lobe - involved in interpreting sensory information gained through tactile senses (like, warm, cold, pressure, pain, etc.) and other functions.
The cerebral cortex is the exterior part of the brain, which accounts for the work and use of sensations, emotions, motor sensations and cognitions.
The peripheral nervous system includes two parts:
- The sensory division - gives all sensory information to the central nervous system
- The motor division - works for associating central nervous system with the muscles and glands
The autonomic nervous system, another component of nervous system, maintains the automatic processes of our body. Like, blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate. It is divided into two parts:
- The sympathetic nervous system - works in situation where fight-or-flight response or immediate response is required.
- The parasympathetic nervous system - works on maintaining the balance and getting the body back to resting stage.
They carry chemical neurons and messages to and fro from the brain to other body parts. There are several neurotransmitters that impact our body in different ways. Like, dopamine (a neurotransmitter) impacts learning and movement, excessive amount of it can be connected to schizophrenia & little amounts can connect to parkinson's disease.
Career Options in Biopsychology:
- There are various options available in the field, like:
- Neurologist - treats patients with neurological disorders.
- Behavioral Neuroscientist - inspects how brain, and nervous system impacts behavior.
- Comparative Psychologist - inspects how different species different from each other.
- Cognitive Neuroscientist - inspects how brain, and nervous system impacts cognition.
- Evolutionary Psychologist - inspects the bases of behavior