Exploring the field of biopsychology and how it acknowledges the brain to be an impending factor towards psychological development.
The ongoing study of psychology has become an incredibly complex discipline because of the increasing amount of factors both researchers and scientists have found to contribute to the human mental processes and behaviors.
Biological psychology is also known as biopsychology is a field of study in psychology that focuses on the mind and body interaction. This type of study investigates and analyzes how the function of the brain and nervous system impacts the “physiological bases for motivated behavior, emotion, learning, memory, cognition, and mental disorders” (Biological Psychology, http://www.britannica.com).
Other physical factors such as heredity, metabolism, biological rhythms, hormones, diseases, drug ingestion, and diet are also taken into consideration as well as the evolutionary developments and lifespan of the brain and nervous system.
The human body houses a nervous system, which is divided into two parts, known as the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system is divided into the somatic and autonomic systems, which connects the brain and spinal cord to other parts of the body.
The nervous system is the information center of the body and delivers messages to the brain through sensory and motor nerves and other neural networks by the means of nerve cells, chemicals and electrical impulses (Santrock, 2004).
The nerve cells or neurons communicate with one another through the release of chemicals called neurotransmitters. The body’s increase and a decrease of neurotransmitters can contribute to major changes in behavior. Acetylcholine, dopamine, GABA, norepinephrine, serotonin, and endorphins are the most well known. Since prescription drugs are created to become inhibitors of these neurotransmitters it is important to become more aware of their natural production within the body.
The brain itself is made up of three major parts known as the forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain. The forebrain consists of the cerebrum, thalamus, and hypothalamus (Santrock, 2004). The forebrain is known as the highest level of the brain and is also the most developed part, which comprises the cerebral cortex.
The cerebral cortex is the outer layer of the forebrain and is the largest part of the human brain, responsible for higher brain functions such as thinking, planning, learning and consciousness (Santrock, 2004).
It is through the function of the cerebral cortex that one is able to learn new information, formulate thoughts, analyze data, and make critical decisions. The wrinkles, bulges, and grooves called gyros are the common physical characteristics of the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex embodies the somatosensory, motor and association cortex.
It is divided into two left and right hemispheres, which are subdivided into four regions or lobes called the frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital. Each region is responsible for the necessary functions required in everyday living.
The frontal lobe, also known as the emotional control center, is located behind the forehead and is the largest lobe that encompasses approximately one-third of the cerebral hemispheres, which are broken down into a motor, premotor and prefrontal regions (Stein, 1998).
As part of the most developed portion of the brain, the frontal lobes and are involved with intelligence, personality and the control of voluntary muscles (Santrock, 2004).
This lobe is responsible for everyday functions such as motor functions or body movement capabilities, planning, reasoning, judgment, memory and also impulse control. Planning events and using judgments to determine the best route of travel is an example of the frontal lobe function.
The personality is determined by the inner workings of the frontal lobe and neuroscientists have found evidence to conclude that damages to the frontal lobe can cause altered personalities in which patients display disorders of mood such as anger, irritability, apathy, indifference, diminished arousal, lack of spontaneity and motivation.
Studies also show that reduced cognitive flexibility, diminished creativity, and capacity for abstract thought are a result of frontal lobe damage (Stein, 1998).
The parietal lobe is located right behind the frontal lobe towards the top part of the brain and is divided into two regions of sensation and perception. It is this region of the brain that is responsible for motor control, spatial location and attention (Santrock, 2004).
Touch, pain, taste, pressure and identifying temperature are the functions of the sensation region of the parietal lobe. Spatial orientation, visual perception, information processing, language, and cognition are the other main functions of this lobe. The ability to judge how far objects are from a certain distance and the ability to shift attention from one activity to another is also affiliated with this region.
Injury to this area can often result in the inability to attend to more than one object at a time, locate words for writing and reading, difficulty in distinguishing between left and right, spatial awareness and hand-eye coordination, and inability to focus visual attention (Brain injury, http://www.braininjury.com).
The temporal lobe is located underneath the frontal lobe and lateral to the Fissure of Sylvius, which separates from the parietal lobes and is found just above the ears or side of the head on the human body. The lobe connects to the limbic system and comprises the hippocampus, which plays a role in the brain’s ability to register long-term memory and retrieve information.
The right temporal lobe is involved in visual memory, which relates to remembering certain people and recalling pictures and the left lobe is responsible for verbal memory such as names and descriptions. Emotional responses, expressed behavior, receptive speech, and hearing are other main functions of this region.
Learning, emotions and interpreting auditory stimuli are also characteristics of the temporal lobes. Damages to this area include difficulty recognizing faces, increased aggressive behavior, changes in libido, inability to understand spoken language, memory loss, and inability to categorize objects, (Brain injury, http://www.braininjury.com).
The occipital lobe is the smallest of the other lobes and is also known as the visual processing center located in the posterior region of the brain or at the back of the head. This region of the brain is responsible for responding to visual stimuli such as color recognition, shape, and motion, (Santrock, 2004).
It is in this area of the brain where primary visual interpretation and object recognitions take place as it is also mainly affiliated to the visual association cortex. Therefore everything that is seen through the human eyes is interpreted to the brain for processing as a direct result of the inner workings of this region. Disorders or damages to the occipital lobe can result in hallucinations and an increase in visual illusions.
Other difficulties affiliated with damages to this region include an inability to recognize the movement of objects, poor reading and writing caused by word blindness and illusions, difficulty locating objects within an environment, lack of ability to identify the color and recognize drawn objects, (Brain injury, http://www.braininjury.com).
As scientific studies continue researchers are able to further investigate the cerebral cortex’s vital role in mental health. The study of the brain and nervous system functions in biopsychology are pivotal to achieving further understanding of the human mental processes and biological bases of behavior. Bio-psychologists conclude that “every thought, every emotion and every desire you have ever had, or will ever have, is a product of your brain“(Corr, 2006, p. 1).
From this standpoint, psychologists view symptoms of mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia as a result of some form of biological damage or imbalance within the body. In order to establish a correlation between an individual’s biological makeup and their current behavior or mental process, scientists must provide substantial evidence by researching and testing chemicals, hormones, blood pressure, and blood levels within the body.
Therefore having a basic understanding of normal everyday functions within the brain and nervous system helps scientists and researchers to discover any form of abnormalities. From a thorough analysis of an individual’s biological influences, psychologists are able to help determine the proper treatments and accurate diagnosis of a patient.
Whether the evidence is focused on the biological or neurological aspects in psychology it is safe to conclude that the developmental nature behind the study of psychology is indeed correlated to everything experienced in the human mind and body. What is felt, though, and desired are products of what is being created by the information received in the mind. Through the applied discipline of biological psychology, it is learned that the body and mind are indeed integrated and must work together harmoniously in order for each individual to live a mentally and physically healthy lifestyle.
- Biological psychology. In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October 25, 2018, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online
- Brain Injury. Symptoms of Brain Injury. Retrieved October 25, 2018, from Braininjury.com
- Corr, P., (2006). Understanding biological psychology, Hobeken, NJ: Wiley.
- Santrock, J. (2004). Psychology Essentials. 2nd Edition, New York: McGraw-Hill Companies
- Stein, J. (1998). Internal medicine, Oxford: Elsevier Health Sciences.