1.0 UNDERSTANDING BIOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY Biopsychology, the scientific study of the biology of behavior and mental processes. People also refer to this field as biological psychology, psychobiology, behavioral biology, or behavioral neuroscience. Biology is defined as the study of life (from the Greek bios meaning ‘life’ and logos meaning ‘study’). Bio- Psychology A. Etymological definition The word psychology comes from the roots psyche which means mind and logo which means knowledge or study. This means psychology is study of the mind. The word Biology means science of living things. Therefore, biological psychology is interdisciplinary course that combines biology and psychology. Working definition Bio-psychology is the study of how processes in the nervous systems, particularly the brain relate to behaviors and mental processes. Biological psychology is concerned primarily with the relationship between psychological processes and the underlying physiological events—or, in other words, the mind-body phenomenon. Its focus is the function of the brain and the rest of the nervous system in activities (e.g., thinking, learning, feeling, sensing, and perceiving) recognized as characteristic of humans and other animals. A biological perspective is relevant to the study of psychology in three ways: 1. Comparative method : different species of animals can be studied and compared. This can help in research to understand human behavior. 2. Physiology : how the nervous system and hormones work, how the brain functions, how changes in structure and/or function can affect behavior. For example, we could ask how prescribed drugs to treat depression affect behavior through their interaction with the nervous system. 3. Investigation of inheritance : what an animal inherits from its parents, mechanisms of inheritance (genetics). For example, we might want to know whether high intelligence is inherited from one generation to the next. Each of these biological aspects, the comparative, the physiological and the genetic, can help explain human behavior. NATURE AND NURTURE Some scientists believe that people behave the way they do according to genetic predisposition or environmental influences. 1
This debate within psychology is concerned with the extent to which particular aspects of behavior are a product of either inherited (i.e. genetic) or acquired (i.e. learned) characteristics. Nature is that which is inherited / genetic. Nurture which refers to all environmental influences after conception, i.e. experience. On the other hand, some believe that people think and behave the way they do because they are taught to do so. Modern view has made it clear that both nature and nurture contribute to behavior. Nature endows us with inborn abilities and traits; nurture takes this genetic tendencies and molds them as we learn and mature.
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