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In this chapter we introduce some of the different

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In this chapter, we introduce some of the different models that try to explainabnormal behaviour. You might wonder why so many different models exist. Theanswer is that abnormal behaviour is very complex, and no one model appears capableof providing a comprehensive explanation. Using a scientific approach, researchersdevelop, examine, and discard models as new facts emerge. Next we examine some ofthe currently accepted models of abnormal behaviour.1.5Describe the modern biological, psychological, sociocultural, andbiopsychosocial perspectives on the origins of abnormal behaviour.Biological ModelsThe biological model assumes that abnormal behaviour results from biological processesof the body, particularly the brain. Although long suspected to be the seat of abnormalbehaviour, only in the last 20 or 30 years have scientific advances allowed us to observebrain mechanisms directly. One area of scientific breakthrough has been in our under-standing of genetics. As already noted, genetic mapping is allowing us to begin to under-stand whether psychological disorders such as schizophrenia or manic-depressivedisorder have a genetic basis, and if so, how that understanding might lead to betterintervention and prevention efforts. Technology breakthroughs such as computerizedaxial tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allow direct exami-nation of brain structure and activity. With this direct observation, we now have a muchgreater understanding of the role of the brain in abnormal behaviour.
abnormal psychology: historical and modern perspectivesCHAPTER 125Although we often refer to the brain as if it were a single entity, it is a very com-plex organ. In fact, about 86 billionneurons(brain cells) make up the brain (Azevedoet al., 2009). Between the neurons are spaces known assynapses. Neurons (see Figure 1.4)communicate whenneurotransmitters(chemical substances) are released into thesynapse (i.e., the neuron fires) and land on a receptor site of the next neuron. That neu-ron then fires, sending an electrical impulse down the axon, releasing neurotransmittersinto the next synapse, and so the process begins again. Neurotransmitter activity is thebasis for brain activity (thinking, feeling, and motor activity) and is related to manyphysical and mental disorders. Until recently, the activity of neurotransmitters in thebrain had to be assessed indirectly from their presence in other parts of the body (bloodor spinal fluid). However, it was always unclear how accurately chemicals in blood orspinal fluid really reflected neurotransmitter activity in the brain. Through advances inneuroscience, we now rely less on assumptions and indirect measures to understandthe structure and function of the nervous system and its interaction with behaviour. Wecan now directly observe many aspects of the brains functioning, just as we do externalbehaviour.

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Term
Spring
Professor
IanNicholson
Tags
Abnormal Psychology, Abnormal behaviour

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