What is Biopsychology?

Biopsychology is a branch of science that explores how the brain and nervous system influence human behavior. Biopsychology, which is also referred to as psychobiology and biological psychology, studies the functions of normal, injured and poorly developed brains. Biopsychology’s subfields include neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience and behavioral neuroscience.

Biopsychology 101

Biopsychology has very specific beliefs. First, that psychology is a lab-based science. Second, that behavior can systematically be explained through biological concepts, such as genes and hormones. Third, most behavior has an evolutionary purpose because human genes have developed over millions of years through adapting behaviors to environmental stimuli. The roots of biopsychology began when Charles Darwin formulated his theory of natural selection during his global travels. His perceptive observations of animals resulted in his famous book on natural selection, which started an evolutionary revolution in the world of science. In modern times, Jane Goodall has pioneered our understanding of biopsychology through her lifetime studies of African primates.

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Advanced Biopsychology

The biopsychology approach believes that human behaviors are all consequences of genetics and physiology, according to the American Psychology Association. It is actually the only psychology subfield that studies thoughts and behaviors from a physical point of view. A biological perspective contributes to psychology through using comparative methods. This means that different animal species are studied and compared, so psychologists better understand human behavior. It also increases our understanding of human physiology, such as how the brain, hormones and nervous systems work. By studying how structural changes affect functioning, we can learn to influence behaviors. Third, learning about how and what animals inherit from their parents, bio-psychologists reveal the nature of inheritance and genetics.

Research Methods

Biopsychology uses unique concepts and measurements to explore the brain and nervous system. The human brain is extremely complicated, but biopsychology is helping people understand the many unknown functions of the human brain. Biopsychologists study the brain’s functionality through neuro-surgery. Biopsychologists often study patients with extremely rare neurological diseases. They also use electro-encrphalograms (EEGs), which are a safe and painless way to record the electrical activities of the brain. Brain waves are traced through electrodes that are attached to the scalp. EEGs are often used to study sleep diseases and were used to discover the various sleep stages called Rapid Eye Movement (REM). Brain scans, such as through CAT scans, also known as Computerised Axial Tomography, and PET scans, also known as Positron Emission Tomography, to further our understanding of brain functionality.

Related Resource: Perceptual Psychology

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How to Become a Biopsychologist?

Biopsychology majors are available for students who are interested in studying the complex relationship between brain functionality and behavior. The major requires the completion of courses in biochemistry, neurophysiology, neuro-anatomy, the endocrine system and the pharmacological regulations of the central nervous system (CNS). All coursework covers related behavioral and psychological aspects. Students also study physics, biology, chemistry, neuroscience and experimental psychology. Students who enter this field are usually naturally inquisitive and people oriented, so their curiosity of human behavior patterns drive them to study how the mind works. Most psychology departments offer courses or specializations in biopsychology.