Biological psychology is defined as “the study of behavior and experience in terms of genetics, evolution, and physiology, especially the physiology of the nervous system.” (American Heritage Dictionary) Basically, biological psychology uses biology as an approach to understand human and animal behavior. In this paper, the historical development of biopsychology will be discussed, as well as, major theorists, the relationship between biopsychology and other fields in psychology, and the underlying assumptions of a biopsychological approach. In order to gain a better understanding of a particular subject individuals’ must research and learn about all the necessary background information.
First of all, to gain insight on the process of biological psychology we will look at the history behind it. Humans and animals can evolve as a result of their environment in order to secure their survival. They can change to suit their new surroundings and this is an important factor in order for us to understand how biology and psychology go hand in hand. This understanding goes further back to the time of the Greeks. Wickens (2005) stated, “Plato proposed that the brain was the organ of reasoning although others disagreed. [The brain was observed mainly through animal dissection.” (p. 4). It is at this moment that we see the connection between the brain and the mind as one. The ventricles are important because they will be used to illustrate what a certain part of the brain is in charge of thought process, sensory, memory, and so forth.
Following this through, Ren Descartes “[One of the major theorists] was responsible for the demise of the intellectual assumptions of the Middle Ages, and helped to usher in a new age of reason. Descartes believed that mind and body were two entirely different things with the body composed of physical matter and the mind or soul being non-physical and independent of the material world” (p.5). Because Descartes was willing to share his thoughts and opinions on the brain and its uses, we are more knowledgeable that the brain and certain genes influence behavior.
Biological psychology is an important field in psychology, because it allows us to comprehend behavior in humans and animals to further understand who we are as individuals. By combing psychology with biology, we are able to clearly see how certain environments can influence behavior. Without any of the previous theorists and researchers that pushed biological psychology to what it is today, many of us would be at a lost trying to understand many of the mental diseases and illnesses that plague many people. Taking apart the brain and cells and testing them to their limits, we see how resilient and strong humans and animals are and what we are capable of accomplishing. Not knowing all the biological aspects, psychology would be made up of phrenology and other made up disciplines trying to find answers to problems.
At first biological research was complicated. How can one study how the mind and brain functions without actually seeing, touching, testing the brain? Many of the dissected animals from the past experiments gave us a glimpse into our own heads allowing us to witness the complexities of the brain. Without testing or seeing the inside, true understanding of how the brain functions would be lost. Today, many psychologists, doctors, and researchers work hard to find ways to help those with mental diseases and this would be impossible if they did not know the functions of the brain.
In conclusion, biopsychology is a branch of psychology that uses genetics, biology, and other factors to explain human and animal behavior. Without true understanding of the human mind, the world would be even more complex. There are many things we still need to learn about the brain and factors that influence behaviors, both positive and negative.
Psychology. (n.d.). The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved May 26, 2008, from Answers.com Web site: http://www.answers.com/topic/psychology
Wickens, A. (2005).
Foundations of Biopsychology (2nd ed.). Harlow, Essex: Prentice-Hall.