Why Do We Need to Study Biological Psychology?

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Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1527 Words
Date:  2021-03-13

Biological psychology is very crucial and aids in understanding human behaviour and their experiences when it comes to biological functions and structures. The basis in which an individual conducts oneself is determined by the organisms in the natural system. The behaviour portrayed by a person also has an impact on the system apart from the behaviour that results from the system itself. Although the environment has an impact on behaviour, studying biological psychology greatly assist in analysing individual's behaviour at the molecule level in the physical terms. (Rockstroh, 2001)

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The study is also vital in understanding how the brain works, roles and functions of the nervous system, behaviours that emanate from genetics, neural and biochemical processes, instincts roles, roles and functions of glands and lastly, the influence and determinants of heredity. Behaviours that are complex to understand can be related to biological components that are critical so as to find out why they occur. For instance, Unnatural behaviours portrayed by individuals can be easily examined by use of various biological means to study the functions of the brain and the causes of behaviours portrayed. (Matheny & White 2008). This approach of biological psychology has therefore proven to be effective especially in assisting individuals with mental disorders since they can be easily determined by examining their brains and the different responses that result from the functions of the brain.


The amygdala is a critical structure in the human brain. It is complex and is at the core of human thinking, emotions, and behavior. It plays three different functions including decision making, value representation, and attention. The central amygdala somehow controls the brain. The amygdala has anatomical links to all regions of the social part of the brain (KevinC.Bickart, 2014). Therefore, it acts as a hub or a control headquarters in the brain. It is well connected to other organs such as the brainstem nuclei and hypothalamus hence coordinates neuroendocrine, autonomic, and behavioral responses. Amygdala connection to the hypothalamus is one of the vital connections and function. Hypothalamus links endocrine system and nervous system hence is involved in the generation of emotional responses such as fear and disgust. Therefore, the amygdala plays a role in the control of hunger, attachment behaviors, sleep, and fatigue.

Patients with damaged amygdala suffer from social relationships since they portray different behaviors from those of ordinary people. They misjudge people and easily cooperate with the untrustworthy people despite the frequent violation of trust (KevinC.Bickart, 2014). Another crucial role of the amygdala is the emotional memory. It helps in calculation of emotional significance of events as a result of its connection to brain organs responsible for sensory experiences.

Biological psychology of reward

The function of a reward is to motivate an individual to achieve a particular goal. The cortico-basal ganglia-thalamic loop contains the brain structures associated with the reward system. Pathways connecting structures of the reward system include dopaminergic projection neurons, gabaergic medium spiny neurons, and glutamatergic interneurons. It also includes the substantial nigra, hypothalamus, and amygdala. The mesolimbic dopamine pathway which contains numerous neurons connects the nucleus accumbens and VTA (ventral tegmental area). It is a critical feature of the reward system since it is concerned with the instant perception of the motivational part of the award. Amygdala connection to the hypothalamus is one of the vital connections and function. Hypothalamus links endocrine system and nervous system hence is involved in the generation of emotional responses such as fear. Connections to the amygdala are vital in boosting emotional memory. It helps in calculation of emotional significance of events as a result of its relationship to brain organs responsible for sensory experiences.

Endocrinology in the human stress response.

The interplay between HPA (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis) and SNS (sympathetic nervous system) mediates the stress response of the human body. Interactions of indirect and direct feedback mechanisms among the adrenal glands, pituitary gland, and SNS contribute to neuroendocrine regulation responsible for stress reactions. The SNS controls the fight or flight response of the human body. The process begins with the release of corticotropin release hormone. Cortisol hormone which is a stress hormone is released for a period on encountering the stressing factor CITATION Sea06 \l 1033 (Sean M. Smith, 2006). The protection is attained after a particular blood concentration of cortisol hence normal homeostasis is reached back. The TSST (trier social stress test) exploits the stress response vulnerability to social situations. The TSST raises the substance levels of substances that show the HPA activation. Cortisol hormone also plays a part in the immune system, cardiovascular system, and blood-glucose regulation.

Sleep and Memory

The adaptation of organisms to the ever changing environment depends on the ability to form memory. Research shows that sleep helps in memory improvement. Two stages of sleep exist in mammals, REM (rapid eye movement) and SWS (slow wave sleep). SWS takes place during the early stages of sleep while REM intensifies as one approaches the end of sleep. Sleep is a time whereby there is a reduction of encoding of internal and external information (Matthew P. Walker, 2009). Therefore, sleep postpones the interference effect hence maintains memory traces passively. There are several modulatory neurotransmitters changes during the rest period. The changes take place throughout the brain.

All the brain activity during sleep is measured through EEG (electroencephalography). EEG measures the wholesome electrical activity of the brain but not the individual neurons' activities. Research shows that SWS enhances declarative memories whereas REM enhances non-declarative memories. However, there exist inconsistencies in the results about that. Non- declarative memory which is a form of implicit memory depends on cortico-striatal circuitry. Late nocturnal sleep benefits the implicit memory due to the enormous amounts of REM sleep. However, there are still substantial amounts of SWS during the nocturnal sleep hence strengthening the non-declarative memories (Spyridon Drosopoulos, 2005). However, further research in that area raises no urgency.

Cognitive Psychology

Working memory refers to the holding capacity of the memory at one given time. Good examples of measuring working memory include the learning ability of an individual, how quick they grasp information and how intelligent they are. The more information is held in one's brain; the more one becomes intelligent as per the working memory. To understand more on the working memory, training is regarded as one of the ways to expand working memory. Students are therefore taught and trained what to learn early enough so as to improve their working memory. Since IQ is not fixed, young children's IQ can improve at a tender age since they are flexible. (Tacca, 2011)

Researchers were able to conduct research on IQ of children. It is evident that children with high IQ level were able to score highly as compared to those with low IQ. This implies that IQ directly correlates with working memory but with training, children tend to respond positively. Storing of information to children with high IQ is simple as compared to children with weak working memory. Information is easily stored and retrieved in children with high IQ.

Language is a representation of human thought and speech. It greatly influences brain processes and triggers the emotions of human beings. Psychologists have tried to understand language processing through, language comprehension, reading psychology, language acquisition and language production. Word encoding and access of lexical words, representation and parsing of sentence level processes, representation of the general concepts, the assumption of semantic, gist and inference have all been studied by psychologists as a way of understanding more on language processing. (Spaulding, 2012)

Various experiments have been carried out on language processing by engaging participants in speaking and listening and other related cognitive tasks. When participants are classified and experimented on language processing, their performance profile is used as a base to identify the traits they possess and the skills they have. From experiments, it is evident that language processing in children likely to be rapid as compared to adults. Children are sensitive and can easily figure language patterns which enhance language acquisition process.

The child can hear a good number linguistic construction and therefore able to repeatedly detect utterances across patterns. Repetition of patterns and easily learning them is an application of general cognitive and principle of the learning process. Language can also be learned from imitation as children learn from imitating the pronunciation of adults. Although this is possible, some words can be mispronounced and therefore this challenges the theory of imitation as a cognitive concept.


KevinC.Bickart, B. L. (2014). The amygdala as a hub in brainnetworks that support social life. Neuropsychologia, 235-248.

Matheny, S. & White, M. (2008). Signaling Threshold Regulation by the Ras Effector IMP. Journal Of Biological Chemistry, 284(17), 11007-11011. http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.r800082200

Matthew P. Walker. (2009). The Role of Slow Wave Sleep in Memory Processing. J Clin Sleep Med, 20-26.

Rockstroh, B. (2001). Contributions of biological psychology to psychopathology. Biological Psychology, 57(1-3), 1-4. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0301-0511(01)00086-2Sean M. Smith, W. W. (2006). The role of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in neuroendocrine responses to stress. Dialogues Clin Neurosci, 383395.

Spaulding, S. (2012). Overextended cognition. Philosophical Psychology, 25(4), 469-490. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09515089.2011.579421Spyridon Drosopoulos, U. W. (2005). Sleep enhances explicit recollection in recognition memory. Learning memory, 45-51.

Tacca, M. (2011). Commonalities between Perception and Cognition. Frontiers In Psychology, 2. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00358

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Why Do We Need to Study Biological Psychology?. (2021, Mar 13). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/why-do-we-need-to-study-biological-psychology

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