Biopsychology is a field of psychology that deals with the study of behavior and experiences in reference to genetics, evolution, and bodily processes, particularly the functioning of the nervous system. The biopsychology employs the biological rules and regulations to understand the functioning of the human brain.
It is established that human behavior is influenced by the biological processes, which means that behavior is a biological process that emanates from the brain. Biopsychology is a field that has goes through numerous developments since it relates to other branches of psychology.
The field is still undergoing development and many scholars have ventured into research to understand how the nervous system influences the quality of behavior. Human beings are able to invent and improve the processes in their surrounding through the process of evaluation (Siegel, & Ehud, 1997).
Through evaluation, human beings secure their survival implying that change is inevitable in human life. This shows that biology and psychology are so intricate since they cannot be separated from each other. Plato was of the view that the brain is the main organ in charge of reasoning in human beings.
At this time, the brain was mainly studied through human dissection. The study proved that the human brain is closely related to the mind. Through the study of biology, it is established that some parts of the brain (ventricles) are responsible for sensing and memorizing.
In the subsequent studies, scholars established that the mind was independent of body since the human body is made up of physical matter while the mind (soul) is non-physical and independent from the material world.
Scholars found out that the brain and genes influence the thinking of individuals meaning that they influence human behavior. Biopsychology helps in the understanding of behavior, which empowers people to define themselves (Pinel, 2011).
Employing biology to comprehend human behavior helps in explaining the influence of the environment ton human behavior.
This paper conducts a study to establish the current state of research on the field of biopsychology. It is known that the field has attracted attention from various psychologists. The paper gives a summary of the major findings in the field before explaining some of the ethical issues associated with research in the field.
Summary of the Current Findings in This Area
The current body of knowledge shows that the core endocrine characteristic of depression is the anomalous regulation of Cortisol and thyroid hormones, although some findings dispute this idea.
Literature shows that patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) are also diagnosed with endocrinal malfunction owing to the damaged pituitary stalk (O’Donovan, & Sholomenkoa, 1993).
The existing findings suggest that hormonal dysfunction results to behavioral change because the brain is directly related to the mind. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is the major link of the mammalian neuroendocrine depression response system.
In fact, this has been of interest to many scholars in this field, particularly when it comes to the understanding and evaluation of depression in patients. The study of the HPA axis reveals that it is made up of the endocrine hypothalamic components, such as anterior pituitary, adrenal glands, and affector organ.
These are some of the organs that control an individual’s behavior. When an individual is exposed to depression or stress, the neurons that are found in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus discharge some hormones referred to as the corticotropin-releasing hormone (Heim, & Griesbeck, 2004).
The hormones are secreted from the nerve terminals in the median eminence and they travel all the way to the hypothalamo-hypophyscal portal circulation. This would in turn encourage the creation and discharge of glucocorticoids from the adrenal cortex.
The above finding proves that stressors stimulate the HPA axis because people with stress and depression are known to suffer from brain malfunction. However, the findings from the studies conducted on veterans of war are very different because Cortisol concentrations are low in these people (Gero, & Dino, 1998).
The concentrations are low as evidenced in urine and blood meaning that the concentrations would be low as compared to other members of the public. It is surprising to note that the studies proving that cortisol concentrations are low in veterans are not consistent.
Biopsychology scholars note that the differences among the traumatizing events or the events that cause depression might the reason why the studies are not consistent. The severity of the depressing or traumatizing event may change the way an individual responds to it.
The studies conducted on war veterans, refugees, Holocaust survivors, and abused persons are not consistent because the conditions that an individual is taken through are not similar.
Some of the differences the biological differences that bring differences in the way an individual responds to the depressing or traumatizing event include time, pattern of the signs, comorbid state, an individual’s eccentricity, and the genetic composition.
Current studies show that hypocortisolism in depressed people takes place because of the increased negative sensitive reaction to the HPA axis (Heimendahl, Itskov, & Arabzadeh, 2007). Increased negative reaction could also be as a result of increased glucocorticoid receptor binding.
Further studies show that low Cortisol levels during exposure to depressing event may determine the level at which the patient could develop depression. Based on the current findings, the nervous system is solely responsible for human behavior.
The nervous system stimulates a hormone that in turn influences human experiences and actions. The electrochemical events that usually take place in the nervous system would influence people’s thinking, feelings, and even what they do.
The neurons determine are therefore the main biological organs that determine people’s view points. The growth of the brain is determined by the genes meaning that an individual inherits them. In this regard, human behavior is influenced by genetic factors, which are inheritable (Abel, & Lattal, 2001).
This explains why an individual is likely to behave like his or her parents. The genes, just like other biological organs and processes, are believed to evolve.
In this case, human behavior and other emotional features could be explained in terms of evolution meaning that they also go through a certain process that would cause changes over time. Therefore, human behavior is static, but instead it is dynamic since genes have the ability to evolve.
The findings reveal that almost all biopsychology scholars explain behavior with reference to the brain meaning that the functioning of the brain is relied upon to explain the actions of an individual. An individual would behave in a way that befits him or her if he or she is only in a state of consciousness.
The wellness of the brain is therefore very important in the understanding of the behavior of an individual. An individual with defective brain would most likely behave in a way that is unexpected. The nervous system should be functioning for an individual to behave well.
The findings reveal further that each part of the brain has a role to play as far as human behavior is concerned. Each type of behavior is tickled by a certain section of the brain. If an individual behaves abnormally, a certain part of the brain is usually evaluated carefully to establish what could be the problem.
The brain is one organ with interconnected sections, which means that each part should be functioning well for an individual to behave well. One of the findings established that the development of language is influenced two sections of the cerebral cortex.
One of the sections is the broca’s section, which determines the development of speech. If the part is disturbed, there is a high likely that an individual’s speech would be interfered with.
The part controls the brain as regards to what should be said. If the part is dysfunctional, the patient will seem to say anything without measuring or considering the meaning of the said word. This would amount to insult, even though the patient might not be aware of the effects of the words.
Many people might be normal yet this section of their brain is damaged. Such individuals would definitely behave negatively, even though they might be blamed for lacking morals.
The second part of the brain that influences behavior is the Wernicke’s section, a section that determines the understanding of human speech (Chow, 2010). The section determines whether an individual would comprehend the phrases expressed by other people.
This is part is very important because an individual responds to speech the way he or she understands it. If an individual understands something different, he or she is likely to give a wrong answer.
This happens quite often in society, but people do not understand that it is a disorder brought about by the defective nervous system. The centers of speech in the human brain are linked to other parts of the brain a significant way.
In particular, the speech centers are closely related to the centers in charge of thinking and hearing. The centers in charge of processing words are relied upon to offer an accurate analysis to the said words.
Moreover, the part in charge of hearing is also critical because words cannot be interpreted without a well functioning auditory memory.
Biopsychology has also talked about the influences of genetics on human behavior. Specifically, genetics influences certain types of behavior only because not all behaviors are genetically related. For instance, some disorders, such as schizophrenia, can be explained genetically.
This implies that an individual could perhaps inherit a defective gene that would influence his or her behavior in mature commitments. Symptoms such as hallucinations, defective speech, disorganized thinking, and delusions are some of the inherited symptoms.
The genes are closely related to the brain since genes influence the development of the nervous system, which predisposes it to malfunctioning in certain major areas, leading to the above-mentioned symptoms. As earlier noted, the chemical processes taking place in the brain are major determinants of human behavior.
The brain relies on neurotransmitters, as well as hormones in relaying information between neurons. Therefore, the production of hormones that stimulate these processes is an important thing to consider.
When hormones are produced in large quantities, there is a high likelihood that the processes would be in excess, or they might even fail to take place, which causes problems in the brain.
This would go a long way to destabilize the brain processes, which leads to difficulties in reasoning, feeling, and defective behavior. Some researchers have conducted a study to authenticate this claim by altering the hormones in charge of sex.
When an individual has excess testosterone, he or she is likely to be a risk taker meaning that he or she does not care about life. This would mean that an individual may simply have sex with anyone that comes around since he or she does not care.
On the contrary, too much production of oxytocin would result to increased fostering and social receptiveness (Zhang, 2007). In this case, an individual would be too much caring and would be faithful to his or her partner. Moreover, an individual would tend to be responsive in a family setup.
A Report on Current Research
Modern researchers have developed various interests in the field of biopsychology. One of the interests has been on the method through which biopsychology could be understood.
In modern field, researchers prefer the application of quantitative methods because they are considered objective and could be controlled to produce results that could be tested empirically.
Recent studies employ twin, family history, and adoption studies to understand the influences of genetics on the human brain and behavior. The studies employ comparative analysis whereby the behavior of one individual is closely compared to those of other people in a guided study (Gradinaru, & Deisseroth, 2008).
The main aim of comparing is to establish the similarity between the trait and those of other people. Recently, studies have been conducted to establish the genetic relationship of schizophrenia patients with their relatives. The studies have utilized comparative methods to explain this trend.
A recent study on patients with schizophrenia revealed that a relative is in a high risk of contracting the disorder if he or she is so close to the affected individual.
The study proves that genes have a role to play as regards to the contraction of the disorder because close family members would probably suffer from the disorder, especially when they are close emotionally.
Current studies have also shown that a number of techniques are available in the field of biopsychology, which could be used in the study of the configuration and the performance of the brain.
These techniques include the utilization of PET and MRI technologies. These technologies are recent technologies that could help those interested in performing tests regarding the relationship between the brain and human behavior.
Before the invention of the technologies, scholars utilized other techniques, such as the manipulation of the brain surgically, which was not accurate. The previous techniques were mostly applied in animals because it involved killing the animal before conducting a test.
This was mostly impossible with human beings, unlike the current technologies, which can be applied on patients undergoing surgery. Patients in needs of surgery owing to brain tumors can be used as specimens in conducting the study.
In 1950, there was a breakthrough in the field of biopsychology after Wilder Penfield conducted a study on the brain. The researcher stimulated a number of sections of the cerebral cortex.
His study revealed that under some state of affairs, patients would begin experiencing unexpected experiences or dramatic memoirs of the past proceedings. This proved that the brain can actually store memories (Thayer, 1989).
Current researchers have always capitalized on 1950 findings to establish modern methods that would help in the understanding of the brain, given the fact that it plays a critical role in the understanding of human behavior. The modern methods are more reliable as compared with the previous techniques.
Recent studies show that moods and feelings are products of the brain, unlike previous studies, which did not show this.
Recent studies show that moods are responsible for the development of other behaviors, which cannot be explained through social and cultural models. Biological models are best suited to explain the moods and feelings of various people.
Moods are so powerful to an extent of altering the behavior of an individual. Moods control the life of an individual rather than events.
A heated debate has emerged over the validity of biopsychology because of its tests and experiments. The study uses mostly animals in conducting tests meaning that it poses a threat to the survival of animals.
Tests are usually conducted in manner that would threaten the survival of animals since measures are not usually put in place to ensure that animals survive after surgery. Animals are taken through unnecessary pain yet they are not assured of survival after the operation.
Biopsychology uses animal models to understand the functioning of the brain yet each species in the world has its unique characteristic based on the environment and niche. It is almost impossible to draw valid conclusions on studies using animals as samples.
Animal activists have raised various ethical issues as regards to the use of animals in conducting the tests. Their claims are valid since the findings from animals cannot be equivalent to the findings conducted using human beings, particularly in regard to human behavior.
Human behavior is so developed because of cultural and social settings meaning that people behave in accordance to the provisions of culture and society. The findings from animals can explain little as far as the understanding of human behavior is concerned.
The issue of gender is another ethical issue since studies conducted in this field reveal that women are mostly affected, with results showing that their brains are not fully developed. This explains why women would always behave differently from men.
The studies show that women are emotionally dependent on men since their brains are not fully developed. This issue has raised controversies because the findings subordinate women to men. The findings show that men are always above women in everything because their brains are more developed.
However, this is not always true since some women behave maturely as compared to men. Biopsychology supports other studies that have always subordinated women in society. The findings are unethical because women are just as brave as women. Their brains are developed as those of men.
People are likely to acquire some of the undesirable features from their mothers because women have underdeveloped brains that influence their brains differently.
The studies show that women are very talkative, even though their speeches lack critical analysis of issues. Women would not take this idea lightly since it affects their socialization in society (Zhang, & Deisseroth, 2010).
Regarding diversity, the findings of biopsychology are biased because they explain that people would inherit weak traits from their parents based on ethnicity. The blacks are the most affected because they are usually associated with all forms of social crimes, such as prostitution, robbery, carjacking, and drug trafficking.
Children would most probably inherit these features, which would affect their interactions and relationships in society. Some scholars believe that the findings of biopsychology are skewed and could easily lead to stereotyping.
This is mainly because biopsychology provides that an individual inherits behavior from his or her parent. This is unethical behavior people differ in the way they behave. For instance, the father might be a bishop or a church leader yet the son might be a robber or a drug addict.
It is therefore unethical to believe that behavior is passed from one individual to the other through inheritance. Human behavior is acquired through the process of socialization meaning that the environment in which an individual is raised influences his behavior (Gradinaru, & Deisseroth, 2008).
Biopsychology is a field of psychology that explains behavior based on the biological factors. The field is successful in explaining how the brain is related to behavior. It explains that brain defects hampers decision making in an individual’s life, which automatically affects the performance of an individual in society.
Biopsychology has come a long way since 1950 when it was first established that the brain could memorize past events. Since then, scholars have engaged in extensive research to establish the relationship of the nervous system with behavior.
A number of technologies have been developed, which are critical to the explanation of the functioning of the brain. However, further studies should be conducted to establish the connectedness of behavior with biology.
As scholars try to come up with new findings, they should consider ethics since some findings might be destructive.
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