Approaches to Understanding the Biological Basis of the Mind

2090 words (8 pages) Essay in Psychology

08/02/20 Psychology Reference this

Disclaimer: This work has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work produced by our Essay Writing Service. You can view samples of our professional work here.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

Why Is a Combination of Diverse Approaches Essential to Understanding the Biological Basis of the Mind?

This essay will examine the different sub-divisions of biopsychology and how these components allow a foundation to understanding the mind. It will also consider the importance of using more than one approach and how this would enhance the progress in evaluating biopsychological claims. Within the biological field of psychology, the aim is to explore the connection between the mind and body through scientific and evolutionary research as this approach believes that actions and behaviours are a consequence of genetics and physiology. The mind is complex and holds the ability to mentally process information such as emotions, thoughts and actions. The biological take on analysing the mind requires more than just specifically targeting the concept of genetics to study the biological basis of thoughts and emotions, as genetics cannot be the only biological factor to approach the behaviour. For example, schizophrenia is found to be linked with genetics from a twin study where monozygotic twins had a concordance rate of 40.4% of having schizophrenia (Joseph, 2004). However, this would be limited to explaining the behaviour with genetics as a conclusion because the concordance rate is not 100% this would mean that there could be other factors that are involved in the cause of schizophrenia in patients. Therefore, the biological approach requires different sub-divisions to biologically investigate and understand the biological basis of the mind.

There are six sub-divisions of biopsychology in total, each division specifies a certain area. However, by using a variety of combinations of the sub-divisions allow a wider inspection and a stronger development of understanding into the subject. This is called converging operations, where the cooperation of multiple divisions is used to compensate the short comings of the divisions. The way in which converging operations help provide a stronger insight and enrich their perspectives towards the situation, is based on how well the divisions complement each other as they balance out their disadvantages, it could also fill in the gaps of knowledge that one division would lack to explain. (Pinel, 2014)

Starting with physiological psychology, this field of biopsychology focuses on investigating neural chemical connections and mechanisms in relation to behaviours and emotions. Physiological psychology takes a highly empirical and practical approach to studying the brain which consists of looking at brain cells, structures and chemistry. To research into the brain components and neural activity, the brain is directly manipulated by either surgical or electrical methods. This type of empirical method is mainly restricted to nonhuman animal subjects as it does not conform to many ethical restrictions, this is because the effects on the subject can be unpredictable, harmful and irreversible.

Neuropsychology investigates brain damaged patients and how this affects their behaviour, through researching case studies or quasi-experimental studies. The subjects of this field are usually human patients who suffer from brain damage either by accidents, disease or neural surgery. The ideal motive of this sub-division is to research on brain disorders to help supplement the understanding of the brain functions and components, which can lead to more accurate diagnosis of brain disorders and prescribing better treatments for patients with brain damage.

Taking the physiological psychology approach alone would involve considering its potential disadvantages and advantages of approaching the biological claim. A strength for physiological psychology is that it excels in scientific experimental design and practicality, experiments are controlled which will provide a replicable experiment. The main disadvantage of the sub division is that the research on non-human animals cannot extrapolate to explaining the neural mechanisms in human behaviours. In contrast, Neuropsychology can conduct studies on humans with brain damage based on case studies and quasi-experiments to develop an understanding to the brain functions and components such as learning, memory and language. In terms of experiment wise, neuropsychology is lacking with essential scientific invasive procedures to directly observe psychological processes like thought.

An example of the converging operations of neuropsychology and physiological psychology, is research on the effect of alcohol on the brain based on the Korsakoff’s syndrome. The Korsakoff’s syndrome is the symptom of amnesia, commonly occurred in alcoholics which initiated the belief that this syndrome was the consequence of the neurotoxicity of consuming mass amounts of alcohol. The origin of the ‘Korsakoff’s syndrome’ was developed by S.S. Korsakoff, who was a Russian physician that studied on the patient Jimmie G. The case study on Jimmie G. found that he could not make any new memories and had suffered memory loss up and could only remember his early 20 years.

Further physiological research found a link of the brain damage caused by vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency found in the Korsakoff’s syndrome. pyrithiamine-induced thiamine deficiency (PTD) rats were compared to groups of controls rats on their performance on a spatial working memory tests which were water mazes. The results found that the ‘PTD rats had longer retention delays of 300 seconds’ (Mumbly, 1999). This shows that their spatial memory is correlated with the damage around the lateral internal medullary laminae where the brain damage is allocated. These results displayed similar memory loss patterns observed in human alcoholics. Which is further enforced by research by (Lishman, 1990), Where CT scans were conducted on Korsakoff’s patients and a non-Korsakoff alcoholics who had poor memory, found that the Korsakoff’s patients had a mean lateral ventricular size (s.d) of 13.7 and the control had 12.4. These use of physiological research in the rats found a link between thiamine deficiency and the Korsakoff’s syndrome which has allowed further research and knowledge upon the Korsakoff’s syndrome and memory loss. With the combination of neuropsychology and physiological psychology, it allowed to encourage a further and narrow view of the Korsakoff’s Syndrome as the case studies found that the memory loss was connected to the mass and longitudinal effect consuming of alcohol. Whereas the physio-psychological studies on rats found a major link between the memory loss and brain damage cause by drinking alcohol which induces the deficiency in thiamine. This shows how a combination of the approaches can implement further research into the topic.

Furthermore, another division is comparative psychology which compares behaviours in different species to understand and examine the changes in evolution, adaptive behaviour and genetics. This type of field generally associates with ethological research, which is studying animal behaviour in its natural environment. The main advantages of comparative psychology are that the findings are quite applicable in a sense of how humans are quite like animals and their behaviours such as the act of crying to call for help. Also, studying animals is an effective way to avoid ethical issues involved with studying humans. However, the main disadvantage is that it is unlikely to be able to extrapolate results found on animals to humans. Also, animals are expensive to maintain in labs and although the ethical guidelines are more lenient for animals, there are still massively controversial topics around animal testing.

Cognitive Neuroscience studies the neural bases of cognition processes such as memory, attention, and perception. The subjects are mostly humans as this field focuses on the brain by using non-invasive brain imaging techniques like fMRI scans. While subjects are under these scans, there is usually a stimulus that the participant is engaging. However, since the sub-division mainly focuses on non-invasive brain scans, the limitations of this is that the scans cannot entirely ensure the scan is able to show any information on neurochemical mechanisms or transmissions. For an example, an increase in blood flow may not explain the chemical neurotransmission when a participant reacts to a stimulus under the fMRI. Therefore, the converging operation with comparative psychology would compensate the in-depth information of studying on animals compared to humans. For example, the macaque monkey model of the human brain. (Passingham, 2009) which looks at how the macaque monkey model of the brain can compare to the human brain scans, the size of the hippocampus in relevance to memory.

 was significantly larger in taxi drivers

The species of birds cahe their seeds tend to have big hippocampi, confirming that the hippocampus is involved in meamory for location. Maguire – memory for location – big anterior cingulate hippocampus.

Psychopharmacology is another sub-division which correlates to many other divisions as it deals with drug effects on the neural activity and behaviour. The field consists of manipulation of neural activity and behaviour with the use of drugs, examines behaviours such as mood, sensation and thinking by investigating the correlation between the effect of the drug in the nervous system and the functioning of cells and how this impacts the behaviour. The motive of this division is mainly to develop therapeutic drugs to help alleviate the symptoms of mental disorders.

Psychophysiology studies explores the connection between physiological and psychological processes in humans. This field focuses on understanding the physiology of psychological processes through measuring physiological processes in accordance to the internal mental processes. For example, investigating the relationship between meditation and the improvement of maintaining cortical and autonomic arousal. (Woolfolk, 1975). This area of research is slightly pure focused research as the studies investigate the balance of both physical and mental health.

In conclusion, the sub-divisions are essentially a collection of biopsychology fields that can be combined in relevant ways to narrow the perspective of the biopsychological claim and attend further knowledge through balancing out the weaknesses of each division. For example, the combination of neuropsychology and physiological psychology are compatible because neuropsychology excels in qualitative data using quasi-experiments and case studies. However, this does not include any scientific approach to invasively research and understand the brain through controlled experiments. Which is why physiological psychology compensating the lack of experimental research in animal subjects and neuropsychology balances out the non-human subjects of physiological psychology. Therefore, the use of these converging operations allows a balance between the limitations of using a single sub-division to approach a biopsychological claim.

References

  • Burgess, N. M. (2002). The human hippocampus and spatial and episodic memory. Neuron, 35(4) pp 625-641.
  • Falkenstein, M. (2011). Early and recent trends in psychophysiology. Journal of Psychophysiology, 25(4), pp 159-163.
  • Joseph, J. (2004). Schizophrenia and Heredity: Why the Emperor has No Genes. In Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Schizophrenia (pp. 68-69). Hove, UK: Brunner-Routledge.
  • Langais, P. ,. (1995). Thiamine deficiency in rats produces cognitive and memory deficits on spatial tasks that correlate with tissue loss in diencephalon, cortex and white matter. Behavioural brain research, 68(1), pp 75-89.
  • Lishman, W. (1990). Alcohol and the brain. The British Journal of Pyschiatry, 156(5), pp 635-644.
  • Magaret, J. ,. (1995). Structural Brain Alterations Associated With Alcoholism. Alcohol Health and Research World, v19(4), p 267.
  • Mumbly, G. ,. (1999). Behavioural Neuroscience, Vol 113(1), pp 42-50.
  • Passingham, R. (2009). How good is the macaque monkey model of the human brain? Current opinion in neurobiology, 19(1), pp 6-11.
  • Pinel, J. (2014). Biopsychology. In Biopsychology (pp. 4-13). London: Pearson.
  • Woolfolk, R. (1975). Psychophsyiological Correlates of Meditation. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 32(10), pp 1326-1333.

         Bibliography

  • Burgess, N. M. (2002). The human hippocampus and spatial and episodic memory. Neuron, 35(4) pp 625-641.
  • Falkenstein, M. (2011). Early and recent trends in psychophysiology. Journal of Psychophysiology, 25(4), pp 159-163.
  • Joseph, J. (2004). Schizophrenia and Heredity: Why the Emperor has No Genes. In Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Schizophrenia (pp. 68-69). Hove, UK: Brunner-Routledge.
  • Langais, P. ,. (1995). Thiamine deficiency in rats produces cognitive and memory deficits on spatial tasks that correlate with tissue loss in diencephalon, cortex and white matter. Behavioural brain research, 68(1), pp 75-89.
  • Lishman, W. (1990). Alcohol and the brain. The British Journal of Pyschiatry, 156(5), pp 635-644.
  • Magaret, J. ,. (1995). Structural Brain Alterations Associated With Alcoholism. Alcohol Health and Research World, v19(4), p 267.
  • Mumbly, G. ,. (1999). Behavioural Neuroscience, Vol 113(1), pp 42-50.
  • Passingham, R. (2009). How good is the macaque monkey model of the human brain? Current opinion in neurobiology, 19(1), pp 6-11.
  • Pinel, J. (2014). Biopsychology. In Biopsychology (pp. 4-13). London: Pearson.
  • Woolfolk, R. (1975). Psychophsyiological Correlates of Meditation. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 32(10), pp 1326-1333.
Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Find out more

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have the essay published on the UK Essays website then please:

McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams Prices from
£124

Undergraduate 2:2 • 1000 words • 7 day delivery

Order now

Delivered on-time or your money back

Rated 4.6 out of 5 by
Reviews.co.uk Logo (185 Reviews)