This course builds on studies undertaken in Biopsychology I and assumes students have some understanding of brain structures and functions. There is greater emphasis on the effects of brain damage and drugs on behaviour and the higher cognitive functions of memory and language are explored in detail. Graduates of both biopsychology courses will feel confident that they have a thorough grounding in the functions of different brain centres.
Satisfy your need to understand more about the mind-body relationship
- Open new avenues by exploring biopsychology
- Learn more about the relationships between human physiology, anatomy and mental states.
Biopsychology is also known as “Physiological Psychology”, “Psychobiology” or “Biological Psychology”. It studies the way human physiology affects our psychological makeup and how our psychology can in turn affect physiology.
Physiology is the study of the way living organisms function. It can encompass the way things move, chemical and bodily processes, growth, atrophy, and anything else that supports or causes physical or chemical changes to occur within the body. Psychology is the scientific study of behaviour and our mental processes. Behaviours are observable actions. Psychologists study the complex human and animal mind. We are not able to look inside someone’s head and understand them, all we will see is the grey matter that comprises their brain. We will not be able to see their memories, perceptions or emotions.
ACS student comment: "I am beginning to understand how the brain works, and it is opening up a whole new dimension! Its fantastic." Yvonne Munshi, South Africa, Bio Psychology course
There are 7 lessons in this course:
- Evolution, genetics and experience
- Research methods in biopsychology
- Brain damage
- Recovery from brain damage
- Drug dependence and the brain
- Understand how evolution, genetics and experience influence behaviour and individual differences.
- Discuss methods of research used to understand the functioning of the nervous system and behaviour.
- Explain different causes of brain damage and the resultant effects on brain functioning.
- Understand neuro-plasticity from the perspective of development, learning and recovery from brain damage.
- Delineate the effects of drugs on the CNS and to explain biopsychological theories of addiction and reward systems in the brain.
- Describe memory structures in the brain, theories of memory storage and evidence from different types of amnesia.
- Describe different models of language localisation and to evaluate evidence for these models.
Course Duration: 100 hours, self paced learning
What's in each lesson?
1. Evolution, Genetics and Experience
- What is biopsychology
- The organism's genetic endowment, experience and perception.
- Behavioural genetics
- The nature nurture debate
- The human genome
- Benefits of genetic research
- Critical policy and ethical issues
2. Research Methods in Biopsychology
- Behavioural genetics
- Methods of investigating the brain: invasive and non invasive
- Localisation of function
- Neuroanatomical techniques
- Psychophysiological measures
- Other methods
3. Brain Damage
- Causes of brain damage
Frontal lobe damage
Damage to other areas and effects
Types of brain damage
Case study : Phineas Gage
Case study: diagnosing epilepsy
Case study -Alzheimer's disease
4. Recovery from Brain Damage
- Neuro plasticity
- Stages of recovery: unresponsiveness, early responses, agitated and confused, higher level responses,
- Case study: Parkinson's disease
- Parkinson's disease symptoms, diagnosis, prognosis, stages, etc
- Drug treatments for Parkinson's disease
- Complimentary and supportive therapies for Parkinson's disease
- Coping with Parkinson's disease
5. Drug Dependence and the Brain
- Effects of illegal drugs
- Other drugs: steroids, barbituates, etc
- Physiological and psychological effects of drugs: illicits, stimulants
- Addiction: how drugs work in the brain
- Central nervous system
- Models of memory: multistore model, working memory model, levels of processing model
- Levels of processing model
- Amnesia and types of amnesia
- Case study: traumatic amnesia
- Case study: Korsakoff's syndrome (Alcohol amnesic syndrome)
- The brain and language
- Paul Broca
- Carl Wernicke
- Aphasia and Diaphasia
ACS Biopsychology student comment -Donna -
As for the
assistance, feedback, and general help of the ACS services and staff, I
found them excellent. They were very patient and switched on. The
feedback on assignments was constructive and to the point, but always
positive and motivating.
What Affects Behaviour?
All behaviour is the product of interactions amongst three factors:
1. The Organism’s Genetic Endowment
Biopsychologists generally consider that evolution has an influence on the pool of behaviour-influencing genes available to members of each species. Evolution is a gradual process of genetic development and change in animal life over generations. Those members of a species best adapted for their environment in any generation (ie. the “fittest”) will have the best chance of surviving and reproducing successfully. Each individual’s genes will initiate a programme of neural development. Genes are the units of inheritance that form part of a chromosome. Some characteristics are determined by one gene, whilst others are determined by many.
2. Its Experience
An individual’s interaction with the environment will determine the development of the nervous system. An individual’s neural activity will determine behavioural capacities and tendencies some of which are experience as thoughts feelings and memories.
3. Its Perception of the Current Situation
Behaviour arises out of the individuals interactions among its ongoing patterns neural activity and there perception of the current situation. The success of the individual’s behaviour influences the likelihood that their genes will be passed on to future generations. The view that animal behaviour is caused by genetic influences is known as genetic determinism, and underpins evolutionary explanations.
How Do We Learn about the Brain?
We learn about the brain through many different techniques,. Here are just some:
EEG’s take electrical recordings from the scalp. Small changes in electrical activity in the brain are picked up by electrodes. The changes are shown on a computer screen. The changes in patters are often known as brain waves. EEGS are useful. They have found that we have five stages of sleep, can help to detect epilepsy, damaged brain tissue and tumours. EEGs also helped to identify the functions of the two hemispheres of the brain. However, EEGs have largely been replaced by brain scans.
Brain scans can study cortical functioning. They include:
CAT scans (computerised axial tomography) An x-ray beam goes through an individual’s head and a level of radioactivity is detected. The level is lower when the X-ray passes through dense material. CAT scans are useful for detecting tumours, brain abnormalities and clots. They do not show precise locations of brain damage or show the actual functioning of the brain. They are also very expensive. CAT scans provide 3d images for easy observation of the brain.
MRI scans (magnetic resonance imaging) Produce clearer and more detailed pictures than CAT scans. Radio waves are used to excite the atoms in the brain. These produce magnetic changes that are detected by a magnet surrounding the patient. The changes are interpreted by a computer. They can be used to detect very small tumours. They can still only tell us about the structure of the brain rather than its functioning.
Functional MRI This produces images of the brain with areas of high activity indicated, so we can get a picture of the brain whilst functioning. This provides more spatial information than PET scans and shows changes over shorter periods of time.
PET scans (positron emission tomography) Shows the brain in action and also what part of the brain is active in certain tasks. It only shows activity over a 60 second period. PET scans display differences in brain regions through blood flow and fuel metabolism. Differences can be observed between different individuals and within an individual both in terms of time and brain region. A radioactive tracing substance is administered either into the blood stream via injections or inhalation, or by administering an artificial substance similar to glucose (a brain fuel), then the activity in different brain regions is observed. Areas involved in motor control and sensory stimulation can be observed.
Squid magnetometry (superconducting quantum interference devices) This measures the magnetic field produced by neuron activity in the brain. Irrelevant magnetism may interfere with results and the machine has to be kept at extremely low temperatures.
How This Course Could Help You
This course builds on an existing understanding of brain biology and behaviour.
It may be studied by itself or as part of a certificate or higher level course. The course will be of most interest to those working in: