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BIOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY

Our everyday life is full of examples showing the role played by the brain in behevior. The human brain is estimated to contain at least 150 billion nerve cells, called neurons, each of which is connected to many others, making the number of connections immense. The connections between nerve cells are called synapses. But even though there are an enormous number of connections, research shows that they are arranged in an orderly fashion— certain cells connect only. with certain others.

Because physiological psychologists are interested in the involvement of the nervous system in behavior and experience, it is important for them to know the ways in which the living tissue of the nervous system actually conducts and processes information. Such knowledge is the bed¬rock upon which all our ideas about the role of the nervous system in complex psychological functions must be grounded. In this section, we shall see that neurons carry information electrically. At the connections between neurons— at the synapses — we shall also see that information is passed from one neuron to another by chemicals known as neurotransmitters.
Biological psychology, also called physiological psychology or behavioral neuroscience, the study of the physiological bases of behavior. Biological psychology is concerned primarily with the relationship between psychological processes and the underlying physiological events or, in other words, the mind-body phenomenon. Its focus is the function of the brain and the rest of the nervous system in activities (e.g., thinking, learning, feeling, sensing, and perceiving) recognized as characteristic of humans and other animals. Biological psychology has continually been involved in studying the physical basis for the reception of internal and external stimuli by the nervous system, particularly the visual and auditory systems. Other areas of study have included the physiological bases for motivated behavior, emotion, learning, memory, cognition, and mental disorders. Also considered are physical factors that directly affect the nervous system, including heredity, metabolism, hormones, disease, drug ingestion, and diet.

Theories of the relationship between body and mind date back at least to Aristotle, who conjectured that the two exist as aspects of the same entity, the mind being merely one of the body's functions. In the dualism of French philosopher René Descartes, both the mind and the soul are spiritual entities existing separately from the mechanical operations of the human body. Related to this is the psychological parallelism theory of German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Leibniz believed that mind and body are separate but that their activities directly parallel each other. In recent times behaviorists such as American psychologist John B. Watson moved away from consideration of the spiritual or mental and focused on observable human and animal behaviors and their relationship to the nervous system.

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