physiological psychology

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  • E. Kent RogersPhysiological/Biological Psychology

  • What is it?Physiological psychology investigates human behavior, emotion, thought, perception, learning, memory and all other elements of psychology in terms of biological structures (different regions of the brain and organs of the endocrine system) and physiological processes.

  • It is materialistic, assuming that the human being is a biological machine, thus deterministic, not allowing room for free-will.

  • Mind and consciousness arise from biological processes.All experiences and behaviors are all caused by the nervous system, the endocrine system, genetic programming and biology in general.

  • Evolution plays an important role in the thinking of physiological psychologists (though there is also evolutionary psychology)No discrete distinction between animal and humans, only a matter of degrees along a continuum.

    Go Back, we messed everything up.

  • Tools Employed

  • MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging

    Also known as N(nuclear)MRI and magnetic resonance tomography MRT

    Very basically, it uses pulses of massively powerful magnets to excite hydrogen atoms which then emit a radio signal which is interpreted into images..

  • Offers very clear, high resolution images of the inside of the body, and is especially useful for seeing the structures of the brain.

  • fMRI (funcional MRI)Using the similar technology as MRI, fMRI works by detecting blood flow volume in the brain. Higher rate of blood flow to any given area of the brain indicates that area to be in use and so needing more blood. Thus experimenters tell people to think or do things and find out which parts of the brain are involved in different tasks.It can also be used to discover what different psychoactive drugs do in the brain.It can also help determine what is malfunctioning in different psychological and psychiatric disordersIt can illustrate developmental changes in brain functioning

  • X-ray Computed TomographyX-ray CTOften shortened to CT scan, though other forms of computed tomography exist such as PET scans A computer analyses x-rays into three dimensions.Used to be called CAT scan.

    Tomography means any technique of imaging cross sections (slices) of the body

  • Positron Emission TomographyRadioactive substance (called a tracer) is placed into the body and it emits gamma rays which are detected by a sensor. The tracer is usually an analog to glucose and so when metabolism increases in an area of the body due to activity, this shows up in the scan and offers an image of what parts are used for different functions. So it works similarly and offers similar information to fMRI

  • Single Photon Emission Tomography (SPECT) Again uses a radioactive substance to map out the functioning of brain areas during different tasks, but the higher concentrations are according to blood flow (like fMRI) and not metabolism (like X-ray CT scan)

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)Measures electrical signals (brain waves) corresponding to brain activity

  • Other tools of investigationAbnormal/normal comparisonsDamage/normal comparisonsElectro-stimulationIntroduction of drugs directly into brain tissueIntroduction of drugs orally/injectionBlood testsBrain samplesUnconscious behavior observationsAnimal researchAnd more

  • Values to the ApproachHelpful in identifying specific organic disruptions in mental illness and disturbancesHelps remove stigma from mental illnesses.Offers important information about possible cures for mental/neurological issues.Offers very concrete, quantitative dataDoes not usually require deception or involve elaborate behavior/roles/scripts in experimentation

  • Values cont.Useful for investigation of individual differencesHigh reliabilityGenerally high validityGenerally high generalizability

  • DrawbacksDoes not accommodate idea of holismthat the human being is something more than the biological machine; that human consciousness is more than a survival tool resulting from evolution.Can be invasive.Experimental use of animals raises ethical questions.Experimental use of animals may not generalize to humansfMRI's don't actualy show brain activity, but blood flow and PET's show tracer levels

  • Drawbacks continuedMay undervalue talk therapies in favor of drug, surgical and genetic therapies.May lead to dangerous assumption of liberty in tinkering with human machineCan lead to alarming advances such as thethe humanzee my term creation of so called super-humans. Downloading for those who can afford it

  • Debates InvolvedSpirit or just machine?Inherent value or meaningless mechanics?Determinism or freewill?Situational or individual?Biological or social?Nature or nurture?

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