Biological Psychology

  • Created by: EliseJ
  • Created on: 30-04-18 09:11
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  • Biological Psychology
    • Intro
      • Examines effects of brain structure + function on behaviour
        • E.g. hormones, chemicals + electrical activity of brain
      • Biological Psychologist - try to identify specific parts of brain involved in controlling behaviour
        • Study people w/brain damage - identify area damaged + subsequent beahviour chnage
      • Biological psychologists - largest influence of behaviour = genetics
        • Researchers focus on study of identical twins
          • Comparing two variables = correlation
        • If genetic factors are important in determining behaviour then aggression score for twins will be similar
    • Brain functioning and aggression
      • Amygdala
        • Instinctive feeling or reaction to environment
        • Stimulation to amygdala causes aggressive behaviour
          • Lesions of the area reduce competitive drive + aggression
        • damage can occur through stroke, tumour or developmental problems
          • some areas of damage may lead to amygdala reacting in over fearful way or not reacting to fear at all
        • overtly aggessive responses = amygdala misinterpreting info from senses/cortex + respond incorrectly
      • hypothalamus
        • shown to cause aggression when electrically stimulated - has receptors that help determine aggression levels based on interaction w/serotonin + vasopressin
        • maintains stability of body in change
          • maintains regulation of hormones i.e testosterone - implicated in aggression
            • male prisoners with extra y chromosome often imprisoned for violent crimes - increased testosterone
        • two neurotransmitters = aggression = serotonin + dopamine
          • Low levels serotonin - high levels dopamine = aggression
          • Serotonin linked w/ prefrontal cortex role of planning - normal levels have calming inhibitory effect on neuronal firing in prefrontal cortex
            • low levels serotonin may disrupt the calm firing of neurons- indivs less able to resist aggressive impulse
    • Role of hormones to explain human behaviour
      • Endocrine system comprised of glands - secrete hormones into bloodstream - may travel act on target structures
      • Hormones = similar function to neurotransmitters
        • However hormones act over greater distance
          • as hormones enter bloodstream take longer to produce change in behaviour
      • some hormones produced by body are adrenaline + cortisol from the adrenals
        • melatonin from pineal gland
          • oxytocin  from pituitary gland + hypothalamus
            • testosterone + oestrogen from gonads (testes/ovary)
      • Hormones + aggression
        • hormones affect behaviour + cause physical  change to body
        • hormones naturally occurring secretion + perceived as providing reversible therapies for  some clinical conditions i.e. aggressiveness
        • testosterone = androgen which develops + maintains male characteristics
          • Higher levels of androgen associated w/increased agonistic behaviour  - reduction of androgenic compounds may reduce aggression
        • androgens important in sex-related aggression -  indication play role in generalised irritable aggression
        • critical period following birth - testosterone stimulates cell growth in hypothalamus + amygdala - sets up action of testosterone as an adult
        • hormone cortisol thought to inhibit aggression
          • having a mediating effect on other hormones related to aggression (testosterone)
            • high levels of cortisol inhibit aggression
          • cortisol increases anxiety + likelihood of social withdrawal
    • Individual differences + developmental psychology
      • male sex hormone testosterone important in human development - increase aggression
        • testosterone may influence areas of brain that control behavioural reactions (amygdala + hypothalamus)
          • also influences other hormones - vasopressin
      • males naturally produce  more testosterone than women - those born w/extra Y chromosome more aggressive
      • variation within species affects development - species survive have mutation advantage
        • sexual selection = adaptations making species more likely to mate
      • hormones affect development - hormones sent to target cells by impulses which initiate specific responses
  • hypothalamus
    • shown to cause aggression when electrically stimulated - has receptors that help determine aggression levels based on interaction w/serotonin + vasopressin
    • maintains stability of body in change
      • maintains regulation of hormones i.e testosterone - implicated in aggression
        • male prisoners with extra y chromosome often imprisoned for violent crimes - increased testosterone
    • two neurotransmitters = aggression = serotonin + dopamine
      • Low levels serotonin - high levels dopamine = aggression
      • Serotonin linked w/ prefrontal cortex role of planning - normal levels have calming inhibitory effect on neuronal firing in prefrontal cortex
        • low levels serotonin may disrupt the calm firing of neurons- indivs less able to resist aggressive impulse

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