Physiological Approach (3)
Strengths: A main strength of the physiological approach is the use of sophisticated equipment such as MRI scanners which provide an objective and precise way of measuring brain structure. For example in the Maguire et al. study the researchers were able to scan living brains using MRI technology which enabled the researchers to gain lots of quantitative and objective data about the density of the grey matter of the hippocampus. Furthermore the physiological approach takes a scientific approach using laboratory type experiments. For example in the Dement and Kleitman study of sleep and dreaming the participants were studied under tightly controlled conditions.
A further strength of the physiological approach is the practical applications that it offers. Much of the research in this area is very useful as it may be used to diagnose and develop treatments and therapies for illnesses or problems. For example, Maguire et al. suggested that their study has implications for those who have suffered brain injury or disease because they demonstrate the plasticity of the brain, and Dement in later studies has demonstrated the importance of sleep in relation to mental health. However, the main applications of the physiological approach have been the development of anti-depressant drugs which are more controversial partly because of the side effects that may occur. Furthermore, the idea that changing a chemical in the brain will bring about changes in complex emotions is a reductionist one as depression probably involves other life events.