Biological Psychology

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  • Created by: Charley
  • Created on: 15-05-10 10:55

Biological Psychology

Biological psychology assumes that human behaviour has a cause. This could include hormones, genetics, evolution or the nervous system. For this reason it is thought that all malfunctions can be either modified or removed by scientific treatment, an example being drugs.
When researching from a biological perspective it is common to use experimentation, correlations, case studies and interviews or questionnaires. Brain scanning may also be used, this is a good way to observe what parts of the brain are active during certain activities. There are two types of brain scanning, M.R.I and P.E.T.

Stress as a Bodily Response

Stress is the process when a person feels they are unable to cope with the pressures of their environment. It is down to an individual’s own judgement, this means the stress may not have justification.
The decision as to whether or not we can deal with stressors comes from the higher brain centres known as the cerebral cortex. This sends a signal to the hypothalamus, which then takes triggers one of two processes.
The first is the sympathomedullary pathway which is the initial shock response. The hypothalamus generates a response in the autonomic nervous system, which is a branch of the peripheral nervous system.
This is the immediate fight or flight response, stimulating the adrenal medulla in the adrenal glands. This releases adrenaline and noradrenaline and ensures the body is ready to use energy to deal with the present stressor.
The effects of this are heightened blood pressure and heart rate, decreased digestion, tense muscles and increased perspiration and breathing.
The second process that can be triggered is the pituitary adrenal system. This happens when the stress is long term and we are beginning to lack resources the initial reaction provided.
It is as follows:
Hypothalamus triggers the C.R.H. hormone to be released, which stimulates the anterior pituitary gland releasing A.C.T.H.
This travels through the body and causes the adrenal cortex to release corticosteroids which converts fat and protein. This in turn provides us with more energy.
All in all the use of these processors are not particularly useful in everyday life as stressors are more likely to be long term. This means that there is an increased likelihood of illness as they work at an unsustainable rate.

Stress and Physical Illness.

Hans Selye explained stress as a three step physiological process known as general adaption syndrome. First we enter the alarm stage, which is where we make the judgement and our body acts accordingly. Secondly, the resistance stage begins which is where a stressor is present for a long period of time. In this stage we cope in a


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