PY One :- The Biological Approach


The Biological Approach


Assumptions of The Biological Approach

Behaviour Can be Explained in Terms of Different Areas of the Brain

     Many areas of the brain have been identified that are specialised for certain functions. The cerebral cortex is the region of the brain responsible for higher cognitive functions. It is divided into four lobes, with the most important being the frontal cortex which is responsible for fine motor movement and thinking. Underneath the cortex, there are various subcortical structures, such as the hypothalamus which integrates the ANS.

Behaviour Can be Explained in Terms of Hormones

     Hormones are biochemical substances that are produced in one part of the body and circulate in the blood, having an effect on target organs. Hormones are produced in large quantities and have an immediate effect. For example, adrenaline is released by the adrenal glands when an animal is scared or stressed.  The result is called a “fight” or “flight” response. The biological response prepares us to cope with a stressful situation by fighting it or fleeing it.


Theory : The GAS Model

     Stress is the body’s response to situations that we feel may endanger us or our wellbeing. We feel stressed when the perceived demands of a situation are greater than our perceived ability to cope. A stressor is a stimulus that causes stress. The stress response is important to the survival of an animal because the bodily changes associated with stress are essential in conditions of fight or flight.

     Selye worked in a hospital, and began to notice that all patients, regardless of the cause of their illness shared a common set of symptoms, such as aches and pains, loss of appetite etc. He used his experience and experiments on rats to create his General Adaptation Syndrome.

     The GAS model describes what happens to the body when it encounters an unavoidable stressor. It suggests that the body will generally act in the same way regardless as to what is actually causing the stress ; a non-specific response of the body to any demand made upon it.

     The General Adaptation Syndrome is general because it is the same response, regardless of the stressor, adaptive because it’s the way of adapting and coping with the stressor and it’s a syndrome because there were several symptoms in the stress response.

     Selye proposed three stages that lead up to illness, therefore linking stress and illness. Stress results in a depletion of physiological resources, which lowers the body’s resistance to infection.

Stage One : Alarm Reaction :- The threat or stressor is recognised and a response is made to the alarm. The Hypothalamus in the brain triggers the production of adrenaline from the adrenal glands. Adrenaline causes sensations that are often labelled as an “adrenaline rush” – increased heart rate, sweaty palms etc. which leads to readiness for “fight” or “flight”.

Stage Two : Resistance :- If the stress continues, then it is necessary to find some means of coping.


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