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  Fundamentals of Biopsychology 1 Kelsey L. Brown Fundamentals of Biopsychology Biological Foundations of Behavior: The Brain Professor Julian Achim  Fundamentals of Biopsychology 2 Psychology, the study of human behavior, has been studied for centuries. Biology, the study of life and living organisms, has been studied for even longer. Biopsychology is a combination of these two disciplines. To be specific, biopsychology is the study of the brain and the nervous system and their effects on human behavior, thoughts, and feelings. (Cherry, n.d.). Biops ychology incorporates several disciplines of neuroscience in its’ studies. Some of those neurosciences are; neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, neuroendocrinology, neuropathology, and neuropharmacology. Neuroanatomy is the study of the nervous system. Neurochemistry is the study of the chemical makeup of the brain. Neuroendocrinology is the study of interactions  between the nervous system and the endocrine system. The study of nervous system disorders is neuropathology, and the study of the effects that drugs have on the brain is neuropharmacology.  Neurophysiology is the study of the functions of the nervous system. (MUSE, 2010). Biopsychology also studies some of the most basic ideas presented in general psychology. Since the 1960s people have been interested in either the right or left sides of the brain. Roger W. Sperry, who won the 1981 Nobel Prize, srcinated the theory of right brained and left  brained thinkers. Sperry was studying epilepsy and discovered that seizures could be reduced by cutting along the corpus collosum which connects the two sides together. (Cherry, n.d.). Based on the symptoms Sperry’s  patients were having after the procedure, Sperry concluded that each side of the brain controlled certain functions and abilities. The left side was linked to languages and analytical thinking (Cherry, n.d.). Also, mathematics, critical thinking, reasoning and rational thinking are all thought to be controlled by the brains left hemisphere; whereas the right hemisphere was thought to be more creative and recognized music and sounds. The right side is thought to aid in reading emotion and faces, as well as recognizing colors, patterns, and images. (Cherry, 2010).  Fundamentals of Biopsychology 3 The brain is a very complex structure and has many different functions; also, each structure or part within the brain has some kind of effect on other parts of the body. There are many different ways that the brain has been divided up. First there is the right and left hemispheres. A further breakdown is: the forebrain, or prosencephalon, the midbrain, or mesencephalon, and the hindbrain, or rhombencephalon. (Bailey, n.d.). The most common division of the brain are the five divisions of the brain. The first division of the brain is called the myelencephalon. The myelencephalon contains the medulla. This part of the brain is made up of many tracks that carry signals between parts of the body and the brain. Any damage to the myelencephalon can  be detrimental or even life threatening. In addition to arousal, the myelencephalon aids in sleep, mobility, muscle maintenance, and some other respiratory and cardiac functions. (Pinel, 2010). The second division is the metencephalon. This division is much like the first one. This division contains the ascending and descending tracks that transmit signals throughout the body. This is where the cerebellum is located. This division controls adaptation to external changes in condition and movements. (Pinel, 2010). The third division is called the mesencephalon. This division contains two smaller divisions, the tectum and the tegmentum. The inferior and superior colliculi are housed in the tectum. The inferior colliculi aids in auditory function, and the superior colliculi aids in visual functions. The tegmentum houses three smaller structures; the  periaqueductal gray, red nucleus, and the substantia nigra. The periaqueductal gray connects the third and fourth ventricles. (Pinel, 2010). This part of the brain plays a special role in the pain receptors and their reactions to pain medications. The fourth division is called the diencephalon. The diencephalon contains the thalamus and the hypothalamus. The thalamus has two lobes and makes up the top of the brain stem. The thalamus also houses a variety of nuclei that receive signals, then process and transmit them to the proper places. (Pinel, 2010). The other nuclei are  Fundamentals of Biopsychology 4 lateral geniculate nuclei that are visual sensory nuclei. The hypothalamus regulates the release of hormones from the pituitary gland. The fifth and largest division is the telencephalon. The telencephalon contains the cerebral cortex and allows for voluntary movements, interprets sensory output, and mediates the complex cognitive process to include speech, problem solving, and learning. When it comes to memory and learning, the brain is very complex. There have been several studies done on such conditions as amnesia, demen tia, and Alzheimer’s. One particular s tudy on amnesia suggests that amnesia destroys imagination. Memory is affected in amnesia patients,  both long and short term. In some patients the memory loss is temporary. In some patients who are “profoundly amnesic”, they are unable to create new mem ories. (Handwerk, 2007). In most amnesia patients their memories are non-existent or fragmented. Also, the majority of amnesia  patients are unable to imagine anything outside of reality. These patients were asked to close their eyes and imagine they were lying on a sandy beach and describe the experience. The  patients could only describe fragmented pictures. (Handwork, 2007). Current research on the left and right brained theory from the 1960’s has proven that the theory is not correct. In fact, it has proven to be completely false. Newer studies have concluded that certain processes are started on either side but actually include the whole brain to complete. The 1960’s theory srcinated by roger Sperry was clever but did not have any actual scientific proof to back the theory. (Wanjek, 2013). Knowing this, it is safe to say that it is no longer correct to label people as being “right brained” or “left brained.”  Damages to the brain have an array of different effects on behavior and cognition. Damages can happen to the brain in several different ways. The basic causes for brain damage are; tumors,  Fundamentals of Biopsychology 5 cerebrovascular disorders, traumatic injuries, infections, toxins, and genetics. Traumatic brain injuries are where the brain is penetrated by or exposed to outside objects. Depending on where the brain is injured can determine how the behavior and cognition is affected. Drug use and abuse are another factor of brain damage and changes to the behavior and cognition. Another damaging effect on the brain is general aging. Researchers have found that the brains neurons actually stay healthy throughout the humans life span, rather than dying or decreasing as time goes on. (MUSE, 2010). Researchers have also found that the brain decreases in size and weight, as well as, changes shape as it gets older. The following are diseases that are associated with  brain damage; epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s. Many  people react to these different damaging affects in differen t ways. A person’s personality can be greatly affected and or destroyed, depending on what damage is done to what parts of the brain. (Novack, 2002). The treatments for these injuries and damages have been developing over many years and change as we discover more and more about the human brain. There have been several studies on brain damage and how it may affect human behavior. One of the earliest studies was the case of Phineas Gage. Gage was a railroad worker that had an accident while at work one day. His face, skull and brain were impaled by a metal rod when the gun powder exploded unexpectedly. Parts of Gages brain were damaged; however, he survived the whole ordeal. After the accident he was never the same person. The frontal lobes were affected, knowing this, it is only expected that his impulses and personality would be affected. Studies have found that, depending on what parts of the brain are damaged, determined what  behaviors would be changed. Depended on how and what changes are made in a person with  brain damage, will determine what changes they will have on the workplace.
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