It perhaps goes without saying, but many people forget that psychology is both the study of human behavior and the study of the brain; biopsychology, then, involves an in-depth look at how the brain functions and how those functions make people behave differently in certain types of situations.
Though psychology itself dates to the turn of the 20th century, with a rapid increase of popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, it actually took considerably longer for the study of the brain to become a mainstream part of the field. Modern studies in this area date only to 1949, when the first behavioral psychology book was released. This book looked not only at how people behave in certain situations, but also how certain parts of the brain inform human behavior, are shaped by human experience, and respond to certain types of stimuli. With that, the stage was set for vastly expanded study of the human mind in a more biological sense.
Major Components: What Biopsychologists Study, Look For, and Predict
Biological psychology, as this field is sometimes known, has evolved over the past 65 years to become one of the most important niches within the psychology field. That’s because, now more than ever, researchers are convinced that changes to the brain’s chemistry can actually dictate human behavior. It was the biological psychology field that discovered how depression can be directly linked to chemical imbalances in the brain, and it was this same industry that discovered how traumatic events or early life experiences can change the brain’s development and functionality. Within this field, then, there are a few major components of ongoing research and documentation.
– The Chemical Nature of Brain Functionality
Researchers are significantly interested in how the brain’s chemical balance affects the way people behavior, perceive, and interact. As mentioned earlier, the chemical imbalance that leads to depression was made within this field and it remains a significant area of study. The field remains interested in how certain chemical balances can affect how people perform in the workplace, relate to other son a social level, or respond to daily stimuli.
– The Impact of Damage to Certain Parts of the Brain
Because this field of psychology converges with neuroscience to a great degree, behavioral psychologists are quite interested in how physical damage to the brain can affect a person’s behavior. They’re also interested in recovery and memory rates when such damage occurs, and routinely do research and studies that focus on patients with traumatic brain damage, brain and behavior disorders, and more.
– The Interaction of Biological and Cognitive Processes
The age-old debate in psychology is the fight between nature and nurture. Many psychologists have at least tentatively accepted that a balance of these two factors is likely to produce the behavior patterns and habits of the typical human begin. That doesn’t mean they’re not looking for a more concrete answer, however. Psychologists in this field are interested in the interaction of biological functions with cognitive processes, including how the brain reacts under stress, during times of happiness, around friends and family, and much more.
Resource: The Brain: A User’s Guide to Emotions
Biological psychologists are on the cutting edge of new discoveries that relate to brain development, chemical balance, and damage, and how those things relate to human behavior. For this reason, biopsychology is one of the fastest-growing areas of the psychological profession.