Psychology: Biological LOA

  1. Outline principles that define the biological LOA
    Principle 1: Emotions and behavior are products of the anatomy and physiology of the nervous and endocrine systems (biological correlates of behavior)

    Principle 2: Patterns of behavior can be inherited, behavior can be innate and evolution may play a key role

    Principle 3: Animal research may inform our understanding of behavior (a significant amount of research is undertaken using animals)
  2. Discuss how and why particular research methods are used at the biological level of analysis
    • Laboratory Experiments: establishes cause and effect relationships in a controlled environment (i.e. animal research)
    • -harm, consent, ethics, placebo, less pain awareness. However suffering not enough to justify, different from humans, is it able to be generalized across species.

    • Case Studies: one person is studied in depth in hopes of revealing universal principles regarding naturally occurring irregularities getting detailed and descriptive information
    • -mostly description and little harm however questionable ethics (i.e. anonymity).

    • Correlation Studies:takes two or more measures and finds the relationship between them.
    • *Although a relationship can be established, correlation does not equal causation.*

    Naturalistic Observations: observing and recording behavior in naturally occurring situations without trying to manipulate and control the situation.
  3. Discuss ethical considerations related to research studies at the biological level of analysis
    -May cause harm to participants therefore animals are used

    -Briefing and consent might give away too much information about the study (Hawthorne and Screw You Effect)

    -Placebo may occur when participants believe they are getting a treatment.

    -Confidentiality may be threatened and therefore extra measures must be taken in order to keep identity safe.
  4. Explain one study related to localization of function in the brain.
    -Broca: (1861) {frontal lobe, left hemisphere directs muscles involved in speaking} Studied 'Tan' in a post mortem autopsy in the brain. (Tan was one of the few sounds he could make.) Obtained evidence that damage to a specific area of the brain was responsible for the loss of ability to produce coherent speech. *new technology allows for living observations of the brain*

    -Wernicke: (1874) { left temporal lobe involved in comprehending language and expressing it (words)} Noted behavior of patients and then studied patients post mortem to locate where there was brain damage.

    -Phineas Gage: (1884) - case study regarding Gage as he was able to live with a rod through his frontal lobe however experienced significant personality changes and a loss of inhibitions.
  5. Examine one interaction between cognition and psychology in terms of behavior. Evaluate two relevant studies.
    * neuroplasticity: specific location of a function is not fixed for all individuals and some areas of the brain can be redistributed according to environmental demands. *

    • -Davidson: (2004) - monks study. Using PET scans they studied meditation on love and compassion between trained monks and volunteers finding that the brain not only adapts from stimulation from the environment but also as a result of our own thoughts.
    • Limitations: small sample size of monks.

    • -McGuire: (2004) - London taxi study. Using structural MRI scans measured the hippocampus between a range of experienced London taxi drivers and healthy males who did not drive taxis. Taxi drivers had larger hippocampuses meaning that the hippocampuses were a result of intense development and use of spatial memory skills related to learning and remembering routes thru the city.
    • Limitations: Control group was not actually a part of the experiment. Consent from them.
  6. Discuss the use of brain imaging technologies in investigating the relationship between biological factors and behavior
    *can see where certain brain processes take place allowing for studies of localization of function in living brains*

    • Electroencephalogram (EEG): electrodes are placed outside of a persons head in specific locations often using a special cap or helmet so that electrodes are fitted to standardized locations on a skull and can detect changes in electrical activity in the brain. It produces a graphical representation of the activity from each electrode. It is commonly used in sleep research.
    • Weakness: not sufficiently accurate for localization of function in the brain, electrodes are outside of the skull yet detect activity in the brain, vague ideas of localization but not strong enough to justify conclusions.

    • Computed Topography (CT): combines computer and X-ray technology that takes photos of the brain from the top, bottom, back, and front sides of the skull and can show the brain at any depth.
    • Benefit: extremely useful for the structure changes i.e. tumors or brain damage
    • Weakness: can only show structural image not activity

    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): a technique that utilities magnetic fields and radio waves to produce computer generated images that distinguish among different types of soft tissue. The image represents a slice of brain from any angle and can be used to create a three dimensional image.
    • Weakness: not a natural environment for cognition so question ecological validity

    Functional MRI (fMRI): a technique used to reveal blood flow and brain activity by comparing successive MRI scans. It maps the metabolic changes that indicate brain activity to provide a pictures of which part of the brain is active when certain activities are being performed or certain thoughts or emotions occur.

    • Positron Emission Topography (PET): monitors glucose metabolism in the brain by being injected with a harmless dose of radioactive glucose. The scans produce colored maps of brain activity and have been used to diagnose abnormalities (i.e. tumors & Alzheimer), compare brain differences between normal and abnormal brains, compare gender differences.
    • Advantage: can record ongoing activity in the brain

    Criticisms: -use of colors may exaggerate the different activities of the brain. -brain areas activate for different reasons
  7. Discuss two effects of the environment on physiological processes
    • Enrichment:
    • -Rozenweig: (1972) - the rat study. Where some were with others and the second group were isolated. In the postmortem autopsy it was found that those in an embodiment with social interactions and toys had an increased thickness in the cortex along with a heavier frontal lobe. Meaning that the combo of social interaction and stimulation created the best conditions for developing cerebral thickness.

    • Observational Learning:
    • *mirror neurons: frontal lobe neurons that fire when performing certain actions or when observing another doing so enabling imitation, language learning and empathy*
    • -Rizzolatti: (2002) - when a monkey is observing a task i.e. grasping, holding, or tearing, neurons fire and when they are also performing that task. When one monkey sees the neurons will mirror what another person does. (Monkey see monkey do)

    - Lacoboni: (2004) - do emotions carry across space. will it be the same in humans as monkeys. Looking at a happy face, when you imitate the face and when you look at the face are the same areas of the brain activated. Using an fMRI it was found that the same area was activated and that the limbic system was also activated so when you see a happy face your pleasure centers in the brain are also activated.
  8. Using one or more examples, explain the effect of neurotransmission on human behavior
  9. Using one or more examples, explain functions of two hormones in human behavior
    *hormones: the chemical messengers that are produced by the glands that make up the endocrine system*

    1. Adrenaline:
    adrenaline is a hormone secreted from the adrenal gland that increases alertness. It stimulates the "flight or fight" response (prepares the body for action to help the organism deal with a threat, either by fighting it, or by running away from it), and although commonly assosiated with negative emotion (i.e. fear), it is also found in individuals who participate in extreme sports and recieve a positive rush of adrenaline. Adrenaline increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain by increasing the heart rate and dialating blood vessels, dialates pupils, and key resources (i.e. oxygen and glucose) are transfered away from external organs (i.e. digestive system) and towards the body's extremeties.

    • 2. Melatonin: Melatonin is secreted from the pineal gland relying on signals from the eys and other sense organs to see light because melatonin is produced by darkness and inhibited by light. Melatonin is used to "turn-off" the body to sleep.
    • -Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): a subcategory of depression characterized by sleepiness and lethargy because of reduced light levels that increase melatonin production.
    • -Avery et al: (2001) - Melatonin light studt where three different light therapys were used to study melatonin levels: dawn stimulation timed to being at 4:30 am, traditional light therapy, and placebo of a dim red light at dawn. Those who recieved the traditoinal bright light therapy or placebo, who complained of insomnia, had less improvements than the dawn stimulation. This is related to the sleep patterns of the participants.
  10. With reference to relevant research studies, to what extent does genetic inheritance influence behavior
  11. Examine one evolutionary explaination of behavior
    *the key assumption of all evolutionary psychology is that human behavior must have been adaptive under some circumstances in the past*

    Natural Selection:
    the process by which genes that are advantageous are passed down (natural selection cannot select the behavior but it can select the mechanisms that produce behavior)

    (2006) - the pregnancy experiment, trying to find out if the nausea response experienced by women during their first trimester helps to compensate for the supressed immune system, with 496 healthy pregnant women, he presented disgusting scenarios and the women were asked to rank them on how disgusting they found them after questioning if the women were experienceing morning sickness. Women in their first trimester scored much higher across the board in their sensibilities as compared to those in later trimesters. Many diseases that could have caught our ancestors were food-borne but the ancestors couldnt be picky. Natural selection helped compensate for the inceased susceptibility to disease during the intitial risky period by increasing the urge to be picky about food. The emotional response of disgust appeard to have been passed down as a form of protection against disease.
  12. Discuss ethical considerations in research into genetic influences on behavior.
    *Research in human genetics aims to identify particular genes involved in heredity diseases*

    • -risk to participants because of the link between genetic heritage and peoples' lives
    • -genetic inheritance can be problematic to the family
    • -if misued, genetic information can be stigmatizing and may affect a persons ability to get a job
    • -genetic research can reveal unexpected information that may harm research participants i.e. any diseases found may cause stress
    • -some cultural groups may have objectinos to genetic studies as a principle
Card Set
Psychology: Biological LOA
IB Psychology: Biological LOA