AQA Psychology A A2 Level - Schizophrenia - Biological Explanations of Schizophrenia

  1. Discuss/Outline and Evaluate One Biological Explanation of Schizophrenia (4+8)
    (Dopamine Hypothesis)
    • AO1:
    • Dopamine hypothesis is one explanation.
    • Dopamine is a neurotransmitter.
    • Neurotransmitters allow separate neurons to communicate.
    • By diffucing down the synapse.
    • Schizophrenics have abnormal brain activity.
    • An abnormal level of dopamine could be the cause of schizophrenia symptoms.
    • An excess can cause over excitement of cells due to over stimulation.
    • This results in the abnormal brain activity in the pre-frontal cortex and can account for the hallucinations and delusions.
    • AO2:
    • - This as well as other biological explanations have been criticised for being reductionist. This means that they explain schizophrenia in a simplistic way, for example in the Dopamine hypothesis, schizophrenia is explained as abnormal dopamine levels being the only cause therefore other factors may be ignored. However reducing an explanation to one component being the only cause means that experiments can be used to verify this explanation and as only one factor is targeted, therapies can be made to target the one factor.
    • - There is also empirical evidence to support this explanation. Psychologists have found that hallucinogenic drugs have an affect on levels of neurotransmitters, therefore the dopamine hypothesis is valid in some respects as it is able to explain hallucinations with scientific evidence to support this.
    • - This theory has also lead to effective treatments. Anti psychotic drugs which have the effect of controlling levels of dopamine have been found to be effective and are still used today. Therefore we are able to conclude that this is a valid explanation as it has treatments based on it which is still used today.
  2. Discuss/Outline and Evaluate One Biological Explanation of Schizophrenia (4+8)(Neuroanatomical)
    • AO1:
    • Neuroanatomical explanations focus on damaged brain structures to explain schizophrenia. Research has shown that schizophrenics have enlarged ventricles which means that the the rest of the brain remains under developed which could result in the abnormal brain activities schizophrenics have. The pre-frontal Cortex is involved in intellectualisation (the use of reason to block emotional stress) and normal speech. Having an impaired pre-frontal cortex can therefore account for the abnormal speech patterns and the highly emotional state of schizophrenics. As schizophrenics have abnormal brain activity in the pre-frontal cortex.
    • AO2:
    • - Reductionist
    • - There is empirical evidence to support this view. Researchers have found that schizophrenics really do have abnormal brain activity. This means that even brain structures could possibly involved in schizophrenia, however this is just correlational as we only know that schizophrenics have damaged brain structures and seeing as we are not able to conduct an experiment such as seeing if damaging brain structures leads to schizophrenia due to ethical reasons, so although it is evidence from correlation, it may be as strong an evidence we may ever have so it is still significant.
  3. Discuss/Outline and Evaluate One Biological Explanation of Schizophrenia (4+8)(Evolutionary Theory)
    • AO1:
    • The evolutionary theory of schizophrenia tries to explain schizophrenia as a gene that has remained in the gene pool, and seeing as it has, schizophrenia must offer some advantage. The group splitting theory tries to explain this. When humans travelled in large group, there was a niche for a "crazy" leader who would have lead smaller groups to split from the main group which would have populated various areas of the world. Due to our strong desire to belong a very "crazy" leader would have been needed to persuade people to leave. This would also account for why schizophrenia is indiscriminately in every culture and affecting populations in roughly the same proportions of each population respectively.
    • AO2:
    • - Reductionist
    • - There is empirical evidence that suggests that schizophrenia is a gene. This means that this theory is in some respects be valid as the idea schizophrenia being a gene is a key concept of this explanation and seeing as psychologists have narrowed one gene as a possible cause of schizophrenia and that schizophrenia is still in modern day society despite selection, it that this explanation is correct and that we keep this theory for now.
    • - We are unable to test this explanation in any way, it is therefore weaker when compared to other biological theories as unlike the dopamine hypothesis where we would be able to reduce dopamine levels to see if that reduces symptoms, this explanation is untestable and therefore more bias as it is just based on the theories of psychologist without much objective measuring.
Card Set
AQA Psychology A A2 Level - Schizophrenia - Biological Explanations of Schizophrenia
AQA Psychology A A2 Level - Schizophrenia - Biological Explanations of Schizophrenia