Biological Psychology

There are twelve psychology branches there is that is currently evolving and refining its course through research and time and biopsychology is only one of them. It is also known as the Neuroscience because the main focus of study in this venture is the Central nervous system which composes the brain and the spinal cord.

In here, researchers and neuroscientist s alike continues to analyze how the brain and its neurotransmitters influence our feelings, our thoughts, our behaviors and how motivation plays an important role on how we behave, react and respond to certain stimulus. Since the beginning of time, from Philosophers and Psychoanalysts, this system has evolved through different names also, such as psychobiology, behavioral neuroscience, biopsychological biology, etc. , which all summed up to be the study of the brain and how it affects us as human being (Pinel, 2009).

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Biopsychology seemed to be the perfect fit for this branch for its neuroscience/biopsychology perspective. According to our textbook, scientists started to find out the role of genetics and other biological factors regarding psychology which involves our memory, our perception of things and situations, language, the way we learn things, our own sexuality, sensation and other abnormal behavior there is (Pinel, J. , 2003). I would like to start with our biopsychological system is which mostly controlled by the central nervous system and is basically composed of the brain and the spinal cords.

The human brain is not only one of the most important organs in the human body; it is also the most complex. When the brain and the spinal cord is the subject matter of our study, it is very important to first understand the basics of the neuroanatomical structure and its functions. First of all we need to know that the cell is the most important component of the nervous system like all the systems in our body. These building blocks, which composed the whole nervous system, are the neurons, the brain cells and the glial cells (Psych. Pg. 14).

There is one more major aspect that composes this system which is the CSF or the cerebrospinal fluids which insulates and cleans the brain and its components inside the spinal cord. This is also the one that lubricates and strengthen the myelin sheath that covers the spinal cord ( Inaba, Cohen, 2004). CNS is composed of half of the nervous system and is well protects by the skull and the spinal cord than most of the peripheral nervous system. Understanding the precise way the messages are transmitted by the nervous system is to fully understand the nerve cells, the building blocks of the nervous system.

These are also called neurons. These specialized cells are the information-processing units of the brain responsible for receiving and transmitting information. Each part of the neuron plays a role in the communication of information throughout the body. The nervous system and endocrine system allow information to be communicated throughout the body The cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that functions to make every human being different from one another.

Distinctly human traits including higher thought, language and human consciousness as well as the ability to think, reason and imagine all originate in the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is the most obvious part when we look at the brain. It is the outermost portion that covers the whole structure of the brain and is divided into the four lobes of the brain. Each bump on the surface of the brain is known as a gyrus while each groove is known as sulcus (Inaba, Cohen, 2004). The endocrine system is the one that is essential for our communication.

It utilizes the glands located throughout the body, which secrete hormones that regulate a variety of things such as metabolism, digestion, blood pressure and our physical growth. Endocrine system is not directly linked to the nervous system but these two interact or communicate in various ways through synapses or “gates” to the neurons or the nerve cells. While neurons are the building blocks of the body’s communication system, it is the networks of neurons that allow signals to move between the brain and body.

These organized networks, composed of up to one trillion neurons, make up what is known as the nervous system. The human nervous system is composed of two parts: the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system, which is composed of nerves and nerve networks throughout the body (Inaba, Cohen, 2004). The somatic part of the peripheral nervous system transmits sensory information through sensory neurons that reach the skin, muscles and joints. It tells the central nervous systems about the environment and the limb and the muscle position.

It then transmits any instructions from the CNS back to the skeletal muscles, allowing the body to respond. This system is made up of nerves that connect to the skin, sensory organs and all skeletal muscles. The system is responsible for nearly all voluntary muscle movements as well as for processing sensory information that arrives via external stimuli including hearing, touch and sight. The peripheral nervous system, also called the autonomic nervous system includes all of the nerves that are not located in the brain and the spinal cord.

It controls the involuntary internal functions such as circulation, digestion, respiration, glandular output and genital reactions, such as penile erection and the release of the bartholins gland which secretes the fluids that lubricates the female vagina during the sexual intercourse. It is consisted of the sympathetic division which helps the body respond to stress, while the parasympathetic division is the one which conserves the body’s resources and restores homeostasis (physiological balance) and the enteric division which controls the smooth muscles in our intestines.

A synapse is a small gap at the end of a neuron that allows information to pass from one neuron to the next. Synapses are found where nerve cells connects with other nerve cells as well as where nerve cells connect with muscles and glands. Synapses are composed of three main parts: The presynaptic ending that contains neurotransmitters and the synaptic cleft between the two nerve cells at the postsynaptic ending that contains the receptor sites, as the electrical impulse travels down the axon of a neuron, and then triggers the release of neurotransmitters.

These chemical messengers cross the synaptic cleft and connect with the receptor sites in the next nerve cell, triggering an electrical impulse known as an action potential ( Inaba,Cohen, 2004). An action potential is part of the process that occurs during the firing of a neuron during the action potential; part of the neural membrane opens to allow positively charged ions inside the cell and negatively charged ions out. This process causes a rapid increase in the positive charge of the nerve fiber.

This electrical impulse is carried down to the nerve fiber through a series of action potentials. The glial cells are responsible for holding the synapse, the neurons and the dendrites in position for its regular neuronal functions. It also maintains the inside and outside of the cells clean as it gets rid of the dead cells present; it also provides the nutrients to these cells for its functions (Psyche, pg. 19). When it comes to our eating and sleeping routines and behavior, these are controlled by the biological rhythm cycles called the circadian rhythms.

These control our body’s response to our sleeping moods and our hunger and thirst (feelings of satiety). This is also called the “daily cycles” that are mostly voluntary and involuntary combined, such as our body temperature, our sleeping frenzy and what and how much do we eat and how frequent the intervals are. This has something to do with our menstrual period and is also called the estrous cycle where the estrogen during the ovulation period of a woman helps prepare the uterus for the egg cell or the ovum to be implanted after being fertilized by the sperm cells and then formed as a zygote.

This estrous cycle happens every once a month for a human female starting from Menarche (first onset of menstrual cycle) until she reaches the menopausal stage when the estrogen levels go down and the ovary stops from ovulating or releasing the ovum (Sdorow, 1998). In behavioral perspective, we are conditioned to reach the degree of behavioral preparedness wherein we human species are innately prepared to multiply or learn those particular behaviors related to the subject (Sdorow, 1998).

The circadian rhythms are controlled at the suprchiasmatic nucleus located at the hypothalamus (medial). Studies in rats have shown that lesions in this nucleus broke down their behavioral circadian rhythms, while their adrenal cortisone responses were affected on those with lessioned suprachiasmatic nucleus (Zuckermann, M. , 1990). Our circadian rhythms are influenced different duty shifts (night and day shift nurses) Are not able to sleep to take care of what they needed to but also to take care of themselves in order to function as their work load demanded of them.

As these go on, their body and their sleeping mode also adjusts to other cycles as well. There was a study of the twelve-hour night shift, where their heart rate got faster as their hearts adapts to their circadian rhythms (Higgins, Endler, 1995) as their epinephrine and norepinephrine levels were elevated. Although this rhythms are affected by day/night; sleep/awake cycles, Circadian and other biological rhythms are important modulators of behaviors in man and animals, as this enables us to determine if we are still at the maintained level of equilibrium or not.

In conclusion, the biological rhythms or clocks control the functioning of most behaviors that are biological including the body’s thermostat, female estrus cycles, the hunger and thirst, and sleep cycles. These biological rhythms adjust with the light and dark cycles that we are in. All biological systems are running on some cycle or the other, at any given point in time, and when changes occur in the body our behavioral functioning also follows a regular basis (rhythmic ability or change). These are called biological cycles and these follow a particular rhythm.

These cycles involves eating when we feel hungry and wanted to eat (daily for hunger) as motivated by the satiety centers in our brain; monthly for a menstrual or reproductive cycle both in humans and animals. In other words these biological rhythms are important motivators of our resulting behaviors and have an important influence on our behaviors, all of which were originated from our brain and spinal cord which comprises our Central Nervous system.