History and Underlying Assumptions

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The Encyclopaedia Britannica (2010) defines Biological Psychology as the study of the interrelationship of biology and psychology that affects behaviour. In other words, it takes careful examination on the physiological bases of behaviour that is manifested by an individual in certain conditions. Biological Psychology as a discipline concerns itself with:

…the relationship between psychological processes and the underlying physiological events—or, in other words, the mind-body phenomenon. Its focus is the function of the brain and the rest of the nervous system in recognized as characteristic of humans and other animals (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/458833/biological-psychology).

Nervous system in activities refers to functions of the brain such as thinking, learning, perceiving, feeling and sensing. Biological Psychology concerns itself with the application of biological principles to the workings of the mind and bodily mechanisms.

Biological Psychology is also known as Behavioural Neuroscience, Psychobiology and Biopsychology. Basically, biological psychology makes use of the biology to explain and understand the behaviour of both human beings and animals through the use of controlled experiments.

To understand Biological Psychology, it is best to trace its history and developments through the years. Avicenna, in the year 980-1037 C.E., was the first to study and associate psychology and physiology in his study involving treatment of illnesses that are related to emotions.

Wickens (2005) gave background on the emergence of biological psychology as a contemporary discipline under psychology. He explained that even before the time of Plato and Aristotle, the mind-body-problem was already emerging in both the scientific and philosophical world. In the 1600s, dualism became popular through the works of to René Descartes. Descartes was the first to distinguish the brain from the mind and awareness.

Other notable philosophers also contributed a lot in the development of biopsychology. These people maintained that psychological processes can be associated with biological or physiological processes.

The Principles of Psychology as written by William James in 1890 was one of the earliest books in the field of Biological Psychology. James argued that biology is always vital in the scientific study of psychology. Psychology must be grounded on the principles of biology. Influential scientific researcher made by William Harvey, Claude Bernard and Charles Bell also reinforced the legitimacy of the connections between psychology and biology.

Moreover, the term Biological Psychology was made popular in the modern era through the work of Knight Dunlap in his publication entitles “An Outline of Psychobiology”. Leahey (2000) explained that Dunlap has published his research with great emphasis on the interconnection of mental and bodily functions and behaviours which has become the basis for the general validity of the discipline of biological psychology.

The study of Biological Psychology also stems from the knowledge base of other disciplines such as psychology, biology, genetics and neurology. All these disciples are vital in explaining behaviour of animals and humans beings.

The human brain is very complex that is why understanding it would require several inputs from other disciplines. Psychology and biology together with other related sciences can explain the workings of the mind in relations to bodily functions. It cannot be isolated from other disciplines as it is itself a product of a convergence of disciplines.

Considering the scope and themes of Biological Psychology such as brain and behaviour, development of the nervous system, control and coordination of perception and actions, motivations, language and cognitive processes, memory mechanisms, mental disorders and emotional problems, it is indeed imperative that inputs from other sciences are being applied to biological psychology.

All other disciplines overlap in biological psychology as this is crucial in the holistic understanding of the biological and physiological interconnectedness.

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