Biopsychology II

Course CodeBPS204
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

An In-depth Study of Brain and Dysfunction

This course builds on studies undertaken in Biopsychology I and assumes students have some understanding of brain structures and functions.  There is greater emphasis on the effects of brain damage and drugs on behaviour and the higher cognitive functions of memory and language are explored in detail.  Graduates of both biopsychology courses will feel confident that they have a thorough grounding in the functions of different brain centres.  

Enhance your Knowledge of Biopsychology

Use this course to:

  • Build on the knowledge gained in our Biopsychology I course.
  • Expand your understanding of physiological (including genetic) influences on brain processes - such as memory and language.
  • Develop your professional knowledge and enhance your career opportunities.
  • Understand evolution and genetics and the impact on our psychological make-up.
  • Learn more about research methods in biopsychology.
  • Find out about the impact of brain damage on our psychological processes.
  • Consider recovery from brain damage.
  • Learn about memory deficits and amnesia.
  • See how drug dependence affects the brain.
  • Examine language development and language difficulties.
  • Understand more how studying the brain and damaged brains can help us to understand how the brain functions.

Whilst Biopsychology I is a natural prerequisite to this course it is not essential. Anyone with an interest in biopsychology may elect to study this course.

Lesson Structure

There are 7 lessons in this course:

  1. Evolution, Genetics and Experience
    • What is biopsychology?
    • The organism's genetic endowment, experience and perception.
    • Adaptation
    • Behavioural genetics
    • The nature nurture debate
    • The human genome
    • Benefits of genetic research
    • Critical policy and ethical issues
  2. Research Methods in Biopsychology
    • Behavioural genetics
    • Methods of investigating the brain: invasive and non invasive
    • Localisation of function
    • Neuroanatomical techniques
    • Psychophysiological measures
    • Other methods
    • Lesions
  3. Brain Damage
    • Causes of brain damage
    • Frontal lobe damage
    • Damage to other areas and effects
    • Types of brain damage
    • Case study : Phineas Gage
    • Case study: diagnosing epilepsy
    • Case study -Alzheimer's disease
  4. Recovery from Brain Damage
    • Neuro plasticity
    • Stages of recovery: unresponsiveness, early responses, agitated and confused, higher level responses,
    • Case study: Parkinson's disease
    • Parkinson's disease symptoms, diagnosis, prognosis, stages, etc
    • Drug treatments for Parkinson's disease
    • Complimentary and supportive therapies for Parkinson's disease
    • Coping with Parkinson's disease
    • Terminology
  5. Drug Dependence and the Brain
    • Drugs
    • Definitions
    • Effects of illegal drugs
    • Other drugs: steroids, barbiturates, etc
    • Physiological and psychological effects of drugs: illicit, stimulants
    • Addiction: how drugs work in the brain
    • Central nervous system
  6. Memory
    • Models of memory: multistore model, working memory model, levels of processing model
    • Levels of processing model
    • Amnesia and types of amnesia
    • Case study: traumatic amnesia
    • Case study: Korsakoff's syndrome (Alcohol amnesic syndrome)
  7. Language
    • The brain and language
    • Paul Broca
    • Carl Wernicke
    • Aphasia and Diphasia
    • Apraxia

What You Will Do

  • Viewing behaviour as part genetic and part experiential.
  • Discuss how human behaviour is linked to evolution.
  • Explain how dominant traits are passed on to offspring by genetics.
  • Describe the relationship between gene expression and the genetic code.
  • Consider how studies of identical twins shed light on the development of differences among individuals.
  • Explain how CT and PET scans are used to obtain images of the brain.
  • Determine what invasive research methods have been employed to try and understand the brain and behaviour.
  • Consider how drugs are used to understand neurotransmitters and their effect on behaviour.
  • Explain how gene knockout and gene replacement techniques are used.
  • Outline methods of neuropsychological testing.
  • Determine how studying animal behaviour in the laboratory can be useful in understanding human behaviour.
  • List and define the most common causes of brain damage.
  • Explain the significance of neuron death.
  • Explain what happens during neural regeneration and neural degeneration.
  • Determine the function of slow and rapid neural reorganisation in the mammalian brain.
  • Determine the extent of neurotransplantation of replacement parts in the brain.
  • Explain the relationship between physical dependence on drugs and withdrawal syndrome through understanding the extent that neural mechanisms are seemingly involved in addiction.
  • Determine what medial temporal lobe amnesia tell us about implicit and explicit memory.
  • Consider cerebral dominance through language lateralisation and left and right-handedness.
  • Consider evidence that suggests that the hemispheres of split-brain patients function independently.
  • Identify what we now know about lateralisation of function in the left and right hemispheres.
  • Evaluate the Wernicke-Geschwind model of cortical localisation of language.

Sample Course Notes - How Do Genes Influence Behaviour?

No single gene is thought to determine a particular behaviour, as behaviours are complex traits that can involve multiple genes that are affected by many other factors. This idea has been overlooked when the media report on aggressive genes and gay genes etc. They do not consider that there are environmental triggers, the effects of other genes, upbringing and so on.

Genes are only part of the way we develop behaviours, disorders or any physical traits. A range of genetic and environmental factors may involve in the development of any trait. Also, have a particular gene doesn’t mean that a particular trait will develop. Other genetic factors may mean that the gene is turned “off”.

The role of environmental factors can also influence the gene. For example, a person may have a gene that makes them prone to developing lung cancer, but if they never smoke, they may not develop lung cancer.

The Link Between Behaviour and Genetics

1. Behaviours have been shown to breed true. For example, particular breeds of dogs may show the same personality trait generation after generation.

2. Behaviour can be species specific. Prairie Chickens from America perform an elaborate ritualised mating dance that is so characteristic, it enables scientists to differentiate between them and closely related species.

3. Behaviours can change when there is damage to biological structures or processes. A brain injury can make a polite man become aggressive.

For example, Phineas Gage was a railway worker. An explosion occurred and forced an iron rod into his head in 1848. He survived. However, before the incident, he was a mild-mannered responsible man. After he became violent and impulsive. The rod damaged his frontal Cortex. This provided support for the idea that this is the area of the brain that is responsible for the control of impulsive behaviour. This shows how naturally occurring brain damage can tell us more about brain function.

4. Behaviour can also run in some families. For example, some mental illnesses are thought to have an inherited factor.

Who Should Study This Course?

This course is useful for anyone who wants to increase their knowledge of people through an understanding of biopsychology, including -

  • Welfare workers
  • Counsellors
  • Support Workers
  • Educators
  • Mental Health Staff
  • Life Coaches
  • Health Workers
  • People working in child services
  • Youth workers
  • Parents
  • Care Workers
  • Foster Parents

This is the course for you if -

  • You want to learn more about how our psychological processes are affected by our physiology.
  • You want to understand more on the role of the brain in drug dependency.
  • You are interested in research methods used in biopsychology.
  • You want to improve your career and job prospects by showing a greater knowledge of the interaction between the brain and body.

Enrol now to find out more - the course can be started at any time. You study by distance learning, choosing when and where you study. Our specialist Psychology tutors are on-hand during your studies to provide you with feedback on your assignments, and answer your questions or provide support to your learning.

If you have any questions about the course, or want to find out more, please get in touch with our Psychology tutors today - they will be pleased to help you.

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