Biopsychology: Meaning & Significance

When we feel hungry, we recall our favorite restaurants and foods to eat there, smell food cooking, and take some portions. These thoughts, sensations, and behaviors are controlled by our brain, nerves, and hormones, which include biological processes. Biopsychologists investigate how our brains, glands, and muscles communicate. They examine where physiological function and mental processes meet in biology and psychology.

Finding biological explanations for why we think, feel, and act the way we do is a significant contribution of biopsychology. The neurological system and the endocrine system are the two biological systems that have an impact on human behavior. Researchers in behavioral neuroscience and biopsychology examine how biological processes like hunger, eating, and digestion affects human behavior

What is Biopsychology?

The study of how the brain, neurotransmitters, and other components of our biology affect our actions, thoughts, and feelings is known as biopsychology. Numerous terms, such as biopsychology, physiological psychology, behavioral neuroscience, and psychobiology, are frequently used to refer to this area of psychology.

Biopsychologists frequently examine the interactions between biological processes and feelings, thoughts, and other mental processes. Comparative psychology and evolutionary psychology are two disciplines that have connections to the science of biopsychology.

Brief History of Biopsychology

The discipline of biopsychology has roots that go back thousands of years to the early philosophers, despite the fact that it may appear to be a relatively modern development given the emergence of sophisticated instruments and technology for studying the brain.

Philosophers and psychologists have long discussed the so-called mind/body dilemma, even though we today view the mind and brain as being interchangeable. In other words, philosophers and other intellectuals pondered how the physical and mental worlds related to one another.

It's vital to keep in mind that knowledge of the exact location of the mind has only become widely available very late in human history. For instance, Aristotle advocated that our emotions and thoughts originate from the heart. Greek philosophers like Hippocrates and Plato subsequently proposed that the brain is the seat of the mind and the origin of all thinking and activity.

Theories about the functioning of the neurological system were first proposed by later intellectuals like Rene Descartes and Leonardo da Vinci. Even though these early hypotheses were eventually found to be false, they did establish the crucial notion that external stimulation might cause muscular reactions. Descartes established the idea of a reflex, but the later study showed that the spinal cord was actually crucial in triggering these muscular reactions.

Since those early effects, scientists have made significant advancements in our understanding of the functioning of the brain and the biological bases of behavior. Our understanding of how biological processes affect ideas, emotions, and behaviors has improved as a result of research on evolution, the localization of brain function, neurons, and neurotransmitters.

Understanding biological processes as well as fundamental anatomy and physiology is crucial if you are interested in the topic of biopsychology. The brain, the nervous system, and neurotransmitters are three of the most crucial elements to comprehend.

Nature and Scope of Biopsychology

Biopsychology is the study of human and animal behavior from a biological perspective. The goal of biopsychologists is to conduct scientific investigations into the interactions between cognition, emotion, and other psychological processes and biological processes. Thus, biopsychology borrows knowledge from neurosciences and applies it to the study of both human and animal behavior. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that neuroscience is a team effort and that biopsychologists are a part of this team. A biopsychologist may use information from different branches of neuroscience while researching behavior. The following are only a few of the areas of neuroscience that have a special bearing on biopsychology

  • Neuroanatomy − The study of the structure of the nervous system

  • Neurochemistry − The study of the chemical aspects of nervous activity

  • Neuropathology − The study of nervous system disorders

  • Neuroendocrinology − The study of the interactions between the nervous system and the endocrine system

  • Neuropharmacology − The study of how medications affect brain activity.

  • Neurophysiology − The study of how the nervous system works and behaves.

Consequently, it is accurate to say that the area of biopsychology is broad and that it is one of the disciplines that contribute to neuroscience. Biopsychology research is also undertaken from a variety of angles. Researchers in the field of biopsychology study either human or non-human subjects. Mice and rats are the most often used non-human study subjects, followed by canines, primates, and cats.

The study of biopsychology aims to comprehend a variety of topics, including the evolution of the brain and how it affects behavior, the development of the nervous system over the course of a person's life, the regions of the brain responsible for sensation, perception, memory, and movement, the function of the brain in emotion expression and regulation, language, and cognition, and how behavior changes in response to brain injury or trauma. It also aims to comprehend how genetics and the endocrine system contribute to maintaining homeostasis and improving the health and wellness of persons with diverse neurological illnesses.

Divisions in Biopsychology

Few techniques were well-known, and as a result, distinct biopsychology divisions arose. Some of the primary subfields of biopsychology are

Physiological psychology

Physiological psychology studies how the brain is stimulated and how that affects behavior using well-controlled experimental circumstances. Direct manipulation and recording of the brain are involved while doing research on animals, often utilizing surgical or electrical stimulation. The creation of hypotheses on how brain systems influence behavior is their goal.


Psychopharmacologists activate brain systems with medications and then study how those drugs affect behavior. The goal is to better understand how the brain and behavior interact, although most of the trials are conducted outside, with an emphasis on reducing drug use and producing therapeutic medications.


Neuropsychologists examine individuals who have suffered from brain damage due to head trauma or other head injuries. The neuropsychological tests aid in the diagnosis of the deficits and the development of an effective treatment plan. This subfield focuses on case studies and quasi-experimental research on people who have suffered brain injury through illness, trauma, or neurosurgery. These studies concentrate on the cerebral cortex, the most noticeable region of the mammalian brain, which is made up of cellular layers on the exterior of the cerebral hemispheres.


In order to study the link between physiological activity and psychological processes including attention, learning, memory, and emotions in human subjects, psychophysiologists employ non-invasive procedures (the physiological activity is recorded from the surface of the body). Scalp electroencephalograms (EEG), muscular tension, eye movement, galvanic skin responses (GSR), heart rate, blood pressure, and pupil dilation are just a few examples of the various measurements that are employed.

Cognitive Neuroscience

Cognitive neuroscientists investigate the neurological underpinnings of cognition as well as higher-order cognitive functions including reasoning, memory, attention, and perception. Consequently, study subjects who are humans are chosen. The methods are non-intrusive. The most common way to capture brain activity is through functional brain imaging.

Comparative Psychology

Comparative psychologists investigate several species' behavior to comprehend it from an evolutionary, genetic, and adaptive standpoint. Behavior can be seen in its natural context or under laboratory conditions when being investigated. Research on animals is referred to as ethological.

Research Ethics in Biopsychology

While conducting research in biopsychology, there are a number of ethical considerations that must be made. When one wants to investigate the components and operations of the brain, how a cut may affect a certain behavior, how a certain section of the brain injury might affect psychophysiology, and so forth, there are many inquiries to be done. Animals are favored for research in certain cases, as well as in experiments when people are harmed or where survival is in jeopardy. When human subjects are chosen, the participant, the doctor(s) treating him/her, the therapist, and the carers must all provide their consent.


Biopsychology is the study of human and animal behavior from a biological perspective. The goal of biopsychologists is to conduct scientific investigations into the interactions between cognition, emotion, and other psychological processes and biological processes. For biopsychology, a few branches of neuroscience are very important. Neuroanatomy, Neurochemistry, Neuropathology, Neuroendocrinology, Neuropharmacology, and Neurophysiology are only a few of these sub-disciplines. The goal of biopsychology research is to comprehend the neural underpinnings of behavior and how any impairment to the nervous system affects how the behavior behaves.

Updated on: 10-Jan-2023


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