3. Biopsychology

Three brain-imaging scans are shown.

Figure 1. Different brain imaging techniques provide scientists with insight into different aspects of how the human brain functions. Left to right, PET scan (positron emission tomography), CT scan (computed tomography), and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) are three types of scans. (credit “left”: modification of work by Health and Human Services Department, National Institutes of Health; credit “center”: modification of work by “Aceofhearts1968″/Wikimedia Commons; credit “right”: modification of work by Kim J, Matthews NL, Park S.)

Have you ever taken a device apart to find out how it works? Many of us have done so, whether to attempt a repair or simply to satisfy our curiosity. A device’s internal workings are often distinct from its user interface on the outside. For example, we don’t think about microchips and circuits when we turn up the volume on a mobile phone; instead, we think about getting the volume just right. Similarly, the inner workings of the human body are often distinct from the external expression of those workings. It is the job of psychologists to find the connection between these—for example, to figure out how the firings of millions of neurons become a thought.

This chapter strives to explain the biological mechanisms that underlie behaviour. These physiological and anatomical foundations are the basis for many areas of psychology. In this chapter, you will become familiar with the structure and function of the nervous system.

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