Biopsychology is a branch of Psychology that analyses how our brain and our biology in general influence our psychology i.e. behaviours, thoughts and feelings. Of all the different branches of psychology, biopsychology is the only one that observes thoughts and behaviours from a physical point of view. Biopsychology is based on a few tenets, namely, that psychology is a lab based science, that behavior can be explained by biological concepts such as genes, hormones and other biological functions and that most behavioral patterns have an evolutionary explanation behind it that contributes in some way or the other toward adaptation to external stimuli.
The understanding of the mind has an almost comical history. Since it is not a physical organ that can be cut open and studied philosophers and thinkers came up with all sorts of theories back in the day. It started with Aristotle saying that our thoughts originated from our heart. Later on it was decided that the mind lies in the brain and all thought arises from here. Only later did more concrete findings like reflex actions and the role of the spinal cord and nervous system came into play. Biopsychology is closely related to giving the ‘mind’ a physical address in our body and answering the question how and why.
Since biopsychology tends to look at thought and behavior as a result of physical factors in our body, it uses comparative methods which involves studying behaviours of different animals and comparing them to better understand human behavior. This in turn increases out understanding of the human physiology and how hormones, nervous system and other functionalities work. It also increases our understanding of how and what information is transmitted from parent to offspring genetically speaking and how inheritance works.
Interesting fact – according to one school of thought, certain human behavior can be linked with the bumps and indentations of the brain that could be felt on the surface of the skull. Sadly, this was dismissed by scientists, although this led to the development of further brain research that related different areas of the brain to different functions.
We have come a long way since when scientists first started connecting physical features of the human physiology to behavior and thought. Thus it can be said that to understand biopsychology it is important to know about the brain, the nervous system and neurotransmitters. This is an important field of medical science in that researchers have been able to come with new ways of treating problems, especially of the mind.