Describe the Methods and Techniques That Biological Psychologists Use to Study the Brain. Explain How These Can Help Us Understand the Relationship Between Brain and Behaviour.

Part 1 – Essay - Option B

Describe the methods and techniques that biological psychologists use to study the brain. Explain how these can help us understand the relationship between brain and behaviour.

Scientists have long been interested in exploring how the brain works, and technology has played an important role in this field, by allowing researchers to discover that a strong relationship exists between brain activity and behaviour. This essay describes some cases in which the methods and techniques of neuroscience have illuminated our knowledge of brain structures, and explains how and why the understanding of functions at the biological level can explicate human behaviour.

Researchers Hubel and Wiesel (as cited in Toates, 2007) conducted an experiment to investigate the activity of single neurons, in order to better understand the role that the nervous system plays in behaviour. An “invasive technique” was adopted to measure the receptive field of a retinal ganglion cell:   for ethical reasons, a microelectrode was inserted into a single ganglion cell in the optic nerve of an anesthetised cat. Subsequently, through the application of light stimuli both outside and inside the receptive field, researchers observed the frequency of activity of the neurons in the visual system. The findings of this study provided an understanding of how cortical neurons are organised to produce visual perception.

An interesting surgical intervention was carried out by Sperry (as cited in Toates, 2007), who posited that a reduction of the negative effects of epilepsy could be obtained by severing the corpus callosum (the connection between the right and left hemisphere). Although this procedure restrained the epileptic seizures, and patients appeared to be unchanged in their everyday behaviour, later experiments demonstrated that the operation had had consequences. Presented with visual information exclusively to one hemisphere or the other, split-brain patients...