Discussion: the Brain and Behavior

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Discussion: the Brain and Behavior

Discussion: the Brain and Behavior

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Discussion: Studying the Brain and Behavior

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Modern brain imaging techniques permit investigators to pinpoint active regions of the brain asso- ciated with particular behaviors (Photo 1.4). (You will learn more about these techniques later in this chapter.) Brain imaging stud- ies have fueled the imaginations of scientists, journalists, and dream- ers alike. Current imaging studies attempt to conclude whether or not the same neural circuits are activated by pleasurable, stressful, and normal sensations such as sex- ual arousal, car accidents, or doing laundry (Lang & Bradley, 2010).WDCN/Univ. College London/Science Source

Photo 1.4 In the upper left, sight activates the visual area in the occipital cortex. In the upper right, hearing activates the auditory area in the temporal cortex. In the lower left, touching Braille script activates the tactile area in the parietal cortex and an area of cognition. In the lower right, activation of the frontal cortex occurs during word generation while speaking.

1.4 Studying the Brain and Behavior

The history of brain science is relevant to a variety of fields of study, including neuroscience, behavioral neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, and physiological psychology. Let’s take a brief look at each of these fields.

Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience

Neuroscience is a multidisciplinary approach to studying the brain. Multidisciplinary means that many different fields or disciplines contribute to this science (multi means “many” in Latin). Biolo- gists, chemists, physicists, anatomists, physiologists, psychologists, mathematicians, and engineers work together to unlock the mysteries of the brain. Undergraduate or graduate students majoring in neuroscience are expected to have a strong background in the natural sciences and mathematics.

Behavioral neuroscience and cognitive neuroscience are specialized branches of both neuroscience and psychology. In general, psychologists who study the brain and behavior are usually classified as behavioral neuroscientists or cognitive neuroscientists, depending on their method of study. Behavioral neuroscience involves bottom-up research strategies in which brain function is manipu- lated and the effect on behavior measured. Bottom-up research strategies begin by studying the main cell of the brain, called the neuron, and its interactions with other neurons. Behavioral neuro- scientists strive to learn about the basic levels of brain function in order to understand higher level functions like thought, attention, and emotion.

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