Chapter 4: Research Methods in Biological Psychology

4.1: Introduction

Biological psychology is a broad and diverse field that consists of many different approaches including neuroscience, neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, behavioral genetics, and psychopharmacology. With so many different approaches, it is not surprising that the research methods used in biological psychology are also broad and diverse. Techniques range from low-level approaches like recording activity of a single neuron and dissecting animal brains to high-level cognitive testing and brain imaging in humans. We’ve learned about brain function from case studies of brain damage and by using technical marvels such as high-resolution brain imaging and optogenetics (in which cells in animal brains are genetically manipulated so they can be controlled by specific wavelengths of light while the animal is awake!).

Each different technique in biological psychology has strengths and limitations and can be used to answer distinct types of questions. When establishing the specific function of a particular brain area, the strongest evidence comes from converging evidence, whereby multiple studies using different methods report similar or converging findings (Beck & Tapia, 2023). In this chapter, we cover some of the major research methods in the field of biopsychology and how the methods converge to help us understand how the three pound human brain gives rise to our thoughts, actions, perceptions, feelings, and emotions.



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Biological Psychology Copyright © 2024 by Michael J. Hove and Steven A. Martinez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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