last updated:

Feb 9., 2021

[Brain Image]    

PSY 340 Brain and Behavior

Class 02: Introduction: Overview and Major Issues (Outline)


The Mind and the Body: How are they connected?

Lilac Chaser Illusion

Illusion 1 - Spinning circles

Dualism argues that  mind  AND  body are separate
  • Argued by René Descartes (& this view is called Cartesianism)
  • Almost ALL philosophers and neuroscientists reject this notion even though it often feels like the right answer.
Monism argues that there is only ONE thing. Most scientists accept monism.
  • Identity Position: Mind & body are actually the same
    • Consciousness is an emergent property of what the body does
    • Thus, the mind is an activity of the body (that is, the brain).

Easy vs. Hard Problems (David Chalmers)

  • Easy Problems
  • The Hard Problem

The is a course in biological psychology (also known as psychobiology, physiological psychology, or behavioral neuroscience). It involves

  • Physiology deals with tissues, cells, chemicals, systems of the body
  • Evolutionary Psychology deals with genetics and how the earth's physical & social environments have shaped our behaviors for reproductive and survival purposes
  • Growth & Development: how does the biology of the body interact with the environment to produce both behavior & structures

Fundamental General Points

  • Perception occurs in your brain, NOT on your skin, in your eyes, or somewhere "out there"
  • Be careful about what you claim is an explanation for understanding the brain and behavior. Correlation ≠ Causation.

What is biological psychology concerned with?

How Do We Explain How or Why an Animal Looks and Acts Like This?

Cats & Dogs

Human vs. ChimpanzeeEarly hominin vs. homo

            Animal Brains

  • the structure of the brains of all these animals above are quite similar.
  • Across evolution, brains become larger and more convoluted (more hills and valleys)
  • The "Triune" or Reptilian Brain Is A Myth. The theory claims we have (1) a basic reptile brain, (2) a paleomammalian brain, and (3) a newer "neocortical" brain. Reptile brains did NOT come before mammal brains. They developed along separate but parallel tracks. Thus, mammals did not simply add neocortex to an underlying "reptilian" brain.

Thus the four explanatory approaches to explain human behavior rests upon physiological, ontogenetic (developmental), evolutionary, and functional points of concern.

Hollow Faces Optical IllusionTwo Important Trends in Contemporary Behavioral Neuroscience (not in book)

1. The "Predictive Brain": The human brain is continually making models of the world around it and updating those models based on moment-by-moment experience (Clark, 2012)

Hollow Face Optical Illusion video   YouTube

2. The "Extended Mind" Hypothesis: The mind uses objects external to our bodies by incorporating them into the mind's own functioning. 

There will be other trends that I will talk about in later classes


Usually requires Ph.D.
Psychological Practice

Usually requires Ph.D. or Psy.D. though some Master's level jobs are possible

Requires MD & additional postgraduate study
Allied Medical

Requires Master's degree or higher
Work in universities, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and other research settings
Work in universities & colleges, hospitals, private practice
Work in hospitals, clinics, medical schools, private practice
Work in hospitals, clinics, medical schools, private practice
  • Neuroscientist
  • Cognitive neuroscientist
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Neurochemist
  • Comparative Psychologist (animal behavior specialist)
  • Evolutionary Psychologist
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Clinical Neuropsychologist
  • Rehabilitation Psychologist
  • Health Psychologist
  • Counseling Psychologist
  • School Psychologist (Master's)
  • Neurologist
  • Neurosurgeon
  • Psychiatrist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Social Worker

This page was first posted January 18, 2005.