Dear Colleagues~

If you have already had the opportunity to teach a Biopsychology or Behavioral Neuroscience course you know that the fascinating information in this discipline practically teaches itself! However, after teaching the course to undergraduate students for three decades, it has become apparent that the themes of biopsychology have changed through the years.

Consideration of contemporary neuroscience research requires a restructuring of the standard footprint of the biopsychology text.

Over the past five years, I have searched through the traditional neuroscience literature, classic and historical books, and popular culture to assure that the content of this text is relevant for today’s biopsychology students entering our classes and institutions.

The stories that have emerged from my data gathering excavations provide an engaging platform for delivering the details of the discipline To appeal to the students’ love of mysteries,

each chapter begins with a Brain Scene Investigations (BSI) feature that presents an intriguing brain mystery

as well as relevant clues and potential solutions. Biological Psychology utilizes a story-telling approach. Stories are designed to enhance the student’s interest, attention and cognitive investment in the material. Additionally, it was important that the signature art style for the text appear as authentic as possible in order to maximally engage the students as they process each new bit of information.

Biological Psychology also reflects new directions and themes that are apparent in the existing biopsychological literature. The standard information has certainly been retained, in addition to an emphasis on topics such as affiliative and parenting behavior, work and energy expenditure, neuroeconomics/decision-making, as well as a heightened consideration of the overall adaptive nature of sensation and perception mechanisms across the animal kingdom.

The topic of neuroplasticity is evident throughout the entire text,

from the history of this research to the hope that it provides individuals experiencing challenges ranging from depression to neurological disease.

Finally,

the theme that drove the content of this text is CONTEXT.

Neural functions don’t occur in a vacuum, our surroundings influence our perceptions of stimuli and drive our physiological responses. From the moment I learned about the significant impact of enriched environments when I was an undergraduate biopsychology student, I have been captivated by the potential of one’s surroundings to shape and regulate neural functions. Research conducted in my behavioral neuroscience laboratory with undergraduate students has focused on variations of behavior-based neuroplasticity ranging from the effects of parental experience on brain and behavior functions to the impact of natural vs artificial enriched environments on problem solving and emotional resilience. In addition to traditional laboratory investigations, we have also reached beyond the lab to the field, focusing on wild raccoons and primates living in semi-natural habitats. These diverse research endeavors suggest that the convergence of information gathered from multiple contexts will provide valuable information about the brain and its functions. Although the results get messier as research questions step out of the sterile laboratory environments, it’s important to embrace all the complexities of context-driven neuroplasticity.

It’s my hope that the knowledge gained by students reading this text will motivate them to be accountable for the context of their own brains throughout their lives.

Thank you for considering this text for your Biopsychology and Behavioral Neuroscience courses!

Kelly Lambert