With a focus on the brain’s adaptations to its environment, this text’s fresh, lively voice engages students with case studies, anecdotes, and descriptions of experiments.

About Biological Psychology

Although behavioral neuroscience has many aspects, the theme of context is especially relevant and is central to the approach of Biological Psychology. Your surroundings influence whether or not you view certain situations as rewarding or stressful, threatening or challenging, engaging or overwhelming. For example, consider a skydiver anticipating her first jump. Appropriate training would likely reduce the skydiver’s physiological stress response, as would meeting others who have skydived many times before without getting hurt. Regardless of past experience, however, the stress response might be further enhanced by external and internal environmental variables—the sudden outbreak of a thunderstorm might cause more stress; whereas, an efficient cardiovascular system would likely reduce stress.

A closely related theme to the discussion of context throughout Biological Psychology is neuroplasticity. The brain’s ability to change in response to altered environmental pressures is nothing short of amazing. As an undergraduate student in a physiological psychology course, I was mesmerized by the classic enriched environment studies conducted by Rosenzweig, Krech, Bennet, and Diamond at Berkeley in the 1960s. I became fascinated with the idea that the brain was not carved in stone but could adapt, if necessary, to altered environmental demands. I recently interviewed Dr. Marian Diamond, and she conveyed that the first time she presented the data about changing neural tissue in the enriched rats, an audience member stood up and shouted “Young lady, the brain does not change!” Biological psychology has certainly come a long way over the past half century—today neuroplasticity has emerged as one of the most relevant topics in the discipline.

Biological Psychology captures both the classic and current developments in the field of biological psychology/behavioral neuroscience. Whether or not you continue in the discipline, I hope that this text, facilitated by the expertise of your dedicated instructors, will prepare you to be informed consumers of behavioral neuroscience information, resulting in a positive effect on your own neural and mental health.

Distinctive Features:

  • Throughout the text, Kelly Lambert uses a “storytelling” approach to present information. To maximize interest in the content of this text, Kelly Lambert has spent considerable time identifying novel and relevant information to capture students’ attention.
  • Clinical applications appear woven throughout the narrative of each chapter. For example, in addition to the disorders discussed in the mental illness chapter, autism spectrum disorder is discussed in the development/evolving brains chapter, obesity is featured in the motivation chapter, post-traumatic stress disorder is incorporated in the emotion chapter, Parkinson’s disease and several movement disorders are discussed in the movement chapter, and addiction is prominently featured in the neurochemistry chapter.
  • A “Context Matters” feature in each chapter presents an experiment/research study that demonstrates the importance of different contextual variables (as described above) on specific dependent variables. This feature emphasizes the importance of context in each chapter of the text.
  • Each chapter begins with a “Brain Scene Investigation (BSI)” feature: a case study or behavioral mystery intended to “hook” students before providing potential biopsychological explanations in the accompanying “Behind the Scenes” section to this feature.
  • In addition to a summary of classic research approaches presented in the introductory chapter, a “Laboratory Exploration” feature illustrating a relevant research technique appears in each chapter. Through this feature and the main chapter narrative, students will encounter both classic and novel laboratory techniques in the context of relevant chapters.
  • The book also features contextual and relevant art depicting more realistic features of animal and human models than appear in other texts. Further, figures appear when appropriate to depict the neurobiological mechanisms of various responses.

Teaching biological psychology