Welcome to Biological Psychology

My hope is that your brain has performed so well throughout your life that you haven’t had to give it a second thought. Some of you, however, have been introduced to your brain as a result of challenges such as depression, addiction, concussions or neurological disease. Regardless of the nature of your introduction thus far, I look forward to beginning this brain journey with you—introducing you to the most exciting and relevant past, present and future brain stories. And, don’t be surprised if you forget you are reading a textbook as you process these engaging brain stories—I have felt the same way since opening my own undergraduate biopsychology textbook more than three decades ago!

If you have ever wondered why you have to study harder than your best friend to earn an A, are more fearful of insects than your sister, or why you tend to feel sadder than others in your peer group, you have embarked on your own biopsychological investigations.

In my own research endeavors, I am so captivated by the preponderance of unanswered questions in biopsychology that my undergraduate students and I are never at a loss for research projects. In our small laboratory, we have been busy trying to answer real-life questions such as:

  • What effect does the stress we all encounter in life have on our brain, behavior and overall health?
  • How can we build resilience against the toxicity of stress?
  • In addition to drugs, what are the most effective ways to treat psychiatric illnesses?
  • What makes wild raccoons so curious, bold and mischievous, allowing them to adapt to new environments all over the world?
  • How does a mother rat know how to take care of her offspring (appx 12-14!) without the benefit of parenting classes?
  • How does a natural environment affect us differently than an artificial environment?

If you speak with another biopsychologist, he or she will likely be interested in a completely different set of research questions, all just as relevant for enhancing our understanding about maintaining healthy brains—Better living through Biopsychology!

I never tire of sharing this information with my students.

At the core of the content in this text is the exciting phenomenon of neuroplasticity,

the brain’s ability to continue to change throughout our lives. Neuroplasticity offers hope that, as the secrets of Biopsychology are revealed, this information can be used to return suboptimal functioning brains to desired optimal functioning levels.

Another important theme throughout the text is the consideration of CONTEXT.

Your surroundings influence whether or not certain situations are viewed as rewarding or stressful, threatening or challenging, engaging or overwhelming. Accordingly, just as criminal investigations can’t be solved without collecting relevant evidence at the scene of the crime, the brain can’t be appropriately investigated without considering relevant context at the scene of the behavioral or neural event.

So, buckle up your brain and get ready for a very exciting ride!

Kelly Lambert