Section I: The Brain in Context

Establishing Relevant Biopsychological Context

Darwin’s Observations and the Importance of Variations in Environmental Contexts

Explorations of Environmental Context in the Laboratory and Beyond

The Context Conundrum

The Importance of Context in Biopsychological Research

Environmental Context

External Conditions

Internal Conditions

Experiential Context

Past Events

Future and Anticipated Events

Pioneers in Brain Research

The Genetics Story: From Gemmules to Genomes

The Components of Heredity

From Genes to Behavior

The Tools of Biological Psychology: Classic and Contemporary Methods

Human Research Methods

Case Studies



Animal Research Methods

Lesion Methods and Brain-Stimulation Techniques

Genetic Engineering

Behavioral Tests

Field Research

Evaluation of Research Outcomes


Key Terms

Review Questions

Critical-Thinking Questions

Section II: The Nervous System: Essential Components

David Blaine’s Breath Defying Act

The Building Blocks of the Nervous System


Glial Cells

Divisions of Labor in the Nervous System

Evolutionary Considerations

The Central Nervous System (CNS) and Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)

Further Divisions of the PNS

Context Matters: Friends, Marathons, and New Neurons

The Brain’s Geography

The Hindbrain (Myelencephalon and Metencephalon)

The Midbrain (Mesencephalon)

The Forebrain (Diencephalon and Telencephalon)

Taking Sides: Brain Lateralization

CNS Security Systems

Cerebrospinal Fluid and the Ventricular System

Internal and External Surveillance Systems

Laboratory Exploration: The Brain in Technicolor


Key Terms

Review Questions

Critical-Thinking Questions

Intuition, Hunches, and Self-Awareness: Potential Role of von Economo Neurons?

Neurons: Structure and Function

The Neuron’s Microstructure

Context Matters: Social Distress and Neuronal Connections

The Neuron’s Resting Membrane Potential

The Action Potential

Synaptic Transmission

Neuronal and Glial Collaborations

Lessons from Epilepsy: Neural Transmission in Review

Potential Mechanisms of Changes in Neural Excitability

Potential Mechanisms of Synchronization

Research with Animal Models

Treatment of Epilepsy

Mirror Neurons, Specialized Neural Circuits, and Autism Investigations

Laboratory Exploration: Altering the Brain’s Neural Functions with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation


Key Terms

Review Questions

Critical-Thinking Questions

Methamphetamine “Tweaks” the Brain

Neurotransmitters: A Brief Introduction

Monoamine Neurotransmitters

Amino Acid Neurotransmitters

Peptide Neurotransmitters

Other Neurotransmitters

Overview of Neuropsychopharmacology

Targeted Goals of Neuropsychopharmacological Research

Development of New Drugs for Specific Symptoms: A Thought Experiment

Psychoactive Drugs: Precursors to Drug Addiction

CNS Stimulants




Amphetamine and MDMA

CNS Depressants: Alcohol

Analgesics: Opium

Hallucinogens: Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)

Diverse CNS Effects: Cannabis

Drug Addiction

Context Matters: Treating Cocaine Addiction with Doses of Environmental Enrichment

Stages of the Addiction Cycle

Binge/Intoxication Stage

Withdrawal/Negative Affect Stage

Preoccupation/Anticipation (Craving) Stage

Addiction Therapies

Laboratory Exploration: A Nicotine Vaccine?


Key Terms

Review Questions

Critical-Thinking Questions

Traumatic Brain Injuries and an Unlikely Neurochemical Intervention

Building Brains

Recurring Evolutionary Themes

The Importance of Play Behavior in Developing Brains

Is the Human Brain Unique?

Epigenetics: How Lifestyles Influence Inheritance

Neural Development

A Brain Is Born: Neuroplasticity in Action

Fundamentals of Neurogenesis

The Human Adolescent Brain

The Aging Brain

Context Matters: Aging: Is It in Our Blood?

Recovering from Brain Injury

Damage Control in Injured Brains

A Case to Consider: Repetitive Head Injuries in Athletes

Laboratory Exploration: Behavioral Profiling and Genetic Engineering: In Search of Animal Models for Autism Spectrum Disorder


Key Terms

Review Questions

Critical-Thinking Questions

Section III: The Nervous System: Essential Functions

Seeing without Vision

Fundamentals of Sensation and Perception

Fechner’s Dream

Tuning in to Environmental Cues

The Big Sensory Picture: Multisensory Integration


Light’s Journey to the Cortex

Stimulus and Receptor

The CNS Visual Pathway

Visual Details

Processing Contextual Cues

Color Vision

The Neural Basis of Color Vision

Adaptive Functions of Color Vision

Uber-vision: Hawks


Stimulus and Receptor

The CNS Auditory Pathway

Uber-audition: Echolocation of the Bat


Helen Keller’s Unique Sensory Portal

Touch Receptors and the Somatosensory Pathway

Uber-touch: Raccoons

Context Matters: The Healing Touch and Recovery from Brain Injury


Stimulus and Receptor

Olfactory Neural Destinations and Emotional Connections


Uber-olfaction: Rats

Laboratory Exploration: Somatosensory Cortical Maps in the Rat


Key Terms

Review Questions

Critical-Thinking Questions

The Frozen Addicts

Movement Basics

The Brain and Spinal Cord

The Motor Cortex

Corticospinal Tracts

The Spinal Cord


Muscle Types

Sensory Feedback in Muscles

Complex Movement

Cortical Areas

The Basal Ganglia

The Cerebellum

Context Matters: How the Brain Gets Tickled

Adaptive Moves

All the Right Moves

Athletic Performance


Movement Disorders

Parkinson’s Disease

Spinal Cord Injury

Language: When Movement Produces Sound

Evolution of Language

Language and Sounds of Nature

Language Localized in the Brain

Laboratory Exploration: Utilizing Specific Reaching Tasks to Assess Rat Models of Brain Injury and Recovery


Key Terms

Review Questions

Critical-Thinking Questions

Runaway Motivation

The Brain’s Reward Circuitry

Elements of the Reward Circuits

Environmental Tuning of the Reward Circuits

Hunger Regulation

The Evolution of Efficient Eating Strategies and Brain Enlargement

The Neurobiology of Hunger Regulation

Environmental Influences on Eating

Clinical Implications of Eating Strategies: Eating Disorders, Diet, and Hunger Regulation

Context Matters: Neurodevelopment and Weight Regulation: Influence of Mother’s Diet during Pregnancy

Thirst Regulation

Osmoregulatory Thirst

Hypovolemic Thirst

Motivating the Brain to Work

Neurobiology of Work

Plasticity of Effort-Related Responses

Grooming: The Silent but Essential Motivator

Components of the Rodent Grooming Response

Neural Circuits and Clinical Applications

Barbering: Extreme Grooming for Extreme Circumstances

Laboratory Exploration: Microdialysis and Motivation Research


Key Terms

Review Questions

Critical-Thinking Questions

The Sleep-Murder Legal Defense

The Rhythms of Sleep and Wakefulness

Circadian Rhythms

Stages of Sleep

Extreme Sleep: Hibernation

The Neurobiology of Sleep

Early Neuroanatomical Exploration

Integrated Neuroanatomical and Neurochemical Circuits

Slow Wave Sleep

REM Sleep

Why Sleep and Dream?

Evolutionary Theories of Sleep Function

Homeostatic Theory of Sleep Regulation

Adaptive Theory of Sleep

Cultural Perspectives on Human Sleep Patterns

Learning, Memory, and Survival Functions

Slow Wave Sleep

REM Sleep

Context Matters: Stuck on a Problem? Sleep on It!

Potential Immune Functions

Sleep Patterns: Typical and Atypical Variations

Establishing the Sleep Norm

Sleep Disorders



Sleep Apnea

Altered States of Consciousness: Beyond Sleep

Neural Networks and Conscious Awareness

Disorders of Consciousness

Death and the End of Consciousness

Laboratory Exploration: Optogenetics: Shining a Light on the Brain’s Sleep-Wake Circuits


Key Terms

Review Questions

Critical-Thinking Questions

Section IV: Neurobiology in Action

The Neurobiology of Voodoo Death

Biopsychological Perspectives of Emotional Expression

Evolutionary and Universal Emotional Expressions

Classic Neurobiological Theories of Emotion

The Brain’s Role in Emotional Expression

The Neurobiology of Aggression and Fear



Emotional Regulation

The Stress Response, Revisited

The Neurobiology of Resilience

Emotions and Health

Context Matters: Emotional Temperament and Longevity in Rats

Laboratory Exploration: “Laughing” Rats and Positive Emotion Research


Key Terms

Review Questions

Critical-Thinking Questions

The Experimental Wedding

Hormones and Behavior

The Endocrine System

Organizational and Activational Effects of Hormones During Development

The Neurobiology of Relationships

Romantic Elixirs

Oxytocin: The Social Trust Molecule?

The Pet Factor

Sexual Behavior and Characteristics

Rodent Model: Male and Female Sexual Behavior

Sex Differences and the Brain

Sexual Orientation and Transsexualism

The Neurobiology of Parental Behavior

The Maternal Brain

The Paternal Brain


Context Matters: An Old Bird Learns a New Trick

Laboratory Exploration: Detecting Naturally Varying Reproductive Hormones


Key Terms

Review Questions

Critical-Thinking Questions

Clive Wearing’s Fleeting Memory

Neurobiological Foundations of Learning and Memory Processes

Behavioral Approaches

Cellular Mechanisms

Cellular Modifications in the Aplysia

Cellular Modifications in the Hippocampus

Structural Neuroplasticity

Integrating Clinical and Laboratory Research

The Case of H.M.

Animal Studies

Human Brain-Imaging Studies

Identifying Brain-Based Memory Systems

Modifying Memories

Rewriting Memories

Memory and Emotions

Stress and Forgetting

Stress and Memory Enhancement

Context Matters: The Therapeutic Value of Safety Signals for Veterans Suffering from PTSD

The Case of Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory

Focus on Attention: Gateway to Learning and Memory


Neuroanatomy of Neuroeconomics

Unexpected Outcomes and Flexible Response Strategies

Laboratory Exploration: Using Fos-Immunoreactivity to Determine Brain Activation During Learning Tasks


Key Terms

Review Questions

Critical-Thinking Questions

Cautionary Tales in Psychiatry: The Questionable Creation of Sheri Storm’s Multiple Personalities

The Challenge of Classifying and Treating Mental Illness

The Meandering Search for the Roots of Mental Illness

Early Biological Therapies for Mental Illness

Contemporary Mental Health Classifications



Neurochemical Candidates

Neuroanatomical Candidates

Genetic and Environmental Factors

Treatment Strategies



Neurochemical Candidates

Neuroanatomical Candidates

The Network Hypothesis

Treatment Strategies

Electroconvulsive Therapy


Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies

Novel Therapeutic Approaches

Bipolar Disorder

Anxiety Disorders and Other Related Disorders

Diagnoses of Anxiety Disorders and Other Related Disorders

Common Causes

Treatment Strategies

Context Matters: Virtual Reality Therapy for Spider Phobias

Evolutionary Roots

Laboratory Exploration: Schizophrenia and Prepulse Inhibition


Key Terms

Review Questions

Critical-Thinking Questions

Epilogue: Expanding the Contextual Boundaries of Biopsychology

Extreme Environmental Context Modification: Rats Born in Space

Changing the Context of the Brain’s Infrastructure: Building Brain-Machine Interfaces

Stepping Outside the Context of the Laboratory: Creativity and the Brain


Appendix A: Major Research Methods in This Text