Author : Suhani Patel

Editors: Galiba Anjum and Ethan Liu

Artists: Aurora Chen

Biopsychology, the study of the nervous system and how it affects human behavior, is one of the most important elements required to understand why humans function the way they do. Through ongoing research projects, psychologists in this field uncover information that enriches the understanding of human minds. With the help of valuable data, better products and treatments can be manufactured for patients with a variety of physical and mental defects.

In the United States and Europe, biopsychology has been a significant field of study for many years. Rene Descartes, a profound French philosopher of the early 1600s, was the first to explore and make significant contributions to the field of biopsychology. He formed theories regarding the nervous system and how it relates to human reflexes and motor behavior. Descartes was most famous for his creative theory known as Cartesian or Mind-Body dualism. “The main idea of Cartesian dualism is that the mind and body are completely separate elements.”

Biopsychology combines bioscience with the study of psychology. “Biopsychologists have proven that animal behavior and biology are related and they can lead to a better understanding of why humans and animals behave in various ways.” A recent advancement in biopsychology research was the potential role of cortisol and telomere length on maternal postpartum depression. Even though maternal postpartum depressive symptoms were linked with child behavioral problems, the reason why they were correlated was originally misunderstood. To investigate the connection, psychologists performed a study on 193 random mother-child pairs and observed child cortisol and telomere length as potential mediating factors. “Their results proved that there was no correlation between PDS and child behavior problems and thus no possibility of mediation. The study instead revealed that lower cortisol and shorter telomere length forecasted more child-reported internalizing problems.”

Communication is critical for not only researchers who communicate findings of data with other lab facilities, but also for clinical psychologists who must directly and concisely describe results of tests with patients. Problem solving skills are just as important as communication skills. Successful psychologists must have alternative strategies available in the case of any emergencies, and they must be able to implement them quickly. Oftentimes, up to 10 years of formal education beyond high school are required for a career in biopsychology. A masters degree is an optional element, however a doctoral degree (PhD) is usually required for most employment in this field. When applying to graduate schools, it is a better idea to already have an undergraduate degree in psychology. First, a bachelor's degree with some exposure to psychology is a prerequisite for graduate school. Second, a PhD must be earned, and on average, eight years is the time it takes for the PhD to be completed. This is a research intensive process, and students engage in an active experimental laboratory setting, assessing the biological and chemical variables underlying behavior and personality disorders. Lastly, after completing a Post-Doctoral Placement, find a position and pursue tenure. Tenure gives you the closest mock experience of what it would be like if you actually worked in a specific biopsychology branch. “The average salary of a biopsychologist in the US is $88,982” (Biopsychologist Salary). It is also very beneficial to complete internships over the course of your training as a biopsychologist.

The way humans act, respond to situations, think, remember, and feel are all small threads woven together to form the larger fabric of biopsychology. Researchers have taken advantage of this point of view to gain a greater understanding of how exactly the nervous system influences human actions. Research and clinical biopsychologists both have incredible responsibilities and opportunities in each of their respective categories. By creating experiments that test the function and limitations of the brain as well as how brain defects influence behaviors, feelings, and thoughts, biopsychologists can find clever solutions to psychological problems in hopes of making discoveries that will further develop humankind.


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