The Understanding of Behavior and the Brain Essay

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The Understanding of Behavior and the Brain

The trend of neurobiology and physiology predicting and causing behavioris not a new fact. So many illnesses and diseases are now attributed to biological mechanisms. A recent article in Newsweek comments on how those in the field of psychology and neuroscience are beginning to stress the fact that certain brain mechanisms account for mental illnesses and particular behaviors. Doctors seem to blame their patients peculiarities on a biologically based mental illness, rather then seeing them as individual responses to lifes circumstances (Begley 1998). It then becomes more common to prescribe drugs to alleviate the symptoms rather than understanding the behavior. Two recent developments have
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This parallels the concepts learned in class that the input/output mechanism is bi-directional. Outputs (behaviors) can influence inputs (physiological mechanisms). Instead of observing behaviors like our leg muscles moving to cause changes in the firing of neurons, one example of an output influencing an input is the reaction to stress and how they affect our biological mechanisms.

Viewed from an evolutionary standpoint, in early times stress caused the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system resulting in an outpouring of the hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine, and glucocorticoids that were essential to the life-preserving fight or flight reactions of primitive man (Anthony 1988). However, the nature of stress for the individual today is different. It is only occasionally and unexpectedly that one is confronted with overwhelming, life-threatening stresses. Present stresses arise from everyday stresses of work, finances and school. The problem is that the body still continues to respond in the same fashion as primitive times. This makes the large release of hormones very harmful. They can cause an increase in blood pressure, damage muscle tissue, lead to infertility, inhibit growth, damage the hippocampus and suppress the immune system (Carlson 1994). It is therefore, important that individuals learn to control the stresses in their lives. The more detrimental coping behaviors will cause a larger change
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