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Philosophical Issues in Neuroscience. Dr. Kelley Kline FSU. I. What is Physiological Psychology ?. The study of the biological basis of behavior. Behavior is observed & the putative mechanisms underlying such behavior is examined. Most research focuses on brain mechanisms.

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i what is physiological psychology
I. What is Physiological Psychology?
  • The study of the biological basis of behavior.
  • Behavior is observed & the putative mechanisms underlying such behavior is examined.
  • Most research focuses on brain mechanisms.
ii fields related to physiological psychology
II. Fields related to physiological Psychology:
  • Neurology study of brain disease
  • Neurophysiology study of brain function
  • Neuropsychology study & treatment of brain damage in people
  • Psychophysiology study of relationship between

the ANS & behavior

Psychophysics study of sensory stimuli &


physiological research draws from diverse paradigms
Physiological Research draws from diverse paradigms:

1. Human & nonhuman subjects

2. Experiments, quasi-experimental studies, & case studies

3. Pure & applied research

iii the search for the soul
III. The Search for the soul:
  • Since earliest times, humankind has engaged in a search for the “soul” & the body part in which it is “housed.”
  • A # of body parts were thought to “house” the soul: liver, blood, & heart.
the heart vs the brain hypothesis
The Heart vs. The Brain Hypothesis:
  • Many thought the soul was in the heart.

Greeks noticed that people died from chest wounds, leading them to infer the “mind” is in the heart.

aristotle 384 322 b c
Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)

Thought the heart is the source of mental processes because it is warm & active.

The brain, cool by contrast, was thought to cool the blood & heart.

hippocrates argued for the brain hypothesis 460 377 b c
Hippocrates: argued for the brain hypothesis (460-377 B.C.)
  • He observed loss of mental functions associated with brain injury.
  • He concluded all mental processes must be brain processes. Hence, the “soul” or “mind” must be located in the brain.
  • Mind & brain were one.
galen the roman physician 129 199 a d
Galen: The Roman Physician (129-199 A.D.)
  • Rome’s leading physician & surgeon to gladiators, noticed link between brain injury & loss of mental functions.
  • Argued that nerves from sense organs go to the brain, not the heart.
iv the mind body problem
IV. The Mind/Body Problem:
  • What is it???
  • The relationship between the mind & the brain.
  • Two basic views: dualism & monism
a rene descartes dualism
A. Rene Descartes: Dualism
  • Argued the “mind” exists independently of the brain, but interacts with the brain through the pineal gland to control behavior.

Pineal gland was “seat of soul.”

  • How can a non-material mind produce movements in a material body????
dualists try to get around this problem by saying
Dualists try to get around this problem by saying:
  • 1. The mind & body operate in parallel without interacting.
  • 2. The body can affect the mind, but the mind can’t affect the body.
  • Both offer dualists a loophole to explain behavior without considering the mind.
b monism
B. Monism:
  • Avoids the mind/body problem, because it argues that the mind & body are the same thing.
  • Most popular among scholars***
  • Monist materialism– argues that everything that exists is material.
  • Psychological experiences are the result of physical events taking place in our brains.
c current view
C. Current view
  • We really don’t know whether mental processes come first or brain processes come first?
v phrenology heads up
V. Phrenology: Heads up!!!
  • Studied individual differences in mental functions by examining the bumps on the skull.
  • Theory—a well-developed brain region associated with a given function (memory) would produce a larger bump on the skull, indicating greater performance in that area.
phrenologists gull spurzheim
Phrenologists: Gull & Spurzheim
  • Identified a list of traits they could examine people for.
  • Although Gall gathered an impressive amount of data, there were no statistics to examine his findings.
  • His “correct” observations can easily be explained by confirmation bias.
behavioral neurology broca
Behavioral Neurology: Broca
  • Paul Broca- found an area of brain damage associated with a language disorder.
  • Language must be produced by the left frontal lobe.
  • Method laid foundation for neurology & neuropsychology.