What is Behavioral Neuroscience?

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  • Written By: Margo Upson
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 January 2020
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Behavioral neuroscience is the study of the biological reasons for human behavior. It is a combination of psychology and biology. A behavioral neuroscientist needs to know a lot about not only science and medicine, but also psychology. Behavioral neuroscientists must also have a strong background in mathematics and chemistry.

Scientists who study behavioral neuroscience use highly technical equipment to study the brain. This equipment may include functional magnetic resonance images (fMRIs) or special microelectrodes that monitor brain activity. These electrodes are fastened to the head, and sense brain activity in different areas of the brain, giving researchers an accurate picture of brain activity. These electrodes can be used during fMRI scans, to provide the most accurate representation of activity available.

There are many areas of study in behavioral neuroscience. The main focus is on which parts of the brain allow people to perform certain behaviors. The brain is very specialized, each area performing its own unique task. Behavioral neuroscientists try to map these regions out by studying what areas of the brain light up when a person is hooked up to the electrodes or being monitored through an fMRI. The participants are then given a series of tasks to perform, asked to think about certain topics, or shown a variety of pictures. Researchers can monitor the participants’ brain activity to map out brain function.


Behavioral neuroscience can also be used to study the effect of psychological disorders on the brain. Disorders like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or depression can be observed in brain scans. These observations can help researchers to learn more about how these disorders work, and how they may best be treated.

Another area of study in behavioral neuroscience is in veterinary studies. The methods used to monitor human brain activity can be used in animals. Understanding animal brain function is helpful in unlocking the mysteries of the human brain. This research is especially useful in laboratory studies, monitoring any neurological effects that new medications, meant for humans, may have. Animal studies may be used in many other ways, including research on how drugs and alcohol affect brain function.

There are many implications for studies in behavioral neuroscience. Understanding how drugs affect the brain, and how addictions work, may eventually lead to better rehabilitation programs. The effect of genetics on emotions like fear, sadness, and joy could result in a better understanding of personality. It may also be possible to cure neurological disorders, such as autism. By learning how the brain affects and controls human behavior, scientists may be able to gain a better understanding of how the brain and nervous system work.


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Post 1

Behavioral neuroscience and psychology seems like such an interesting field. I've always wondered about how people's brain work differently than one another. I experience this a lot with my mom. We spend a lot of time together and even though we experience the same things, we interpret them so differently. We can watch the same advertisement on TV and come to completely different ideas about it. We also react and behave in different ways when faced with the same problem.

I think this has to do with how our brains are structured and how they work. I bet if we had the opportunity to have our brains mapped, neuroscientists would see how different parts of our brain work while

doing the same activities.

It's too bad that not too many people have the opportunity to learn about their own brain and how it relates to their psychology and behavior. It's not like I could just go to see a neuroscientists and ask to be analyzed.

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