Psyc 301

Many biological psychologists hold to the position of biological reductionism (or determinism). They explain complex phenomenon in terms of simpler ones. They believe that complex phenomenon are entirely explainable by the properties of another. The complex phenomenon can be said to be reducible to more basic properties of the simpler ones. It is a mere epiphenomenon, a by product of the phenomenon that they are explainable by. They have no distinctive properties that require a distinctive theory or methodology. A reductionist model for depression that has a psychological component has been elegantly described by Professor Robert Sapolsky at .

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For example, biological reductionism claims that the mind is entirely explained by physical properties of the brain. The mind is physical; what we call mental is really just another term for the brain; mental/mind is actually only an epiphenomenon of the brain. It can and should be studied only by physiologists—there is nothing distinctively psychological about the mind. If you have a headache, then we could explain your headache entirely by neural elements in the brain. There are no aspects of your headache that could not be understood by what is happening in the brain. We do not need any methods other than brain methods to explain your headache. The only people who could understand or treat your headache are brain scientists.

Over the course of the semester, we had innumerable example of reductionism by, for example explaining memory by neural activity in the hippocampus, fear by neural activity in the amygdale, schizophrenia by neural activity in nigrostriatal dopamine pathways. In this conference you are to give three excamples in favor of reductionism of this nature and three exanples against reductionism. I will collate these examples and present a listing for the whole class. This will help sum up the most important position represented in this biopsychology course.